Custom ‘app’ creation for your organisation: connect to the data you already have, build apps without writing code
PowerApps are new to the Microsoft World after being released as a public preview way back in April 2016. PowerApps allow business users to create custom native and mobile applications that can be quickly and easily shared across their organisations.
PowerApps can be created in minutes using out-of-the-box templates for budget trackers, site inspections, item catalogues, cost estimator, etc.
The flexibility behind PowerApps comes with its designer, allowing users to create these ‘apps’ without writing code or doing any integration and there are also plenty of model apps available to try out and use as examples.
PowerApps can be accessed through an Office 365 subscription, so when you log in you can access PowerApps through the App Launcher. These apps can be designed online through Office 365 or by downloading the PowerApps app through the Windows Store. They allow you to connect to the data you already have, build apps without writing code and publish for use on web and mobile.
PowerApps allow business users to create customer native and mobile applications that can be quickly and easily shared across their organisations.
This designer allows users to simply create their own custom business application to suit their requirements without writing a line of code. Once this app has been created, it can then be published so anyone in that organisation can download it through their Office 365 subscription.
PowerApps can be created in minutes using out-of-the-box templates for budget trackers, site inspections, item catalogues, cost estimator, etc. However, they simply serve to highlight the types of requirements you can facilitate and the problems you can solve using PowerApps. If you don’t want to use the templates, there is nothing stopping you from creating a PowerApp from scratch and configuring it to do something completely bespoke, for example recording and viewing expenses!
Where does the data come from?
So you might be thinking, ‘Sounds great…but where does the data needed for these apps come from?’ Well there are a few options, data can come from a static file like an Excel document, from a document you have in your OneDrive account, a SQL server database or Dynamics CRM. Don’t worry, Microsoft have been busy and there are more new tools. Microsoft, in their push to integrate all of their applications together and to match ‘personal productivity’ with ‘business processes’ have a new trick up their sleeve, the Common Data Model (CDM).
Introducing the CDM
The CDM is an out-of-the-box business database for storing and managing business entities, hosted in Microsoft Azure, it will hold data from ‘standard entities’ such as your ERP system but also ‘custom entities’ such as any that you create for PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, etc. These entities in the CDM can then be used across any Microsoft Application so they can be the basis of your PowerApp, etc.
More information, examples and tutorials on PowerApps can be found at https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/