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Getting Started with PowerApps with Dynamics 365

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Aaron Back, MCP

What is PowerApps?

PowerApps was first introduced back in 2015, and was meant to address 3 problem areas:

  • Not enough skilled mobile developers.
  • Business data proliferation.
  • IT agility and app sharing.

According to Microsoft, PowerApps "is a service that lets you build business apps that run in a browser or on a phone or tablet, and no coding experience is required."

PowerApps logo

Also, PowerApps is not the same as the App Designer within Dynamics 365. I have covered this topic in my previous article "Designing a Custom App in Dynamics 365".

Why would I need PowerApps?

You may be asking yourself this question. Maybe the real question should be, "Is there a need that PowerApps could fill?" Since PowerApps may be new to you, you may not be aware of needs that it could fill.

The purpose of PowerApps is to provide a mobile app experience for your users that is tailored to your business need(s). And, PowerApps, allows you to customize the look and feel to match your brand. Additionally, PowerApps can connect to multiple data sources to provide an intuitive experience for your users.

Note: You can find PowerApps Use Cases here.

Is PowerApps included with my Dynamics 365 subscription?

Before you try to access PowerApps, you should check to see if you have the correct Dynamics 365 subscription.

Note: You should review this article to see which subscriptions include PowerApps.

How do I access PowerApps?

PowerApps can be accessed in several ways which we will cover here.

Office 365

Depending on you subscription, you can access PowerApps through the Office 365 site. Next, navigate to https://www.office.com/apps, log in, and you should see PowerApps listed.

PowerApps in Office 365

 

Then, click on the PowerApps option listed and this will launch the PowerApps site.

Office 365 Admin Center

PowerApps can be accessed through the Office 365 Admin Center. First, navigate to https://portal.office.com/adminportal, and log in. Keep in mind, you must be a Global Administrator to access the Office 365 Admin Center.

Second, scroll down the left-hand menu and expand the "Admin center" option. Now, you should notice PowerApps listed in the menu.
PowerApps in Office 365 Admin Center

Third, click on the PowerApps option listed and this will launch the PowerApps site.

PowerApps sites

Finally, you can access PowerApps directly through the PowerApps sites. There are a couple of sites you need to be aware of.

First, there is the PowerApps Admin site. This can be accessed through the Office 365 Admin Center as mentioned above, or you can navigate directly to https://admin.powerapps.com.

This site is where you will manage your Environments, Data Policies, and Data Integration.

Secondly, there is the main PowerApps site where you will create your PowerApps. This site is based on the Environment(s) created within the PowerApps Admin site. This site can be accessed by navigating to https://web.powerapps.com.

How do I create a PowerApp?

Now that you understand what PowerApps is and how to access the sites, it's time to create your first app. First, navigate to https://web.powerapps.com. Next, you will log in and be taken to a page similar to the below screen shot.

PowerApps site

You should take note of a few areas on this screen before continuing.

Navigating the PowerApps Site

First, you can access the different areas of the PowerApps site using the navigation on the left-hand side.

PowerApps site - navigation

Secondly, you may notice that there is an option in the bottom, left-hand corner. This option allows you to toggle the Design Mode between Canvas or Model-driven.

PowerApps site - toggle design mode

Thirdly, you can start your app building from the Home screen using a template or you can start from scratch.

PowerApps site - templates

 

Lastly, you should note the option in the top, right-hand corner. You are able to switch to a different environment using this option.

PowerApps site - toggle environment

Creating the App

Now comes the creative part! Let's dive into creating the app.

From the home screen, you will need to select a option to start the creation process. For this example, we are using the option named "Start from data". This option will start you with 3 screens: Browse, Detail, and Edit.

Next, you will be taken to a page to choose the data source. In our example, we will choose "Dynamics 365".

Create PowerApp - Choose Dynamics 365

You will now be presented with a screen to choose a table (dataset).

Create PowerApp - Choose a table

For our example, we will choose the Contacts table. Simply type "contacts" into the search field and click on "Contacts", and then click "Connect" in the bottom, right-hand corner.

Create PowerApp - Search for a table

After you click "Connect", you will see a screen that says "Building your app..."

Create PowerApp - Building your app screen

After the app is built, you will now see the editor screen.

Create PowerApp - Editor screen

Testing the App

One of the nice features of the editor is there is a way to preview/test the app to see if the screen behavior is working as intended. Simply click the "Preview the app" button in the upper right corner.

Create PowerApp - Preview the app

Saving and Publishing the App

The features and details of using the app editor would take a series of posts to cover. So, for simplicity, I will explain how to save and publish the app. Then we will cover previewing the app on the phone.

After you have edited the app the way you want it to look and behave, click on "File" in the upper left corner. Then, you will click on "Save".
Create PowerApp - Save your app

Next, you will click "Publish".
Create PowerApp - Publish your app

You will be prompted again to "Publish this version".
Create PowerApp - Publish this version

After the app is published, you can share the app by clicking the "Share this app" button.
Create PowerApp - Share your app

You will prompted with a screen to enter the Names, Email Address, or User Groups. Additionally, you have the option to "Add everyone in my org".
Create PowerApp - Share your app - email screen

How do I get the app on my mobile device?

Now that the app is published, you can access the app on your mobile device. You will need to download the PowerApps app from app store. Once installed, open the app and log in with your credentials.

After you have logged in, you will see a screen with the published apps.
PowerApps mobile - choose app

Open the app and you will now see the search screen.
PowerApps mobile - search screen

Now, you can search for a contact record.
PowerApps mobile - searched name

Once you see the contact record you search for, you can tap it to open the record and view the details.
PowerApps mobile - record opened

In closing

As you can see, creating an app with PowerApps is easy to do and easy to share. The next step is for you to use your creativity paired with your company needs and create your own PowerApp!


Aaron Back is Microsoft Certified Professional with many years experience with Microsoft Dynamics 365 (CRM). He is actively involved with the Microsoft Dynamics CRMUG (User Group) Community. His involvement includes: Serving as Chapter Leader for his local CRMUG Chapter, serving on the CRMUG Board of Advisors, and speaking at the annual CRMUG Summit conference.


ACE Microtechnology, Inc. is a professional services firm committed to delivering Dynamics 365 (CRM) business solutions to small and medium sized organizations. Our focus is on delivering products and services that improve our clients’ business operations. ACE has developed specialties in serving the lite manufacturing, distribution and the hospitality industry.

Rather than just building technology or implementing software, we deliver real business value through industry knowledge and understanding each client’s business. We make it our business to know your business.

For more information or assistance with Dynamics 365 (CRM) contact ACE!

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