Power Apps review: Sweeter than Honeycode

Power Apps is a suite of apps, services, connectors, and a data platform — including tools for non-coders — designed for the rapid development of custom business apps that connect to data stored in Power Apps’s underlying data platform (Microsoft Dataverse) or in other data sources (on-prem or in the cloud) such as SharePoint, Excel, Office 365, Dynamics 365, and SQL Server. Once you’ve built an app, you can share it with your colleagues.

In other words, Power Apps is a low-code, web-based, and cloud-based platform for building web and mobile web applications, one which easily connects to business data. Programmers can extend Power Apps to “programmatically interact with data and metadata, apply business logic, create custom connectors, and integrate with external data.”

Unlike the version of “PowerApps” (notice the historical lack of a space between words) that I previewed in 2016, the current Power Apps does not require using a Windows Store-based design environment, and it’s much more than a no-code builder. This is the cloud-based “PowerApps” design environment that Microsoft was promising back then.

Power Apps competes directly with Amazon Honeycode and Google Cloud AppSheet, as well as with about 400 other low-code and no-code app builders.

Power Apps building blocks

Typically you start building Power Apps from the Power Apps Home page, then develop them further from the Power Apps Studio page. You should be able to view apps on your Windows, iOS, and Android devices using the Microsoft Power Apps Mobile app, which you can download from the appropriate app store. (I couldn’t make the Android app work on my own phone, alas.) If you have administrative rights, you can manage your organization’s environments, data connections, roles, and policies from the administration center page.

Power Apps Home page

You can create apps by starting from data, starting with a blank canvas (and adding data later), creating a model from scratch, and creating a portal. You can see these options as well as a few links to tutorials in the first screen shot below. Other options include starting with a sample app, creating an app from a template, creating flows, creating chatbots, and building AI applications using Azure AI services.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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