Introduction to PowerApps

Introduction to PowerApps

Recently Microsoft released for all PowerApps. This has been a project that has been available in preview for some time but now we are able to play. To get access to it simple navigate to https://powerapps.microsoft.com

Once there you will see the bold statement explaining what PowerApps is.

Now you know as much as me that sometimes the marketing message is often very different to what the product can actual do. So to make sure PowerApps actually works we are going to walk through a basic example.

To begin with you need to have registered and signed in at the site. Once done you should be sent to the main site for working with PowerApps.

As always Microsoft has created some sample examples that you can click into to see what it is all about. Clicking on the Cost Estimator you are prompted to choose the format that you wish to see. So the first win for PowerApps is the ability to create applications for mobile devices.

Clicking the “Open for tablet” launches this version of the sample application showing you the basic example.

Notice at the top of the screen there is an option for “Install PowerApps”, that is because PowerApps comes in a few flavors.

  • Web
  • PowerApps Studio Application
  • Mobile Application

They serve very different purpose. The Web is your main way to access all of your published applications, as well as initiate new ones. The PowerApps Studio is the creation tool no matter what device you are creating for. The mobile application is for seeing all your published applications to use them.

Opening the PowerApps Studio, displays some basic options for connecting common data such as SharePoint Online.

Some of the connections allow for only phone layouts, other allow phone and tablet layout. Creating applications can be done using pre-defined templates or choosing to create one using the blank option, where you create and define all components. Using the PowerAPps Studio, each screen that is needed for the application can be hand crafted based on the data and data connection being used. The design canvas allows for objects to be laid out easily and quickly, allowing for rapid development.

Each component added to a form or screen has properties and associated actions that can be used.

Each object can be tied to a “Flow” which function like basic code logic and similar to a macro. Flows are created in the web browser and then consumed via the PowerApps Studio, and attached to the controls. Controls can also use Excel type functions as needed, based on the action or property selected. A “Save” button utilized the “OnSelect” mechanism, then run a function such as “SubmitForm(Form1)”.

This allows for in application to have multiple screens and to follow flows of actions just like any other application you may use now. Within the studio each screen can previewed, or the whole application can be saved and then viewed both within the application or online.

The newly built applications can then be saved within the Office 365 organization and any user can be granted access to see and use the application. Once a user signs into the Mobile Application, the list of applications they can use are displayed. 

Clicking on an application displays various options including the ability to download to the device. 

Clicking the application launches, and displays the needed permissions for any data that is required.

Once the application connections have been accepted then the app will load as needed. PowerApps is a great tool for very quickly designing a form based application that can consume data both from normal data sources as well as components within Office 365.

This is a great start to an application that as Microsoft announced at the “SharePoint Futures” event will be integrated directly into SharePoint Online to allow for not only applications and forms, but also Microsoft Flow for automating processes more easily. For more details on both PowerApps and Microsoft Flow you can visit the Microsoft sites for each respectively.

PowerApps - https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/

Microsoft Flow - https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/

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