A beginner’s guide to building your first app using Microsoft PowerApps

Building your first app should not take hours, and neither does it require you to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Microsoft Power Apps will let you create apps fast and with little technical skills.

Using this development platform, you can build an app that does not require coding and can be integrated into Microsoft 365 and other third-party service providers such as Dropbox, Google Docs, and Oracle.

An app created using Microsoft Power Apps lets you automate activities such as notifications, documents, or record routing. With all these capabilities, you will enjoy increased mobility, productivity, and innovation.

There are two types of apps you can create with Power Apps: canvas and model-driven. In this short guide, we will share with you step-by-step instructions on how to build each one of them and also mention their respective advantages.

Canvas Apps

Canvas apps are built for the web, mobile, and tablets. As the name implies, development starts on a blank canvas, which allows for creativity on how you want the user experience and interfaces arranged.

Follow these steps to build a canvas app from the items in your SharePoint list.

  • Log in to Power Apps and select SharePoint from the Start menu.
  • Select Connect directly > Create
  • Enter the name you want for your app.
  • Choose your SharePoint site and list from the drop-down menu.
  • Select Create.

After a few minutes, your app containing the items you created, will open to the browser screen. You should see a title bar with icons at the top of the screen to help with sorting, refreshing, and creating new items on the list.

Under the title bar, you should see a search box to help you filter the list when you type or paste the text. Explore the app you have just created by making changes where you want before sharing it with others. To be sure everything is working fine, consider looking for Powerapps support from an experienced provider to help with any hitches that may arise.

Note: Do not forget to save your work. Press Ctrl-S.

Benefits of Canvas Apps

A canvas app allows you to start from scratch and move, resize, drag, and drop your components to where you want them. Amongst its benefits are:

  • User experience is easy since there is no data-driven approach.
  • Minimum technical skills required. You only need to be familiar with Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint to develop an app.
  • A canvas app allows creativity. No two apps created will look the same.
  • Best choice for users who don’t need to fully use the Microsoft tech stack.
  • Can interact with more than 350 connectors, which empowers users to have more functionalities.

Model-Driven Apps

Model-driven apps are built from the model of your main business data and Dataverse processes. They drive interaction through complex business logic rather than the interface.

Follow these steps to create a model-driven app.

  • Go to Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement > Settings > My Apps > Create new App
  • Enter the name you want for the app.
  • Write a short description of what the app is about.
  • To select an icon, clear the checkbox and select one from the drop-down list.
  • Select Client type (web or Unified Interface).
  • Enter another URL suffix other than the default one, for easy remembrance.
  • Select Existing solution to create the app from an installed solutions list.
  • Select welcome page > Enable Mobile Offline > Done.
  • Define the site map, add components then share with others.

Benefits of Model-driven Apps

A model-driven app user interface is determined by the components you add to the app such as data, process flows, and visualization. The following are its advantages:

  • The building process is fast due to rich components that require no codes.
  • The apps respond fast and are easily accessed.
  • Apps have the same interface from mobile to desktop.
  • Moving apps from development, testing, and production are seamless.
  • Its features are built-in and automatically responsive.

Canvas vs Model-Driven App. Which Should You Build?

Frankly speaking, none is really better than the other. It’s up to you to see how well they complement your business. While a model-driven app is better suited for end-to-end solutions, a canvas app performs well on task or role-based solutions.

In case you are wondering, can you flip between the two? No, you can’t. In a model-driven app, once you create entities (tables), designing an app from there is relatively quick.

Whereas in the canvas app, you are placing parts in specific places, which means you can’t convert it into a model-driven app.

So, what do you do?

If you want an app on your phone or tablet while you are on the go, a canvas app will suit you. But if what you are doing is sales-related, like a browser session or quick entry, use a model-driven app.