What is Power Apps?
Power Apps is a suite of apps, services, connectors and data platform that provides a rapid application development environment to build custom apps for your business needs. Using Power Apps, you can quickly build custom business apps that connect to your business data stored either in the underlying data platform (Common Data Service) or in various online and on-premises data sources (SharePoint, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, SQL Server, and so on).
Apps built using Power Apps provide rich business logic and workflow capabilities to transform your manual business processes to digital, automated processes. Further, apps built using Power Apps have a responsive design, and can run seamlessly in browser or on mobile devices (phone or tablet). Power Apps "democratizes" the custom business app building experience by enabling users to build feature-rich, custom business apps without writing code.
Power Apps also provides an extensible platform that lets pro developers programmatically interact with data and metadata, apply business logic, create custom connectors, and integrate with external data.
As part of the 2020 Wave 2 release, we made generally available offline capabilities for model driven apps for users of Power Apps. Makers and administrators can now configure apps to be available offline on a user’s device, and users can continue to complete their tasks against the local cache on their phone even with intermittent or no network connectivity. When the network is re-established, the users’ changes are seamlessly synchronized back to the cloud. The capabilities and enhancements below are in the Power Platform and are thus, applicable for both users of Power Apps as well as Dynamics 365 apps.
So, how does a maker get started?
For the model driven app that you want to make available on your users’ devices for offline use, you must take these four core steps:
1. Enable for offline the entities that your app uses. Most of the standard entities are already setup for offline but you’ll want to make sure that any custom entities are enabled for mobile offline synchronization.
2. In the Power Platform Admin center, create a mobile offline profile that determines exactly what data is stored on a users’ mobile device
3. Add users that can access the app offline to the profile
4. Enable the model driven app for ‘mobile offline’ and assign the profile to your app
Several enhancements have been made to both the configuration experience and synchronization infrastructure to the mobile offline capabilities that were available in Dynamics 365. These enhancements are rolling out to all regions in November.
The configuration is streamlined for makers and administrators within the Power Platform Admin Center with intuitive creation and maintenance of offline profiles. Filters on exactly what data should be synchronized to users’ devices can now be done via expressions.
Synchronization capabilities have also been enhanced yielding to an overall faster and better experience for users on their mobile phones:
Sync intervals can be set to as frequent as every 5 mins to ensure that the users are working with the latest updates from CDS
Sync intervals can be adjusted per entity so that makers and administrators have the flexibility to increase sync intervals for entities that are updated infrequently. This yields to faster overall syncs for the users
We are working on bringing continuous innovation to this space for both makers (ability to add multiple users to the offline profile, offline profile configuration in make.powerapps.com) and users (offline first apps such that users are always working from the local cache with syncs in the background for fast completion of tasks regardless of network connectivity, on demand ‘sync now’ button) on our roadmap. Stay tuned!
The Tech Platform