Power Apps

Power Apps: Model-driven vs Canvas App

Posted by Heidi Neuhauser

Power Apps come in a few flavors, mainly model-driven or canvas. If you’re looking to understand the differences at a very high-level read on!

This blog was inspired by meeting and speaking with attendees at the Microsoft 365 conference in Las Vegas earlier this month. Most attendees have a Microsoft 365, largely SharePoint or Teams, background. When they hear “Power Apps,” they think canvas apps, and never consider model-driven.

Alternatively, those coming from a Dynamics 365 background hear “Power Apps” and think model-driven, and never consider canvas apps.

This blog will explore the differences between these two types of Power Apps,when you’d be likely to use each and examples and templates from Microsoft.

Canvas vs Model-driven Apps: Feature Comparison

Let’s get started with some high-level feature comparisons between these two:

FeatureCanvas AppModel-driven App
DesignabilityCustom design, controls and components.Limited to configuration controls.
DatabaseMany possibilities using Power Automate connectors.Dataverse only.
Skill set requiredMay require more technical knowledge. Complex apps may take longer to build.Citizen developer. Quick to create.
ResponsiveOnly responsive when designed in this way.All automatically responsive.
AccessibilityAccessibility must be built into canvas apps.Accessibility features built-in natively.
Feature comparison of canvas vs model-driven apps.

What is a canvas app?

A canvas app starts with a blank screen. You design the app visually by adding components. After the design has been built, you add your data. Simply put, design is key for a canvas app. The database comes secondary to the design aspect.

Canvas or model-driven app? The Expense report app, a canvas app example.
The expense report app, a canvas app.

Canvas App Examples

And here are some more resources on building apps using SharePoint, Excel and SQL databases:

What is a model-driven app?

Data is stored in Dataverse first. On top of that data structure, you build an app using a no-code / low-code platform. Simply put, a model-driven app is Dataverse first, with design aspects layered on top of the relational database. This does require a license for Dataverse, which may come with increased costs for a Microsoft 365 customer.

Canvas or model-driven app? Dynamics 365 app, an example of a model-driven app
Dynamics 365 Sales Hub app, a model-driven app built on top of Dataverse.

Model-driven App Examples

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