How To Setup Co-Authoring In Power Apps Using GitHub

Connor Deasey
February 14, 2024

Collaboration is at the heart of innovation, and when it comes to building powerful Power Apps applications, nothing beats the synergy of a team working together. Microsoft Power Apps is a versatile platform that enables users to create custom business applications without writing code. Pairing this with the collaborative capabilities of GitHub can take your development process to the next level. In this guide, we'll walk through the steps to set up Power Apps for coauthoring using GitHub, enhancing teamwork and productivity.

What Is GitHub?

GitHub is like a virtual toolbox for people who want to build apps but don't necessarily speak "developer" fluently. It's a user-friendly platform where you can store your app's files and keep track of changes you make, almost like saving different versions of a document as you work on it. Imagine it as a big digital sketchbook where you can jot down ideas, draw out plans, and collaborate with others on your project. If you're using Power Apps to create your app without needing to write a lot of code, GitHub can still be super helpful. It lets you save your app's progress, share it with teammates or friends for feedback, and even work on different parts of the app at the same time without stepping on each other's toes. So, whether you're a seasoned developer or just getting started with building apps, GitHub can be your trusty sidekick in bringing your ideas to life, especially when combined with the simplicity and power of tools like Power Apps.

What Is A GitHub Repository?

Think of a repository as a digital container or a folder where you keep all the files and documents related to your project. It's like having a dedicated space in the cloud where you store everything you need for your app or any other project you're working on. In the context of GitHub, a repository is where you store your code, images, documents, and any other files that are part of your project. It's not just a place to store files, though. It also keeps track of changes you make to those files over time, so you can see what's been added, removed, or modified. This makes it easy to collaborate with others because everyone can see the latest version of the project and contribute their own changes without things getting messy. Overall, a repository is the heart of your project in GitHub, providing organization, version control, and collaboration capabilities all in one place.

How To Setup A GitHub Repository For Your Power Apps Projects

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Step 1: Sign Up for GitHub

If you haven't already, sign up for a GitHub account. It's free for public repositories and offers various pricing plans for private repositories, depending on your needs. Once you've created your account, log in to GitHub.

Step 2: Create a New Repository & Add Collaborators

Start by creating a brand new repository by selecting the New button from the GitHub homepage. Then, give your repository a name and select the access properties. In my case I chose the Public option over Private due to the paywall that sits behind Private repositories. All of the other settings can be left at their default setting.

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We now need to add collaborators to the repository. This ensures that other users will be able to commit and make requests from the repository and ensure everyone is able to access the files that are needed. This can be found under the Settings tab in the repository where you can manually add GitHub users.

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Note: All participating collaborators must have a GitHub account to be able to access the repository.

Step 3: Create & Store Your Personal Access Token

For collaborators to have access later on inside Power Apps, they will need to create and store a Personal Access Token, which will be used alongside their GitHub username when opening and editing an App in Power Apps.

To do this head to your Profile Icon in GitHub at the top of your screen, and find Settings.

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Then, navigate to the Developer Settings on the left hand menu and find Personal Access Tokens. In my case I generated a new Token (classic) and enabled all checkboxes in the options and selected Generate Token.

Important: Copy your key to a safe place as you will need this for later. You won't be able to re-access the same key later if you need to. You will have to create a new one if you lose it.

How To Configure Power Apps For Use With Git

Step 1: Enable Git In Power Apps

In either an existing or blank canvas app, navigate to the settings from within the Power Apps Editor. Then, find the Upcoming Features on the left hand navigation. You can the use the search bar to find and enable Git (Show the Git version control setting), where a new navigation item will appear on the left of the settings menu.

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Step 2: Connect Your App To GitHub

First, hit the Connect button in the center of your screen. then copy your URL from your GitHub repository home page. This can be pulled straight from the address bar of your browser.

Now, lets give our branch a name. Best practice suggests we use main as the branch, but you can use a branch name of your choosing. After connecting, a new branch will automatically be created.

Finally, type a directory name of your choosing. This will create a folder in your repository with the same name where all of your Power Apps files will live. I will name mine App

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Select Apply, and move to the next screen.

You now need to enter your Username and Personal Access Token. Your Username can be found in GitHub after selecting your profile image in the top right. Then paste your Personal Access Token from where you stored it previously and select sign in.

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Building Your App With Other Users

Now you should be signed in and everything will be synced. If things don't look right, ensure that you have saved and published your app. This usually fixes most problems. When you want to commit any new changes or retrieve the latest updates from the repository you can use the new icon in the top right of your Power Apps screen. 

If you want to learn more about collaboration in Power Apps and dive into more advanced techniques techniques such as using Azure Devops and discovering ALM (Application Lifecycle Management), come and join the Academy and speak to one of the coaches.

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