Tip #1259: Can non-developers really create PowerApps?

I’m seeing a common reaction in the Power Platform community when wizards like Scott Durow post really cool PowerApp examples.

This is really cool, but I don’t think an average non technical consultant or user can create PowerApps.

Average Citizen

I get this reaction–there are some very long, complicated expressions and near code operations that you can use to make some amazing things happen with PowerApps. But there are also many apps that don’t require these advanced formulas.

Two words: think Excel. PowerApps grew out of Microsoft Office, and by design the formulas in PowerApps mirror the formulas in Excel. Like PowerApps, Excel has some simple formulas, but you can also build some long and complicated formulas like: “=IF((OR(E13=0,ISBLANK(E13))),IF((OR(H13=0,ISBLANK(H13))),IF((OR(K13=0,ISBLANK(K13))),IF((OR(N13=0,ISBLANK(N13))),IF((OR(Q13=0,ISBLANK(Q13))),IF((OR(T13=0,ISBLANK(T13))),IF((OR(W13=0,ISBLANK(W13))),IF((OR(Z13=0,ISBLANK(Z13))),IF((OR(AC13=0,ISBLANK(AC13))),IF((OR(AF13=0,ISBLANK(AF13))),IF((OR(AI13=0,ISBLANK(AI13))),IF((OR(AL13=0,ISBLANK(AL13))),”99″,”12″),”11″),”10″),”09″),”08″),”07″),”06″),”05″),”04″),”03″),”02″),”01″).”

So if you don’t know how to use formulas like patch yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t build PowerApps. Imagine our quote at the beginning of the post, instead substituting Excel:

I think that VBA macro is cool and everything, but I don’t think an average non-technical consultant or user can create Excel spreadsheets.

Said Nobody

In other words:

Use common sense (UCS)

George Doubinski

The user who doesn’t know how to create VBA macros would never try to use that feature of Excel, but would still use Excel to create simple spreadhseets. Likewise the user or consultant who doesn’t know how to use advanced functions in PowerApps can create basic PowerApps, use galleries, use templates, and be productive with PowerApps.

My advice:

  • Don’t let the fact that you don’t know how to use advanced PowerApps formulas scare you from using the platform. You can do some amazing things without touching the more advanced formulas.
  • Build on your knowledge once you get comfortable with the basics–find one formula with which you may not be comfortable, learn how it works, and add to your bag of tricks. If you add one formula every week or two, before long you will go from a basic PowerApps maker to an advanced PowerApps maker.
  • Make friends with more advanced PowerApps makers and get their feedback if there is anything that more advanced formulas could add to make your app more performant. Get comfortable with delegation and how it may impact your app.
  • If you are an advanced PowerApps maker, don’t be a snob. Remember that none of us were experts 2 years ago, share your knowledge with others. Also, don’t feel you have to overcomplicate every app you build–even if you know advanced wizardry, sometimes something more simple can be better. Use the right tool for the job.

Cover photo by unsplash-logoDavid Armstrong

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