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Model Driven App vs Canvas App - Evolvous

Model Driven App vs Canvas App: Choosing the Right Option for Your Business 

Microsoft Power Apps has revolutionized the way organizations develop and deploy business critical apps. With its low-code application development functionality, users can create, maintain, and upgrade apps without extensive coding knowledge. Now, when you are looking to develop applications with Power Apps, you have two options – you can either build a model driven app or get a canvas app. So, which one should you choose? Here, we will compare model driven app vs canvas app and look at which one you should choose for your business. 

But, before we delve into the comparison, let us understand a few basics first. 

What is a Model Driven App? 

Simply put, a model driven app is built using an app designer tool and around a data model housed in Microsoft Dataverse. 

In the model-driven app design approach, you will be adding components such as forms, views, charts, dashboards, and other elements to tables using an app designer tool. They are also known as data model driven apps, as without a data model housed within Microsoft Dataverse, you cannot create a model-driven app. 

In a model-driven app, the relationships connect tables together so that navigation between them and data is not repeated unnecessarily. 


What is a Canvas App? 

Compared to model-driven apps, you can design a Canvas app dragging and dropping elements onto a canvas. 

This means that you will be able to design an application, just as you would design a slide in PowerPoint or create a website using a drag-and-drop website builder. When you are building a Canvas app, you can create Excel-like expressions for specifying logic and working with data.  

You will be able to share your app which allows users to run it in a browser or on a mobile device. Canvas apps can also be embedded so that you can run it in SharePoint, Power BI, or Teams. 

Advantages of Canvas App - Evolvous

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Model Driven App vs Canvas App: Comparing the Basics 

Let us start comparing Canvas app vs Model driven app, by looking at the basic differences between the two. Both approaches focus on designing low-code applications, so they have certain similarities, but they have some critical differences as well. Here are some of the basic differences between the two: 

Model Driven App vs Canvas App: Comparing the Basics - Evolvous

Model Driven Apps vs Canvas Apps: Cost Comparison 

When deciding Canvas vs Model Driven Apps, one of the major things that businesses worry about is the cost. 

To create Canvas Apps or Model Driven apps, you will need to get a Power Apps license, which starts from US$ 12 per user, per month (with 2000 users minimum) 

Model Driven Apps vs Canvas Apps Licensing Costs: Let us understand the licensing costs in detail.  

For the Power Apps premium license, you will need to pay US$ 12 per user, per month. But to get it at that price, you will need to purchase a minimum of 2000 licenses. If you do not have such heavy requirement, you can get Power Apps premium at US$ 20 per user per month.  

Till here, the licensing costs for model driven apps and canvas apps remain the same. However, the difference starts from here onwards! 

For example, the Power Apps premium plan gives you access to 250 MB of storage on the Dataverse. If you are creating a model driven app, then you might need more than that. In such cases, you will have to pay an additional $40 per GB, per month.  

Model Driven vs Canvas Apps Operational Costs: Apart from the licensing costs, you will also need to understand the overall operational costs to get a clear picture of the difference between Model driven and Canvas apps. 

In most cases, Canvas Apps will incur higher development and integration costs, compared to Model Driven Apps. When using Power Apps, Model driven apps tend to have fewer operational issues, as compared to Canvas Apps. 

Bottomline: Canvas Apps tend to be more cost effective when running simple, standalone applications. However, when it comes to designing complicated applications for large enterprise operating systems, Model Driven apps are the sensible choice from the cost perspective. 

Model Driven Apps vs Canvas Apps: Which is Quicker to Deploy? 

When comparing Canvas App vs Model Driven App, it is also important to look at which is easier and quicker to deploy. 

Model-Driven Apps are quicker to deploy compared to Canvas Apps, in most real-world scenarios. However, for simple applications, Canvas Applications might be simpler to deploy. 

Canvas Apps offer a more flexible design environment and easier data source integration. However, it might create issues with scalability and take more time when it comes to making complex customizations. 

For model driven apps, initial setup might take time, which can push up the time to deployment (TTD). However, if you are designing a complicated application, which uses complex logic, automation, and intricate integration, model driven apps are quick to be deployed. 

Bottomline: In the case of most professional apps, Model-driven apps are quicker to deploy compared to Canvas apps. 

How Does a Power Apps Consultant Help You Choose Between the Two Options? 

At Evolvous, we offer professional Power Apps consulting services to businesses across the globe. We help our clients at every step of the way, and one of the crucial decisions that we help you make is to choose between Canvas apps and Model driven apps when you are building Power Apps application. 

Here is how we help you make the right choices: 

  • Comprehensive Needs Assessment: Our team will work with you to understand your business processes, goals, and specific requirements. We will also analyze the needs and preferences of your target users. 

This will help us identify the tasks the application needs to execute, the desired UI/UX, data sources that need to be integrated and other factors that are crucial for making the decision. 

  • Data Requirements: We will analyze the data sources and how they will be feeding to the app in question. If your app needs multiple data sources, we might opt for a Canvas app. On the other hand, if it requires a unified data model, then a model-driven app will be preferred.
  • Understanding the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): Apart from the initial costs like licensing, development costs etc., we will also consider the long-term costs of running the application. This will allow us to present a clear and accurate TCO for the app so that you can make informed decisions from a cost perspective.
  • Prototyping and Proof of Concept (POC): The Power Apps team at Evolvous will also develop app prototypes and POC applications to demonstrate how each type of application will function within your business environment. This will give you valuable insights into choosing the right option for your needs.
  • Training: Irrespective of the type of application you decide to build, we will offer extensive Power Platform training so that your team can easily understand how to use and maintain the application and troubleshoot common issues by themselves.  

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Canvas App vs Model Driven App: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Can I develop a Canvas App and a Model Driven App at the same time? 

Yes, you can. The Power Apps Premium license has no such restrictions. So, you can develop two versions of the same application or create two entirely different applications with ease. 

Can I migrate from Canvas App to Model Driven Apps and vice versa? 

Yes, you might be able to migrate, but the process is extremely complicated. Speak to our Power Apps experts to know more about how you can migrate from one kind of app to another. 

Can I add AI features to Canvas App and Model Driven Power Apps? 

Yes, you will be able to add AI features to both kinds of Power Apps using AI builder and other applications. You can also create a personalized version of Microsoft Copilot assistant with Copilot Studio and deploy it to the app. 

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