I absolutely love the speed at which Microsoft releases new pieces of functionality in Office 365. But I’m struggling to keep up with “What is my best option?”. Take as an example the App model(s).

Just to name a few of the bleeding edge options to implement a new application:Office 365 - Architecture choices for your App development Microsoft Office 365 bleeding

  • SharePoint provider hosted Apps
  • Microsoft Teams Apps
  • SPFx
  • PowerApps

All of the above could be considered as modern ways to implement solutions. All of these options can result in very usable applications for my customers.

But which one do I pick?

SharePoint provider hosted Apps

This option has been around for a while and this will give the end user an application that doesn’t feel like SharePoint. I know that developers could develop the SharePoint look and feel around the app, but why would you want to do that if it doesn’t add anything. But having said that a lot of companies spend a lot of time branding their SharePoint sites. Like one of my colleagues used to say: “Do you brand your Microsoft Word?”

From a developer’s perspective this app is also great as they don’t need to know any SharePoint. Data can be stored in for example SQL server, so even for the ‘I hate SharePoint’ kind of developer this option works!

Microsoft Teams Apps

Microsoft Teams’ App model is fairly similar and when you look at coding apps, all you need to do is include JavaScript libraries so that you get the Microsoft Teams API available to you. This way all of your authentication head aches will disappear.

This option is still in preview, but should I start to consider building my apps in Microsoft Teams? Is Microsoft Teams to replace my SharePoint based intranet Apps?

SPFx Client Side Web Parts

This is one of my favorite options. The Modern client side web parts give me the flexibility of the SharePoint Apps, however they fit perfectly on my modern SharePoint page. But this is still not something that an end user can implement?


So we’ve now looked at 3 options for developers.


The final option for apps that I’m going to look at is PowerApps. PowerApps don’t fit in within the SharePoint look and feel, but a very skilled/trained Power User might be able to manage building these apps. PowerApps in that perspective is the new and Modern InfoPath.Office 365 - Architecture choices for your App development Microsoft Office 365 powerappstemplate

But should we pick an app model just so that skilled power users can create new apps? One of the problems I’ve found with PowerApps is that if you hit a brick wall you are stuck. The other 3 App models that I’ve been considering have got escape routes in the form of JavaScript or other coding options. Although, PowerApps do keep to amaze me, this missing escape route makes me always worry about the future when currently unknown requirements might need to be implemented.

By Pieter Veenstra

Business Applications and Office Apps & Services Microsoft MVP working as a Microsoft Productivity Principal Consultant at HybrIT Services. You can contact me using contact@veenstra.me.uk.

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