PowerApps What Is It?

Have you seen or heard about this new Microsoft technology and are wondering what it is? In this connected world, business is changing and changing fast. It is important to keep up and look at what developments are around. In this review, I will give you an idea of what this new technology can do for your business.

PowerApps allows you to build mobile apps that can target the unique needs of your business. Do you need a lot of expertise? Yes and no. A simple system can be created quickly, but for more complex functionality a better understanding will be useful.

Office365 allows better collaboration by bringing products such as Excel, Outlook, Word and PowerPoint to the cloud. Microsoft Access has never made it to the cloud and there are probably good reasons for it. These days Access databases are being used less and less. As powerful as they are, there are limitations.

PowerApps works in the cloud and you don’t need to go installing your system onto each user’s PC. Each time you make an update, you just need to publish it again and the users will get the latest version automatically. What can PowerApps do to make life easier for installing software? PowerApps works in a browser so there is no software to install onto a user’s PC. As long as they have access to a browser then they will be able to use your system. They must also have an Office365 account and a licence to run PowerApps.

So, how can this new technology add value to your organisation? It is promoted as a mobile device tool and in the main that is what it is. You do not necessarily need to be a PowerApps developer. It is fairly easy to get started, but if you have development experience then even better. You can create apps for your mobile phone or tablet device such as an iPad. Examples are an invoicing app, helpdesk, booking system etc.

One drawback is that you cannot create an app for a phone and expect it to look the same on a tablet or desktop PC. You would need to create a separate version for the mobile platform and the desktop platform.

Although aimed at mobile devices, you can also create apps that will run on your laptop or desktop PC. Again, just like mobile apps, everything runs in the browser. PowerApps can be used to convert existing applications on other platforms? If you have an InfoPath form or MS Access database, then these are prime candidates for converting to PowerApps.

By now you may be wondering what is the cost going to be. If you have an Office365 subscription, then PowerApps is included with it. Prices can sometimes change and it is worth checking at the Microsoft website.

PowerApps is best used for small systems. Don’t attempt to port over or create a system which needs complicated code and lots of screens. Aim to keep things simple. There are plenty of PowerApps examples to get you started. There is no substitution for a good PowerApps tutorial though and a PowerApps for Newbies course can get you up to speed fast.

What can PowerApps do with Data Sources?

PowerApps can connect to a variety of data sources. For example, it can connect to Excel, SharePoint, SQL Server, DropBox and many, many more. It is not possible at the moment to connect to an MS Access database, but there is a workaround.

SharePoint is an ideal candidate for connecting to as just like PowerApps, it is cloud based and part of Office365. It is possible to connect to the on-premises SharePoint and SQL Server, but you will need to use what is known as an on-premises Gateway.

All in all, PowerApps, along with Office 365, are solid products that Microsoft are continually improving. More and more organisations are seeing the benefits and jumping on board. Give it a try and you may be pleasantly surprised.