Types of Power apps: Canvas Apps and Model Driven Apps, Which to choose?

In Last post i discussed What is Microsoft Power app and why businesses should use it. In this post, i’ll discuss the types of power apps available to build and how to choose the one suitable for your requirement.

Power app is a platform which provide us the capability to build feature rich, no code , platform independent app in near no time.

Power apps are of two 2 types: Canvas based power apps and Model driven power apps


Canvas apps are here from beginning where as Model driven apps are the one newly introduced.

Canvas Apps

Canvas apps are pixel perfect  apps which are designed by dragging and dropping elements on a platform just like a slide of power point.  You can use excel like formulas to define logic and can use over 200 connector to connect to different services. Canvas apps are designed keeping in mind the end user platform like mobile phone or tablet on which it’ll run and designed accordingly. For mobile phone and tablet, separate app needs to be designed as canvas apps sick to their size once designed and can’t remodel themselves according to the screen.

Canvas app give you freedom of customization the design as per your requirement for each screen and component and connecting to available set of connectors.

Key Features of Canvas Based Power apps can be summarized as :-

  1. Designed oriented where components needs to be dragged and dropped on a canvas to design an app
  2. Can connect to over 200 connectors of different services
  3. High customization/design scope available
  4.  Comes with Power app plan 1 (7$ per user per month) Ref: pricing

Model Driven Apps

Model driven apps are build on the top of the data model-building up from the shape of your core business data and processes in the Common Data Service to model forms, views, and other components. Model-driven apps automatically generate great UI that is responsive across devices.

In simple words, here you need not to design pixel perfect UI, the platform itself generate a nice UI according to the data you keep on forms and the process you design. Also the model driven app changes their orientation according to the device they are running at like mobile phone, table or web application.

Model-driven apps are built and managed from the PowerApps Portal  similar to how canvas apps are built and managed.  There is a mode switch to the lower left corner which allows switching between the canvas and model-driven design modes


Key Features of Model Driven Power apps can be summarized as :-

  1. UI is drived form the data model rather unlike canvas based app where pixel perfect UI needs to be designed
  2.  Model based apps works on CDS (common data service) data source and can’t connect to as many connectors as canvas based apps can.
  3. Comes with Power app Plan 2 licence (40 $ per user per month) Ref: pricing


Now as you have a fair idea of both type of power apps, it’s time to understand how you choose one type of power app over other.

Canvas based apps are capable to connecting over 200 connectors and let designer design app as per his creativity and requirement in terms of UI. So if UI customization, low cost and specific connectors (which you want to use) are your main concerns, you need canvas based power apps. Keep in mind, canvas based power apps takes time in development as each screen along with it’s component need to be specifically design and tested against data operation.

On the other hand, if you defined data model and process in D365 which you want to convert to power app and doesn’t necessarily want pixel perfect design and system generated design is fine, you should go with model based power apps. The advantage with model based power apps is that you don’t need to design each screen unlike canvas based app. You design crm forms and those forms are automatically rendered as power app screens.

In next post, i’ll be building a simple canvas app to show how can you quick start building power apps.

I hope this post was helpful. I’ll be waiting for your questions and comments.

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