Microsoft Enhances Low-Code Power Apps

Microsoft's nod to the low-code movement, Power Apps, has been enhanced with a bevy of new features, including mixed reality, canvas/model support in a new mobile app, UX improvements and more.

In recent years the low-code/no-code, rapid application development market has exploded in the face of increased demand for enterprise applications amid a dearth of experienced professional coding talent able to harness the greater power of more advanced tools like Visual Studio and VS Code.

The movement to "democratize" app development uses a variety of DIY techniques, including wizards, templates, drag-and-drop functionality and model-driven development.

Speaking of the latter, Microsoft this week announced a public preview of the new ability to "Run canvas apps and model-driven apps on a mobile device." The difference between the two is explained thusly: canvas apps are designed by dragging and dropping elements onto a canvas, just like designing a slide in PowerPoint; model-driven apps are based on components, with the design/layout dictated by which components are used, largely putting specific manual design beyond the developer's control.

Power Apps serve several different constituencies:

  • App makers/creators: They can create basic canvas, model-driven, and portal apps.
  • App users: They can run apps created by themselves or shared with them by other creators, on mobile devices or browsers.
  • Admins: They create and manage environments, users, roles, and data-loss prevention policies.
  • Developers: They can write code to extend the basic functionality of simple Power Apps.

Power Apps on Windows-based devices only support canvas apps, not model-driven apps. That changes with the new Power Apps mobile app (iOS/Android).

"We are excited to announce the public preview availability of the new Power Apps mobile app (iOS and android) that runs both canvas and model-driven apps in a single mobile app," Microsoft said in the April 1 announcement. "Today, using both canvas and model-driven apps together on a mobile device is a painful experience since it requires two different mobile apps to be installed on your device. With the new Power Apps mobile app, you can easily access both canvas and model-driven apps in a single list of apps."

The new functionality was announced as part of the 2020 release wave 1 for Microsoft's Power Platform, which also includes offerings for business intelligence (BI), automation and more. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is also part of that wave.

Mixed Reality in Power Apps
[Click on image for larger view.] Mixed Reality in Power Apps (source: Microsoft).

As part of that wave, Microsoft also announced Power Apps will soon receive a mixed-reality boost. "With these new features, Power Apps is one of the first low-code no-code platforms that makes it possible for everyone to build mixed reality applications," the company said.

The mixed-reality support coming in a May public preview lets users create apps that can:

  • Validate fit before work begins
  • Take measurements
  • Communicate better with 2d/3D models

Other announcements touted:

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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