Model-Driven vs Canvas vs Power Pages

By | November 24, 2022

I found myself in a little weird situation the other day when I had to figure out how to explain the difference between Power Pages and Model Driven apps. It all started with some feedback along the lines of model-driven apps having limits to how much we can customize their look and feel (without essentially rewriting everything with custom components), so, then, why not to use Power Pages?

And, indeed, why?

I basically had to shut up short of saying “because”, since that would be a rude one. And, then, had to come up with a bit of a comparison table – it does not, necessarily, cover everything, but I think it outlines some of the important differences and similarities:

So, perhaps, you’ll find it useful, too.

Getting back to the original question, though, I’d think there are, at least, three important aspects of model-driven apps which are not covered by Power Pages:

  • Out of the box functionality for internal users (case management, sales, marketing, field service, etc)
  • Dataverse security model
  • Search capabilities

The first one is, really, the most important one when we are comparing Dynamics 365 first-party model-driven applications to Power Pages. Most of the functionality in those first-party solutions is implemented as model-driven apps, so re-implementing it as power pages would be an interesting but expensive exercise.

That said, if it were a completely custom application, it might not be that black and white anymore. Although, if you look at the usage scenarios, you’ll see that there is some difference there, too. Still, if look and feel were critical, would you go for Power Pages instead of model-driven? It might be an option to be fair; but, then, we might need to look at the security model, advanced search capabilities, possibly email integration, timeline controls, etc.

I was taken by surprise when Power Pages were brought up as a potential replacement for model-driven. Eventually, my argument this time around was that case management would be hard to do in Power Pages, but, for a completely custom model-driven application that’s not offering first-party functionality, it might have ended up being a different discussion it seems.

PS. And what about the Canvas apps? First of all, it’s the only type of Power Apps that can use non-Dataverse data sources. They are geared towards citizen developers, usually they are not offering a lot of out of the box functionality, but, of course, they are pixel-perfect. They definitely offer some benefits, but, in the end, it depends on what you are trying to do.

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