Microsoft PowerApps

What is PowerApps?

Microsoft introduced PowerApps in late 2015 and recently announced general availability for PowerApps this year.  Right now is a great time to explore the new technology.  Microsoft wants to accelerate how business apps are developed.  Some say this might be the next “workflow” for power users.  I spent some time looking evaluating this technology as an automation and communication tool.  Here’s what I learned so far and some resources that helped me a long the way.

Helpful Links for PowerApps

Here are some helpful links to get started learning about PowerApps.  These are links I’ve found while researching.

SharePoint welcomes PowerApps and Microsoft Flow

Build business applications with PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, and Office 365

Office 365 PowerApps

Generate an app from Excel data

PowerApps Community Forums

After researching a few sources, I felt like I was ready explore the new features.  I logged into Office 365 and started poking around the technology.  We found that Microsoft has a number of pre-built app templates, mainly centered around specific business processes like timesheets or accounting.  PowerApps can also be built using just the browser, and not just with a client application.  From what I see so far, PowerApps is a lot more convenient than regular SharePoint workflows.

Sample PowerApps

Initial Impression

For my first interaction with this new technology, I wanted to keep it simple.  So I started the process to create from a template.  I selected an Excel workbook from my OneDrive as the main data source.  The template had 3 main screens for displaying a summary screen, details screen, and then an edit screen.

Create New App

PowerApp Screens

There’s a lot you can do to design forms and display data.  I was able to create a prototype that displays the data of an Excel file from OneDrive, but there’s lots of other uses for this technology as well.  Once we add Flow, we can create custom logic that connect different systems.  The possibilities are endless, but what does that mean for business users?

Flow Actions

Business Value for End Users

The value comes from being able to quickly create a mobile app for your data.  This platform has been used to create interactive apps for sales persons as they evaluate and adjust inventory.  It’s been used to help track budget numbers and create employee surveys. The potential for this technology to automate communication is amazingly diverse.  You can even send a Push notification if your boss emails you, or just save your email attachments directly to OneDrive.  This platform is new so there will be a small learning curve, but the browser-based tool to make apps is really convenient.

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