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Office Excel: Why it's Microsoft's not-so-secret weapon in no-code app development

ZDNet

Low-code, no-code or visual-based coding is getting more attention these days. Amazon Web Services (AWS) in June launched a beta of Honeycode. Google in January snapped up low-code outfit AppSheet and killed off AppMaker for Workspace, formerly G Suite, also beefing up Google Cloud with the Business Application Platform in September. Salesforce has its Lightning platform, while Oracle has Application Express (APEX), and there are more offerings from Appian, Zoho, ServiceNow and others vying for a slice of businesses' undergoing digital transformation. The promise of low- and no-code platforms is that business users can create mobile and web apps by pulling data from spreadsheets or databases to help their colleagues access data where and when they need it – in a browser or a mobile device – almost without requiring professional developers.


Microsoft's low-code tools: Now everyone can be a developer

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People working from home need new tools to help manage what were often manual business processes. Excel always used to be the tool that business users would pick up to write code. Its formulae and cell structure made it easy to chain together results to build what ended up as complex applications, analysing data statistically and numerically. It wasn't only for numeric data, either, as it could quickly be used as a simple tabular database, with filters and queries to help extract information. It might not be SQL, but it did the job.


Microsoft AI Builder brings machine learning to PowerApps

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Microsoft's AI Builder artificial intelligence platform, now in preview, enables nonprogrammers -- as well as professional developers -- to easily add AI to the projects they are working on to create more intelligent applications. Microsoft's low-code, no-code Power Platform consists of PowerApps, Power BI and Flow. PowerApps enables developers to create mobile and web apps with low- or no-code. Power BI is for analyzing data, creating reports and creating dashboards with low or no code, and Flow helps devs automate tasks and workflows with low or no code. AI Builder is tightly integrated with PowerApps so that users can simply click on visual prompts to add AI-enabled controls to their mobile or web.


Microsoft brings RPA to Windows 10 with new Power Platform products

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Microsoft announced AI-focused Power Platform products at its Microsoft Ignite 2021 conference, which kicked off in earnest today. Among the highlights is Power Automate Desktop for Windows 10 users, a robotic process automation service (RPA) that automates tasks within Windows across various apps. New Power Virtual Agents features were also unveiled. RPA -- technology that automates monotonous, repetitive chores traditionally performed by human workers -- is big business. Forrester estimates that RPA and other AI subfields created jobs for 40% of companies in 2019 and that a tenth of startups now employ more digital workers than human ones.


Microsoft brings new process mining features to Power Automate – TechCrunch

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Power Automate is Microsoft's platform for streamlining repetitive workflows -- you may remember it under its original name: Microsoft Flow. The market for these robotic process automation (RPA) tools is hot right now, so it's no surprise that Microsoft, too, is doubling down on its platform. Only a few months ago, the team launched Power Automate Desktop, based on its acquisition of Softomotive, which helps users automate workflows in legacy desktop-based applications, for example. After a short time in preview, Power Automate Desktop is now generally available. The real news today, though, is that the team is also launching a new tool, the Process Advisor, which is now in preview as part of the Power Automate platform.