Microsoft has opened up a public preview of its PowerApps service that is aimed at helping non-programmers to quickly and easily build simple business applications for specific needs. At the same time, the firm detailed a new tool for automating workflows called Microsoft Flow.
PowerApps was announced as a private preview at the firm's Convergence business conference in Barcelona last year, and is intended to change the way organisations create custom line-of-business applications by making it easier for business users to build them in a point-and-click fashion.
"PowerApps is a service for creating, managing and using custom business apps across platforms. PowerApps connects to your existing systems and data sources securely, allows you to build apps, forms, and workflows without writing code, and lets you publish apps instantly for web and mobile," said Darshan Desai, Microsoft's programme manager for PowerApps.
The service relies on an organisation having a professional developer to publish APIs and other components to enable PowerApp creation, while authentication is handled by Azure Active Directory, enabling administrators to manage access to applications and data.
Users can create an app from a data source, from a library of pre-built templates, or from scratch by starting with an empty canvas, and connect to data using connectors or custom APIs.
Meanwhile, Microsoft also announced a preview of Microsoft Flow, a brand new software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool for automating workflows across the growing number of applications and services that business users rely on, the firm said.
Microsoft Flow makes it easy to "mash-up" two or more different online services, according to Microsoft, including OneDrive and SharePoint, in order to get notifications when important things happen, to synchronise files, and other actions.
Business users can connect information from disparate online accounts, take advantage of pre-built templates, and create their own flows in an easy visual designer that works anywhere on the web. Microsoft Flow is also fully integrated with PowerApps, allowing users to automate business workflows as part of an app
"This is an exciting time to be developing business applications. Our team is thrilled to be announcing the availability of these new services in public preview and we look forward to hearing your feedback," said James Phillips, Microsoft corporate vice president.
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