Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Flow are two software-as-a-service (SaaS) services from Microsoft that provide opportunities for you to create value added vertical solutions that meet the specific business needs of your customers. They are part of a common application platform for building custom business apps and automated workflows that work on any device.
PowerApps and Microsoft Flow provide a low- or no-code experience to build SaaS apps, forms, and workflows that can be published and shared across an organization. The power of this is that it lets individual users create their own personal or departmental apps, and it also allows organizations to rapidly create more complex custom business applications. For example, an Office 365 user can create a simple application that reads and updates information in a SharePoint list, or enter time off from their mobile device.
Integration with SharePoint
Partners regularly create apps and forms that exchange data from SharePoint lists and other line of business systems to support business processes. Microsoft Flow automates workflow and data exchange between SharePoint and a variety of Microsoft and third-party services. PowerApps and Microsoft Flow share a common connector framework that allows you to integrate dozens of cloud services including OneDrive, Google, Mail Chimp, Twitter, Wunderlist, and more. You can also work with on-premises data from Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint, and Microsoft Exchange using the On-Premises Data Gateway.
SharePoint integrates natively with Microsoft Flow, enabling you to create and launch flows directly from a SharePoint modern list. And from the modern list experience, you can build efficient mobile forms and apps directly from the list using the command bar. Once you have created and customized your app, it appears as a view of that list. Soon, you’ll be able to integrate PowerApps as the default in-browser experience. Users can run the app on a Windows, iOS, or Android device. We continue to add capabilities and recently announced sort, filter, and search capabilities for large SharePoint lists.
Step-by-step guide to building PowerApps for SharePoint
When discussing PowerApps, I am often asked about InfoPath and SharePoint Designer. The guidance provided Microsoft Ignite was that PowerApps is the successor to InfoPath for business forms scenarios, but doesn’t seek feature parity with InfoPath. New scenarios should use PowerApps and leverage mobile-first forms that can use device capabilities and connections to multiple data sources in addition to SharePoint. InfoPath 2013 will be supported through 2026 and you can continue to use it for XML documents, ECM, and offline scenarios.
Microsoft Flow is the successor to SharePoint Designer workflows for basic automation, growing to Logic Apps where needed. Use Microsoft Flow to create new workflows and utilize a rich library of connectors.
You may be wondering how partners fit in with these services that enable citizen developers to create apps with low-code or no-code solutions. While these services are quite powerful, there are limits to what power users can do. You can support their customers by helping them to extend the capabilities of PowerApps and Microsoft Flow to do more complex operations and integrate across more systems where there are no interfaces available by creating a custom API.
These services are part of a common business application platform that includes the Microsoft Common Data Model. The Microsoft Common Data Model (CDM) is an Azure cloud-resident business database and is the key integration component for Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and third-party apps. CDM comes with hundreds of standard business entities that span productivity and business processes. This standardization of schema enables you to build innovative applications and to automate business processes across the business process spectrum with confidence that your solutions can be deployed and used across Microsoft customers. These components, together with Microsoft Azure, provide partners the tools to create the more complex business applications based on the CDM and Azure platform services. The opportunity for you is to help customers build a common data model for their business, and then bring them new applications that drive innovation.
PowerApps and Microsoft Flow are now available for most Office 365 commercial plans.
- Learn more about Microsoft Flow
- Learn more about Microsoft PowerApps
- See what partners are doing with PowerApps
- Partner training and marketing materials
- Get listed in the Microsoft PowerApps partner directory
Community call about Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Flow on Thursday, February 2
Join me on the February 2 community call for an in-depth discussion about PowerApps and Microsoft Flow.