Microsoft Canvas Application Benefits and Downfalls

July 25, 2019

Currently at HBS, I am experimenting with building a mobile application. The app will focus on tackling the bullying issue, and internally raising suicide awareness in schools. 

To create the app, I am creating a Canvas Driven app through the PowerApps platform. In my previous blog titled “Creating a simple Model Driven Application…”, I wrote on 5 key concepts and provided a step by step guide to building a Model Driven App on your own. In this blog, I will speak about what I found beneficial and what I struggled with while creating my first Canvas Driven app, as well as possible uses for the Canvas platform. 

My Challenges…

Being new to the IT industry with minimal code experience, I ran into a few roadblocks attempting to make icons and forms functional. So far in my college course load, I have learned basic Java principles. For someone with no experience in coding, I feel building a canvas driven application would be somewhat challenging. Although Canvas applications have a unique syntax that differs from traditional languages, having a basic understanding of coding will be beneficial with creating a canvas app. Although, I found that the Canvas platform does offer common action functions that will be helpful in the building process. This functionality helped tremendously and saved time in the process of building the “bullying app”.


I found the canvas platform to be extremely diverse in functionality. The range of possibilities to what you can create is seemingly endless:

  • Budget Trackers
  • Site Inspections
  • Service Desk/Service Tickets
  • Help Desks and Training
  • Room Bookings
  • Inventory Management

This list provides some jump-start templates to build canvas applications. 


At first, I struggled to understand the true desire for a Canvas Driven App. I questioned the need when platforms such as Model Driven Applications, Microsoft CRM and more each deliver similar functionality. Once I found that a Canvas App comes free with most Office 365 subscriptions whereas Model Driven Apps can cost around $40.00/user per month, I immediately knew the interest for the Microsoft product. 
Now the concept of building a complete and thorough system with a Canvas App may seem unlikely at first. Although when you pair this platform with other Office 365 free platforms, the Canvas App becomes very powerful. You’re able to integrate with SharePoint and the other currently owned office 365 products such as Microsoft Flow, Teams, Excel, Word and more for no additional charge. 
For example; I have integrated a few of the Office 365 free services with my Canvas “bullying app”. 

I created:

  • A Canvas App that will submit and view bullying forms
  • A SharePoint list to store and organize submissions
  • A Microsoft Flow to send a notification to Microsoft Teams when a form is submitted
  • A Microsoft Team that will display notifications and enable discussion between teachers

Overall the possibilities are seemingly endless with a Microsoft Canvas Application. One can build a responsive, integrated and functional mobile application in a day’s time. This platform will help make daily processes seem less effortful and simplify actions that would previously take more than optimal amount of time to complete. 

Derek Poggemann
About the Author

Derek Poggemann
Engineer Associate Intern

Derek joined Heartland Business Systems as an intern in applications. He is currently a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, and has enjoyed working with and building software for many years.


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