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Form (?) with 1 to n answers / multiple answers

Dear community,


I am somewhat new to the Power Automate game but see a huge amount of potential.


RIght now I try to build an automation where a user will enter some data into forms to create a contract.


I somehow hit a road block now with a specific part of the form where I need to allow the user to add multiple "line items" (so to say).

So the question is this:

- Who will be the contact person(s) for the conractual partner (name at least 1)?


The response can now hold 1 or many names.


I have learned that these types of questions are not possible in MS Forms so I wonder if there are other tools or how you would approach a problem like this?


Thank you in advance.

Solution Sage
Solution Sage

Look into Power Apps. It is the "form" in the Power Platform Environment. You'll want a List to store the responses. Make your "Contacts" field a multi-selection Person/Group column.

So I looked a little bit into PowerApps. Unfortunately in PowerApps it also does not seem to be possible with a form. If you look up form control and multiple records, you find this post that directly comes from Microsoft. 


In addition, I cannot see, how I create flows in PowerApps - is the logic the same or at least comparable to what you do in PowerAutomate? If I click "Flows" in my PowerApps interface ( I only see the PowerAutomate flows I have created so far and these are obviously not able to handle this requirement of multiple line items.

Solution Sage
Solution Sage

It is true that form control can only be used with a single record. However, you didn't mention the need to create multiple child items, you just want to select multiple people. That can be done with a multiple selection Person/Group field. Complex data types (like multiselection fields) are still part of the single record. Form controls can have combobox controls inside of them which support multi-selections. So comes down to whether you are asking for multiple line items (which you said in your most recent response) or multiple selections (the original question).


Power Apps use the Fx language, it executes dynamically. Think of it as a separate language than what you're using in Power Automate.

thank you for your response. 


But I didn't say "select" people, I explicitely said "1 to n" and "name" (not select). I know, this sounds very picky and sorry, if that sounds offensive.


Basically I have the same situation in multiple places, for example I have another part in the document, where users need to enter services, they want to purchase (this should be some kind of free text but still can contain more than one "row")


Your comment regarding PowerApps basically makes this no viable choice, because if I need time to acquire a new "language" I guess it is better spent with something more general like python or similar general scripting languages. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't want to learn, but looking into languages compared to what I learned about PowerAutomate so far, is much more complex learning and just for testing out, it seems, it is not worth my time. 


Looking at other form creators (like Google forms) it seems none of them is capable of doing what I need so it might be that an input form is probably the wrong choice.


From other tools like Mendix or Gravity Forms (within Wordpress) I know there is a "gallery" element that could create something like this. Maybe this is an idea?

Solution Sage
Solution Sage

Whether Power Apps is useful depends on your circumstances, in particular, what you would use as a data source. Working for a company that is committed to using M365? Do you have SharePoint or Dataverse to use as a data source?  If those questions are yes, then I think it would be worthwhile.


You are being pedantic, which I appreciate, however it appears I mislead you with my verb choice of "select". I'm trying to say that you can have 1 to n (even 0 to n if you like) names on a single record, in Power Apps, out of the box, using a form control. Comboboxes support inputting arbitrary strings of text. The multiple text inputs would be stored in a SharePoint list as a multi-"selection" choice column, but "selection" doesn't mean you can't have arbitrary inputs if desired.


Power Apps has the Gallery control for displaying lists, similar to the other form builders you mentioned. It would be the best choice for showing multiple line items at once.


There are two types of Power Apps, Canvas Apps and Model-Driven Apps. If you want to learn as little as possible about the Fx language, then Model-Driven Apps could be a better fit. With a Model-Driven App, you build your data model first in the Dataverse and then the Model-Driven App knows how to interpret and understand the one-many relationships to generate forms corresponding to the model. Kind of like how Mendix Forms understand the data model. If you don't have Dataverse, then no dice for Model-Driven Apps.

Thank you Scott for your response. Unfortunately I didn't get earlier to completely reading it.


I am not 100% sure I understand what you are saying, so maybe it would be ok, if I ask a few clarification questions?

  • I am not 100% sure if I within our company have Dataverse, but for sure I can use Sharepoint (I have created Sharepoint lists for example in the past for myself). I am confused though how I would use that, as a lot of the info to be entered by the user would be basically new every time they fill out the form in the app (e. g. similar to a some personal words that you can send when you order a gift card online, if you know what I mean)
  • It seems like you would recommend a combobox and then store that in a Sharepoint list, is that correct? So the term "selection" is rather a naming convention and means users can still add custom input?
  • I am not 100% sure I understand the purpose of Gallery control: Would that basically for the user in the app to see, what they have already entered, e. g. if they enter more than "one line item"? At the end of the day, all inputs from the form would be fed into a Microsoft Word template just like a "serial letter" (back in the day). The overall idea is that instead of sending around huge MS Word templates that a clunky to use and sometimes a little bit messy (depending if "track changes" was turned on or not) the users enter their data in the app, then - through the Power App - the contract will be created and eventually mailed to them

I hope I am not adding more confusion to this thread... 😉


ps: Reading through my previous posts, they seem a bit aggressive, sorry for that.


No worries about tone, I get that you're just trying to understand how it all works. On my part, I answered your questions too literally and without any distinction between what is best/standard practice to do with ComboBoxes and what is technically possible. I'll try flesh out the answers better.


  • The fundamental approach when using a SharePoint list as your data source (that is, the users is able to create or edit rows in the list from Power Apps) would be to have a separate column corresponding to each field within your MS Word template. For the example of arbitrary text inputs, say you have a column named "notes" of type text (limited to 256 characters) or of type multiline text. Or you have a text column "First Name", "Last Name", etc. In Power Apps, you can create or edit rows on the list by using the Edit Form control. The Form control contains cards which each contain a control linked to a specific column in your SharePoint list. If you don't want to use the out-of-the-box Form control, you can add controls manually and then use the Patch() function to update your data source. There are tutorials on this online.
  • So, simple enough for text fields, number fields, etc. now you want something that can support multiple "line items" to the same "header". In SharePoint, the two main options are to either 1) create a multi-selection column or 2) create an additional SharePoint list (the line item list) that has a lookup column to the original (header) list. If the line items are simple (say multiple text inputs or choosing from a pre-defined selection options), using a multi-selection column works well. If the line items are complex (multiple fields), then create a separate list so you can store all this information.
  • Then the question is what controls to use in Power Apps in each case above. There are two main Power Apps controls that interact with multiple items, the ComboBox and the Gallery (the drop down control is like a simpler combobox).
    • This is where the confusion came in, since I gave some very literal, technically-correct responses to your questions. The ComboBox is intended for usage with selecting multiple items from a predetermined set of items. However, it is technically possible to rig it up by using the SearchText property so that it "selects" arbitrary text inputs. This isn't the normal usage of a ComboBox, however. I was trying to give a hypothetical example of what was possible to make clear what the capabilities were. Generally, the ComboBox is a good choice for multi-selection columns in SharePoint, but probably not for long, arbitrary strings.
    • Yes, exactly, the gallery is intended for showing multiple line items. If you're going to have a separate SharePoint list for your line items, then it would make sense to show them in a gallery. The problem you're going to encounter is that Forms and Galleries don't play nicely together. You can't put Form controls in Gallery, at all, and it isn't recommended to place Galleries inside of a Form (refer to this post). Since it sounds like your MS Word template is somewhat complex, you'll probably be using multiple lists for this solution. Here is an example of building Power App based on a one-many relationship between lists.

All of that said, I'm not sure how best to go around populating a Word document using the information you're collecting in Power Apps. There is a Print() function in Power Apps, but last I knew it doesn't work on multiple pages. Creating an HTML file in Power Automate and then saving it as a PDF is also possible. It isn't too bad if you prepare the HTML beforehand with a WYSIWYG editor and then copy it into Power Automate.


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