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.
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:
David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.