Differences Between Model-Driven and Canvas Applications
Start course

Microsoft Power Apps is a low-code/no-code solution that allows professional developers and non-IT professionals to create powerful applications much faster than with regularly developed applications. In this course, we will look at the core capabilities of Power Apps and how they help businesses automate and enhance repetitive, mundane, and time-consuming tasks.

We will cover canvas apps, model-driven apps, and portals, as well as their use cases and the differences between them. We'll also walk you through how to build each one. Finally, we'll take a look at the Power Apps Component Framework and how this allows developers to add even more functionality to standard Power Apps.

Learning Objectives

  • Get a foundational understanding of canvas apps, model-driven apps, and portals, including their use cases and features
  • Use data sources, controls, and formulas to build, share, and publish your own canvas apps
  • Plan, build, share, and publish model-driven apps
  • Create and customize your own portal and monitor user behavior on your portal
  • Learn about the Power Apps Framework and how it can enhance the user experience of your apps

Intended Audience

This course is intended for both IT professionals and non-technical professionals looking to automate and enhance business processes for mobile and desktop users.


There are no prerequisites for this course but any computer coding knowledge and even basic Excel knowledge would be beneficial when learning about Power Apps.


When you first started learning about Power Apps, you might have heard of, and maybe even seen examples of Canvas applications and/or model-driven applications. They may seem very similar, but how are they different? Let's compare the two different applications.

Canvas applications can connect to multiple data sources, allow for more complete user interface customization, require a little bit more coding and in my opinion, are focused more on solving the unique processes of a business that need to be more customizable. Model-driven applications have limited layout and user interface customization and can only be connected to Dataverse. But they do provide a fast and easy way of automating, enhancing and viewing business processes and data that requires much less code than Canvas apps.

Model-driven applications don't have a drag and drop way of customizing the app but rather offer more of a dashboard where you can select what data you want to show, how you want to show it and of course, more. Truthfully, for both applications, the focus is very similar, but Canvas applications are going to give you more customization while model-driven apps could potentially be built slightly faster and can be a lot less confusing.

As you build both types of applications, you will see perhaps more differences in them. But the basic idea is that Canvas apps are great when you want a really custom experience while model-driven apps are great for visualizing business processes. Both can improve and automate business processes, increase productivity, reduce cost and be used on desktops, tablets and mobile phones. In the next lecture, we'll discuss Power Apps portals.

About the Author

Ben is a Power Apps and Power Automate Specialist for Sovereign SP and has been using Power Apps, Power Automate, and SharePoint since 2017. Since then, he has built 100+ solutions using these amazing Microsoft tools. He loves helping others realize what technology can do and how it helps automate and enhance business processes. Most of all, though, he loves how these tools help make people’s jobs easier. The phrase, “This will make things so much easier!” is why he's in the IT business.

Ben Fetters lives in South Ogden, Utah, with his amazing wife and brand-new baby girl. A Weber State University Business Administration graduate, he loves to create businesses and help current businesses improve.