or another failed CMS?
In today's dynamically developing programming industry, testing new application development tools plays a key role. Is Microsoft PowerPages a new, revolutionary CMS that is worth considering when creating web applications?
We will analyze the main functionalities of Microsoft PowerPages, but also share our somewhat critical view of the tool, based on SKM Group experience. Why were first impressions somewhat negative? Is this tool aimed more at a specific niche, such as internal data management in companies, rather than general use? You will find the answers to these questions below.
Microsoft presents PowerPages as a breakthrough tool in the area of application development and content management, which is designed to simplify and accelerate this process. The main functionalities that Microsoft boasts of in PowerPages are:
Microsoft presents PowerPages as a comprehensive tool that aims to simplify the process of creating applications and managing content for non-programmers. The company sought to achieve this through a combination of ease of use, integration with the Microsoft ecosystem, and personalization capabilities.
However, are we really dealing with a breakthrough tool that will change the way we approach application design? Or is it just another tool in the wide range of content management systems available on the market?
We decided to check out the PowerPages solution because of SKM Group's extensive experience in the area of tools created by Microsoft. Additional arguments were assurances about the speed and ease of use of the system even by non-technical people as well as high customization capabilities.
Another factor determining this choice was the fact that Microsoft is a global company, thanks to which we were sure that support for PowerPages would not be discontinued in the coming years.
During the several years of our company's existence, we have come across many Content Management Tools or systems that included such functionality. Among these solutions, it is worth mentioning:
As part of the tests, we decided to create a simple application containing the following functionalities
Creating a website starts with choosing a template, we decided to choose the “blank page” template
The next step was to choose the name and url of the website.
Then we started creating views covering the process of logging in, registering and editing user profiles. It turned out that these views were already available as part of the tool's built-in functionality, which prompted us to try to adapt them to the needs of the project.
A big surprise was that despite several hours spent searching for editing options, it was not possible to find the appropriate tools in the system. The only part that could be edited was the profile subpage area, where you could add new elements and modify fields in the form.
While making adjustments to the navigation within the admin panel, we discovered that the available choices were somewhat restricted. We had the flexibility to modify the title and logo, incorporate basic styling, or introduce new subpages to the navigation menu. Regrettably, we couldn't locate the option to include a logout function or the previously created registration and login pages.
Alternatively, there is the option to customize these elements via code. However, it is worth noting that in order to develop applications using this tool, it is necessary to master the Liquid language, which is also used in another widely used tool called Shopify.
One positive surprise is the system for managing permissions that determines who has access to specific pages; it is clear and user-friendly.
The first step was to try to locate a table containing information about users who registered under the built-in authorization system.
Unfortunately, despite the abundance of tables available, the data in them did not reflect information about registered users. I performed various combinations of searches in both Polish and English, and eventually we were able to identify a table called "Contact" where this information was stored.
Unfortunately, the "Contact" table contained not only registered users' data, but also other information unrelated to registered users. Additionally, there were no columns enabling the management of page viewing permissions for these users. After spending a long time trying to locate the appropriate data, we decided to focus on the main goal of the task, which was to check the effectiveness of the tool in creating tables and managing data.
Moving on to creating a sample table, we can say that the process of creating simple tables using this tool went smoothly. The table management interface is clear and intuitive.
This is what the form adding panel looks like
And this is the view of adding lists
Finally, just add the list to the subpage, then add pages with forms and combine them in the list editing view
Functions such as generating tables, forms and lists are the unquestionable advantage of the PowerPages tool. You can quickly learn the skills to manage them. However, the system imposes restrictions related to the need to use built-in functions, which minimizes the possibility of adapting them to individual needs.
When trying to create a translation system, we also decided to use a built-in solution in this case. Again, this is where the problems arose. When trying to edit the built-in language management system, we encountered a similar problem as when trying to manage the user. Despite following the instructions in the documentation, it was not possible to add new languages to the application.
Another aspect we looked at was introducing "unique constraints" to columns to ensure that records in the database have unique values. In this case too, we experienced another failure. We were unable to find appropriate options in the tool to implement these unique restrictions.
The first important issue is the complicated structure of Power Pages, which may make it difficult to navigate the tool at the initial stage of work. Additionally, the tool's performance turns out to be a significant difficulty.
For example, the operation of writing a new column to the table takes almost 10 seconds, which generates significant delays.
Another problem is the frequent occurrence of errors after performing various operations - e.g. saving. After reloading the page, it turns out that the system has remembered the previous state before the error occurred.
On the one hand, Microsoft PowerPages presents itself as a tool with promising functionalities. It is distinguished by several important features, such as speed of implementation, ease of use of forms, lists and tables, even for people without programming knowledge. Moreover, its advantage is integration with the Microsoft ecosystem.
On the other hand, some difficulties and limitations related to the use of PowerPages are also described. First of all, there are problems with the performance and stability of the tool. It also lacks some key features, such as advanced translation management and custom code editing.
It is also difficult to fully edit the application, including authorization and profile management, and the possibilities of personalizing the appearance are very limited. Navigation and user management also leave much to be desired, and the size of the system makes navigation through this tool very difficult and causes a bit of chaos. All these problems limit PowerPages' potential as a rapid application development tool and discourage its use.
Despite initial hopes for a promising system for rapid application development, our experience with PowerPages was not positive. While this tool has some useful features, overall performance and stability have proven to be problematic. Navigating the application is difficult due to its size and complexity.
PowerPages can be used in specific cases, such as internal data management in a company, especially one that already uses Office 365 on a daily basis. However, for general use in creating business applications, this tool may prove to be ineffective and frustrating.
Is PowerPages the future of application development? This question remains open and depends on future updates and development of the tool. At the moment, however, it seems to be insufficiently refined. If you are interested in PowerPages, you may also be interested in our article on Introduction to Microsoft Blazor