What is Microsoft Canvas Apps ? A Detailed Guide

Author image By Tejas Patel  |  Friday, March 31, 2023 10:10 AM  |  6 min read  |   2685

Canvas App

Quick Summary: App Development in Microsoft? Yes, it is possible with Canvas App. But what is Canvas App? Microsoft PowerApps provides the facility to create business apps with Canvas. You can create apps with Canvas App or Model-driven apps. However, building a Canvas App becomes much easier with its easy-to-learn modules and drag-drop functionality. For smaller organizations, you can always go with Canvas App to design and develop beautiful business apps that run on all major platforms.

Are you someone who wants to create web apps without coding? Well, that’s possible now, at least for businesses using Microsoft.

With time, organizations are becoming more and more technology-driven. They don’t prefer to do all the work manually. Hence, creating apps within the organization, be it internally or externally, gives them a lot of relief. So, this blog gives you an introduction and explanation of a technique that helps you in developing apps with no-code technology. Microsoft PowerApps allows you to do so, hence, let’s understand what is microsoft powerapps first.

What is PowerApps?

What is PowerApps

In these times, every organization needs an app. With the increasing number of processes and communication channels, it has become evitable that employees can easily have access to their daily tasks and data on multiple devices. Microsoft PowerApps has brought in the solution to this.

PowerApps consists of apps, services, and connectors to provide you with the resources for the quick custom app development that your organization needs. With Microsoft PowerApps, anyone can develop web apps and software with a low-code/no-code software development technique. It works well with the data stored in Microsoft applications or online. Among the developers, this Microsoft program is known to democratize business app building, that too with eye-catching designs and features.

You can develop these applications either with Canvas App or Model-driven Apps. This article will tell you in-depth about the Canvas App. Let’s dive into it right away…

What Are Canvas Apps In Powerapps?

Canvas, as the name sounds has a Canva to build an app that can be run on multiple devices including mobile, desktop, and tablet. You get a plain canvas where you can drag and drop elements to build a custom beautiful app. These elements can be formatted to design a user-friendly interface for the users.

Though it is embedded in Power BI, the app can be connected to other data sources.

Benefits and Drawbacks of the Canvas App

Easy to use – As Canvas Apps do not use a data-driven approach, it is convenient to use and becomes user-friendly for the users Not responsive – The only major drawback of the Canvas App is that its design is not responsive by default. You need to customize the size of elements according to different screen sizes manually for responsive designs.
Less-code/No-code – One doesn’t need to learn coding to create canvas apps. It has easy drag-and-drop functions. One can create an app with templates and learn to customize them easily
Creative options – You can edit each aspect of the design in Canvas Apps and make it unique with your creativity
Good for task-based or role-based apps – You can learn to make Canvas Apps as a profession also as it provides role-based access 
Works everywhere – Canvas apps are supported on all major platforms. Hence, it is easy to access
WYSIWYG Model – The design is perfect when seen after launch as it works on the WYSIWYG model similar to PowerPoint

Microsoft Canvas App Use Cases

  • App for leave applications
  • Meeting room booking
  • Help Tickets Creation
  • App for Event Registrations
  • App for reserving parking spots

Key features of a canvas app

  • Apps built with Canvas can be run on devices such as mobile, laptops, and computers as well as within other apps like Microsoft Teams or Dynamic 365
  • These apps can connect to more than one data source to retrieve as much information as you want
  • Building Canvas business applications require low-code development with Excel-style formulas

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How to Build an App with PowerApps Canvas App? (Step-By-Step)

How to Build an App with PowerApps Canvas App? (Step-By-Step)

When you have decided to create an App with Canvas App, you can proceed by generating a with one of the following sources:

  • A Template
  • Dataverse
  • Excel

Let’s see how each of these works:

1. Creating Canvas App from Template

Creating Canvas App from Template

Source: https://www.bluegranite.com/hubfs/image-png-Jun-01-2022-07-35-43-64-PM.png

  • Sign up to PowerApps with your Microsoft Account
  • Select create from the options given on the left bar
  • Go for “Create with template” and choose from the list of templates including fundraisers, service desk requests, expense trackers, employee management surveys, etc.
  • Once you’ve created the app automatically from a template, you can customize it as you want
  • Decide and add data you want to appear and customize the looks with form, galleries, colors and user interface

2. Create an App with Data/Dataverse

In Dataverse, you don’t need to connect to the table in SharePoint, Dynamic 365, or Salesforce. Etc. You can add custom tables and work on them specifically in the app.

Requirements to start creating Canvas app in Dataverse:

  • You should have experience in customizing fields in PowerApp layouts. Practice this by creating apps with templates in Canvas App
  • You have to create an environment with sample data i.e. you should have an environment with the sample database
    For the above step, you must be assigned the role of Environmental maker

Further Steps:

  • Create a Blank App after signing in to PowerApps
  • Choose Phone Layout when you create a blank app
  • Select “Connect to Data” which will be visible in the middle of the screen
  • Under Data, select “Microsoft Dataverse”, mark the “Accounts” checkbox and select Connect
  • After this, click on Close and exit the Data pane
  • Now, as you have selected the data table, you can specify what particular data you need to represent, add forms and icons to the app
  • In the end, test the app, remove the errors, and launch it

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3. Create an App from Excel

With this method, you can create an app with screens. The first screen is to look into the data records and with the second screen, you can create new records, and modify and delete them as well.


Add data in excel that you want in the app and save it as a table with “Format as table” and give it a name. Save this Excel sheet to a cloud-storage like OneDrive. This is required to easily sync the information from the table into the PowerApps.


  • Open a Blank App
  • Connect to data and choose your file from the cloud storage
  • If it is now showing the cloud storage option, select “New Connection” and add the “Cloud-Storage” tile
  • Now select the excel file and search for your table with the name
  • Once you’ve got your table, Connect it to the app and close the data pane
  • Now, add a view screen, change the screen, and forms, and add icons to the app
  • Lastly, test the app and fix the bugs if any


You might need to learn a bit about Canvas Application maker but it is much easier than a typical development process that includes hardcore coding. Create business apps for your organization in a few hours easily.

We know that PowerApps is new to the market and users are still now aware of it or are in the beginner stage of using it. However, we have adapted it since its launch and our developers have been well-trained to use the program. Hence, if you need a helping hand with your Microsoft App Project, our developer team will be excited to help you in the journey.

If you have any custom requirements and need experts’ opinions or help, our Microsoft Consulting Services will be the best choice. Concetto Labs has been a leading expert in Microsoft PowerApps Development Services be it, Power BI or PowerApps.

For more info or queries, contact us at info@concettolabs.com.


1. Which data sources can be connected to a Canvas App?

A Canvas Application can be connected to external data sources for example, with cloud storage like excel files in OneDrive. These data sources are linked to the apps using connections.

2. Is Dataverse mandatory in Canvas Apps?

No, Apps in Canvas App can be created outside dataverse as it provides you with the option to connect with multiple data sources, unlike model-driven apps.

3. Can we allow external users to edit Canvas Apps?

No, you can’t share the app or allow external users to make changes to the app. You need to give co-owner access to another group. Anyhow, the app cannot be edited by 2 users at the same time.

4. Is it possible to add Canvas App to Microsoft Teams?

Yes, you can definitely add your canvas App to teams. To do this, follow the steps:
  • Open PowerApps > Apps
  • Launch the app in a browser 
  • After it is launched in the browser tab. Select the option “Add to Teams” button on the top right corner

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Tejas Patel

Tejas Patel is a Co-Founder of Concetto Labs and he have 18+ years of technical experience in building high quality and scalable Web & Mobile Applications.

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