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New: turn images and designs into apps using AI-powered express design

Headshot of article author Ryan Cunningham

Today, we’re thrilled to announce the preview of express design in Power Apps: the ability to instantly generate low-code apps directly from design files and images. In just a few clicks, customers can now create web and mobile apps from a broad range of inputs—including paper forms and PDFs, sketches on the whiteboard, and even professionally-designed assets in Figma. Express design adds to the many ways in which Power Platform is applying advanced AI to assist more people in driving innovation for their teams and businesses.

According to IDC, more than 500 million apps and services will be built in the next five years, more than all the apps built in the last 40 years.1 This demonstrates the speed at which organizations and developers need to be adapting. We’ll only achieve the pace and scale we need if we can continue to shorten the distance between a challenge and a solution. This is where express design can help, by making it much faster to turn an idea or an existing asset into a working application. 

Convert Figma files, PDFs, paper forms, and hand drawn sketches into apps with express design in Power Apps.

Create apps instantly with express design

Power Apps express design is like an AI-powered copilot helping create apps alongside you. Here’s how it works:

  • Get going with a variety of content typesStart with a paper form, PowerPoint, PDF, a screenshot of a UI from a legacy app, or even a picture of a hand-drawn app that you’ve sketched out on paper. Or point to a design file in Figma. 
  • Advanced AI will scan your file: Using cognitive AI models that are trained to recognize common application elements, Power Apps will automatically generate an app with a working user experience and data schema in Microsoft Dataverse.
  • Tune the model to get exactly what you need: From the AI-generated starting point, make quick inline adjustments. Need a dropdown control, or maybe a date picker? No problem.
  • Seamlessly connect to all of your data: Easily adapt and configure the application using low code. Use more than 675 prebuilt connectors to integrate with your existing systems including SAP, Salesforce, and SQL.
  • Add as many screens as you like: If you want to add more screens to the app, simply upload additional files, or create them easily in the low-code Power Apps Studio.

Express design helps accelerate many common scenarios that hold back digital transformation today. Just a few examples include:

Modernizing legacy and paper forms. Many organizations still have outdated libraries of paper and PDF-based forms and processes and don’t have the resources to effectively modernize and move them to the cloud. Now, these forms can quickly and easily be converted into digitized solutions by those closest to the business process, and not just with a pre-built UI, but with a pre-built data schema on an integrated data platform. This will not only save time, free up developers to focus on strategic work, and reduce manual errors, but it will also accelerate the organization’s move to the cloud, ensuring this data is secure and can be used to unlock additional insights.

Generating apps from sketches and wireframes. It has never been quicker or easier to go from idea to app. From whiteboard ideation sessions to PowerPoint brainstorms to a hand-drawn sketch, just capture an image of your idea and see it quickly brought to life in Power Apps.

Accelerating professional design and development. We’re particularly excited about our integration with Figma, the collaborative design platform, where so much software is designed today. It can be challenging and time-consuming for developers to replicate the UX that designers have already created in the design tool. Now with express design, designers can create designs using the Power Apps Figma UI Kit and developers can convert that design to a functional app in moments, significantly speeding up the design to the development process, as well as eliminating multiple feedback loops. Figma to app bridges the gap between designers and developers to deliver an optimal experience for the end-users, saving significant time as well as providing more control over the end-to-end build experience. Learn more about administering Microsoft Power Platform. 

Power Apps continues to advance AI-assisted low-code app development

Unlike other design-to-code tools, express design provides a major step forward by generating a true low-code app that any maker can easily customize, extend, and connect to hundreds of pre-built and custom data connectors. By using advanced cognitive AI models to understand the intent behind an image—including the structure of a form, controls, and data—express design is far more versatile than any single integration with a particular program or format.

Express design is just one of the many ways that Power Platform is accelerating the development cycle using AI to assist a wider range of human developers. Express design builds on the advanced natural language to code and programming by example capabilities we announced last year at Ignite, and we’ll continue to invest in innovative capabilities that help all makers achieve more.

Get started now

Express design in Power Apps is included for all makers at no additional cost, so it has never been easier to get started.

  1. Already have Power Apps? Try out express design today.
  2. Need a free developer plan? Get started here: Power Apps Developer Plan.
  3. Want to try Figma? Get started here: Figma.

1-IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2020 Predictions, IDC.