Microsoft PowerApps: Canvas Vs Model-driven Apps

By Jeff Warwick

“There’s an app for that,” how many times have you heard this and thought it’s just too repetitive. An app for this and an app for that, what does it matter, it’s not helping you directly.

With Power Apps, Microsoft has provided a platform to create custom applications (Mobile and Desktop). Requiring no heavy coding or experience, you can develop them to meet a variety of internal needs. Similarly, you can link your existing data sources into Power Apps and create one-of-a-kind applications. With the option to link to over 200 sources and 100 templates, this provides you with what you want.

At its core, there are two types of apps you can create, Canvas and Model-driven. Yet what’s the difference between them and how can they impact your applications? In this piece, we’ll discuss what these options are and what they’ll provide to your user experience.

Canvas_Model_PowerApps from Clients First Business Solutions on Vimeo.

Canvas Apps

Within PowerApps is a visual canvas to help you design and build apps. Known as Canvas Apps, these provide a comfortable environment to create what you need.

Rather than using complicated coding or programming tools, you have something much different for use. To create the app, you can drag and drop various elements into your canvas from whatever you require. Throughout, you can format the right conditions and settings that are needed to make the application work.

If you’re utilizing existing data sources, you can create apps that integrate directly with them without any issues. All of which can be done using a whole selection of Microsoft and third-party sources that are compatible. Microsoft has developed over 200 unique sources for data integration including Office 365, Dynamics 365, SQL, SharePoint and the Common Data Service. The result is fully-customized apps that can be easily shared by any member of your organization.

Model Apps

If the app you’re designing requires complex business logic, you may need to have what is called a “model app”. Model apps can run as either a standalone or as the backend to a canvas app. One of the core benefits of Model-driven apps is their ability to generate data models. When inputted, the data is defined as a structure which allows the app to conform to your information.

No matter the source, the app conforms to your data and not the other way around. Similarly, whenever you develop an application, having consistent business processes can be a deciding factor. The various steps that make up your processes can be the guide to an app’s successful creation.

Once this is all finished, you can use your app designer to develop the final product. No matter how complex or easy, what matters is the steps that provide the basis for its completion. The simple application architecture allows you to customize the app, without creating new code.

“What’s the difference between Canvas and Model?”

Upon reading about Canvas and Model-driven apps, your initial reaction might be “They sound the same.” To an extent, you’re right, but that’s not the whole truth. While both have similar components to their design, the fundamental difference is over user control. When creating a Canvas App, you have full control over every single aspect of the result.

In contrast, Model Apps are controlled more by the data and information you enter into it. What you input is effectively what decides the outcome. The layout, functionality and general design will be more affected than a Canvas-based application.

If you want flexibility there’s Canvas, yet if you crave structure, Model-driven apps can provide that. Expanding to meet expectations, Microsoft’s PowerApp options provide you with the tools to succeed in business.

Jeff Warwick

Partner, Clients First Business Solutions New Jersey

Jeff Warwick is an experienced partner at Clients First with over 20 years of ERP solution selling under his belt. With his honest approach and fine attention to detail, Jeff has helped hundreds of growing businesses find the right ERP software and technology to last the life of their business. When he’s not driving high impact results for his valued customers, you can find Jeff rocking out on his guitar at his local church!