Happy New Year and welcome to part two of my series helping you compare Microsoft’s low-code workflow tools: Power Automate & Azure Logic Apps.
In the first installment, we introduced the series and analyzed the price differences for these two tools. Originally, I intended to include the topic of community as a bonus topic. However, while researching & writing this topic I found that the topic of community was too important to leave as a footnote. Let’s use that community to answer: Power Automate or Logic Apps!
Community Is Where It’s At
Whether you realize it or not, the community is often the first thing you interact with when using a new tool or platform. The community is responsible for the creation of blogs, community forums, samples, and bug reports.
I believe that a thriving community helps give a tool an edge over one that doesn’t. Microsoft is no exception and they have proven their dedication by cultivating an ecosystem MVPs, user groups, and special interest groups, resulting in an elevation of their toolsets.
Logic Apps Community Forums
When I am searching for a solution or need to ask a question around a specific Microsoft product, I usually end up on the Microsoft community forum for that product.
In the case of Azure Logic Apps, I had trouble finding it! The first result in our search leads us to the below site, where we are met with the following notice:
Okay, not a great start. Let’s see where that link leads us:
The Microsoft Learn site…? Thankfully, we can keep following Alice down the rabbit hole by selecting the Azure tile under ‘Supported Products’ header:
This takes us to the massive list of Azure products:
If we select ‘Integration’ on the left-hand blade, we can see Logic Apps:
And finally, we find the buried community:
The Q&A forum is solid (I hang out there) and many of the questions are more specific to Logic Apps and Azure functionality. Unfortunately, there are some difficulties with such a generic Q&A based forum.
First, is that there no way to differentiate between questions for standard and consumption Logic Apps. These platforms offer different pricing & features. So, an answer for a standard Logic App might not translate to a Consumption Logic App, and vice versa.
Next, is the lack of user activity. Seeing only 1800 posts and over 200 of those left unanswered is concerning from a user perspective. These numbers are similar and may even exceed other SaaS or PaaS products out there, but in the Microsoft world it is less than optimal when you consider the activity in the Dynamics or Power Platform communities.
Finally, the Q&A board creates a decentralized experience. Products whose only relation is the Azure ecosystem wind up in a generic site. This makes finding product specific topics (pricing, learning paths, Microsoft support channels) difficult. In the end, the user goes back to search engine to find this information.
Logic Apps Extended Community
Initially, I performed a search for “Azure User Groups” to find the types of Azure communities that might be lurking undetected on the internet. Unfortunately, this only returned results for managing Azure Active Directory groups.
Digging deeper, you can find some regional Azure UG’s but you see the limits fast in both geography and membership. It is just the unfortunate truth that Azure (and by extension Logic Apps) does not have the same extensive network of user groups that Dynamics and the Power Platform have. This makes it difficult for communities to form around the ecosystem and specific tools/services inside of it.
Furthermore, this lack of a dedicated community makes it difficult to find MVPs for Azure tools like Logic Apps. There are many great Azure MVPs, but lack of a community results in a lack of user generated content such as feature requests, bugs, and blog posts.
Power Automate Community Forums
Now, let’s perform the same activity where we search “Power Automate community” in our preferred search engine. Here’s the first result:
The Power Automate community forum and not only does it lead to the correct forum, there is a division between categories, guiding the user as they ask their question or provide information to other users.
First, you can find multiple message boards dedicated to Power Automate Flows. Whether that is building, troubleshooting or using them. You can be sure that your question heads to the right place. Additionally, there specific boards for AI builder & Power Automate Desktop so there can be no confusion if the user is asking a Power Automate Flow or Power Automate Desktop question.
Finally, as you look around the Power Automate website, you will see that you have everything Power Automate right at your fingertips. Do you need to see pricing information? Find a partner? Even self-guided training & support are all available in a simple to use navigation bar at the top of the page.
Not surprisingly, they even dedicate an entire tab for community which helps you find more places to discuss Power Automate.
Power Automate Extended Communities
As of today, there are 23 Power Automate specific users groups across the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
If we widen our search to include Power Platform User Groups, then we are at 200+ user groups worldwide. Seeing the amount of content in Power Automate/Power Platform communities, in social media, and on blogs shows the advantage that a thriving community brings to a tool.
Power Automate or Logic Apps: Closing the Book on Community
In this technologist’s opinion, a strong community presence is not thing you think of when making a tooling decision. In fact, there are a lot of great SaaS & PaaS solutions that have small user communities & forums and are still the best at what they do.
But, this is Microsoft we are talking about! And, the wonderful communities elevate any product they surround.
Unfortunately, this may be the natural outcome of when you have similar tools for different audiences. Or, maybe it’s the result of Power Automate belonging to Microsoft’s low-code platform which targets citizen developers. Where Logic Apps is part of an ecosystem known for its control & restriction.
In closing, if you are basing a decision solely on community then you would be foolish to pick Logic Apps. There are certain things you take for granted when you have access to such a great community like Power Automate & the Power Platform’s. The simple ones, like posting a question on the boards and receiving a quick & accurate answer, the fun ones like being able to attend a local user group, and the critical ones like seeing suggestions you made implemented as a feature. All these activities are important threads in the tapestry of a successful Microsoft product.