PowerApps and Microsoft Flow – Things you can’t do (yet)!

Earlier this week I asked on twitter which issues people were running into when developing solutions with PowerApps and Microsoft Flow.

The result surprised me a bit. nearly 40% of people gave up!

This is exactly the part of the community that I would like to focus on. Why give up before asking for help?

I didn’t immediately understand all the issues reported after I sent out my tweet. Some of the issues have already been addressed. I guess these are from the “gave up in the past” category.

Over time I might pick some of these items to write longer posts about as there are some good workarounds for quite a few of these issues raised, but for now I’ll start by listing the issues raised within this discussion on twitter.

1. Datacards in forms need to be resized and moved

I would be interested in finding out what the further details are on this issue. When creating forms connected to data PowerApps creates datacards. In general I would often use the forms that are generated as standard as one of the strengths of  PowerApps is that you can customize the forms.

2. There is not ALM story

Application Lifecycle Management is a a large area of development. I’m assuming that this comment was related to the publishing of different versions of Flows and Apps.

For Flow, I found a way to create multiple versions of the same flow.

https://veenstra.me.uk/2018/03/12/microsoft-flow-create-multiple-versions-of-a-flow-in-microsoft-flow/

This way I managed to create backups of my production flows. Created as copies within my production environment. By not activating these copies I managed to create backups. In similar ways you could create development/test/production versions of flows.

3. Rotate an image in anything but 90 degree angles

The image rotation options are limited to 90 degree angles. Currently there is no way around this.

 

4. Call Stored Procedure in SQL

To ability to run a stored procedure is available within the SQL connector

5. change the owner

Within Flow you can share ownership turning your flows into Team Flows.

Within PowerApps however there is only the option to give someone edit permissions. The owner will remain the same.

6. make a custom theme

The theme options are still limited within PowerApps. Other than selecting from the set themes there is no option to customize these themes.  You can however customize the look and feel of your apps. See also towards the end of this post.

7. Change an icon via a formula

I tried changing icons but I didn’t manage to do this either. it should be possible to change for example colours of  icons on select but this didn’t seem to work.

8. view a PDF in OneDrive or SharePoint

The PDF viewer is still in preview. So hopefully this will improve soon.

9. Rename an image

I’d like to get some more details on this. If you have had problems renaming images then please let me know.

10. custom app icon color

Within thew App colours you can pick form a set of colours. There is a way to create custom icons.

When you use the Browse option you could upload a custom image. As long as you upload a square image you will not see any background colour.

11. Start with data in tablet layout

There are multiple ways to start creating an app. You can start with data or with a blank canvas.

The start with data option doesn’t offer the Tablet layout.

12. Universal app

One of the major issues as far as I’m concerned is that when you create an app you have to select mobile or tablet. There is no app that will suit both types of devices.

13. SharePoint forms in app

Including a SharePoint form in an app hardly makes sense. Potentially an App can be a SharePoint form by itself. SharePoint forms are quite limiting in the use experience as you get limited space on the screen given. I would much rather got for the approach where I hide the data source from the users. As far as the user is concerned data will be stored within the app.

14. Print Form

Currently there isn’t a print control in PowerApps.

https://powerusers.microsoft.com/t5/PowerApps-Ideas/Printing/idi-p/846

15. attach in apps

I’m not sure exactly if this is any different from using the Attachments control available within PowerApps that will let you attach documents to list items.

More details you can also find here:

https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/add-attachments-to-sharepoint-lists/

 

16. update library item properties

I’m not sure why this item made it into this list as the update file properties actions does its job.

 

17. PowerApps webpart

There is no PowerApps web part, but there is an options to include a PowerApp in an iFrame. You can even include the PowerApp on a traditional page this way.

18. Flow condition nesting limit of 9

This is indeed an annoying one.  Most annoyingly the add action options suddenly disappear as you reach the limit.

This limit might be a bit annoying, however quite often it is possible to make Flows wider rather than tall. Do you need any help with redesigning your flows … I’m sure you can find me.

19. Upload files to SP libs

To upload a file into SharePoint you might have to go through quite a few hoops. You will notice that when you try to connect into a SharePoint Library that only lists are offered.

But you can enter a custom list name and get to your Document Library, but even then There is no way to upload a document directly to SharePoint. But there are options.

It is possible to create list attachments. This gives us options for progress. OK, It is not pretty but it is do-able. See the next item in my list of issues.

20. move sp list attachments to sp libs

This can be done with Microsoft Flow actions using the Create File,Get Attachments and Get Content actions

 

21. creating templates

Within flow you can export/import flows and within PowerApps you can also save your PowerApps locally. This way you end up with a zip file that contains your full solution. Maybe this is not immediately a template solution

 

22. setting theme fonts

Currently it isn’t possible to theme your apps with custom themes. There are however a few great ideas around. Tony Philips wrote the following post a while back:

https://www.tonyishere.co.uk/how-to-create-a-custom-theme-in-powerapps-workaround/

I would however suggest a slightly more complicated approach. You could consider a solution like described in David Lozzi’s post:

Custom Style Sheets for PowerApps, pseudo CSS

Depending on the requirments both options might be suitable.

How about storing your styling outside PowerApps? That way you could reuse the branding across multiple apps. I will try and work out this idea in the future.

 

Do you have any more ideas, improvements feel free to leave a comment below or add it to the PowerApps Ideas  or Microsoft Flow Ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20 thoughts on “PowerApps and Microsoft Flow – Things you can’t do (yet)!

  1. Hey Pieter. #1 may have been my comment or at the very least I know I made a comment to you similar to that. I find it frustrating, and maybe because it is simply because I am not a “UX” or “Front-End” guy, but controlling the size of a datacard in order to position them exactly how I want, then resizing the controls within the card to control how they look on the screen is pretty counter-intuitive.

    However, if I add a secondary control like a button or text box to the form, I can drag it around and put it exactly where I want to simply with my mouse. No need to resize to get it to fit. Though I totally have the option to do that should I want to.

    I totally get that a data card’s snap too ability really supports standard looking apps, but a lot of time, users want to modify the form (especially in the larger format) for a better user experience. Not being able to simply drag and drop those controls to exactly where I want them is a bad experience to me.

    Hope this explains it better.

    Like

  2. For number 12. Todd Baginski said there is a way to create an app in one layout. Export the file and hack the file to use the other format and reimport it.

    It doesn’t get around changes in two places.
    Still saves a lot of work on initial creation.

    Not sure where the hack is on his blog though

    Like

  3. Another big thing that is missing is the ability to create a document in SharePoint library based on content type. This is an important feature for business process automation.

    Like

  4. I mentioned several of these, but didn’t really provide context. So here’s some:

    4. Call Stored Procedure in SQL:
    Yes, it’s on the connector and works for Flow the issue is with PowerApps. From the documentation: “Stored Procedures cannot be invoked from PowerApps. A workaround is to create a Flow and invoke the Flow from PowerApps.”: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/Connectors/sql/

    6. Make a custom theme
    I use something similar to the workaround you posted to roll my own theme, but why is this not just an option in the studio? Nothing elaborate, just the Light, Dark, and Accent colors and possibly the header and body fonts (just like PowerPoint). I don’t need a custom theme package or even to save it outside of the individual app (though that would be helpful). But having to change the colors of every control using either a reference to another control or some lookup property with variables is tedious and error-prone.

    7. Change an icon via a formula
    I have no problem changing an icon color using the OnSelect. You just need a variable for the color, set the icon to that color, and use UpdateContext to change that variable during the OnSelect. The issue is changing the icon itself. There is no iconName property as I’d expect. A use case would be for collapsible sections. You use the Down icon for when it’s collapsed and the Up icon for when it’s expanded. You can control everything else about that scenario with properties and a variable. But you have to have 2 icons and switch their visibility rather than having just one icon and switching it’s iconName.

    8. View a PDF in OneDrive or SharePoint
    Yes, it’s in preview but I’m not holding my breath on any immediate updates. Here’s the Idea post for supporting this from 14 months ago: https://powerusers.microsoft.com/t5/PowerApps-Ideas/PDF-Viewer-support-for-PDF-documents-in-Sharepoint-Libraries/idi-p/17416

    9. Rename an image
    This is the actual image file as seen from the Media>Images gallery. You can change an Image control without issue. But you cannot change the image resource name without changing it prior to upload.

    10. Custom app icon color
    Yes, you can absolutely upload a custom image and therefore you could get a “custom color” that way. But what’s missing is a color picker in the background color options. That way you could still use one of the suggested icons or your own transparent image with the flexibility to use the exact color your internal branding team requires. The workaround works, but it seems like a strange oversight.

    11. SharePoint forms in app
    The issue isn’t with the PowerApps app, it’s the SharePoint App. If you customize your SharePoint list forms with PowerApps, the SharePoint app does not handle them properly. It will open them but they are cutoff and not scrollable.

    Also, just to reiterate, I think PowerApps is AWESOME. There are just some things that are “less awesome” that I’m looking forward to seeing resolved. Let me know if you’d like any further clarification.

    Like

  5. 2. Flow can be automatically exported and imported through the Flow Management connector.

    http://johnliu.net/blog/2017/12/you-must-copy-all-your-flows-to-sharepoint-simple-ideas-are-the-most-brilliant
    http://ballardchalmers.com/2018/01/06/backingup-flow-visual-studio-github/

    8. View a PDF in OneDrive or SharePoint

    Because the PDF viewer reads only anonymous access URLS – access SharePoint via Flow

    http://johnliu.net/blog/2017/7/building-binary-output-service-with-microsoft-flow
    http://www.cleverworkarounds.com/2017/09/29/its-not-a-proxy-its-a-floxy-a-way-to-display-sharepoint-pdfs-in-powerapps/

    14. Print PowerApps PDF

    I took a stab at this. Headless Chrome converts PowerApps to PDF

    18. Flow nesting

    use Nested Flows
    https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/build-nested-flows/
    http://johnliu.net/blog/2017/7/nested-flow-cheatsheet-for-microsof-flow

    or flatten arrays via expressions
    or build nested conditions instead of nesting conditions.

    Like

  6. What I am missing on this list is the inability of powerapps to update ms sql tables that contain triggers. Most of the somewhat more complex sql databases contain various triggers on tables be it for storing history records or simply monitoring changes. It seems to be a very basic functionality that should have been included in the sql connector prior its release. The issue is also known now for years (ok 2) but does not seem to get resolved.

    Like

  7. The one item that I was most surprised by using PowerApps is the inability to send a form through email. I want to send the full form image and not just a link. Many have pushed PowerApps as an alternative to InfoPath, but it is very limited without a lot of workarounds. I have seen Third Party updates that will allow you to convert it to PDF, but our company is very hesitant to use additional software when we are already paying for Office 365. You can send a file by email through Word and Excel but you can only send an email in PowerApps by link or using HTML coding (which I know the basics but not well enough). It seems like a basic feature that should’ve been included from the beginning since it’s been available through Microsoft products in the past.

    Like

  8. Hello Pieter,

    How about the inability to create a dynamic connection? Let’s say you ideally want the same app to be used with identical SharePoint site lists (same list name, same columns, different SharePoint site) You would have to save and publish this app every time for each SharePoint site finishing up with X versions of the app instead of having just one with a dynamic data source connection… I think this is a MAJOR issue to be implemented…

    Like

  9. An ability to generate unique file name and metadata for example an audit app takes a number of photos. Job number, date. John Clumse ‘A Filename Generation Example for PowerApps with Flow’ blog article “http://www.cleverworkarounds.com/2017/06/27/a-filename-generation-example-for-powerapps-with-flow/comment-page-1/2 explains rather well, how to create this functionality.

    Unfortunately, this solution appears to no longer work. It would be nice to think since the article had been published (2017) Microsoft would have developed a method to achieve this. Especially when uploading files, images to a SharePoint list.

    Sadly, solutions that did function quickly become redundant due to product evolution. This factor alone makes working with Power Apps problematical to say the very least. I appreciate product evolution is important nevertheless the inability to have a stable methodology for what many users may consider a basic necessity is frustrating to say the very least.

    Like

      1. Hi Christopher,

        It’s not used on the Triad website. The link is merely there in case people are interested in Triad.

        The drag and drop feature can be seen on the video in the post only.

        Like

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