What is PowerApps?
PowerApps at its heart, is a Platform as a Service, that allows end users to create business ready applications that run on any device. Essentially, PowerApps provides the end user with a blank canvas that provides an easy-to-use drag and drop interface to add different controls (i.e. buttons, text), media (video player, images), forms and screens to build an application. This approach is meant to replace the traditional need for a developer to build applications on behalf of a business. PowerApps themselves can run from simple to very complex, but everything is created through the web portal and allows the user to develop applications to pinpoint specific business needs and use cases.
Create a PowerApp
PowerApps can be created through the web portal, located at web.powerapps.com. When creating a PowerApp, the end user has two options to choose from:
- Canvas Apps – Selecting this option gives the end user a blank canvas to start from. Most PowerApps that will be built by the end user, will end up being Canvas Apps.
- Model-driven Apps – Model-driven apps are there specifically for times when the user may need to build a PowerApp off of a data model. In practice, this is usually used with the Common Data Service (CDS) and is also the backbone of Microsoft Dynamics.
Creating either of these types of PowerApps will take you to the PowerApps studio, as shown below:
In PowerApps, the core of the application is the data that is being displayed through the interface. In the modern business world, data is stored all over each companies tenant and often in many different data stores. PowerApps allows you to connect to those different data stores through what’s called a “Connector”. The Connector handles the communication between the data source and PowerApps, and essentially serves the data back to the app in either tables or actions. PowerApps provides many connectors out of the box to various popular services, but users may also build custom connectors if Microsoft does not provide a connector out of the box.
Use a PowerApp
Using PowerApps is relatively simple. Each PowerApp can either be accessed through the portal at web.powerapps.com or by a unique URL that Microsoft provides for each PowerApp. Inside the portal, the end user will only see PowerApps that they have permissions to see. By accessing the unique URL or by clicking the PowerApp title inside the portal, the users will not be able to see the PowerApp studio backend view of the PowerApp, they will only see the published version.
Sharing a PowerApp
After a PowerApp is completed, there is a need to share the PowerApps out with other end users or groups. PowerApps allows you to choose which users, or groups, may access the application or modify it and share it out. The users and groups that are listed are pulled back from Azure AD dynamically. End users may also specify that everyone in the organization may access the application by sharing it with “Everyone in *TENANTNAME*”.