Microsoft Power Apps: Canvas apps vs Model-driven apps

Microsoft Power Apps: Canvas apps vs Model-driven apps


Microsoft Power Apps is a low code development platform that empowers everyone from citizen developer to pro developer to build custom applications tailored to your needs. It is built in a way that applications can work on different browsers like mobile, tablet and desktop efficiently. It lets you to build apps easily and share apps on any device.

It seamlessly integrates with more than 200 data sources using pre-built connectors, including Office 365, SharePoint, Salesforce, SQL Server, and Twitter. You can also extend your app capabilities using custom connectors and Azure functions.

In this blog we will discuss about two major types of apps that you can create using Power Apps – Canvas and Model-driven. Through this blog, we will try and understand what these apps are, what is the difference between the two, what impact they can have on your business and how they can be used to innovate your business.

What are Canvas apps?

Traditionally building an app required lots of skills, coding knowledge and experience however, Canvas apps within Power Apps lets the user design and build highly tailored applications without any prior knowledge and experience in coding.

Canvas apps gives flexibility to the user to create an app by simply dragging and dropping the elements onto a canvas. You can also customize your apps to give the user experience and interface in a way that you like. You can experiment with the looks and feels of your app with already pre-built templates provided within Canvas apps. Creating an apps using Canvas apps is easy and manageable.

With more than 200 data connectors available, you can easily build and integrate your app with the wide variety of Microsoft and third-party data sources for different browsers.

Best suited for simple applications that serves specific purpose like expense reporting or site inspections.

Different ways to create canvas apps are: –

  • From Data
  • From a sample
  • From a Dataverse (previously known as CDS) source
  • From a blank canvas
  • Via AppSource

What are Model-driven apps?

As the name suggests, if you want to create an immersive and responsive business applications using data model, model-driven apps would be a right choice for you. It lets you to create applications that requires complex business logic.

You can create model-driven apps to run either as a standalone application or as a backend to the canvas apps for your business.

Model-driven apps are designed by Microsoft in a way that it automatically generates great UI to work across several devices.

As with other Power Platform members, model-driven app design does not require to code and you can create very simple or extremely complicated apps using it.

The layout is largely designated to the component that you add to create an application in the model-driven apps.

You need to model your business data and define the business process to create model-driven apps. Thereafter, you select and configure the components using the app designer in model -driven apps.

Best suited for complex business processes and workflows like customer service management, opportunity management.

Difference between Canvas and Model-driven apps

Canvas AppsModel-driven Apps
CustomizationHighly customizableRestricted customization available
Drag and drop simplicityAvailableNot available
Full control over every single aspectYesControlled by data and information provided
Data IntegrationMore than 200 connectors available to connect with underlying data sourcesSpecifically using the data stored in Microsoft Dataverse. The entire Dynamics 365 platform is built using Model-driven apps integrated with CDS
Use caseIdeal for task-based or role-based applicationsIdeal for complex business applications
FocusDriven by user experienceDriven by data model
ResponsiveNot responsive by designResponsive by design

Which one is better: Canvas apps vs Model-driven apps?

We cannot specifically differentiate on the basis of which one is better amongst the two, as it entirely depends upon the use case you want to build the application for, individually both are good and serve different purposes. So before starting to create an app you must take into account of few underlying factors like:

  • Whether you want end to end solution to complex business processes
  • What will be the data source to create an app?
  • Whether you want to customize every aspect of your app or not
  • The app you want to build is user specific or task-based

Depending upon the above scenarios you can choose the one that will best serve your purpose as Power Apps gives you two quite distinct ways to build an app.

I hope you enjoyed reading the article. For any further query, please leave a comment.

Please follow and like us:

Rashmi Kaushik

“Nothing can withstand the power of the human will if it is willing to stake its very existence to the extent of its purpose.” - Benjamin Disraeli. I am Rashmi Kaushik, working as a blogger, Software Consultant and Subject Matter Expert in Cynoteck Technology Solutions Ltd.. I believe hard work, dedication, willingness, desire to succeed, and determination are the collective keys that can open the lock of success. I am MB-200: Microsoft Power Platform + Dynamics 365 Core and AZ-900 Azure fundamentals certified.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *