WhiIe we were setting the agenda for the Collab365 Summit (with 128 sessions now all on-demand) we already knew that PowerApps and Flow were going to be popular topics. When we had the opportunity to host 4 fantastic speakers who were willing and able to deliver sessions around these very new technologies, we jumped at the chance.
What are PowerApps?
Some are seeing PowerApps as the eventual replacement to InfoPath Forms (see Maarten's session below). If you don't know ... PowerApps are a "no code" way to develop forms for viewing and editing your data. They actually remind me of Microsoft Access forms in many ways in that Power Users can easily create forms for performing CRUD around a table of data. Only in this case the "table of data" can be one of many different data sources from cloud providers such as SharePoint online, Dropbox, Salesforce and many more.
What is Microsoft Flow?
Microsoft Flow does the same job as something like Zapier or IFTTT. It allows you to react to an event in one service (such as SharePoint online) and do something with the data from that event in another (such as Twitter). E.g. If someone adds a new document to a SharePoint library then send a message to a Slack channel. All this can be done easily with zero coding skills needed.
The other big announcement is that this (along with PowerApps) will end up being tightly integrated into a SharePoint online list or library. It will actually begin to feel like it's part of SharePoint, which is pretty cool!
"PowerApps - What's new"
In this session, Alan Richards gives an excellent overview of PowerApps and also Flow. This session gives you enough information about both products to allow you to answer questions such as "What problems do PowerApps and Flow solve?" and "How can I get started with both products?".
My first SharePoint PowerApp
Becky Bertram builds on top of Alan's and Maarten's session (below) really well as she drills more into PowerApps and also covers licensing.
InfoPath alternatives and the potential of PowerApps
Maarten Visser is always very entertaining when he presents (you need to stay and watch the introduction to his Q&A session). In this awesome session Maarten gives a great summary detailing the history of the "Forms journey" starting with Outlook Forms and ending with what's available today (including InfoPath and PowerApps). What's really great is that he looks at the features offered by InfoPath and explains how you would achieve similar functionality using all of the alternatives. He even ranks them in a easy to view R-A-G Spreadsheet.
In fact the following Infopath alternatives are discussed : Excel Services, Microsoft Forms, Access Apps Forms, Custom SharePoint Forms, Open Source Solutions, SharePoint Third Party Apps, Other Services and of course finally PowerApps.
If you are considering what forms solution to look at then this is a must watch! It also makes you really want to consider taking a look at PowerApps, if you haven't already!
Slides and Resources
Live Demo of PowerApps with Microsoft's Chris McNulty
Chris McNulty joined us on the Live Show to give the very latest information from Microsoft. Chris talks about how PowerApps are aimed at the "citizen developer" (a term first introduced by Gartner). The idea behind the 'Citizen Developer' comment is that PowerApps are aiming to empower normal Power Users so that they can build out their own solutions. Think of the wizards in every department who build wonderful Access or Excel solutions. PowerApps are for them!
Chris stresses that while the number of 'consumer apps' has exploded in recent years, business apps haven't really had the same uptake. Microsoft have designed PowerApps to specifically fill this gap and to allow them to be built fast and mobile friendly out of the box.
After the introductory chat Chris kicks off an in-depth demo illustrating how easy it is to get up and running with PowerApps and Flow.
What's the story with SharePoint integration?
Around 47 minutes, Chris announces what's coming up on the Roadmap. We can expect great integration with the list and library making it a breeze to bring data in from other services and also send data out from the list. What's also really cool is that we are going to be able to expect a SharePoint on-prem connector (as long as the networking setup allows the PowerApp to access local SharePoint).
Useful Links :
Your opinion matters
If you have a view on where PowerApps and Flow will eventually fit into the Enterprise please leave a comment. Maybe you have taken PowerApps or Flow for a spin yourself and have an opinion?