Recap of modern controls evolution in 2023 and a glimpse into 2024 innovations

Note: This blog is in continuation of the series of modern controls coming to canvas apps. You can find the last updates posted here.

As we enter the new year, let’s take a moment to reflect on our 2023 modernization journey in canvas apps and provide a glimpse of what is to come soon in 2024. In this blog, we’ll delve into the highlights, from the initial introduction of modern controls in April, through their continuous progress up to the recent GA announcements, and finally to the innovations coming in early 2024.

2023 recap of modern controls

In 2023, Microsoft made substantial strides in modernizing Power Apps, focusing on controls and theming to enhance the app-building experience. The year was marked by continuous updates, new control releases, and improvements in usability and customization.

An app fully built with modern controls

A responsive app built fully with modern controls

We started by launching 13 modern controls based on Microsoft Fluent 2 in preview. These controls were built for performance, ensuring fast and fluid app experiences with accessibility also as a key focus. Our makers started providing direct feedback through thumbs up/down on controls to Microsoft. Across next few weeks, we updated the canvas studio experience, added new controls, and started shipping numerous property improvements based on maker feedback to address the core usability of these controls.

In July, we released a new theming system for modern controls with PFx support. It allows the makers to change the look and feel of apps built with modern controls with greater ease and flexibility while also enabling classic to consume theme tokens. We recently added SharePoint and Teams themes to the set of available modern themes.

Modern theming in canvas apps

New theming in canvas apps

Another key pillar for modern controls is composite controls. Composite controls are easy to configure new responsive controls designed to reduce app complexity and improve performance. By September, we released multiple out-of-box responsive composite controls – Table, Header and Form as part of modern controls.

Header control in canvas apps

Header control in canvas apps

Recently, we also announced general availability of five modern controls – Button, Link, Slider, Tab list and Progress Bar. This list is based on high satisfaction reported by makers and critical feedback addressed on these controls. With this update, we will also be now providing full supportability to generally available modern controls to our customers.

Insert pane with modern controls

Recent look at insert pane in canvas apps as of Dec’23

We made critical strides for styling of modern controls. We first released the “Base palette color” property on modern controls to detach from app theme and have a different color theme on individual control. In last two months – November and December’23, we added all the expected typography properties (font color, font, font weight, and font style) to the modern controls.

Styling options on modern controls

Style options in modern controls

Since, October updates were the last one of this series, below is the summary of recent updates in Nov and Dec’23:

  • Table – We released following important improvements:
    • More configuration options – Makers can control the visibility of the footer, column headers, and the avatar (for the list view). They can also enable users to sort the data in the Table using the column headers directly.
    • Header style properties – Makers can style the Table header with much more flexibility. We added header font, font size, font color, and font weight properties.
  • Tab list – For large set of options in tabs, the flyout will dynamically adjust according to position of the control.
  • Info button – Introduction of line break support.
  • Text – Fixed alignment and wrap issues.
  • Link – Added a tooltip for the link to be displayed to app users.
  • Updated settings – We also moved the opt-in setting of modern controls from the Upcoming section into the General section in the app settings in studio.

The progress made in 2023 across controls and theming in Power Apps reflects a commitment to providing makers with a modern, customizable, and accessible app-building experience. It also highlights Microsoft’s responsiveness to user feedback and its dedication to staying at the forefront of low-code application development.

Upcoming updates in 2024

Now we turn our attention to the early months of 2024, where we will be building upon the foundation laid in the previous year. Our customers and makers can expect the following updates to be released in the first few months of 2024:

  • Core controls – We will be introducing the following new features to our core controls. First, built-in label and required properties will be added to input controls like Text input, Combo box, Dropdown and more. We expect this to reduce app building time for makers by significantly reducing the number of controls needed by an app. We will also be introducing more styling properties on controls, including Fill, Padding, Align, and Border related properties. Finally, we will also be releasing Fluent icons as a new control as well as an integrated feature in modern controls like Button.
  • Composite controls (or building blocks) – In continuation of our strategy of releasing high-value responsive composed controls, we have two new controls in the pipeline – Dialog and Toolbar. We will also continue improving our existing composed controls of Header, Form, and Table.
  • Updates to modern theming – We’ve heard your feedback on needing custom themes, and we’re working on providing the first iteration of in-app custom themes soon. After that becomes available, we will be evolving custom theming over time to add more capabilities.
  • Transition of existing controls to general availability – Our team is working hard to ensure that all the remaining preview controls are ready for prime time. We are addressing the critical gaps required to transition these controls to general availability.

We hope that this glimpse into 2024 excites you as much as it does us. In expressing our gratitude, we acknowledge and appreciate the role of our customers, makers, and community in this ongoing journey, and we continue to welcome your feedback to help drive this journey. Thank you all! Here’s to a year filled with continued innovation and progress in the modernization journey of Power Apps.