Microsoft 365 – Power Platform – Power Apps – Empowering your Learning Journey: A Comprehensive Guide to Power Apps for Beginners – part 1

fig. Microsoft 365 - Power Platform - Power Apps

“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.”

Hello Everyone,  

Hope you all are doing well.  

For those just stepping into the world of Power Apps, kicking off with a thorough guide is key. This guide serves as our compass, steering us through the basics before we venture into creating apps and tackling more intricate tasks. Consider this guide your initial stride towards a solid grasp of Power Apps.

Key takeaways from this article

At the end of this article we will understand

  • What is Microsoft Power Platform
  • What is Microsoft Power Apps
  • How to get started with Power Apps?
  • Various Power Apps licensing options
  • Is PowerApps free?
  • Essential Knowledge for PowerApps say it in your own word

Microsoft Power Platform

Microsoft 365 - Power Platform
fig. Microsoft 365 – Power Platform

The Microsoft Power Platform is like a toolbox filled with helpful tools for managing digital information. Imagine it as a superhero team, and each member has its own special power:

  • Power BI:
    • Superpower: Visualization
    • Description: Power BI helps us see and understand data through visualizations like charts and graphs. It takes raw data and turns it into a story we can easily follow.
  • Power Apps:
    • Superpower: Building
    • Description: With Power Apps, we become builders. We can create our own apps without being expert coders. It’s like playing with digital building blocks to design how information looks and behaves.
  • Power Automate:
    • Superpower: Automation
    • Description: Power Automate is like a helpful assistant that takes care of repetitive tasks for us. It can move information between different apps, trigger actions automatically, and keep everything flowing smoothly.
  • Virtual Agent:
    • Superpower: Chatbot Creation
    • Description: Virtual Agent is our friendly chatbot creator. It helps us build smart chatbots that can chat with people online. It’s like having a digital assistant that can answer questions or guide users through processes.
  • Power Pages:
    • Superpower: Website Creation
    • Description: Power Pages is our website creator. It allows us to build simple business websites without having to be a web design expert. It’s perfect for telling our digital story without diving into complex coding.

Power Apps

Microsoft 365 - Power Platform - Power Apps
fig. Microsoft 365 – Power Platform – Power Apps

Now that we’ve explored these fantastic tools in our Power Platform toolbox, let’s zoom in on one superhero called Power Apps. Power Apps becomes our personal digital workshop where we, as everyday users, can craft custom apps without getting entangled in complicated code.

  • What Power Apps Does:
    • Easy App Building: We designed Power Apps with people like us in mind, not just tech experts. We can build apps effortlessly by dragging and dropping elements, making it as simple as pie.
    • Connects to Everything: Power Apps serves as our master communicator. It can talk to different programs and databases, ensuring our app gets all the info it needs.
    • Works Anywhere: Imagine having our own app that works on our computer, tablet, or even our phone. Power Apps makes this possibility a reality.
  • How Power Apps Fits In:
    • With Power BI: If we want our app to show cool charts, we can connect it with Power BI.
    • With Power Automate: If we want our app to do things automatically, we can team it up with Power Automate.
    • With Virtual Agent: And if we want our app to have a chatbot friend, Virtual Agent can join the party.

In this way, Power Apps becomes our creative playground, empowering us to build apps tailored to our needs, all without the hassle of dealing with complex code.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the world of Power Apps:

  • Building Blocks of Power Apps:
PowerApps Canvas: Each screen is a digital canvas, a design space where interactions come to life.
fig. PowerApps Canvas: Each screen is a digital canvas, a design space where interactions come to life.
  • Screens: These are like the pages of our app. We design how each screen looks and what happens on it.
PowerApps Essence: Controls—buttons, text boxes, galleries—craft a seamless user interface on our screens.
fig. PowerApps Essence: Controls—buttons, text boxes, galleries—craft a seamless user interface on our screens.
  • Controls: Think of controls as the building materials for our app. Buttons, text boxes, and galleries are all examples. We place them on screens to create the user interface.
  • Data Connections:
PowerApps Data Connection: Links to Excel, SharePoint, databases—our app becomes a dynamic info magnet.
fig. PowerApps Data Connection: Links to Excel, SharePoint, databases—our app becomes a dynamic info magnet.
  • Power Apps becomes our communication maestro, connecting with various data sources like Excel, SharePoint, or databases. This means our app can pull in information from different places, making it a dynamic tool.
  • Formulas and Logic:
PowerApps Fx Formula: Like app instructions, Power Fx formulas make things happen—calculations and element control.
fig. PowerApps Fx Formula: Like app instructions, Power Fx formulas make things happen—calculations and element control.
  • Power Apps uses a language called Power Fx for formulas. Don’t let the name scare us; it’s like a set of instructions. We use formulas to make things happen in our app, like calculations or showing/hiding elements.
  • User Interactivity:
    • Power Apps is all about interaction. We can make our app respond to a button click, swipe, or any other action. It’s like choreographing a dance, but for our app.
  • Responsive Design:
    • Our app isn’t stuck on one device. With Power Apps, we design it once, and magically, it adjusts to different screen sizes. Our app becomes a shapeshifter, ready for any device.
  • Sharing and Collaboration:
Teamwork in PowerApps: Share, use, improve together!
fig. Teamwork in PowerApps: Share, use, improve together!
  • Once our app is ready, we can share it with others in our team or organization. They can use it and even contribute to making it better. It’s like teamwork in the digital world.
  • Common Data Service (CDS):
    • For more advanced scenarios, Power Apps can use the Common Data Service. It’s like a special storage place for our app’s data, making it more organized and efficient.

So, Power Apps isn’t just about creating an app; it’s about crafting an interactive, data-driven experience. Whether we’re building a simple app for personal use or a robust business tool, Power Apps gives us the tools to bring our ideas to life, and the best part is, no coding expertise is required!

Demystifying Microsoft Power Apps Licensing

Understanding Microsoft Power Apps licensing can be a complex task but fear not – we’ve distilled the essentials in a simplified format for you. Note that Microsoft may update licensing options over time, so always refer to official documents or consult with Microsoft experts for the latest information.

Licensing Essentials: The Basics

  • To access Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents services, you must possess a corresponding license for each.
  • Even for basic functionalities like inputting data, querying, and viewing data, a valid license is required. This applies even when accessing via API.

External User Access: A Licensing Necessity

  • If you share a Power Apps canvas app with an external user, they must hold a license to run the app. This extends to guest users requiring a valid license for Power Apps access.

Accessible with These Licenses:

  • Microsoft stand-alone plan
  • Power Apps per app plan
  • Power Apps per user plan
  • Dynamics 365 licenses
  • Office 365 licenses

Diving into Stand-alone Plans: Per App vs. Per User

Power Apps per app plan:

  • Allows an individual user to run 2 custom apps and access 1 custom portal with full Power Apps capabilities.
  • Users can access standard, premium, and custom connectors, along with on-premises data gateway.
  • Provides the ability to create and access custom tables, utilizing Dataverse, with read-only access to Dynamics 365.
  • Enables users to execute various flows within the app context.
  • Offers 50 MB Dataverse database capacity, 400 MB Dataverse file capacity, and 1000 daily Power Platform requests.

Power Apps per user plan:

  • Allows an individual user to run unlimited applications with full Power Apps capabilities.
  • Similar access to standard, premium, and custom connectors, along with the on-premises data gateway.
  • Provides the ability to create and access custom tables, utilizing Dataverse, with read-only access to Dynamics 365.
  • Enables users to execute various flows within the app context.
  • Offers enhanced capacities: 250 MB Dataverse database capacity, 2 GB Dataverse file capacity, and 5000 daily Power Platform requests.

Power Apps Features in Microsoft 365 License Plan (Office 365 License)

  • With an Office 365 license, users can run unlimited canvas apps but cannot run model-driven apps.
  • Access to custom portals is not available.
  • Limited to Power Apps standard connectors; premium and custom connectors, as well as the on-premises data gateway, are not accessible.
  • Dataverse can be utilized for Teams only.
  • Daily Power Platform requests are capped in 2000.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

  • Create a Microsoft Account:
    • If we don’t already have one, let’s create a Microsoft account. We can use our existing personal account or set up a new one.
  • Access PowerApps:
  • Explore PowerApps Home:
    • Familiarize ourselves with the PowerApps home screen. This is our hub for creating, managing, and accessing our apps.
  • Learn the Basics:
    • Understand the distinction between Canvas Apps and Model-Driven Apps.
    • Watch introductory videos provided by Microsoft for an overview of PowerApps.
  • Start Creating Our First App:
    • Click on “Apps” in the left menu, then select “Create an app.”
    • Choose whether we want to create a Canvas App or Model-Driven App.
    • Follow the guided steps to craft our app.
  • Connect Data:
    • Explore the “Data” tab to link our app to various data sources such as SharePoint, Excel, or Common Data Service.
  • Add Controls and Elements:
    • Drag and drop controls onto our app’s screens to interact with our data. Explore diverse controls like buttons, galleries, and forms.
  • Learn Power Fx Formulas:
    • Delve into Power Fx, the formula language in PowerApps. Start with basic formulas for manipulating data and controlling our app’s behaviour.
  • Test Our App:
    • Click on the “Preview” button to test our app, ensuring it functions seamlessly on different devices.
  • Publish Our App:
    • Once content with our app, click on “Publish” to make it accessible for others in our organization.
  • Share Our App:
    • Share our app with specific users or groups within our organization. Understand the sharing and collaboration features.
  • Explore Templates and Samples:
    • Seek inspiration and examples by exploring the templates and sample apps provided by Microsoft.
  • Learn More:
    • Dive deeper into PowerApps by exploring advanced features, attending webinars, and reading documentation.
    • Connect with the PowerApps community through forums for support and to share experiences.
  • Stay Updated:
    • Keep abreast of regular updates to PowerApps and the Power Platform. Stay informed about new features and improvements in the ecosystem.

Essential Knowledge for PowerApps Success

To effectively navigate PowerApps, we, as users, can leverage its potential without a deep technical background. Let’s explore key areas where familiarity can significantly enhance our experience:

  • Basic Understanding of Data:
    • Acquiring knowledge of data structures, particularly in common formats like tables (Excel), SharePoint lists, or databases (SQL).
  • Microsoft Office Suite:
    • Utilizing familiarity with Microsoft Office tools, especially Excel and SharePoint, as PowerApps often integrates seamlessly with these applications.
  • Cloud Services:
    • Gaining a basic grasp of cloud concepts, especially Microsoft Azure if Common Data Service is in use, as PowerApps frequently interacts with cloud services.
  • Understanding of Business Processes:
    • Developing a basic comprehension of the business processes intended for automation or streamlining with PowerApps.
  • Power Platform Ecosystem:
    • Familiarizing ourselves with the broader Power Platform ecosystem, encompassing Power BI for reporting and visualization, and Power Automate for automation.
  • Basic Programming Concepts:
    • Embracing fundamental programming concepts, despite PowerApps being a no-code/low-code platform. This includes understanding variables, conditional statements, and loops.
  • Data Sources:
    • Understanding how to connect to diverse data sources. PowerApps can seamlessly connect to various services, databases, and APIs.
  • User Interface (UI) Design:
    • Developing a basic understanding of UI design principles, empowering us to create user-friendly apps. This includes knowledge of controls, layouts, and user experience (UX) concepts.
  • Power Fx (Formula Language):
    • Familiarizing ourselves with Power Fx, the formula language in PowerApps. Although designed to be user-friendly, some familiarity with formulas can prove advantageous.
  • Security and Permissions:
    • Understanding how security and permissions function within our organization, especially if we’re tasked with sharing and managing PowerApps.
  • Troubleshooting Skills:
    • Cultivating basic troubleshooting skills to identify and resolve potential issues that may arise during the PowerApps development or usage.
  • Continuous Learning:
    • Embracing a mindset of continuous learning as PowerApps and the Power Platform continually evolve. Staying updated with the latest features and best practices through Microsoft’s documentation, community forums, and other learning resources.

Wondering about PowerApps and any associated charges?

No worries! PowerApps offers not one, but two complimentary plans:

  • The Power Apps Developer Plan (formerly known as the Power Apps Community Plan) and
  • 30-day free trial of the Power Apps Plan.

These options let you dive into the PowerApps world, explore its features, and even venture into production—all without reaching for your wallet. Ready to embark on your cost-free journey into app creation?

Exciting times ahead! In our next piece, we’ll dive deeper into PowerApps, unveiling more insights and practical tips to supercharge your app-building journey. Get ready for a closer look at features, advanced tricks, and hands-on examples that make creating apps a breeze. Stay tuned for the magic unfolding! Happy exploring!

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Have a wonderful day.  

Thanks for reading. 

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