Model Driven Apps / Dynamics 365 Apps

(except Finance/SCM/Retail/HR/Project Ops)

Model Driven Apps are built on top of Dataverse database and business rules driven unlike plain canvas apps used for UI design based apps. All the workflow, logics, business rules, triggers and reports are developed on top of Dataverse and packaged as a solution.

Dynamics 365 CRM/Sales uses Dataverse backend and can be called model driven apps. Please refer to the Dynamics 365 section for more details Dynamics 365 ERP systems are build on Azure SQL DB with option to dual-write to Dataverse but isn’t considered as model-driven apps.

Getting started with Model Driven Apps:

Model Driven Apps

Model-driven apps overview

Model-driven app design is an approach that focuses on adding components such as forms , views , charts and dashboards to tables using an app designer tool. Additionally, relationships connect tables together in a way that permits navigation between them and ensures that data is not repeated unnecessarily.

Using the app designer with little or no code, you can build apps that are simple or very complex.

Process driven apps

Model-driven apps are especially well suited to process driven apps that are data dense and make it easy for users to move between related records. For example, if you are building an app to manage a complex process, such as onboarding new employees, managing a sales process, or member relationships in an organization such as a bank, a model-driven app is a great choice.

Data modeling

While they’re called model-driven apps, it is often easier to think of them as data model driven apps. This is because, without a data model housed within Microsoft Dataverse , you can’t create a model-driven app.

User experience

From the user’s perspective, all model-driven apps offer a similar experience, which is both accessible to many users and to the device used. The experience is similar to the diagram shown below.

In this example, the app contains three tables (challenges, ideas, team projects), one dashboard , and multiple charts and views. Users can navigate between the tables using the left pane or via the dashboard.

Model Driven Apps

Benefits of the model-driven approach

Unlike canvas app development where the designer has complete control over app layout, with model-driven apps much of the user interface is determined for you and is largely designated by the components you add to the app.

There are some notable advantages to this method of application development.

Model-driven and canvas apps compared

In canvas apps, the app maker has total control over the app layout. With model-driven apps, much of the layout is determined by the components you add. The emphasis is more on quickly viewing your business data and making decisions instead of on intricate app design.

Steps to building and sharing a model-driven app

At a fundamental level, model-driven app making consists of the following areas.

  • Modeling business data
  • Defining business processes
  • Composing the app
  • Configuring security roles
  • Sharing your app

A large part of the time spent building the app is dedicated to modeling the business data and in some case to defining the business processes. Customizing security roles will depend on the needs of the organization.

Learn more about the steps to building a model-driven app

Using a model-driven app

Documentation has been developed that helps users successfully navigate around and interact with model-driven apps in a way that lets them be more productive.

Learn more about using model-driven apps

You can use model-driven apps on a mobile device and run them in offline mode.

Using solutions to assist with Application Lifecycle Management :

Application lifecycle management is the way in which we develop an app from conception to end of life.

Solutions are used to act as wrappers for all the elements required to deliver a product for use within a business.

As a minimum, a model-driven app requires a single table, a site map, plus the app itself. However, model-driven apps generally include a considerable amount more, and this includes canvas apps, security roles, environment variables, and much more.

Model Driven Apps

Solutions offer the means by which these elements can be migrated between environments. Consequently, solutions are an important part of any application lifecycle management strategy.

When you create a model-driven app, you should create it within a solution.

Minimum requirements for building a model-driven app

Model-driven apps can be complex. However, the minimum requirements for building them are relatively straight forward.

  • A Microsoft Power Apps license.
  • Capacity to create a Power Platform environment. This is a feature of the Power Apps and Dynamics 365 licenses held.
  • A Power Platform environment.
  • A Dataverse database within the environment. This is selected when you create an environment. More information: Create an environment with a database
  • Privileges for the maker to work as a system customizer or environment maker in the environment where the model-driven app is created. More information: About predefined security roles
  • A table. (There are many standard tables, including account, which exist by default.)
  • One table column. (Every table has at least one column , and many system columns.)
  • One table view, to view records. (There are a number by default.)
  • One table form, to enter data. (There will be one by default.)

A model-driven app is created, by adding a table to a site map using the app designer, and running through the app validation and publishing process.

Difference between Canvas and Model Driven Apps:

Model Driven Apps


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