Power BI is used to analyze data and help the business make quick decisions with confidence. Power Apps is used to build custom apps in a few hours that connect to your existing data and help solve a specific business process. Power Automate (formerly Microsoft Flow) automates hundreds of popular apps and services through workflows. Power Platform combines the modernization and functionality of Power Apps, Power BI and Power Automate into one massive strong integrated platform.
In this blog post, we’ll focus on Power Apps.
Power Apps: An introduction
Power Apps is a tool that lets you build business apps that can run in the browser, tablet, or cell phone. Whether you are a functional consultant, superuser, or developer, this tool is right for you! It requires little to no coding to set up an application.
Power Apps also provides templates and sample data you can use to quickly build an app that you can customize to better suit your business needs. You essentially only need Excel and some PowerPoint skills to get started.
You can easily drag and drop objects and use Excel-like expressions to build the whole app mechanism and use application data such as Dynamics 365, SQL Server, Office 365, etc. You can build Power Apps against a modern SharePoint list, as well. Through Power Apps, you can access data across the enterprise and make it available on mobile, tablets, desktops or embedded in other applications, such as Microsoft Teams or SharePoint.
There are two styles of applications: canvas and model-driven.
In the canvas style apps, you have a blank canvas, and you can include whatever you want and wherever you want it. It can be tailored to a user-specific scenario.
These are pixels perfect: what you see on the browser you will see in the mobile device. This style of an app can also be embedded in SharePoint, Teams, Power BI as well.
Model-driven apps are data-intensive; they can include dashboards, workflows and office integration. Building such apps on canvas is possible but not easy (i.g. Dynamics 365 Sales and Customer Service apps).
Logging onto Power Apps
This is the Power App portal link. Once you subscribe successfully to Power Apps, you can access the Power Apps Portal.
This link is used to administer the Power Apps environment. Through this portal, you can create apps, data connections, and Flows. You can also manage gateways, notifications, and manage the Common Data Service (CDS). You can download Power Apps Studio from the app portal.
Power Apps Environment
Environments are containers for apps and resources. You configure security and access control within the environment. When you save an app to an Environment, you can control who can access your app, based upon access control permissions at an Environment level. You also set up data connections, flows, and data entities there.
Power Apps Studio
Power Apps Studio is a tool for building apps. This is a Windows program that is used to build and run apps. There are two versions available – a version that runs on Microsoft Windows, and a version that runs through a web browser.
For licensing, please visit this website.
Build and deploy an Apps: A quick run-through
- Create an application you can go to https://powerapps.microsoft.com or Power Apps studio and log in with your company credentials.
- Select any template among a large number of available templates and create an app.
- Select a data source such as Dynamics 365, Excel etc.
- Create a connection with your data source
- Drag and drop controls and objects to develop app interface according to the business process.
Below are a few highlights of the controls, objects, and functions we can use during the app development.
- Data Input or Display Controls, e.g. Text input, Toggle, checkbox, Radio, Rating, Date Picker, Drop-Down, Nesting Drop-Down, List Box, Data tables, barcode, etc.
- Create Excel-like formulas, Launch functions, e.g. Call and Text, etc.
- Media controls e.g. image, audio, video.
- Data Charts, e.g. Line, Bar, Pie, etc.
- For Locations, we can display maps, e.g. Google Map, Bing Maps, etc.
- Import and Export Data.
- Using flows, we can create workflows, send notification and email.
- Launch a newly created application in the test environment, apply security, and share with the users.
- To access the application from the phone, install a native phone application called Power App.
- Connect with your environment (Dev, Test, or Live) to select the application that should run inside your power app application.
- Once testing is completed, move the app to the live environment.
Sample apps that Microsoft provides
- Asset Checkout
- Budget Tracker
- Cost Estimator
- Inventory Management apps
In Power Apps, you can develop business apps in less time with little to no coding. Managers, employees, and essentially any level of users can utilize these apps to reduce the completion time of the business processes. They can use a large number of cloud and on-premise application data, including Dynamics 365.