Canvas App Vs Model-Driven Apps

| Masooma Batool

Canvas App Vs Model-Driven Apps


Canvas apps are exactly what their name implies: PowerApps provides a blank canvas for you to design a user interface by dragging and dropping components in any configuration. Once everything is in its proper place, you can tweak the size and formatting of each of these components. When you're happy with your design, you can use basic, Excel-style formulas to connect it to one or more data sources.

The primary attraction of canvas apps in PowerApps is their simplicity. Canvas apps provide a much more intuitive user experience than model-driven apps because you don't have to worry about how data is structured. Canvas apps can be created if you know how to use PowerPoint and have a basic understanding of Excel formulas. Canvas apps also allow for a high level of creativity and individuality, no two apps are ever identical. Canvas apps, in addition to being more flexible than model-driven apps, can pull data from over 200 unique data integration sources right out of the box.

By design, canvas apps are not responsive. They are available in either a landscape or portrait configuration. However, canvas apps can be made responsive by using hard-coded variables to change the size and placement of various controls in relation to screen size. However, this procedure must be repeated for each unique control in the app, and there may be hundreds of them. This makes the process tedious and time-consuming.


Model-driven apps in PowerApps are built on underlying data as opposed to canvas apps, specifically the data kept in Common Data Service (CDS). Organizations can use CDS, a safe cloud-based storage platform, to keep business application data safe.

"A collection of entities hold the data that is saved in the Common Data Service. Similar to how a table in a database stores data, an entity is a collection of records used to store data. Common Data Service comes with a foundational set of standard entities that address common use cases, but you can also design bespoke entities unique to your company and use Power Query to populate them with data. Then, utilizing this data, app developers may create complex applications using PowerApps.

As model-driven apps adopt a data-driven approach, their design is much more rigid than that of canvas apps; most user interface elements are predefined and preselected based on the data you select, although individual elements can still be modified. However, this data-driven approach also means that model-driven apps are more complex than canvas apps, making them better suited to applications that require complex business logic. Model-driven apps are also responsive by design and will display based on the device you're using.


Canvas apps are great for creating task-based or role-based apps. For example, Organizations can also use the PowerApps platform to develop interactive applications that allow users to submit IT service requests. In addition, applications can also be designed for other functions such as collecting service requests for facilities maintenance, purchase orders, human resources, etc.

Model-driven apps, on the other hand, are better for creating end-to-end solutions. For example, after an IT service request has been created, it must be updated, marked as complete, and so on according to the need of organization. There will likely be quite a few teams, roles, and processes involved in this complete cycle of case resolution, which would require a model-driven app.

As you can see, depending on your needs, it makes sense to use canvas apps and model-driven apps at different stages of the cycle. The result is making it less canvas vs model-driven apps, and more canvas apps and model-driven apps.

Join us next time, as we continue our journey of learning canvas apps.Click here to learn more about Imperium's Power Apps Services. We hope this information was useful, and we look forward to sharing more insights into the Power Platform world.

Chief Architect, Founder, and CEO - a Microsoft recognized Power Platform solution architect.

About The Blog

Stay updated with what is happening in the Microsoft Business Applications world and initiatives Imperium is taking to ease digital transformation for customers.

More About Us

We provide guidance and strategic oversight to C-Suite and IT Directors for on-going implementations. Feel free to give us a call.

1 331 250 27 17
Send A Message

Ready to Start?

Get a personalized consultation for your project.

Book a Meeting