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A Comprehensive Overview of Power Apps and Best Practices

Arpatech Mar 01, 2021
Overview of Power Apps and Best Practices

IN today’s technology-driven world, modern businesses rely on data than on anything else. From entering their time for payroll, seeking guidance on current processes, and evaluating data to make decisions, users interact with data virtually on a daily basis.

Microsoft Power Platform Fundamentals

No wonder, users can be empowered to gain insights from and interact with data while automating those tedious tasks that appear to be onerous. Power Platform allows your company to create solutions while enabling you to unite tailored technology to help everyone, from top executives to the ordinary employees, drive the business with data. Power Platform consists of four key products: Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI and Power Virtual Agents.

Power Apps provides a rapid low code development environment for building custom apps for business needs. It has services, connectors, and a scalable data service and app platform (Common Data Service) to allow simple integration and interaction with existing data. Power Apps enables the creation of web and mobile applications that run on all devices.

An Outline of Common Data Service (CDS)

Like a database, Common Data Service, or CDS, is a data storage service, which can be used to store data in the form of tables known as Entities. CDS is a service that is used largely in the Power Apps portal, but it is also accessible through other Power Platform services and Microsoft Dynamics. It would be easy to think of the CDS as just a relational database, but it truly is comprised of three components: entities, logic and security.

Entities

Whenever a new environment is created, a new example of CDS is made along with a pre-defined set of entities. This standard data plan is called the Common Data Model (CDM) and the entities created inside the initial instance of CDS are called the core entities. The Common Data Model can be understood to be the base language of the platform and lets applications communicate seamlessly and easily.

Logic

Not only is the CDS an interactive database with a pre-defined data set, but it also accompanies some integral logic that users are familiar with, allowing data to be authenticated in real time in line with certain requirements. They also can help an end user understand by showing messages advising them on what should be done before saving a record. Logic almost always means another crucial element of the Power Platform: Power Automate. This allows us to automate several different types of processes across the entire Power Platform and beyond.

Security

Users will be acquainted with the notion of security roles and business units. The CDS follows this security model, which implies that security is easily configured out of the box, letting us us lock down fields and record sharing, just as it occurs in Dynamics.

Power Apps: An overview No-Code Development Platforms Software

A no-code platform is a development platform that exploits a visual development setting to lay layperson users craft apps, through systems such as drag-and-drop, adding application elements to create a whole application. Developers as well as non-technical people can use these tools to practice quick application development with modified workflows and functionality. A number of these products are geared toward large businesses that need to swiftly design business processes and workflow applications at a massive scale. The tools provide templates for workflow, element libraries, and interface customization to produce full-fledged applications sans any coding.

Types of Power Apps

Canvas Apps

Canvas-based apps have existed since Power Apps first emerged nearly 2 years ago. Canvas apps can immensely help you connect to a majority of the data sources that are included in your O365 license. What’s more, these apps are amazing for putting scores of data sources together into one app; for crafting a completely custom UI; for delivering a user-friendly, and mobile-first application for your users.

Model-driven Apps

In Power Apps, model-driven apps are grounded on fundamental data, i.e., the data stored in Common Data Service (CDS). With model-driven apps, you need not worry about selecting the app size. And the best part is that it is responsive, which implies that it works on mobile or tablet quite easily. These apps are built on a data-first approach; therefore, they are far stiffer in design than canvas apps, with a majority of other user interface mechanisms being premade and pre-selected; however, there is still room to edit discrete components.

Portals

Portals help build externally facing website through smart no-code solutions. Power Apps interface enables you to create an unidentified or genuine website that lets users interact with data held in CDS. Portals let companies create websites which can be shared with external users external either incognito or through the login provider of their choice, including LinkedIn. Enterprise login providers can also be integrated using various industry standard protocols like SAML2, OpenId Connect and WS-Fed.

Power Apps Features and Benefits

Some of the features of Power Apps include:

  • App creation, running and sharing
  • Drag and drop functionality
  • Integration with other Microsoft products
  • Common Data Service (CDS)
  • Custom APIs
  • Collaboration support
  • Connected to the cloud

Benefits of Power Apps

Power Apps is the go-to thing for its user-friendly functionalities and its capacity to integrate data. Here are some key benefits that Power Apps offers your business.

1. Speed

In a fast-paced tech environment where each minute counts, getting the apps at the right time is very important. One of the major advantages of Power Apps is how swiftly you can develop a valuable, working app. Power Apps takes out numerous time-consuming elements from the normal development process and swaps them with an innate drag-and-drop interface. This results in Power Apps developing a new app faster than ever.

2. Easier App Creation

Coding can be a challenging undertaking for a non-programmer with such elements as APIs, libraries, functions, and objects. Power Apps makes this task easier by dealing with a majority of coding by dragging and dropping. Power Apps handles all of the normal overhead that goes into creating a mobile app that either runs in a browser or a local desktop app. Power Apps obviates the need to learn about the pros and cons of frameworks or libraries.

3. Integration with Microsoft Tools

One of the key benefits of the Power Apps is that being a Microsoft solution, it is fully capable of integrating with other Microsoft tools. This suggests that developers can leverage data from Microsoft apps such as Dynamics 365, SharePoint, Excel as well as other third-party services. There is a slew of connectors available for Power Apps, which means that there is scope to connect impeccably with other platforms.

4. Low cost

Although Power Apps is available within many Microsoft 365 subscriptions, it’s also highly affordable as a standalone app. From a price range between $10 per app per month and $40 per user per month, it delivers a cheaper solution to outsourcing app development.

Case study: Heathrow Airport

Here’s a real-world case of how a large infrastructure, Heathrow Airport, or London Airport, has used the Power Apps to drastically enhance their business operations.

Being a key international airport situated in London, United Kingdom, Heathrow is one of the world’s busiest airports. Given the traffic congestion and other complexities involving flight operations at the airport, there was an urgent need to streamline systems there. And the first step towards that objective was to digitize the airport’s processes. To this end, Heathrow Airport adopted Microsoft Office 365 for all its employees, which was later built upon with the introduction of Power Apps.

With the help of Power Apps, Heathrow Airport created an official process for creating and executing apps for employees to use. These apps could help employees build their own apps as well as utilize features from other internal apps to avoid a duplication of effort.

Outcome

The implementation of Power Apps paid dividends to the airport in terms of:

  • Massive drop in use of paperwork; a whopping 75,000 pages of legacy paper were easily eliminated
  • Reduced time of data entry; as many as 1,000 hours were saved
  • Huge cut in costs incurred in work effort

Here is the related video of Power Apps

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