With the beginning of the era of digitalization of business processes, employees of organizations without IT education face difficulties in explaining the necessary information to IT specialists regarding the requirements of the tasks. Also, programmers are faced with a similar problem, not having sufficient knowledge of business processes. In such situations, they come to our aid low code-solutions. Low code is a method of developing and configuring systems and applications that require minimal knowledge in writing software code .. This does not mean that you need to be a professional developer or be able to program to use these solutions. The advantage of these solutions is that people working in different areas of business have the opportunity to participate in the creation of applications, and can also use low code-tools for automating processes in their daily work.
One of the prime examples of such tools is Microsoft’s Power Platform. Power Platform consists of: Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power BI. Each of them has its own characteristics and goals.
This is an introductory article to this topic, and then I will try to talk about all the tools in brief. If you are interested in one of them, you can immediately scroll to it. But first, read the information about connectors, which are an important part of each Power Platform.
Before moving on to the tools, I would like to tell you about the sources used. You will most likely need the new tool to link to previously used programs or some kind of database. And to help us come “connectors”, of which there are more than 500, and every day their number is growing. Using any of the above programs, you can work with clear functions, ready to use. For example, OneDrive: at the moment there are already ready-made functions for working with documents, such as adding, deleting, pulling information. Excel: there are ready-made functions for working with Excel tables. SharePoint: functions for working with documents in a document library, or with entries in a sharepoint list. Of course, Outlook: sending emails, processing incoming messages, working with attachments. (You can even work with twitter, etc.)
Power Apps gives us the ability to create our own businessAppendix for computer / tablet or mobile phone. There are two types of Power Apps: Model Driven and Canvas.
The word Canvas is translated from English as canvas. This is the name of the application because you can start designing in this program from a blank canvas, down to the last pixel, so that the application looks exactly the way you want it. It means that this program is more focused on the needs of the user regarding the design of the application, being more flexible in graphic modification than Model Driven. Used here expression language, similar to formulas in Excel, with which the user specifies commands to perform specific actions in a given application.
Microsoft employees tried to make everything very simple and intuitive. The program is often updated, and perhaps by the time you read the article, there will be small changes, but in general the structure will remain the same. Opening the page for development, you can see the function “start with data”. The user can work with data that lies inside the SharePoint program, Excel, SQL database and many others. I recommend starting with data first if you plan on using it. This is convenient, because there will already be a ready-made base that can be easily customized for yourself. There are also application templates that have the same characteristics. Otherwise, you can start from a blank page by choosing a phone or tablet layout.
Model Driven is used when you need to actively work with data. For example, when working with tables and / or data views and forms. Model Driven is more complex than Canvas and requires an integrated approach to development. If you have experience working with data, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to work in Model Driven. This application translates to “model driven” and hence starts with the data model. We are talking about a relational database where everything is interconnected.
Unlike canvas, where we can work up to the last pixel, here we build our data model, then we have a form that displays data on the screen in various components and visual elements.
Power Automate – Used to automate processes. Here we will talk about (cloud) Power Automate and Power Automate Desktop (RPA).
Cloud Power Automate
Cloud Power Automate consists of trigger and actions… A trigger is a push that initiates an automated process. There are three types of triggers.Triggers for Instant / Manual Streams – triggered when manually launched, or you can bind, for example, to an application that will launch a thread.
Triggers for Scheduled Threads… You can select the date and time of the start of the stream, as well as the frequency of repetitions. For example, a daily report that will be ready at the start of the working day.Triggers for automated flows… This is a trigger that fires after a specific event. The choice of event will vary depending on your requirements. Here are some examples of events: when a new email arrives in your mail, or when new entries / deletions / changes are created in excel, which is in the cloud, or files are added / deleted / changed in OneDrive or SharePoint.
After, add actionswhich we want to be executed after the trigger fires. Above we talked about connectors. So, each of them here can be used for work. Also, there are various loops and conditions for logical branching of the stream.
Power Automate Desktop (RPA)
Power Automate Desktop is used to automate processes using robots. It simulates keyboard clicks, mouse clicks and working on behalf of the user. This application is usually used for older systems where there is no cloud integration and we cannot use the web version of the stream. Here you can simply turn on the recording to memorize sequential actions and do the necessary work. At this time, the robot will record everything. After that, you can turn on and check how the robot will duplicate previously recorded actions in a matter of seconds. This is ideal for easily automating routine tasks.
Power BI is used to analyze your data. You can connect it to any data source and use it to make your data more understandable using beautiful and rich visualizations.
One of the advantages of Power BI is the convenient and smart filter blocks, with the help of which you can quickly see what you need.
And in conclusion
You have the ability to use these tools together, and just as importantly, it’s very easy to do. The way it is it is a cohesive and connected toolbox. For example, in your application, you can use Power BI charts to get an analysis of the data that you are working with in the application itself, or you can bind to run a flow from another application.
It all depends only on your imagination or business requirements.
Also, I would like to note that there is a large and growing community where you can find answers to many questions or ask your own.
I wish you a pleasant and fruitful work (on the Power Platform)!
PS: I have not touched on absolutely all the details here in order to simplify the immersion in this area.
If someone is interested in something specific, I can share information from my side or give links to good sources.