Microsoft has announced updates to its Power Platform business intelligence and application development program to give companies more options for developing low-code applications and functionality, including, the company claims, the ability to create a new application based on a paper drawing.
Today, as part of the company’s Build 2022 developer conference, Microsoft revealed that the add-ons, which include tools aimed at both novice programmers and experienced developers, will help make the Power Platform “the world’s most comprehensive low code development platform.”
In its announcement, the company cites research from IDC, which says more than 500 million apps will be created over the next five years. “This shows the speed with which organizations and developers need to adapt,” said Scott Cunningham, MSFT Vice President for Energy Applications. “We will only achieve the speed and range we need if we can shorten the distance between the challenge and the solution.”
Microsoft Power Platform: What’s Updated in Build 2022?
New functionality includes Express Design, which Microsoft says allows users to instantly create low-code apps directly from images or files. Users can draw a process on a piece of paper or a whiteboard, then take a picture of it and upload it to Express Design. An AI powered system can turn this into a low code app or function that the user can improve.
Microsoft Power Pages is another update aimed at more advanced low-code web design. A new design studio has been launched as part of this to allow business users to easily create website pages and functionality, while Microsoft Dataverse has been described as a scalable low code data platform that allows regular business users to analyze website traffic data.
“With these tools, professional developers can securely interact with core business data and implement custom business logic, all without leaving the surface of their favorite developer tools,” Lamana said. “The Microsoft Power Platform’s command line interface also helps developers easily download and upload their customization projects.”
All new functions are available in preview from today.
The emergence of low code systems
Low code tools are becoming increasingly popular among businesses, either as a way to get non-technical staff to build digital tools, or as a time saver for professional development teams. The 2021 Low Code Status Report published by vendor Mendix shows that 77% of the 2,025 IT professionals surveyed said they have already implemented low code solutions within their organizations.
Microsoft hopes to capture a segment of a market that is expected to grow fivefold from $13 billion in 2020 to $65 billion by 2027, according to figures from Brand Essence Research.
Microsoft isn’t the only big tech company developing low-code tools. Google has its own suite, App Maker, while Amazon’s AWS Amplify Studio, a low-code development platform, launched in December.
Read more: Can Low Code Enable Real Intelligent Automation?