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Tarrant
Level: Power Up

Is PowerApps what i'm looking for?

Hi,

 

This is quite a generic question.  I'm looking to create a 'Job management System', and I'm a bit confused about what services I should be looking at - PowerApps might play a part.

 

Basically, I want to create a system, whereby a user can create 'Jobs', containing various fields of data, such as address, what is required etc. These Jobs then go through various workflows, for example a 'Planning' workflow, whereby someone will ultimately plan that job to be completed on a certain date.  There might also be a 'Pricing' workflow, where someone will work out how much that job will cost.

 

As far as I've worked out... I'm looking for something cloud-based (Azure?) with a program that allows me to design the interfaces for people to use, in order to progress through those workflows. For example, someone logs in, and they can choose to 'Create a new job', or 'Plan a job', etc.

 

At the moment, I'm using a combination of cloud storage, with Power Query in order to achieve this within a Microsoft Excel environment. But I can't help but think that there's a smarter and cleaner way?

 

Does anyone know if such a combination of services exists? So far I've heard of Salesforce being used In a similar way, but I was hoping for something which I can create without go into any coding.

 

Any help is much appreciated! 

7 REPLIES 7
NEPatton
Level 8

Re: Is PowerApps what i'm looking for?

If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said "Welcome to PowerApps!  This is where you belong!"

 

However, quite honestly, there are licensing changes come in October that Microsoft is basically using to tell us that they are not here to help solve problems like yours.  It appears that Microsoft is trying to save PowerApps mainly for Dynamics users. You might get by with the PowerApps Portal license and minimize costs that way?  But even then - you're looking at having to pay licensing for Azure, licensing for Powerapps on a per user/per month basis ($40 per user/month to develop) and the licensing costs for the portal usage (cost per use) -- all of that just to be able to start creating your own application!  

 

Unless you're ready to shell out buckets of money for the ability to develop and distribute your own applications, I'd look elsewhere.  For what you're describing, I'm sure you can find something that makes sense and has consistent licensing costs as opposed to Powerapps which has changed drastically, frequently over the last couple years.

 

PowerApps is amazing - for those privileged enough to be able to use it.  I, for one, am moving on.

AlexFetters
Level: Powered On

Re: Is PowerApps what i'm looking for?

Hey @NEPatton , thanks for your reply.

 

Just out of curiosity, when you say you're moving on... what are you moving on to? What are some solutions that you're looking to shift towards?

NEPatton
Level 8

Re: Is PowerApps what i'm looking for?

Ah - for me, I'm not sure yet.  I'm trying to do something very unusual with PowerApps...so I really don't know.

 

I am (was) using PowerApps to build tools that target elminating tribal knowledge.  I had Apps, for instance, on our phones that allow us to quickly find equipment/devices using a hierarchically linked database - and then take a picture with your phone that is forever linked to that database entry (no need to create or upkeep a folder structure for pictures).  This is really useful in a manufacturing environment where you want to capture information like PSI on a regulator, shaft positions/markings, dip switch positions or any of the millions of tiny, critical pieces of information that are difficult to know how to document (so no one does!).

 

For me, the thing that is sad is that I don't think I have something to replace PowerApps in the ways that I was using it.  I don't think a product exists that does what I was using PowerApps for.  I started my project for fun - and it took all of 1 week before my entire team was using it daily.  We rely on it every day and it improves our productivity every day.

 

If I HAD to replace them, I would probably end up coding my own web pages in ASP.NET using the ENTITY framework to connect to our SQL DBs. I don't know that this is the easiest way to do it, but it's a way that I know how - I have a Visual Studio license and know enough C++, C# and VB.NET to be dangerous.

 

For phone applications, I'd have to learn that skill set entirely.  In reality, what will happen is that I will not be able to justify the time to develop these skills/Apps - so they just won't exist.  Where I was able to use PowerApps to drastically redefine business operations - now we will have no improvements.  We'll go back to logging data in folder structures that are impossible to maintain, Excel sheets that are impossible to maintain, and spend hours of frustration reinventing/rediscovering information every time we have an issue that we haven't seen for a few years.  We'll have to rely on "Joe's memory" from "the last time this happened" and hope that Joe never gets hit by a bus, quits or retires. 

Super User
Super User

Re: Is PowerApps what i'm looking for?

>>Ah - for me, I'm not sure yet.  I'm trying to do something very unusual with PowerApps...so I really don't know.

 

I'm wondering whether PWA (Progressive Web Apps) might be a solution for low cost, cross-platform, cross-form-factor Apps that connect to Azure SQL DB (or similar). As far as I understand it (not well yet!) you can deploy PWAs to mobile devices without having to go through a store-approval process and it is possible to develop Apps that use on-device features such as camera, GPS and run off-line.

 

I suspect it would take a lot of work to get started (sorting out authentication, development environments, choosing frameworks and so on) but on the flip side moving to 'pro' tools should open up the possibilities for code-reuse, automated testing and so on. 

 

Anyone know much about PWA and it's suitability for low cost, cross-platform, cross-form-factor Apps that are easy to deploy?

NEPatton
Level 8

Re: Is PowerApps what i'm looking for?

@PaulD1 PWA looks neat.  It still requires you to build websites, and I think the interface for that will be a lot more complicated (a lot more coding) than PowerApps.  Outside of that, I think that this would help you deploy your Apps (web sites) across platforms and devices similarly to PowerApps.

 

Looks neat, but it's still not a replacement for me long term.  We don't staff this kind of skill set here.  Even if I can pull it off, it's only me - that's not a scalable, maintainable solution.  *shrug*  Still cool though.

JohnP
Level 8

Re: Is PowerApps what i'm looking for?

With the new licensing options, I would advice you to stay away from PowerApps unless you are OK with storing your data on SharePoint (with anything else the cost is prohibitive). As for alternatives to PowerApps I really don't know enough about your needs/requirements.

Debug_Bug
Level: Powered On

Re: Is PowerApps what i'm looking for?

I agree with the comments above regarding the licensing. It's a total killer. We have created quite a few smaller apps (quick roll out) to solve smaller business tasks - but as i mention in this post, Microsoft has effectively undermined their trustworthyness as a stable partner to rely on. We are facing price increases of more than 500% with no added features. So to answer your question: Take a look at knack.com, you can achieve many of the same things and integrations to other systems can be achieved using zapier.com for that. 

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