SharePoint forms alternatives

What are the alternatives to build internal forms in SharePoint Online? Which you can use without a license? What are their benefits and limitations?

Picking the best alternative for forms to store data in SharePoint depends on the functionality requirements, available licenses and skills of the user creating the form. We can consider the following options:

MS Forms

Simple to develop, but with very limited functionality.

Even non IT users can build the forms. Any user with a link can fill the form, no license needed.

MS Forms are a separate solution from SharePoint, you won’t be enable to lookup for any data in SharePoint – libraries, lists nor users. As anybody with link can fill the form, there’s no reliable information about the author (unless shared only within your organization). To store the data into SharePoint, you’ll need a simple Power Automate flow on top.

Out of the box form

Default SharePoint form, available on each list.

You don’t need to develop anything (except for configuration of the list columns). You can lookup for data in SharePoint. The form will store data directly into SharePoint list, including Author information.

Customisation and background logic is not available. All fields will be visible to all users. All users need Microsoft 365 business license (the license to use SharePoint).

Power Apps

A bit of development knowledge needed, but still within the reach of non IT people willing to learn.

You can connect the form to data in SharePoint – load and save data, even from/to multiple lists. Author information is available. The form can have high level of customization and a background logic.

Power Apps (+ Microsoft 365 business) license is needed for all users. Complex forms can encounter limitations from the platform. Maintenance or future extensions can be complicated.

Custom form

SPFx; REST API + any programming language: completely custom forms, development knowledge is a must and therefore it’s not really non IT people friendly.

Complete freedom regarding functionality, it’s only a matter of time (and money). Good maintenance and future form extension.

Coding knowledge is necessary. All users need Microsoft 365 business license if the form will be located on SharePoint. The initial development will be most complex from all the mentioned options.

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