PowerApps is the latest Microsoft service for creating and using custom cross-platform business apps. PowerApps use connections to your existing data sources and systems, allowing you to build apps, workflows and forms without code, and enables you to publish them instantly for web and mobile.

For the last few months, PowerApps was only available to the limited number of early adopters that provided feedback before the announcement of public preview. Two weeks ago, Microsoft has opened the gates to everyone. You can now sign up with a work or school account.

PDF Share Forms would like to summarize the information from several official posts by Microsoft and provide a few comments.

How it works

Sign in, and then explore a sample app to get a quick grasp of functionality of PowerApps to get an idea how your business can benefit from custom apps.

Microsoft PowerApps Hello Screen

Create an app from your existing data

To create your own apps, install PowerApps Studio for Windows on a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.

Microsoft PowerApps Open Create New App

You can automatically generate an app that is designed specifically for your data, whether it is in:

  • an Excel file in a cloud-storage account such as Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive
  • a SharePoint list
  • Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online
  • a SQL Azure table

Microsoft PowerApps Create New App Data Sources

Sharing apps with other users and or the entire organizations.

Once you create, customize and save your apps to the cloud, you can share the app with other users or security groups within your organization. When you share apps, you can choose whether the recipient(s) can re-share the app and whether they can edit the app. You can also share apps with your entire organization. Apps respect data source permissions at all times, so be assured that only authorized users can access data from any app you share. Learn more

Sharing is caring. Unfortunately one group of people is left out – external users. It totally makes sense not to share your custom business apps with the outside world, but in some cases, like data capturing from publicly available forms, an option to reach outside users would be invaluable.

Cross-Platform support

Adaptive design of PowerApps allows working on almost any device (PC, tablet, or phone) or using PowerApps for iOS or Android.

Microsoft PowerApps Mobile Devices

It looks like Windows phone is missing in this picture and Microsoft unwillingly accepts the irrelevance of their phone platform. However, there is a chance that the support for Windows phone will be added in future releases.

Another important functionality that is missing in the current state of PowerApps is a connection to SharePoint on-premises. Global trend of moving everything to the cloud is undeniable; however, it is not always the case for SharePoint. A lot of businesses and government-regulated institutions prefer to be in charge of their infrastructure due to security concerns or some legacy products. Microsoft claims that on-premise support is on their roadmap.

Summing up

PowerApps dramatically changes and accelerates how organizations develop custom business apps. However, it feels likes Microsoft’s new product is in the “Jack of all trades, master of none” type of a situation– it can certainly do multiple things but the results are not of the same quality that can be achieved using professional tools. Developers can code a better application than business users can create in PowerApps. It is not a killer of InfoPath or solutions like PDF Share Forms in terms of document and form management. Overall, it is up to each individual organization to determine the best mix of products developed by business users, internal professional developers and 3rd party products.

Here is a few things to consider if you want to compare PowerApps to PDF Share Forms in terms of form creation and management:

  • PDF Share Forms allows public form submissions from external anonymous users
  • PDF Share Forms works both on Cloud and on On-premise versions of SharePoint
  • PDF Share Forms supports mobile devices including Windows Phone
  • PDF Share Forms supports legally-binding digital signatures, including 3rd party products like DocuSign
  • Using PDF Share Forms, you get a real document on your hands – PDF. It is a structured document recognized as an ISO standard and not just an abstract bunch of data.

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Sources:

https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/powerapps-and-sharepoint/

https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/powerapps-public-preview/

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