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What is PowerApps

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by Madhuri Yerukala
Last modified: April 28th 2021

Microsoft PowerApps is a popular choice for developers to build low code apps. Leading IT research firms like Gartner and Forrester also ranked PowerApps as a leader for low code application platforms in its recent release. It is the only solution of its kind in the industry that brings together low-code/no-code app development, self-service analytics, and automation into a single, comprehensive platform. This What is powerapps article will cover what PowerApps is, its features, how to build apps using PowerApps, and more. 

Powerapps for Beginners

PowerApps is an initiative by Microsoft that lets you quickly build and share powerful low code applications. It’s a suite of apps, services, and data platforms that enables rapid application development to build custom apps based on business requirements. You can quickly create custom business apps that connect to your business data either on-premises (Excel, Office 365, SharePoint, and more) or data platform (common data source for apps) or 

PowerApps at its core is a platform as a service that enables you to create applications that run on any mobile device or browser. The purpose behind developing PowerApps is to make users build applications with new capabilities without having coding expertise. Microsoft touts an initial visual design for PowerApps, with drag-and-drop functionality.

PowerApps has connections with various Microsoft-based and third-party applications, including SharePoint, SQL server, and OneDrive in the Office 365 productivity suite and Google Docs, Dropbox, Dynamics CRM, and Oracle.

What sets PowerApps apart from other offerings is both developers, and non-technical teams can use it. 

If you would like to become a PowerApps Certified professional, then Enroll Our  PowerApps Certification Training Course. This course will help you to achieve excellence in this domain.

Microsoft PowerApps Features

PowerApps comes with features that allow you to build apps without coding. The below listed are the powerful features of PowerApps:

  1. Easy integration with other Microsoft services - One of the primary reasons for using PowerApps is that it’s easily connectable with other Microsoft services like Excel, OneDrive, SharePoint, etc.
  2. User-friendly Interface - PowerApps supports a user-friendly interface. With this, you can build an app easily, even if you don’t have any development experience. Create interfaces that can perform CRUD operations
  3. Canvas Apps and Model-driven Apps - There are two ways by which you can develop apps in PowerApps - Canvas and Model-driven Approach. You can design an app just by drag and drop elements onto a canvas. With model-driven apps, much of the layout is determined and designated by the components you add.
  4. Cloud Connectivity - It’s extremely easy to connect to cloud services like SQL, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc., with PowerApps.
  5. App creation and sharing - Supports an easy drag and drop interface for the creation of apps.  You can easily share with anyone you want with PowerApps.
  6. Cost-effective - If you want to develop rich business applications but can’t afford developers, start using this fantastic tool. PowerApps is cost-effective.
  7. Common Data Service (CDS) - CDS allows you to store and manage data securely used by business apps. Data within CDS  store in the form of entities. An entity is a set of records that stores data similar to a table in a database.  CDS for Apps contains a set of legal entities that cover typical scenarios. You can still create custom entities particular to your company and populate them with data using Power Query. Developers use PowerApps to build rich apps using this data.

[ Related Article: PowerApps tutorial for Beginners ]

What is a Power Platform for PowerApps?

Microsoft Power Platform comprises the Power BI, PowerApps, and Flow. These three services provide tools to manage the data of any enterprise process.

  • PowerBI is used to display and analyze the data. It’s a real-time, interactive data visualization BI tool
  • PowerApps are used to modify data. It builds apps with less code in no time for the web, Android & iOS devices
  • Microsoft Flow is used to automate data. It offers powerful workflow automation with the no-code approach and easy integration

Microsoft Power Platform

How does PowerApps Work

PowerApps facilitates app creation by offering various templates, connectors, and third-party apps for business users. 

The primary reason that makes it popular among developers is connectors. It allows you to perform CRUD operations and supports the majority of on-premises data sources.

How to build an App with PowerApps?

The easy way to build an app with PowerApps is to start from the data source.

  • First, start from the SharePoint list that store the consulting interventions.
  • Next, select create an app option in the PowerApps menu as below:

Sharepoint list

it takes us to a PowerApps Studio

powerapps studio

The below steps guide you on how to build an app using PowerApps.

Step 1) Select Your Environment

There are four environments that you can work with PowerApps, and they have their capabilities.

environments for powerapps

  • PowerApps Website

This is where you can create and manage apps.

powerapps website

  • PowerApps Studio

It allows you to design and adapt apps that you create to specific business needs.

powerapps studio

  • PowerApps Mobile

This is available handy on both mobiles and tablets and enables you to execute all your PowerApps apps.

  • PowerApps Admin Center

Admin.powerapps.com allows you to create and manage environments, Data Loss Prevention (DLP) strategies, and user roles. 

Step 2) Select your PowerApps Application Type

PowerApps supports two types of apps - Canvas and Model-driven.

powerapps application type

Canvas apps allow you to interface easily with positioning controls and fields in a “pixel-perfect” user experience. It targets lightweight apps. 

canvas app and model driven app

Model-driven apps are built on top of CDS (Common Data Services) to rapidly create processes, forms, and business rules. It focuses on building heavier apps.

Step 3) Select your Storage Type

Choosing the right data source is impactful while designing an app.

storage type

Step 4) Connect the app to on-premise Data Source or online.

Connecting the app

PowerApps is born in the cloud and can connect natively to any cloud data source. For that to happen, you need to configure the on-premises data gateway. For this, you need to use a data source from one of the following - SQL Server, Oracle, SharePoint, Informix, Filesystem, and DB2.

Now that you understand how to create an app using PowerApps. Now, let’s see which companies trust PowerApps to modernize their app development.

Companies using PowerApps to modernize app development: 

  • Standard Bank
  • Leonardo Global Solutions
  • TransAlta
  • SNCF
  • Autoglass
  • National Trust
  • IPS (Integrated Power Services)
  • DriveTime

[ Related Article: PowerApps Interview Questions ]

PowerApps Limitations

  • With PowerApps, you can retrieve a max of 500 items by default, but extendable up to 2000 (performance reduces)
  • Only one developer can work at a time if operating on the Canvas Application.
  • If SharePoint runs in the back end, attachment control will work fine. But if custom SQL runs in the backend, then attachment control will be disabled.
  • JavaScript integration is not possible in PowerApps forms.
  • PowerApps cannot be shared with external users of your organization. It is designed to be used internally for your business purposes.

Conclusion

Microsoft PowerApps has bought a revolution in the low code app development space. The software’s simplicity allows each user from technical to non-technical backgrounds to build apps without compromising quality.

If you have any queries in this article  "What is PowerApps", you can share them via comments below and help us make this post a good read for Microsoft PowerApps.



About Author

author
NameMadhuri Yerukala
Author Bio

Madhuri is a Senior Content Creator at MindMajix. She has written about a range of different topics on various technologies, which include, Splunk, Tensorflow, Selenium, and CEH. She spends most of her time researching on technology, and startups. Connect with her via LinkedIn and Twitter .