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Dataverse vs SharePoint List: Which Should You Use for PowerApps?


Sam Mitrovic

The choice between Dataverse and SharePoint as a data source for PowerApps is a critical decision. 

Both systems have distinct features and limitations that can significantly influence the overall functionality of your app. 

This article will help you navigate the decision by discussing the characteristics, pros, and cons, and highlighting some key use cases for both options.

Key Facts

  • Dataverse, offering complex data types and business rules, suits complex applications and requires more expertise to manage.
  • SharePoint List is a simpler solution and more suitable for smaller projects with its collaboration features and version control.
  • The choice between Dataverse and SharePoint List for PowerApps depends on the project requirements, technical ability, and budget.

Dataverse vs SharePoint List

Choosing the right data source for your PowerApp is a key decision you need to make early on in the planning and building process.

There are many potential data sources for a PowerApp. Dataverse and SharePoint Lists are two of the most popular data sources for PowerApps.

Both Dataverse and SharePoint Lists offer unique features and capabilities that may align better with different project requirements and goals.

Dataverse: What It Is and When to Use It

Dataverse, formerly known as Common Data Service, is an Azure-based service that allows you to securely store and manage data used by business applications. It brings a powerful suite of features to the table [1]:

Pros of Using Dataverse

  • Rich Data Types: Dataverse offers complex field types like lookup, choice, and currency, which can offer more nuanced data handling within PowerApps.
  • Business Rules: Business rules in Dataverse can enforce data integrity across tables.
  • Integrated Security: Dataverse includes role-based security that can restrict data access at a granular level.
  • Integration with Power Platform: Seamless integration with other Power Platform components such as Power Automate and Power BI.

Cons of Using Dataverse

  • Cost: The use of Dataverse can get expensive, particularly for larger data sets.
  • Complexity: Requires more technical expertise to set up and manage effectively.

When to Use Dataverse

  • Complex applications where relational data structures are essential.
  • Scenarios where detailed security roles are required.
  • Use cases that require seamless integration with Power BI and Power Automate.

SharePoint List: What It Is and When to Use It

SharePoint List is an app that lets you create custom lists for tracking, prioritising, and organising information. SharePoint offers an easy-to-use, intuitive platform [2]:

Pros of Using SharePoint List

  • Ease of Use: SharePoint List is simpler to set up and use than Dataverse.
  • Affordability: It comes included with Microsoft 365 subscription, making it a more cost-effective choice for many organisations.
  • Collaboration Features: SharePoint has robust collaboration features, allowing multiple people to work on the same data set concurrently.
  • Version Control: SharePoint automatically tracks versions, providing an easy way to revert changes if necessary.

Cons of Using SharePoint List

  • Limited Data Types: SharePoint has fewer data types available compared to Dataverse, which can restrict how you structure and interact with your data.
  • Lack of Business Rules: It does not have built-in business rules, which can lead to more manual data validation.

When to Use SharePoint List

  • Small to medium-sized projects where simplicity and cost-effectiveness are paramount.
  • Use cases that require robust collaboration features.
  • Scenarios where version control is critical.

Further Reading: Introduction to PowerApps

The Bottom Line

Both Dataverse and SharePoint List have their strengths and weaknesses as data source for PowerApps. Your choice between the two should be guided by your specific project requirements, technical capacity, and budget. 

Dataverse shines with complex applications requiring relational data, granular security, and seamless integration with other Power Platform components. On the other hand, SharePoint List is an ideal choice for simpler projects that require robust collaboration features, version control, and an affordable, intuitive platform.

In short, the choice is not about which platform is better in general, but which one is better suited for your specific needs and use case. By carefully considering these factors, you can choose the data source that will best help you achieve your goals with PowerApps.

Sam Mitrovic

About the author

Sam Mitrovic is the Founder and Director at CloudJoy. Sam is a marketer, builder and IT consultant. He has consulted large government organisations, venture backed start ups and everything in between.