Playing with Power: PowerApps


 

Introducing... Mike-EEE!

Hello world!  My name is Michael DeMond, or as I am known by my (now-former) gamer tag: Mike-EEE.  If you are wondering how someone like me has managed to find their way onto the main stage of a professionally awesome writing crew, featuring the best creative writing Azure Development minds on the web, then you're not alone!  You can consider me the groupie of the crew here (who also happens to not be related to the main star, go figure!) that managed to somehow find himself in a new adventure -- for the record, I am still wondering what an MCC and TOGAF is! -- and will make the best of it by attempting to contribute some value in today's article.

Speaking of adventure, today for my first post I wanted to talk about a new, emerging client-side technology from the prestigious Azure group, PowerApps.  In my free time (if you're really wondering why I am speaking to you right now) I run a site that is primarily dedicated to advancing the idea of a ubiquitous .NET client application development offering (think: Silverlight, but for today's technology landscape).  I have taken the time to chronicle all known Microsoft technology-based client application development models, and for today's article, I have added PowerApps to this list and will be providing my "groupie-thoughts" for this very intriguing new client technology.

The Vision

Now, PowerApps is a preview technology, so I am only able to speculate on its full potential and capability.  I know enough about its vision to be dangerous, however, so I will start with that.

If you are anything like most companies, you run your business out of an Excel spreadsheet or Access database.  Sounds scary, but that is how the majority of the business world is run.  PowerApps is catering to this field -- which includes information workers, business optimizers, and IT/SI devs -- and integrating it with all of the power of Azure.  Its selling point is that you can create an application without knowing any code, and it is not kidding.  Based on what I have seen so far, the most you will need to know is learning how to create formulas and macros to bind data to the application's elements.  So, if you have gotten your hands dirty with Excel macros you will fit right in.

Selling Point

I know there seem to have been lots of technologies that have come and gone that have had this same promise of "* no code required apps", but this time I think it will stick.  I have seen some internal demonstrations of this and I am very impressed by the energy of Pratap Ladhani, the program manager mind behind PowerApps.  The team there really seems to have their finger on the pulse of what is desired and needed in this field, and is fanatical about  feedback.  The selling point about PowerApps is simplicity. Applications are built in seconds and not months, making businesses more flexible, agile, and efficient in their processes.  This is really the true promise and vision of PowerApps and I am in agreement and excited over its potential.

Ubiquitous

What has caught my eye (and imagination) about PowerApps is that it is the only known upcoming (and supported) Microsoft client technology that is truly ubiquitous, featuring support for iOS, Droid, Windows Store, and (coming soon) the web (HTML5).  Those are two critical qualities (see: 1 & 2) of what I personally look for in the definition of a ubiquitous client application model.  In the case of application developers, that will take a little more digestion and exploration, as we will now do.

"Pro Dev" (.NET)

Now, I am a professional developer (well, usually -- I do have my moments), so I of course do not like the idea of cranking apps out in seconds when I could pour the labor of my love in for months at a time, turn around, and brag to someone how long it took me to build something so amazing (it IS amazing, right!... RIGHT?!).  From my perspective, it would be great to see more professional development hooks and integration -- specifically .NET, Microsoft's premiere technology stack.  Professional .NET developers should be able to augment and extend this platform and really make it sing.  That's what we do when the code works, after all.  That way, you get the best of both worlds with Information Workers, Business Optimizers, and IT/Developers working alongside professional developers to really pull in the power (see the theme here?).

Once you have professional developers on board with a wicked (in the positive sense, of course!), powerful platform in place, the possibilities are truly endless.  Imagine being able to even create Edge Browser Extensions using PowerApps .NET APIs!  Fusing the promise of PowerApps with the history, culture, and community of .NET would truly be a solidifying and unifying force in the Microsoft developer ecosystem.

Consumer Space

The other area I am interested in is the consumer space.  Right now PowerApps only targets line-of-business and corporate scenarios.  Imagine being able to use this technology for both business and consumer, resulting in one comprehensive client application development platform that enables any scenario you as a developer care to develop.

Now that is an application of power!

Comments (15)

  1. NOW YOU’RE PLAYING WITH POWER!!!

    https://youtu.be/-RGYWX2KBzA

    PowerApps, Power BI, and PowerShell! Azure has so much power!!! =^)

    Seriously, though, thank you for this! Can’t wait for PowerApps to preview!

    1. Mike-EEE says:

      Thank you, Ed. I am very happy/honored/humbled to be a part of this and for the opportunity!

  2. Nice first post Mike. Your passion for PowerApps is evident. (And by the way, you have just earned your membership card.)

    1. Mike-EEE says:

      Haha, thank you, Ken! I will do my best to keep it in good standing order. B)

  3. chilberto says:

    Cheers Mike. Great post!

    1. Mike-EEE says:

      Thank you, Jeffrey!

  4. Amit says:

    I hope the general availability date will be announced soon. Thanks Mike!

    1. Mike-EEE says:

      Indeed, Amit. Thank you for stopping by and checking this out!

  5. PK Hong says:

    Hi Mike, I 101% agree with you. I am one of the 300 inviter PowerApps user and instead of migrating my apps from Project Siena, I write new apps using PowerApps and tested over (currently supported ONLY platform, iOS 9) the phone and of course, in my SP4…what an excellent piece of works (oh ya..not humble!: )) and thanks to MS CEO’s mission of Mobile First and Cloud First. Eventually, the world will change again like MS Office = MS PowerApps will be every where. Keep it up with your latest comments.

    1. Mike-EEE says:

      Thank you PK! Your support and kind words are greatly appreciated!

  6. Jim says:

    Is PowerApps real or not? Why will no one ever answer any questions about it? I have tried 100 different ways to login, logon, get access, etc., etc., etc. I signed up for the preview and was accepted, but am always told my email not legit. I have two simple questions. 1. Why is PowerApps not available to paying customers who hold MSDN Subscriptions and/or Azure memberships?
    2. Does PowerApps really even exist? Sounds like the greatest UI technology in the past 10 years, but I have yet to talk to a single person who has ever used it. They all have the same issue as me, they cannot get an email address that will allow them to login. No one will answer my emails, blogs or forum questions which leads me to this conclusion this technology is not for real. I dare you to find out the truth and post it on this forum.
    I dare you to respond. I have posted on every forum possib

    1. Mike-EEE says:

      Ha ha, I will take you up on your dare, Jim, but unfortunately I will not be of much help, as I have yet to dive into it myself (for the reasons outlined above). I am pretty sure someone like Ed will be able to help you out with much better information and confirm for you that indeed, PowerApps is very real! 🙂

      1. a says:

        Well, I finally got in! Built my first app in less than 10 minutes. Awesome potential, but as one would expect with a preview release, its really, really rough so far. But fun to play with it and excited to see where it could be headed. Just hope they stay with it and don’t abandon it like Lightswitch. Its still got a long way to go to even get where Lightswitch was, but tons of potential!

        1. Jim says:

          Ooops, that last reply was from Jim

          1. Mike-EEE says:

            Haha! Great to hear Jim. 🙂

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