Roland Oldengarm - Independent IT Contractor

Living in the coolest little capital Wellington, New Zealand!

How everybody can build a mobile app for CRM in 15 minutes

Do you think you need to be a developer to be able to create apps? You are wrong.

Everyone can build a mobile app with PowerApps!

With PowerApps, everyone can build powerful logic apps and/or mobile apps. I’m going to show you how you can create an app that allows you to view Leads in CRM Online, in just 15 minutes.

PowerApps has a web based version via web.powerapps.com which allows you to create so called Logic Flows. These are automatic flows, e.g. “when a new tweet appears, create a record in CRM”. It’s similar to IFTTT, but it offers more; in IFTTT you only have one condition and one action. Maybe in another blog post I’ll show you how to do this. On the other hand, the Windows app allows you to create mobile apps, as I’m going to show you. By the way, if you are lucky and reside in New Zealand, come to my presentation about PowerApps.

First requirement is that you have access to PowerApps. Currently it is still in private beta. If you don’t have access, sign up via powerapps.microsoft.com .
As I am going to show you how to build an app, you’ll need an active subscription for CRM Online. You could do as me too, and sign up for a 30-day-trial which comes with a lot of sample data.

Another requirement to build mobile apps is that you have the app installed for Windows 10 and 8.1. Open the app, and click New on the left-hand side. Then, pick “Start from your data”:

The next step is to add a connection to Dynamics CRM Online.

Click “Connect” and log into CRM Online.

After a while you can select a Dataset, and in the next step you can select a Table:

I’ve chosen for Leads, but it will work with any entity. Click Connect, and wait for the magic to happen.

Customize your CRM Mobile App

What PowerApps has generated for you are the following screens:

  • A list with all entities (Leads in my case) including a Search box;
  • A detail screen to view details of a lead;
  • An edit screen to edit or create a new lead.

You can see these views on the left-hand side:

If you look at the Browse Screen, which opens by default, you see a lot of data that doesn’t make sense.

The reason is that PowerApps just had to guess which fields to put here. To be fair, it didn’t do a good job. So we are going to fix it.

Click on Quick Tools and inspect the BrowseGallery1 component:

You can easily change this to show more meaningful values. What I’ve done, is re-arrange the fields in the designer using drag-and-drop & changed which fields to display:

To change a field mapping, you can either change it in the Quick Tools on the right hand side, or by changing the formula at the top:

This way you can also change font colors, alignment, etc. etc. by changing the drop down in the top right corner:

The next thing to do is to change the search query, as we want users to be able to search on companyname. Inside the app designer, click in the bottom right corner to select the list of items. Then, click the dropdown in the top left corner, and select Items.

Change the query to the following:


Sort(If(IsBlank(TextSearchBox1.Text), Leads, Filter(Leads, TextSearchBox1.Text in Text(companyname))), companyname, If(SortDescending1, SortOrder.Descending, SortOrder.Ascending))

Let’s test the app!

And this is it! The Edit and Display form look quite okay, so I will leave them for now. Click the Play button in the top right corner to test the app:

And the result is a list of all your Leads:

Play around by typing something in the search, clicking on an arrow to go the details, or even to add a new Lead.  Some print screens how it looks like.

To close the app, click the lower X in the top right corner:

The other one will close PowerApps, you don’t want that.

Okay, but what about Mobile PowerApps?

Here comes the catch. Currently, there is only an iOS mobile app. Yes, despite Microsoft pushing everybody to build Universal Apps, the PowerApps app for Windows is not universal and there is no mobile app. I’ve been told that they are working on it though, so just a matter of time.

To show it on an iPhone, you will have to save the app first, by clicking File > Save. Name it e.g. “CRM Lead”. Then, download the app from the Apple Store. Open the app, log in with the same credentials, and your app “CRM Lead” should show up here!

How to share a PowerApp mobile app with other people in your organization?

That’s easy as well. Click File > Share, save it if you haven’t done so, and enter the details of that person. By default that user will have edit rights, i.e. he can edit the app. Also keep in mind that he will have access to the data sources, so in this case to the CRM Data Source with your credentials. I.e. if you have god mode on CRM, everyone with that app will have the same permissions.

If you added your OneDrive as a data source, everyone with access to the app will have access to your OneDrive!

Update March 11th: I’ve been contacted by Microsoft that above is incorrect! When you share an app, you only share the app itself, not data sources.

When sharing an app, you have the option to set it to “Edit” or “View Only”. The default value is “Edit”, which means that the people you share it with can edit the app.

PowerApps share edit view

When the people you share it with open the app, they will need to enter credentials for all data sources used, like CRM in this case. When using it in the iPhone app, it looks like this:

iPhone PowerApp CRM

If they don’t have permissions to the data source, they cannot use the app. This makes perfect sense to me.

This all sounds too good to be true!

Yes, the software is still beta, and yes it contains bugs. I first tried to create an app based on an Azure SQL Database: unknown errors. Then, I created a Logic Flow with a Translator: Did not work either. But if it works, it is really powerful, and it can really change how things work in businesses. Instead of business users having to ask IT or a service provider to build an app, they can do it themselves. I hope though it doesn’t become too popular, otherwise we are redundant…

7 Comments

  1. One big problem about this is we can not give access to underlying data to everyone.. If this stays like this this will end up like sienna.
    I hope it does not go that way as I am also banking on this powerapp for new projects.

    • rolandoldengarm

      March 11, 2016 at 7:31 am

      I’ve been contacted by Microsoft about that part, and I was incorrect. You only share access to the app, not to underlying data sources. A user always has to log in datasource(s) used in the app. The blog post has been updated to reflect this.

  2. Hi Roland, thanks for sharing this amazing post.. Even I am eagerly willing to work with powerapps but unfortunately its been more than a month that I am unable to sign in – url says UnSupportedIdentity when I ask the expert Kaushik he responded wait to get my email in the whitelist.

    Any Suggestions here, would really appreciate it.

    • rolandoldengarm

      April 27, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Please flick me an email at me@rolandoldengarm.com with more details. E.g. were you already granted access to the private beta? If you send something more about why you want to use PowerApps, I may be able to help you.

  3. I can connect to CRM but can’t see the datasets for 2015 instances. does it only work with CRM 2016?

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