Practical Applications for Power Apps in the Business Landscape

As more and more organisations harness the power of low-code/no-code development, James Donohoe, Business Applications Account Manager at Storm takes us through the different types of Power Apps available.

The author of this page: James Donohoe
James Donohoe, Microsoft Business Applications Account Manager May 13, 2022

A leader in the low-code/no-code space, Power Platform is one of Microsoft’s fastest-growing solutions with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently noting that Power Apps had an over 72% year over year growth and surpassed $2 billion in revenue over the last 12 months. A growth attributed largely to Power Apps' ability to empower business users across the globe to create bespoke business applications to solve business problems without any previous coding knowledge, increasing innovation, improving operation efficiencies, and reducing pressure on IT departments.

Despite the potential, getting started with Power Apps can be daunting. Below we explore the different types of Power Apps available and how they can be used in the business.

Canvas Apps

The first type of Power App is the canvas app. Canvas apps resemble traditional applications that many are familiar with. However, canvas apps differ in how they are built. Traditional applications require coding knowledge whereas canvas apps can be created using a WYSIWYG interface. This means Canvas apps can be created by dragging and dropping elements onto a blank canvas similar to how one might design a slide in PowerPoint. Canvas Apps can be built for the web, mobile or tablet applications as well as embedded in SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and Power BI dashboard reports.

Canvas apps provide users with the flexibility to create the user interface and experience they want. This allows businesses to express creativity and give the apps the look and feel to align with their brand. Canvas apps can be connected to a choice of more than 200 data sources to build your app. Overall canvas apps offer an easy-to-use interface with a drag and drop design, easy customisation, excel-like expressions and much more.

Model-Driven Apps

Another type of Power App is a model-driven app. Designing a model-driven app focuses more on adding components such as forms, charts, views, dashboards, tables, and other components using the app designer tool. Model-driven applications automatically generate great user interfaces that are responsive across devices. It is helpful to think of model-driven apps as data-driven apps as they rely on data housed in the Microsoft Dataverse to be created. Model-driven apps are well suited to process-driven apps that are dense in data as they allow users to move across related records easily.

When using model-driven apps, much of the layout is determined by the components the user decided to add to the app, unlike canvas apps where the user has much more control over the app layout. This layout largely resembles the Dynamics 365 layout which creates a unified experience for familiar users. Model-driven apps deliver a consistent user experience across all user-driven apps, once the user is confident in using one model-driven app then subsequent apps are easier to create and therefore adopt in an organisation.

Power Apps Portals

One of the newer experiences offered by Power Apps is the Power Apps Portal. Portals allow users to easily create internal or external-facing websites that allow users outside the organisation to sign in with a variety of identities, browse content anonymously or create and view data in Dynamics 365 or the Microsoft Dataverse. Portals are a straightforward way to share certain data with customers, vendors or even clients.

Portals share much of the same framework as the model-driven apps mentioned above. Both are built around Microsoft Dataverse delivering a good end-to-end user experience with easy customisation in terms of pages, layout and content. Users also have the option to reuse page designs through templates, adding forms or views to display key data held in the Dataverse to publish to users. Further, for users with coding knowledge, there is a possibility for further customisation. Popular uses for portals include customer self-service portals, employee self-service portals or even partner portals.

Overall, the Power Apps component of Power Platform is a very powerful tool that can address many different types of business requirements. If you would like to see the different types of Power Apps in action, check out our recent webinar ‘Unlocking Potential with Power Platform’ or get in touch to speak to one of our specialists.

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