Introducing Power Apps
In this chapter, we will begin with some of the basic concepts of Power Apps, and what it means to work with it. We will investigate some of the key elements for getting started with the technology, including some of the pre-built example apps that we can use as an aid for learning. We will also take a look at the licensing aspect of Power Apps to help explain the different levels, and what it means to you as an app developer.
Finally, we will look at the development environment, specifically the Power Apps portal, and Power Apps Studio. Part of the learning process is just finding out where information and components are located, which means that your ongoing journey as an app developer will be that much smoother.
In this chapter, we will cover the following topics:
- Understanding Power Apps
- Understanding Power Apps licensing
- Understanding the types of app
- The Power Apps start screen
- Starting with templates
- Using Power Apps Studio
By the end of this chapter, you will have an understanding of the fundamentals of Power Apps and what is possible within it. You will start your Power Apps journey by discovering what apps are included as working examples, and how you can use them to get started.
In order to follow this and all the subsequent chapters in this book, you will need to have access to Microsoft Power Apps. As we will be exploring both standard and premium features, I recommend that you sign up for a Power Apps Developer Plan, as this will give you access to the full power of the Power Platform without having to pay for your own tenancy. You can sign up for your free Developer Plan at https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/developerplan/.
Understanding Power Apps
Power Apps is an ever-growing part of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, where developers and business users alike are empowered to create apps. Power Apps encourages the no-code/low-code and pro-code worlds to come together for the common purpose of finding workable solutions to real-life business problems.
As an example, Power Apps has proved to be extremely useful as a replacement for legacy paper systems, so that data can be returned for processing at a much faster speed. I personally have created an app enabling construction surveyors to complete an assessment of completed works using a Power App instead of a clipboard and paper. It allowed them to capture data, GPS information, and photographs all in one place, with the data being submitted back to the office as soon as they pressed save.
Interestingly, in the Microsoft world, it has helped to bridge the two key communities of collaboration (Microsoft 365) and CRM (Dynamics 365), as these communities now have a common platform for developing their low-code solutions. This allows for a huge amount of diversity for developers as they can utilize Microsoft Dataverse, the online database platform that powers Dynamics, for low-code relational databases, or even use SharePoint for very simple data structures.
If we think back to how we used to achieve low-code development with the likes of SharePoint, we would have to use products such as InfoPath, where we could combine custom logic with a number of visual components to extend the user experience:
Figure 1.1: InfoPath as an editing application
InfoPath, love it or hate it, was one of the initial low-code development tools that allowed us to create more intelligent interfaces for our data using a visual editor combined with code to create the desired functionality.
Power Apps shares some commonalities with InfoPath, with apps being created using visual tools and logic created using formulas. Just one of the key differences, however, is that with Power Apps, apps are developed through the browser without the dependency on additional applications needing to be installed on the desktop. This also builds into the Microsoft vision of mobility, where a user can work on their app anywhere in the world, at any time, from any device. The only prerequisite to this is that the developer has a connection to the internet.
Power Apps aren’t written with code; instead, they are created with formulas, similar to Microsoft Excel, a tool that the majority of the modern workforce are familiar with.
For example, if we wanted to combine or concatenate strings in Excel, we would use the following formula:
Figure 1.2: Formulas in Microsoft Excel
Figure 1.3: Formulas in Microsoft Power Apps
With this familiar approach to building logic, you don’t need to be a developer to start creating solutions to business problems. For developers, Power Apps can be enriched using custom-developed components using the Power Apps Component Framework (PCF), which allows the creation of additional experiences using modern web development practices.
From personal experience, I find Power Apps to be an excellent rapid application development or prototyping tool. Due to the drag-and-drop nature of its design, I can quickly and easily place components on a screen to establish a basic look and feel for an app while also connecting to some of the more rudimentary data sources, such as an Excel spreadsheet or a SharePoint list.
Power Apps itself is part of a larger family of services known as the Power Platform. It partners with other services such as Power Automate, Power BI, and Power Virtual Agents, all of which allow users to create rich solutions without having to write code.
Before we dive into how we create apps, we should explore Power Apps’ licensing options, since their cost will be a huge influence on the design decisions you make when creating apps.
Understanding Power Apps licensing
There are a number of options available when it comes to licensing Power Apps. Like all of Microsoft’s products, there are differing levels of licenses available, which will govern the functionality you can use or what services you have available to you. Licensing is one of those areas that always causes a lot of confusion; while we explore the key concepts, you should always consult your license providers should you have any specific questions.
When we talk about the licenses, we can make comparisons between a number of different metrics. The key one that will affect us, however, is the functionality we have available to us.
Power Apps is not included with the home versions of Office 365; however, it is included with most of the business licenses and all of the enterprise licenses. This means that the majority of Microsoft 365 users will have the ability to create and use Power Apps to enhance, extend, and customize their Office applications. These are now what is known as seeded apps; that is, they are a part of the Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 licenses.
Since they are a part of the Office 365 and Dynamics 365 packages, they do not cost you or your organization anything on top of your existing license. The only thing you need to be aware of is that you only have access to a subset of the connectors that are available on the Microsoft Power Platform. For example, Azure, SQL Server, and Dynamics connectors are considered premium, and are therefore not available at this license level.
Per-user plans allow you to pay for a license for a single user, which allows them to access the full capabilities of Power Apps. The capabilities that are included in this type of plan were previously split between Power Apps Plan 1 and Power Apps Plan 2. However, in a more simplified model, the per-user plan encapsulates all of the functionality that the old plans offered.
The types of functionality that this plan unlocks for you include the ability to use the data gateway, which allows you to connect to on-premises data sources. It also gives you access to all of the premium connectors, as well as the ability to create custom connectors. We will explore connectors in more detail in Chapter 8, Introducing Connectors.
Upgraded licensing gives you access to the management and administration areas of Power Apps, including the ability to use Microsoft Dataverse (introduced in Chapter 15, Introducing Model-Driven Apps) and the ability to fully utilize environments (introduced in Chapter 17, Exploring Environments within Our Tenancy).
It is worth noting that if your app uses premium functionality, both the app creator and the app user will need to have a relevant license assigned to them. For example, if we were using a premium connector, both the creator and the user would require a premium license provided by the per-user or per-app plans.
Per-user plans cost $40 per user, per month, and allow those users to run unlimited apps. If an organization doesn’t want to license every user, there is an alternative, which is the per-app plan.
The per-app plan is intended to be a lower-cost entry point for organizations that are beginning to adopt Power Apps as part of their ongoing strategy. The reason for this level is that organizations will often start with a small number of use cases, typically 1 or 2, which makes the per-user plan extremely expensive.
The cost of the per-app plan is $10 per user, per app, per month. This plan can also license access to one portal instead of an app, if preferred.
If you want to really explore the capabilities of Power Apps without the license costs, you can create a free development environment using the Power Apps Developer Plan. This is an environment that gives you complete access to the full capabilities of Power Apps; however, only a single user can use this plan, which means you can’t share the apps with anyone else:
Figure 1.4: Power Apps Developer Plan home screen
To sign up for this plan, navigate to https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/developerplan/ and click on Get started free. You will need to enter your work email address, that is, your Office 365 email address, so that the demo environment can be associated with you:
Figure 1.5: Power Apps Developer Plan sign-up screen
Once you have completed the signup process, a new environment will be created for you, generally with your name associated with it, for example, Matthew Weston’s environment, where you can start to create and test your Power Apps.
This will be a good place for you to build the app that we will create as we proceed through the labs, since some of the elements that we’ll require are features that are provided by the per-user or per-app (premium) plans.
Now that we have looked at how much it’s going to cost us to create an app, let’s have a look at what we can actually create.
Understanding the types of apps
As app developers, we now have multiple ways in which we can author our apps. The choice of our development environment will determine how we build, where we deploy to, the data sources that we can connect to, and ultimately how our users access our apps.
All of the different ways of authoring the apps have their own use cases, and we will explore them throughout the book:
- Canvas apps
- Model-driven apps
- SharePoint List Form apps
- Microsoft Teams Power Apps (Dataverse for Teams)
Canvas apps are the mainstay of apps that are developed using Power Apps. They allow you to develop lightweight apps that are specifically intended for mobile devices, as well as apps that are being developed for tablet and desktop use:
Figure 1.6: An example of a canvas app that has been generated from the Site inspection template
Creating canvas apps is simple – it follows the drag-and-drop methodology so that you can add components and position them onto the page, which gives you complete control over the layout. Combine this with the ability to create logic by using Excel-like functions and expressions, and you now have the ability to interact with data in a way that allows Power Apps developers of all skill levels to build functional apps.
Canvas apps are extremely flexible in terms of the data sources they can connect to, being able to connect to over 450 different services to consume and display data, resulting in an extremely versatile and flexible app. We will take a look at them in greater detail in Chapter 2, Creating Your First Canvas Power App.
Model-driven apps differ slightly from canvas apps in terms of the development approach. With canvas apps being user experience-driven, model-driven apps are driven by the underlying data, as shown in the following screenshot. In contrast to canvas apps, the layouts in a model-driven app are much more controlled, with grid-based layouts being used to show the content from the underlying Dataverse database. We still have the ability to create an app in a short amount of time, without writing code, but much more of the emphasis is put on the database structure:
Figure 1.7: An example model-driven app
Model-driven apps share the same principles as canvas apps in that they allow you to create powerful apps without resorting to code; however, the thought process is very different and starts with the underlying data. From a personal development point of view, model-driven apps have been used a lot more as back-office solutions, where the user doesn’t need to take advantage of the richer set of components available to a canvas app. We will investigate model-driven apps in more detail in Chapter 16, Creating Model-Driven Apps.
SharePoint List Form apps
SharePoint List Form apps are designed to help with the deep integration with SharePoint Online, where the standard out-of-the-box list forms can be overridden by a canvas app. They are created using the same editing experience as standard canvas apps, but are designed to react to the standard SharePoint user events such as creating new items, editing, and viewing. We will explore them in Chapter 3, Creating Apps in SharePoint.
Microsoft Teams Power Apps (Dataverse for Teams)
Microsoft Teams and Power Apps integration has been hugely improved, and we will investigate the relationship in Chapter 19, Dataverse. Microsoft Teams now has the ability to author and interact with Power Apps directly within the Microsoft Teams interface, using Dataverse for Teams.
Creating the app in Teams, however, does mean that it must be accessed through the Microsoft Teams interface, rather than through the Power Apps app, but it allows us to utilize the full power of the Power Platform within our collaboration environment.
The key aspects of this book will focus on the creation of canvas apps, but the techniques that we put into practice will provide you with the skills necessary to create apps in each of the other environments.
The Power Apps start screen
To start your Power Apps journey, we need to navigate to the start screen. Microsoft 365 has shown that Microsoft is being much more consistent in terms of its user experience development throughout the whole ecosystem. Therefore, like other applications, Power Apps is either available from the Microsoft 365 portal page (portal.office.com) or from the app launcher, which is located at the top-left corner of the Microsoft 365 portal, as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.8: The Microsoft 365 app launcher
The Home screen
The Home screen is the first page that you will be presented with, and it provides you with a number of navigation options, including the ability to create new apps and open recent apps and any apps that have been developed by someone else and shared with you:
Figure 1.9: The Power Apps Home screen
- The main screen: This is the primary working area and will allow you to create a number of apps, which we will explore later.
- The left-hand navigation: This will allow us to access a number of resources that will aid us when we start building our own apps.
If you are new to Power Apps, then there will be a number of resources available to you, all of which are available from the Learning Resources screen.
The Learning Resources screen
Adoption is now at the forefront of the Microsoft agenda; therefore, Microsoft provides a swathe of learning materials to help users of all abilities create Power Apps. They have a number of guided learning lessons that provide basic computer-based training so that users can create both a basic canvas app and a basic model-driven app.
This is further enhanced by the Microsoft Docs site, which is dedicated to Power Apps, to provide additional knowledge in textual format. Both of these elements will allow you to take your first steps; however, the Microsoft Power Apps Community is the most valuable resource on here.
Just like the Microsoft Tech Community (https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/), this is the home of a number of Power Apps experts who are willing to help and share their knowledge with other Power Apps developers.
The final part of this screen that provides a lot of value is the What’s new section, which will provide you with announcements and updates as and when Microsoft releases them. This includes technology advances, conference announcements, and general adoption notices:
Figure 1.10: Power Apps support resources
Now that we have familiarized ourselves with the learning resources, let’s have a look at the Apps screen.
The Apps screen
The Apps screen works in the same way as many other Microsoft applications; you are presented with the Power Apps that you have been developing or can access. This list of apps has now been simplified just to show your apps, but uses views to switch between My apps and Org apps:
Figure 1.11: My apps / Org apps view selector
Clicking on the My apps dropdown will allow you to pre-filter your apps list to either the apps that you are directly working on, or the Org apps, which are those that have been shared with the whole organization.
Usefully, we have the ability to search for our apps, which is absolutely key when we begin to create lots of them.
Now, all you need to know is how you can create new apps.
The Create screen
The creation screen is where you will decide what type of app you are going to create and how you are going to create it. You will have the option to create a canvas app (as either a mobile or a tablet app), a blank model-driven app, or a model-driven app from your data, or to use one of the many templates that are available to you as a starting point:
Figure 1.12: App creation screen
We will investigate the creation of apps in more detail in Chapter 2, Creating Your First Canvas Power App. The next area you need to familiarize yourself with is the Data menu.
The More menu
The latest changes to the Power Apps user interface have now introduced a flexible navigation section. The flexibility comes from the ability for you, as a user, to be able to select and pin which items you wish to see. The More part of the menu shows the options which are available with a pin button next to each option if you wish to make it a persistent option on your menu.
Figure 1.13: The More menu
The key function of this menu area is to provide access to the Dataverse database, the underlying database that can be used across your model-driven apps and your canvas apps (we will find out more about it in Chapter 16, Visualizing Data). Not only does it give you access to Dataverse, but it also allows you to manage your service connections that are in use within your apps, as well as managing custom connectors and any on-premises data gateways that are in use. Our gateways allow us to create connections to data sources that are still hosted in an on-premises environment, such as SQL Server and SharePoint.
There are a few key areas in the Data menu, the first being Tables.
Tables, previously known as entities, effectively allow you to model data within Dataverse. A table defines the information that is related to a specific type of record. For example, an account table may have an account number, a sort code, and an account name. This data can then be used within Power Apps and Power Automate if we refer to the table. Microsoft provides a number of tables when you provision your Dataverse database that cover many basic examples, such as contacts, emails, tasks, and so on.
Each table comprises several fields, each of which has a display name, an internal name, a data type, and some basic user settings so that you can specify how each field is used. Once you have these fields, you can add relationships to them so that you can enforce one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many relationships with other tables.
Business rules can be applied so that you can build logic and validation routines without the user having to write any code. When selecting business rules, you will be redirected to the appropriate Power Apps screen, which relies on Dynamics 365:
Figure 1.14: Business rule creation screen
On the right-hand side of the screen, you will see tabs for Components and Properties, which are used for adding actions and conditions to the flow:
Figure 1.15: Business rule components
The next option we will explore is related to choices, which we can use within tables.
Choices, formerly known as Option sets, are fields that have a defined set of options available to them. Similar to Managed Metadata terms in SharePoint, they are designed to promote data consistency across the platform. Just like all the other aspects of Dataverse, Microsoft provides a number of system-generated Choices that you can use in your own apps or that you can follow as examples. One such example is Fiscal Period, which has a set of options, such as Quarter 1, Quarter 2, and so on:
Figure 1.16: The Choices creation screen
Now that we have looked at Tables and Choices, we can look at the next key area, which is related to our data connections.
The Connections screen is one of the most useful screens you will come across as an administrator because you can easily identify and troubleshoot any issues that may occur with your connections. Connections are the services your apps have connected to, through which data will flow. You will be able to see what services are connected, when the connections were created, and their general health. If this screen shows an issue, then you will be able to fix it without having to log in and use Power Apps:
Figure 1.17: The Connections list
We will investigate connectors in more detail in Chapter 8, Introducing Connectors. Apart from looking at in-built connectors, we can also look at any connectors that we have built.
There are hundreds of connectors that you can use within your apps; however, there will be times where you’ll need to integrate with a system that either doesn’t have a native or third-party connector, which is usually a service that you have developed yourself, or a third-party API that you would like to connect to, for example, OpenWeatherAPI.
Custom connectors allow you to connect to REST web services so that you can interact with data. We will look at how to do this in Chapter 8, Introducing Connectors. Any custom connectors that have been created within your tenancy will be listed here.
When we talk about Flows, we’re talking about Microsoft Power Automate. Power Automate is intended to be the workflow that will replace legacy SharePoint Designer workflows. Clicking on Flows from the left menu will open Power Automate. We will explore Microsoft Power Automate in Chapter 13, Using Power Automate with Power Apps.
The newest member of the Power Platform family is Power Virtual Agents, a no-code/low-code service for creating chatbots. Power Virtual Agents allows you to use the Azure bot framework, along with a number of other Microsoft Azure services, such as natural language processing, to enable users to find information in ways other than browsing.
AI Builder is possibly one of the most exciting parts of the whole Power Platform, being able to build, train, and utilize AI to be able to process data automatically based on identified patterns. Just like other aspects of the Power Platform, the creation of the AI model is done in a no-code way, meaning that this technology can be utilized by users of all skill levels. This puts the power of key features, including data extraction and object detection, into the hands of the business user. We will investigate AI Builder in Chapter 17, AI Builder.
Solutions are packages of functionality created within the Power Platform that can be exported between environments, or provide the ability to implement application lifecycle management (ALM). Solutions are not just limited to apps; they can contain all of the building blocks including Dataverse tables, global variables, apps, and even flows.
Now that we have familiarized ourselves with the key elements of the left-hand menu, we can now begin to create our first apps. The ideal place for us to start is the in-built templates.
Starting with templates
Microsoft provides an expanding gallery of templates that you can use to get your Power Apps journey started. The template gallery is easily accessed by clicking on Create on the left-hand navigation. Each template is more than just a scaffold of an app – it is a fully functional Power App that integrates with various aspects of your Office 365 tenancy to provide immediate functionality. In this section, we will look at two of my favorite app templates, but it is recommended that you review the functionality that’s contained in the others as there are lessons that can be drawn from all of them.
Leave request app
The leave request app is a good example of a generated Power App that can quickly add value to organizations that don’t rely on an already established system so that you can manage leave requests. It creates a number of screens that show you how you can use various controls and methods of navigation to achieve quite a common business use case.
This Power App creates two connections: one to Outlook, in order to save and retrieve leave information in your Outlook calendar, and another to the Microsoft Graph in the shape of Office 365 users. This allows the Power App to determine the line manager of the user requesting leave so that it can send emails.
The tablet version looks as follows:
Figure 1.18: Leave request app in tablet format
The mobile version looks as follows:
Figure 1.19: Leave request app in phone format
As well as having templates that are based on individual activities, we also have templates that are based on business functions.
Help desk app
The help desk app is another app that is commonly used by organizations to quickly add value, since it captures service requests from a mobile device. It also uses connections that go back to the Office 365 user profile to draw data on the user who has logged in, such as their username and email address:
Figure 1.20: The Help desk app, a phone app focused on managing support tickets
Now that we have looked at generating some basic apps from templates, we should familiarize ourselves with the actual development environment so that we’re ready to start creating powerful apps of our own.
Using Power Apps Studio
Power Apps Studio is your primary developer tool for creating, updating, testing, and deploying canvas apps. In this section, we will explore Power Apps Studio, which is where you will take your app ideas from concept to delivery. It is important that you know your way around the studio so that your development time is spent creating the app rather than looking for options and controls. Understanding your development environment will vastly improve your development experience and will also allow you to greatly expand the functionality that’s available within your app.
By the end of this section, you will know about the key areas of Power Apps Studio, including the primary menu area and the formula bar. You will also learn how to view your screens, use the canvas, and find and review the properties of your app.
Power Apps Studio is completely browser-driven and is supported by all modern browsers, unlike other developer tools. Everything you do is, by default, saved to your Power Platform environment, so you don’t need to concern yourself with maintaining code in a code repository.
Power Apps Studio will launch when you start creating your app or if you open an existing app in edit mode. This screen consists of the following areas:
- Formula bar
- Left rail
- Tree view
These are shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.21: The Power Apps Studio screen
Most of the key activities we can perform are located in the menus, so let’s familiarize ourselves with what they are.
Power Apps Studio menus
The menus within Power Apps Studio are designed to be contextual, which means that they change depending on the activity that you are carrying out within the studio. For example, if you are working with a screen, you will see some options, and if you’re using a text box then you will see other options.
There are some parts of the menu which remain consistent though. For example, the left side of the menu will always give you the ability to leave the studio using the Back button, the ability to undo and redo actions as well as the ability to insert new controls:
Figure 1.22: The left side of the app studio menu
On the right side of the menu are your app buttons, where you can share your app, make comments, switch into test mode, save and publish:
Figure 1.23: The right side of the app studio menu
designed to have the same look and feel as the menus that you use throughout the rest of the Microsoft Office suite. These menus use groups to combine similar functions to make your app creation experience as consistent as possible.
Now that we have looked at the menu and learned how we can add new items to our Power App, let’s look at the formula bar, which is where we can tell the app what to do.
Power Apps formula bar
The formula bar is the key development area and allows you to build logic and actions for the components that you place on the screen. Its look, feel, and behavior is very similar to Microsoft Excel, where logic is built using formulas. We will explore formulas in more detail in Chapter 6, Exploring Formulas:
Figure 1.24: The Power Apps formula bar
Microsoft has produced an extensive guide to the formulas within Power Apps. This can be found on the Microsoft Docs site at https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/power-platform/power-fx/formula-reference.
The Tree view list on the left-hand side of Power Apps Studio is a very important part of your app development experience. It doesn’t just show the screens that you have created – it also shows you a hierarchical view of all of the controls that you have added to your screens:
Figure 1.25: The Screens browser
When you are in a Tree view, screens and components will have an ellipsis (...) next to them, which allows you to perform a number of actions without having to interact with the control or locate it on the canvas itself. Some of the key actions that you can undertake are as follows:
- Rename: Change the name of the screen or control
- Copy and Paste: Copy the selected control to the clipboard and then paste it again
- Reorder: Change the order of the controls in the same way as we discussed when we looked at the Home menu
- Align: Align the control on the canvas (this will only appear when selecting the menu for a control, not a screen)
- Delete: Remove the selected object
- Duplicate screen: Create an exact replica of your selected screen
The App selection option in the screens list corresponds to the app as a whole. The options that are available to you on this object are extremely limited, but it does give you access to the OnStart event. This is a really useful event as you can carry out particular actions when the app is loaded for the first time without the need for any interaction from the user.
This is commonly used to create local caches of data so that the app is ready to serve data when it’s finished loading. It can also be used to populate a cache so that it can be used for offline working. It is worth noting that this OnStart event will only run when the app is launched from the browser or from a mobile device; it will not fire when you’re using preview mode in the studio.
You can run an OnStart event manually and at any time by clicking on the ellipsis next to App and selecting Run OnStart.
Now that we have found out where we can view our screens, let’s focus on where most of the work will take place.
The Power Apps canvas
Figure 1.26: The Power Apps canvas in phone mode
Any controls that are added to the page can be selected so that you can interact with them. For example, if you place a rectangle icon onto the screen, you will notice that it has a number of handles surrounding it, which means that you can resize the component by holding down the mouse button and then dragging. You can also move it around the screen and place it exactly where you want that control to appear:
Figure 1.27: Control interaction points, which allow you to move and resize the icon
Unlike with other developer tools, you are unable to place a control outside the boundary of the screen, which means that if you use a component, it will be displayed on your screen unless you change its visibility to hidden.
Now that we have a component on the screen, you will notice that a breadcrumb at the bottom of the screen has started to build. This will show you the component hierarchy that you are currently interacting with:
Figure 1.28: The breadcrumb
In the case of our rectangle, the only parent for that control is Screen1; however, when we investigate Forms and Gallery controls later in this book, you will see this expand further as we can nest controls inside a form or a gallery.
As you start to add more controls to the screen, it is particularly useful to zoom in and isolate specific parts of the screen or zoom out to be able to view the canvas in its entirety. Zoom is located at the bottom right of the canvas window and can be modified by using the slider control or by using the increase (+) and decrease (-) buttons at either end of it:
Figure 1.29: Zooming in and out with the zoom control
When using your zoom control, you can quickly return to the best possible fit by clicking on the best fit for the window button, which is located to the far right of the zoom and represented by the diagonal arrows.
Looking at the Properties area
Figure 1.30: The properties for Screen1 being displayed in the Properties area
Let’s look at each of them in detail.
When you select a control on the canvas, the Properties group will show you the common properties that you will need in order to start customizing it. If we take our rectangle as an example, the Properties display will relate to the fill color, border, and positioning. If we were to compare this to a label control, we would also see text color as a property:
Figure 1.31: The properties of a rectangle showing the different parts of the control that you can change
The common elements of the controls can be edited from the Properties tab, and allow simple interaction. If we want to dive more into the various options, then we need to head to Advanced.
While the Properties group will show you the common properties that you can set, the Advanced tab will show you all of the properties for your selected control. It also gives you the ability to search for a property and type your formula or value straight into the property:
Figure 1.32: The Advanced properties tab
The key difference to be aware of when working with Advanced is that you don’t have the same graphical representation that you do on the Properties tab. For example, the Fill is represented as the red, green, blue, and alpha values, which means you can’t select a color from a color palette.
In this chapter, we looked at the various types of apps that can be created using Microsoft Power Apps and the differences between canvas apps and model-driven apps. We explored the ways in which we can get started, whether that’s by using a blank app or by using one of the excellent templates that are provided by Power Apps.
As we explored the left-hand side menu, we came across connectors, data models in the form of tables, and Microsoft Power Automate, which is our business logic platform. We can combine all of these to create powerful apps without having to write any code.
We also looked at the key elements of Power Apps Studio, which is the key development tool on your Power Apps journey. We looked at various menus and how they can be used to apply basic styling and configuration to our app and components. We investigated the Insert menu and the types of controls that can be added through this menu, which range from inputs to media controls.
Then, we looked at the makeup of the main development area, including the screens list in the Tree view, which contains not only your screens but also any components that have been added to that screen. From here, we have the ability to undertake basic actions on those components, such as reordering, copying, and duplicating.
Finally, we started to delve into the realms of formulas and functionality through the formula bar and the properties pane. We can apply conditional logic using rules and see all of the available properties by selecting the Advanced tab.
In the next chapter, we’ll create our first canvas app.
- What are the three app types that we can build?
- What is the name of the underlying database?
- What is used to bridge Power Apps and Power Automate to other services?
- Which type of app gives you full control over the layout of your components?
- Which type of Power Apps license do you have with Microsoft 365?
- What URL allows us to directly access Power Apps?
- For an app to be classified as an Org app, who must it be shared with?
- True or false: You can access Power Automate from the Power Apps portal.
- What is Power Apps? by Microsoft: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powerapps/powerapps-overview
- Formula reference for Power Apps: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powerapps/maker/canvas-apps/formula-reference
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