Create low code Power Apps to automate everyday tasks. AI-driven Copilot capabilities make it easy to interact with your app and its data using natural language. Or simply build an app from scratch. We’ll demo how to build an inventory app for mechanical parts, that anyone can use on the job, to track and enter new parts.
If you’re new to Power Apps, it’s a part of Microsoft’s Power Platform for building low code apps and processes. Apps can originate from a task or process you’d like to make easier — like a streamlined approval process, or a way to capture and track information on the go. Run them in the browser or on your favorite mobile platform.
Emma Cooper, Principal PM Manager for Power Apps, shares key steps to build your first app in under ten minutes.
Build an app with Power Apps, part of Microsoft’s Power Platform. Check it out.
Use AI with Copilot to add or remove items generated, hit create, and test it out. Get started authoring your own Power Apps.
Insert items like in PowerPoint and edit formulas like in Excel. See how it works.
00:00 — Introduction
01:01 — Use AI with Copilot
03:44 — Build an app from scratch
05:11 — Add data
06:42 — Build out the app experience
09:00 — Galleries, forms and navigation using Power FX
10:41 — Wrap up
Watch episodes in our Power Apps series at https://aka.ms/PowerAppsAuthoring
As Microsoft’s official video series for IT, you can watch and share valuable content and demos of current and upcoming tech from the people who build it at Microsoft.
-Ever had an idea for an app but have never written a line of code? Today, in the first show of a new three-part series, I’ll help you join the millions of people with zero coding experience building Power Apps today to help automate everyday tasks. I’ll break down exactly what you need to know and the key steps to building your first Power App in under ten minutes, which if you are new to Power Apps, it’s a part of Microsoft’s Power Platform for building low code apps and processes.
-Your app can originate from a task or process that you want to make easier as you work with others, like a streamlined approval process, or maybe just an easier way to capture and track information on the go. And apps can run in the browser or on your favorite mobile platform. Today, I’ll show you how to build an inventory tracking app like this one for mechanical parts that anyone can use on the job for tracking and entering new parts. Even adding new AI-driven Copilot capabilities so you can easily interact with your app and its data using natural language. And so to build out our inventory app, I’m going show you how to create it in two ways.
-First, using AI with Copilot as a fast way to get up and running, and second, completely from scratch, so that I can walk you through the core concepts. So let’s break this down. You’ll start by navigating to make.powerapps.com. And front and center is the new Copilot option that lets you use AI to generate an app by describing what you want it to do. I’ll type “track inventory for mechanical parts” and hit go. And pretty quickly, it’s built the first part of the app. This is the Copilot experience, where I can chat with the AI on the right. And as you can see, it’s already generated a table central to my app, which makes sense since it’s an inventory app and I need a way to capture data.
-We can see the columns that it generated are around the theme of mechanical parts. There’s the part ID, part name, part type, part number, and the quantity, each with sample data to help you quickly get started. And you can add or remove columns easily by chatting with Copilot. For example, I know it’s important to have a description for these fasteners, maybe to describe their size or thread pitch, so I’ll type “add a description field.” And there’s the new column in the table. And I can even ask Copilot to add more rows of data. And because Copilot can interpret the context, it can add more sample data. I can even ask Copilot to give me additional suggestions, and it suggests a few more fields that would be common to an inventory app and whether I should remove the Part ID column. I’ll keep that though and also take the suggestion to add a price column. Now that’s looking good, and if I need to, I can update this table later.
-So to move on to the next step, I’ll just hit create to build our app. And in just a few moments, Copilot has generated an app for me, and I’m in the Power Apps Studio where I can customize and edit my app further. I’ll hit play to test out the app. As I click through the part names on the left, the data on the right shows the details for each item. This is a cool functioning app built in just a few moments from a short description and a few chat interactions. And if you don’t see Copilot yet, it will be rolling out in the next couple of months.
-So I started with Copilot, not just to show you how AI removes the majority of the manual steps to get started but also to show the steps it took to build the app. For example, the AI predicted that a core part of my inventory tracking experience had to be data entry. Essentially, it created a form with a table and suggested columns with sample data in line with my theme of tracking inventory for mechanical parts. And behind the scenes, it also built a place on the backend for me to store my data. We can leverage this thought process as we look at building an app from scratch for even more creative control. For that, I’m going to choose to build an app from a blank canvas, and I have two main options here. If I want to start with data, I may want to choose a model-driven app where the UI is generated directly from your backend data. In this case, I don’t have data, but I do have an idea of what I want to build. So I’m going to choose the canvas app, which is going to let me visually create a tailored, custom experience. I’ll choose that and give my app a name, Inventory App, and keep the default tablet format.
-When I hit create, I land directly in the Power Apps Studio like we saw before. This time, let me give you a tour of what you can do here. On the left here is the tree view, which is the default. That shows us the visual hierarchy of our app. There’s not a lot to see here yet, but as we build out the app, more items will start to appear. Apps can have multiple screens of different formats. And as I add new screens, there are different layouts and templates. And it feels similar to the experience of adding a new slide in PowerPoint. The bar along the top has our most common editing actions, such as Insert that lets us add different controls such as labels, buttons, shapes, and more to our app. We’ll be using a few of these, so we’ll come back to this.
-Next, we have the add data option, which I’ll show you in a second, new screen, and the last three are for changing the look and feel for your app. Now, we know we need to build a table, so I’ll select add data. Now, one thing to point out that we’ll walk through later in the series is that you can bring in data from different sources using connectors, which is a no-code way of connecting to available data sources for your app. In this case, we are just going to focus on creating our table. We’ll name it “Mechanical Inventory,” and we can use the table editor to build it. Every app needs data, and by default, we spin up a place for your app to read and write data from called Dataverse. And if you are just getting started, it’s best to stick with this default.
-So now, let’s start creating our table. I’ll add a column, quantity. Notice it asks what data type I need. For example, if this were a money field, I would choose currency. In this case, I know it’s a number and a whole number, so I’ll choose that. There’s no specific format I want, so I’ll keep the default none. Behavior refers to whether it’s a simple behavior, which is a manually entered value, or if there’s a calculation that happens. And required refers to whether it is required or optional to fill out when you’re entering a new row. I’ll just keep the default optional and save. And we’ll keep building this out, adding more columns, similar to what Copilot did, and configure each different column with its different properties. Fast-forward in time and our table has started to take form. And you can see, I’ve also started to manually add some sample data. You can do this by typing directly in the cells in the table. And when I go ahead and hit close, we’ll see that the table was added to our app.
-Next, let’s focus on building out the app experience. The insert menu lets me add new things to my app. Just like we saw before with the Copilot-generated app, we want a view on the left with our parts listed and details for the selected part on the right. I’ll start with the left side and use what’s called a vertical gallery. Think of a vertical gallery as a pre-formatted list view that will let me quickly select and move between items. It then asks me which data I want to add, which is easy in this case because I only have the Parts Inventories table in my app, so I’ll choose it. And I can rearrange the location on the screen. I just need to select it, then drag and drop. And on the right here are the different properties for anything that I have selected on the canvas. This gallery lets me easily edit the layout and change it. I don’t have pictures for my inventory right now, so I’ll choose something a little simpler, with just the title, subtitle, and body. In this case, the title shows the part name, subtitle shows the time of update, and the body shows the description, which currently doesn’t have data filled in. Let’s change the subtitle and body. I’ll make the subtitle the quantity of the parts in stock and the body our part number.
-Next, I’ll go back to the insert menu and choose an edit form, which will let me see the data fields for each part in my app. In fact, once I place it on the canvas, you’ll see that the edit form wants to connect to data, so I’ll do that on the right and in the data source property. I’ll choose our Parts Inventories table again. Once data is connected, I can edit the data fields to add the ones I want that show additional details about the parts in my inventory. I’ll click on edit fields and select a few. I’ll choose Part ID, Part Number, Part Type, Price, and Quantity, then hit add. And I can change their order here if I want by dragging and dropping the tiles in this menu. Here I’ll move the quantity field up. I can also do this by selecting the ellipses menu and choosing move up or move down, so I’ll move quantity up one more time. I’ve configured my fields now, and the next thing I want to do is connect the items you see in the vertical gallery with the fields you see on the right, so that if I click on the bolt on the left, it will display details for the bolt on these fields on the right.
-Let me go back to the tree view and explain how this will work. Kind of like in Excel, where every cell has a name, the same is true for our app. You can see our edit form is called Form1 and our vertical gallery is called Gallery1. To make our form and gallery work together, I’ll use this formula bar on the top, which should look familiar if you’ve used Excel. It lets you use Power Fx formulas, the language of Power Apps, which is similar to Excel formulas.
-First, I’ll click on my edit form on the right. Then in the formula bar on the property dropdown, I can see all the properties for my form. I’ll choose the item property, which refers to the data that shows in the form. Now here is where the magic happens. In the formula field, I want to reference our gallery, named Gallery1, so I’ll start to type that in, and it shows me Gallery1 in this dropdown list. I’ll select it, then you’ll see Gallery1 is highlighted green in the formula bar and there’s also a green outline around the gallery on my canvas.
-Now let’s see what we can do to reference our gallery. I’ll type a dot after its name, which is the syntax used to reference the properties in this case for our gallery. These are the property options listed here. Since I want the details of the part I select in the gallery to appear in the edit form on the right, I’ll use the selected option. And you’ll see this when I try it out. I’ll individually select a few parts, and you’ll see the details for each selected part appear automatically on the right. It works! Now I’ll save my progress, and by the way, you should hit save every once in a while and again when you’ve finished building or updating your app. And you’re done! You’ve built your first Power App.
-In part two of our series, we’ll look at adding more customizations to our app, like uploading parts photos and logic to send an email as well as the basics around publishing and sharing your app for others to use it. You can keep checking back to our aka.ms/PowerAppsAuthoring playlist for the next episodes in the series. Subscribe to Microsoft Mechanics if you haven’t already, and thanks for watching.
You must be a registered user to add a comment. If you've already registered, sign in. Otherwise, register and sign in.