Power App And SharePoint – An Introduction

Power Apps is a service for building and using custom business apps, connectors, and services that connect to your data and work across the web and mobile – without the time and expense of custom software development. With power apps users can,

  • Build apps fast with a point-and-click approach to app design.
  • Choose from a large selection of templates or start from a blank canvas.
  • Easily connect your app to a wide variety of data Sources and use Excel-like expressions to easily add logic.
  • Publish your app to the web, iOS, Android, and Windows 10.
  • Customize SharePoint Online
  • Integrate with Microsoft Teams
  • Build apps on Dynamics 365
  • Extend app capabilities using Azure Functions or use custom connectors to connect to custom or legacy systems
  • No coding experience required
  • Responsive by design
  • Integrate/Enhance your Apps with Artificial Intelligence
  • Extend the reach of your apps with Portals

Another great benefit of of power apps is that it stores data in the underlying platform called Common Data service ( CDS). CDS is a storage space that enables a user to manage and securely store data that’s used by multiple applications or programs. So all your data can be brought together in one place where it can be used in Power BI, Flow and Power Apps together with additional data in Dynamics 365 apps( also uses CDS). 

Power Apps &SharePoint 

 With the advent of modernization in SharePoint there has been a lot of changes on the way it is being used. Form customization tools like Infopath are going out of support and the power platform is on the way to replace it. Below are some of the ways to use Power apps with SharePoint. 

Canvas Apps

 Canvas apps are blank PowerPoint like designs where Users can connect to a variety of data sources and write custom logic using forms,views etc. There are various templates that are already available and users can also configure the data sources they require to customize on the form. Below are some of the pros and cons of using Canvas Apps. Pros

  • Easy to configure as everything is drag and drop or easy to understand formulas with great hint text.
  • No need to write custom css or scripts as design is easy to configure and compatible for all devices.
  • Multiple Data sources can be configured for the app to consume data from
  • Easy to configure views, forms etc.
  • Can be configured on modern pages using power apps web part.
  • Part of power app library and can be accessed from power app application from mobile or tablet
  • Easy to export and import as an app

Cons

  • Has limited permissions to be set as an owner or user. Users cannot have options to add multiple permission levels as in SharePoint
  • Resides in Powerapps.com and on close or completion will be redirected to the apps home by default
  • It cannot be added with a list new item and hence if its used for inputting data to a list there will be 2 different forms for the same list ( powerapps & sharepoint).

SharePoint Form Customization

 Power apps can be used to customize Sharepoint forms by using the option ” customize form” directly from the list/library. These forms runs within the context of SharePoint and are not available in power apps app gallery. Pros

  • Permissions of the list are applied to the app as well and hence can be customized as required.
  • Tagged to your item forms and can be accessed from the list directly
  • Although its not a replacement of infopath most of the infopath forms customization can be moved to office 365 with power apps
  • Greatly enhances the share point form functionality with various features like collections , variables etc.
  • Can be used to customize both List and library Forms.
  • Easy to trigger power automate workflows from the form.

Cons

  • Item Limitations are set on Fields like managed metadata and lookup columns that make it difficult to retrieve large values
  • Managed metadata field does not appear as a tree view but appears as a drop down field with an item retrieval limit of 20
  • No Direct options to import and export as an app is moving from one list to another

Powerapps is being added with new features on a regular basis and we can expect a lot of new enhancements over AI, portals and connections over the coming days. Please let me know if you see any other differences in the comments section. Happy Sharepointing!!! 

Reference:

Shreepad, N. (2020). Power App And SharePoint – An Introduction. Available at: https://www.c-sharpcorner.com/article/power-app-sharepoint-an-introduction/ [Accessed: 4th March 2021].

Find more great Power Platform content here.

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