Power Lab Podcast

Consistency in Canvas Apps: How reusable components can save you a great deal of time

4 July 2022


Consistency increases usability and accelerates user adoption. What's more, by focusing on reusability, developers' work becomes much more efficient. This makes building Canvas Apps with reusable components a smart way to go. Here, we discuss some standard features that can help you build consistent apps faster.

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Would you rather listen to an amusing conversation instead of reading this blog post? If so, we've got some good news, as this blog post is a summary of the ninth episode of our podcast series, Power Lab Podcast. In this series, two of our most entertaining experts explore the platform's features each month and even come up with new insights.

Lennert's experiment: Getting started with the Creator Kit

This time around, Lennert tried out Microsoft's newly available Creator Kit. The Creator Kit is a serious boost for creating Power Apps, thanks to its component library and other tools to increase developer productivity.

He found that by using the available components, you can quickly create a stunning screen that's easy to customize in the process. The features available in the kit mean it's perfect for applications with list views you want to display in an interface that bears a strong resemblance to SharePoint.

Why it's best to maximize your commitment to reusability

Consistency is an important element of a good user experience. If you use the same components across different apps within an organization, users are more likely to come along for the ride because they know what to do or where to find something. What's more, this will also ensure that the apps all have the same look and feel. Reusing components therefore provides a serious boost to usability as well as user adoption.

There are also many advantages for developers in recycling components. By fine-tuning a few standard components, you can pull them out of the closet time and time again to save a lot of time building and configuring apps.

A range of options for creating reusable components

Style screen

You can also opt to add a separate screen to which there is no navigation in your app. Use the style screen to add the organization's color palette and all commonly used components with references to those colors. You can then copy and paste the components from that screen into your app so the reference remains intact. A simple way to integrate an organization's corporate identity throughout an app in the blink of an eye.

Component library

As you create components in an app, you can also build a library of those same components. By creating a component library, developers working together can easily share components with each other and component updates need only be done in one place. A component library is therefore a centralized and managed repository of components that you can easily reuse in apps from the same tenant. You can also export the library if you want to import it into another tenant, too.

Creator Kit

As mentioned above, you can also use the components included in the Creator Kit. The kit is available for download and contains a whole host of handy things such as a canvas app (where you can see the embedded components at work), a component library, and more. All checks are carried out in the Fluent UI framework and all components can be customized. Be sure to make use of the 'quick-win' components such as the spinner, the header or an elevation effect that allows you to place shadows behind elements and thus give your app a professional look in no time.

PowerApps Control Framework (PCF)

The most complicated way to build reusable components is through the PowerApps Control Framework. These pro-code components are written in TypeScript and are mainly used to add new functionalities that do not exist in Power Apps today. You may sometimes find these PCF controls in a community, meaning you don't have to start from scratch and can customize the component to your own needs. However, you should always be careful about what you download and who you download it from.

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