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What is the difference between Canvas or Model apps? 

 July 30, 2020

By  Christopher Bird

Model-driven app

Model-driven app is component-focused. They can be simple or complex. Model-driven apps do not require coding skills. If your data source is a Common Data Service. You can automatically generate a model-driven app from your business data and processes.

What is a Common Data Service?

Common Data Service is a secure store to manage data. The data can be is used by multiple business applications. Data within Common Data Service is stored within a set of entities. An entity is a set of records used to store data. Think about how an Excel table stores data.

An Excel table has a base set of standard entities. Other Excel sheets can refer to the data. A common data service functions in very similar way. You can create custom entities specific to your organisational needs. And populate entities with data using Power Query. 

App makers can then use Power Apps to build rich applications using a common data service. For example, model forms, views, and other components.

Why use Common Data Service?

Standard and custom entities within Common Data Service are a secure data source.

Easy to manage – Both the metadata and data are stored in the cloud. That means you do not need manage the database.

Easy to secure –Role-based security. Enables you to control access to entities for different users within your organisation.

Logic and validation – Define calculated fields, business rules, workflows. And business process flows ensure data quality.

Model-driven app UI automatically adjusts to phones, laptops, and other devices. 

Canvas apps are built for specific form factor. Responsive design is now possible. With extra steps.

Why choose to build a canvas app?

The app designer has complete control over app layout. With a model-driven app much of the layout is determined for you. And largely designated by the components you add to the app.

You design your app by dragging and dropping elements onto a canvas. Just as you would design a slide in PowerPoint. If you have experience of creating Excel expressions. For specifying logic and working with data. Then the learning curve will be minimal. A stroll in the park. With no hills.

App users can run your app in a browser or on a mobile device. 

Both Canvas and Model Driven Apps can be embedded into SharePoint, Power BI, or Teams.

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Christopher Bird


Building your own Power App, BI solution, or automated workflow can be a mind-blowing experience. It can also be a nightmare. Particularly when you begin with a blank screen. My advice, get professional help as and when you need it. That's what successful people do.

Christopher Bird

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