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Introducing Power Apps Ideas – Create apps using natural language

Microsoft Build 2021 recently made an exciting announcement by introducing Power Apps Ideas to create apps in Natural Language. It is one of the most advanced natural language AI models, known as OpenAI GPT-3. It is a dream come true for all citizen developers. Power Apps Ideas created to help customers ease the formula authoring experience by using AI models. It can now transform natural language into a Power Fx formula, and the OpenAI GPT-3 model can automatically generate Power Fx formulas based on natural language input. Power Fx — the open-source programming language for low code introduced by Microsoft earlier this year—makes it possible for hundreds of millions of people with Excel skills to add advanced logic to their apps.

Satya Nadella stated, “we’re adding GPT-3 and other Microsoft AI technology directly into Power Apps Studio in a way that will help every maker quickly build the apps they need and more easily learn advanced concepts in the process.” 

 Important 

  • The below illustration is an experimental feature. 
  • Experimental features aren’t meant for production use and may have restricted functionality. These features are available before an official release so that customers can get early access and provide feedback. 

For example, instead of figuring out how to write the following formula: 

Sort(Search(‘Contacts’, TextSearchBox1.Text, “fullname”), ‘Created On’, Descending) 

You can type in search Contacts with ‘Full Name’ in TextSearchBox1 and sort results by ‘Created On’ latest on top.  

Enable Power Apps Ideas for your app 

This feature is currently in the experimental phase, and it’s turned “Off” by default. To try it out, open an existing canvas app or create a new one, select Settings > Upcoming features, search for “Ideas,” and toggle Enable Ideas panel to “On.” 

Once turned on, you’ll be able to see a new “Ideas” tab on the right side of the screen inside the Power Apps Studio, next to Properties and Advanced tabs. You can now start using Power Apps Ideas. 

To see the demo refer to the following.

Power Apps Ideas - Evolvous

For example, you are working at an e-commerce vendor and want to sort your gallery to show ten orders for keyboards sorted by purchase date, with the newest on the top. For this, you can type a natural language statement. 

[table id=4 /]

Power Apps will generate one or a few of the most relevant Power Fx formulas to select from based on this input and context from your apps, such as your table and controls.  

PowerApps provide IntelliSense in the ideas box when you are typing your query in natural language. 

Best practices Power Apps Ideas 

Here are some tips to follow when writing the plain English query in the Power Apps Ideas pane to get the best results. 

  • Enter the full context in the query. For example, you need to filter a table by some conditions, be precise about which table to filter, which column to filter by, and what conditions need to meet. 
  • Use IntelliSense as much as possible. IntelliSense could help the AI model recognize context and understand data types better. 
  • Double quote the text string you want to filter or search for; this will help the model recognize the target string better and provide a more accurate formula suggestion.

Limitations 

During this experimental release, Power Apps Ideas has the following limitations: 

  • Regions and language: Currently available in environments created inside the United States, with English set as the browser’s default language. 
  • Controls: Supports only Gallery and Data table controls on their Items property. 
  • Data sources: Currently, the model is optimized for Dataverse tables and won’t generate any suggestions if your Gallery or Data table isn’t bound to a Dataverse table. 
  • Functions: Works best on Search(), Filter(), Sort(), SortByColumns(), FirstN(), and LastN().  
  • Data types: Supports Text, Date time, Numbers.  
  • Not supported: Lookup, Choice, Choices, Yes/No, File and Image. 
  • This feature’s model understands some commonly used expressions in natural language. For example, it can translate from latest on top, big to small to descending order, and oldest on top, small to big to ascending order. However, it needs you to be precise about a table, column, and control names. 
  • For example, if you enter search Accounts with name in the textbox, it might not give you good results because there’s no linkage built on the model to understand that “name” maps to the “Account Name” column and “textbox” maps to “TextSearchBox1”. 
  • This feature doesn’t understand business-related verbs. For example, if you want to show accounts created in the last month, you might not get good results because the model doesn’t understand that “created” refers to the “Created On” column. 

With AI-powered Ideas built directly into Power Apps Studio, now everyone from new makers to seasoned pros can create apps faster than ever before instead of spending significant time searching for, learning about, and debugging complex formulas. I hope you found this blog a good read. 

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Written by Priyanka Patel

Priyanka is Senior Software Developer at Evolvous Limited – specialists in Microsoft Technologies.