How to Go Mobile With PowerApps and SharePoint

Contributed content / By Kibo Hutchinson / 13 November 2019

Building a mobile app can be a laborious process and requires a lot of technical know-how. Microsoft PowerApps and SharePoint could be a potential solution to building customizable apps without coding.

Have you ever had your products/applications disappear when using Microsoft SharePoint or Office 365? That can be a pretty frustrating experience for most. 

Some users are now looking at Microsoft PowerApps as the ultimate solution to their problems.

It offers another way to build mobile apps and work processes, which helps businesses better understand how their workflows really function. The platform also allows users to connect on-premise content from SharePoint.

In this article, we’ll explore different ways businesses can leverage PowerApps to enhance their SharePoint Experience and build mobile apps.

Here’s How to Go Mobile With PowerApps and SharePoint

  1. Get familiar with PowerApps’ functions
  2. Select how you want to build your app
  3. Leverage data stored in SharePoint
  4. Follow the given prompts

Get Familiar With PowerApps’ Functions

To date, PowerApps is the main cloud-based solution on the market, with a Windows Store app, iOS version, and web build. 

The platform can be split into two distinct functions: the mobile app builder side and the logic flow.

The mobile app builder side and the logic flow

The screenshot above shows the app builder function, which allows you to start with customizable templates, and the logic flow side for workflow visualization.

Let’s focus on how you can use the mobile app builder to build business apps without consulting a developer.

Select How You Want to Build Your App

To create a mobile app, all you need to do is simply import your data into PowerApps. The mobile app builder lets you make custom smartphone and tablet applications without having to know how to code. 

Currently, you can only build applications by using both the Windows Store App and PowerApps. The screenshot below will help guide you through the process.

You can start from a template, your own data, or scratch.

When you start, you’ll see three options:

  1. Build an app using a provided template with mainly Excel-driven data
  2. Build an app from your existing data that you’ve stored in a compatible cloud service
  3. Build an app from scratch as an alternative to hiring a developer.

It is vital to note that PowerApps is only able to create applications based on your data. If you wish to start from scratch, you have the benefit of adding additional data connections — besides SharePoint, you can also connect data from Twitter, Office 365 Users, Microsoft Translator, and Office 365 Outlook.

Leverage Data Stored in SharePoint

SharePoint is a collaborative platform that is designed to help users build solutions. It has plenty of lists and libraries as well as user-friendly database tables to compare. 

Not only can you store data in SharePoint lists, but you can also leverage the platform’s list search capabilities to use cross-site publishing. The latter allows you to reuse content in various ways without having to manually dig through lists for data.

These features make SharePoint particularly useful for creating interactive mobile applications through PowerApps. 

Follow the Given Prompts in PowerApps

  • Step 1: Start by adding a connection for SharePoint Online and then follow the on-screen instructions. In the image, the SharePoint Online option is on the righthand panel.

Select the SharePoint Online option from the right menu.

 Once you log in, the instructions are pretty intuitive.

  • Step 2: Click on “New” to build an application and select “Start From Your Data.” Doing that will allow PowerApps to connect to SharePoint list and build an application for you. 

Your screen should look like this:

You should see a list of sites to choose from.
 
You’ll have to click on “New site” and paste the URL to the site manually, which contains the list you want to work with.

  • Step 3: Choose the SharePoint list you wish to work with from the options below:

Potential options could include restaurants and then the option to view menus for certain days of the week.

 As you can see, your available options will be based on the data that you connect.

  • Step 4: In a few minutes, PowerApps will create the app with multiple screens for you.

At the moment, it’s obvious that PowerApps is still in its preliminary stage as users explore more effective ways to take advantage of its features. 

For SharePoint and Office 365 users, adopting PowerApps might pose some challenges. PowerApps seems to only support a single line of text columns, which makes the final app finicky to use in a business environment if a few columns don’t show up.

PowerApps Expands SharePoint’s Potential for Mobile Apps

Combining PowerApps with SharePoint can be an attractive option for SharePoint/Office 365 users, especially if they want to create their own mobile application

You can easily connect data between the two software and take advantage of customizable templates to quickly build an application. However, as intuitive as the instructions are, it can still be a complex process for users unfamiliar with SharePoint.

All in all, we’re excited to see PowerApps’ potential, but making the most of its features will require a lot of work and dedication.

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