January 30, 2024

How to Use Canvas Apps to Develop Custom Applications in the Power Platform

By Zain Momin

Canvas Apps – functionality within the Microsoft Power Apps suite – offers a versatile and user-friendly way to develop custom applications without extensive coding. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the process of creating a Canvas App, its practical applications, and how it seamlessly integrates with the Power Platform and third-party connectors.

What is a Canvas App?

A Canvas App, within the Power Apps suite, enables users to design applications visually, making it suitable for a broad spectrum of use cases like custom dashboards, inventory tracking, data entry, and many more! 

Why Use Canvas Apps?

In addition to allowing business users to help create apps that can make business processes more efficient, Canvas Apps can also help save time and money.

For example, let’s consider the average time for an employee to do weekly data entry, which is 10 hours at a rate of $28 an hour. For a company with five employees doing data entry, Canvas Apps can save 2,600 hours a year, translating to $72,800 annually in company savings.

How to Create a Canvas App

Creating a Canvas App is an uncomplicated process that can be divided into these steps:

1. Sign in to Power Apps

To commence, you’ll need access to Microsoft Power Apps. This can be accomplished through Office 365, Microsoft 365, or a standalone Power Apps plan. Sign in to your account to get started.

2. Start a New App

Upon entering the Power Apps environment, select Create to initiate a new app. Opt for Canvas app from blank to create a Canvas App from scratch.

3. Design Your App

The Canvas App interface provides a blank canvas to assemble your app’s user interface. Incorporate elements like buttons, labels, text inputs, galleries, and more. Customize the app’s layout, color scheme, and design to align with your specific requirements.

4. Connect Data Sources

Canvas Apps can be seamlessly integrated with various data sources, such as SharePoint, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365. These connections enable your app to retrieve and manipulate data as necessary.

5. Add Functionality

Utilize Power Apps formulas and functions to infuse your app with functionality. This step is where you define how your app behaves and responds to user interactions and data manipulation.

6. Testing and Publishing

After building your app, it’s vital to conduct thorough testing within the Power Apps environment to ensure it performs as intended. Make any necessary refinements. Once satisfied, you can publish it for use by others in your organization.

Practical Uses of Canvas Apps

Canvas Apps offer a broad spectrum of practical applications, including:

  • Data Entry and Management:
    Replace manual data entry processes with efficient digital solutions for data collection and management.

  • Custom Dashboards:
    Create customized dashboards to visualize key performance indicators (KPIs) and essential business data.

  • Workflow Automation:
    Streamline business processes and automate workflows, enhancing operational efficiency.

  • Mobile Solutions:
    Craft mobile applications that empower your workforce to access information and complete tasks while on the move.

  • Inventory Tracking:
    Develop apps for inventory management, improving accuracy and minimizing errors.

Compatibility with the Power Platform and Third-Party Connectors

Canvas Apps are seamlessly integrated into the Microsoft Power Platform, encompassing Power BI, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents. This integration offers various advantages:

  • Power Automate Integration:
    Effortlessly trigger workflows in Power Automate from your Canvas App, automating tasks and facilitating data updates.

  • Power BI Integration:
    Embed Power BI reports and dashboards within your Canvas App, enabling data visualization and insights directly within your custom application.

  • Power Virtual Agents Integration:
    Incorporate chatbots and virtual agents created in Power Virtual Agents into your Canvas App, offering interactive user support.

Besides integration with the Power Platform, Canvas Apps support multiple third-party connectors. These connectors enable you to connect to external systems and services, further expanding your app’s capabilities.


Microsoft Power Apps Canvas Apps provide a user-friendly and versatile solution for crafting custom applications tailored to your organization’s unique needs. Their integration capabilities and support for third-party connectors empower you to enhance productivity, streamline processes, and seize new opportunities. 

Whether you’re a business user or an IT professional, Canvas Apps are your tool for addressing challenges and maximizing potential.

Need Some Assistance Getting Started with Canvas Apps?

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