Powerapps Sharepoint

Customizing Forms In SharePoint Online Using Power Apps

Many SharePoint developers are already familiar with InfoPath. It was a simple and powerful form tool back in the day – but it is now out of date. So, how to replace it with Power Apps? Let’s find out! 

Key points:
  • What are Microsoft Power Apps?
  • How can it help SharePoint developers?
  • How to create a form with Power Apps?

Many things have changed in the SharePoint landscape since InfoPath’s heyday earlier in the decade: SharePoint 2019 came out last year, and SharePoint Online continues to evolve and take over modern workplaces. Yet the problem of capturing user input in forms, pushing it through workflows and storing it in Lists still exists.

InfoPath is a powerful Swiss-army knife that enables power users and developers to extend and customize SharePoint forms (both on-premises and online).

The service can be extended by code to handle complex scenarios. But, it’s OLD! The latest version is 2013, and Microsoft won’t be updating it anymore.

Unfortunately, SharePoint on-premises doesn’t have any replacement for InfoPath. You can use some 3rd-party tools or create custom code solutions. However, SharePoint Online (and hybrid solutions) can use Power Apps to customize forms and even create advanced business applications.

What are Power Apps?

Power Apps is a service in Office 365 that enables the creation of rich and advanced business applications without any code! It is also capable of customizing forms in SharePoint Online.

But is it ready to replace InfoPath? Let’s take a look.

Getting started with Power Apps

To launch Power Apps, we go to any SharePoint Online list. You can find Power Apps in the menu on every list page.

Starting PowerApps

Accessing Power Apps from the menu

Two options will appear: Create an app and Customize forms.

Create an app allows us to create a standalone application that can connect to data sources. It doesn’t require any SharePoint lists to work. You can use it from a web portal, from mobile applications or embed it on a SharePoint site.

Customize forms is a way to customize SharePoint list forms (new form, edit form) in a similar way to InfoPath. It’s tied to a specific SharePoint list.

Keep in mind that you cannot switch from one type of Power Apps to another. Choose carefully.

Let’s customize a form

The Power Apps window looks similar to InfoPath. There are five main parts of the application:

  1. Ribbon with actions
  2. Object menu
  3. Form window
  4. Data source panel
  5. Properties panel.
PowerApps interface

Power Apps interface elements

Let’s go over all the elements and see how we can create an example form.

Screens

Just like in InfoPath, we can create pages in a single form – Screen.

Screen view

Power Apps Screen view

We can create a new blank screen or choose from many predefined ones.

Controls

In the Insert menu we can choose from many available controls to use in our form (e.g. Label, Button, Text, Table, Chart, etc.).

PowerApps Insert menu

Insert menu

Actions

In the Actions menu in the Ribbon, you can find actions that can be defined in your form (e.g., On visible, On start), or you can connect Microsoft Flow to it.

PowerApps Actions menu

Actions menu

Tree view menu

In the Tree view menu, you can work on objects used in your form. They can be added, removed or changed. We can also reorder existing objects.

PowerApps Tree view menu

Tree view menu

Properties panel

In the Properties panel, we can change all the properties related to the current object (e.g., buttons). This panel is divided into three parts:

  • Properties (basic properties)
Properties panel

Properties view

  • Rules
Rules panel

Rules view

  • Advanced (advanced properties).
Advanced panel

Advanced view

Data sources

The Data source panel allows us to modify an existing connection to a SharePoint List. We can define which fields will be visible on the form, or specify the design.

Data source view

Data source panel

Final form

Here is what our form looks like in the end! As you can see, with Power Apps you can create a simple form like this in a matter of minutes, all from an easy to use interface.

Summary

The Customize form function in Power Apps allows us to modify forms in a similar way to InfoPath. Power Apps in Customize form mode is a powerful tool that enables the customization of forms and allows the use of Microsoft Flow for automation functions.

But Power Apps can do even more. You can connect it to data sources and build a variety of apps that will help your business make better use of its information. To find out more about what Power Apps can do for you, Contact us.

Key takeaways:
  1. Power Apps are the main tool for customizing SharePoint Online list-driven forms
  2. Power Apps are not a 1:1 replacement for InfoPath, but they are similar
  3. Choose carefully between the Standalone app and Customize form options. It’s not easy to switch once you’ve committed
  4. Feel free to get in touch for more information on how to use Power Apps with SharePoint and beyond!