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Power Fx, the new language created by Microsoft for programming with little or no code and based on Excel formulas

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Today, during its annual Ignite 2021 event for developers, Microsoft presented its new programming language Power Fx, aimed at making it easier for most users accustomed to working with MS Excel to be able to program.

Power Fx, the new language created by Microsoft

And not because they are confident that these users are now going to start studying complex lessons on software development, but because Power Fx is a ‘low-code’ language, that is, focused on simplifying the code to the point of reducing its use to its minimum expression.

In this article, the aim is to allow us to use Power Platform in the most intuitive way possible, facilitating the creation of simple business programs in the form of apps or bots.

This language is based on declarative expressions to make it easier for users to read and manipulate data. And, by building on the formulas already used in Excel, Microsoft is confident that the fundamentals of Power Fx are already familiar to “millions of users”.

“Programming languages are in our DNA”

In addition to Excel formulas, Microsoft has also been inspired by the syntax of languages such as Pascal, Mathematica, or Miranda (a functional programming language from the 80s).

Power Fx, the new language created by Microsoft for programming with little or no code and based on Excel formulas
Power Fx, the new language created by Microsoft for programming with little or no code and based on Excel formulas

So, although it is ‘low-code’, Power Fx will not be a visual language, but a text-based one. Moreover, it is open-source and available on GitHub so that anyone can implement it in their projects. Its goal? To make it the de facto standard for this kind of usage.

However, despite its ‘open source’ nature, Microsoft intends to continue to control the evolution of Power Fx, although adhering to an MIT license, it also applies a ‘Contributor License Agreement’ (CLA) that would allow the company to change that license in the future.

In the words of Charles Lamanna, corporate vice-president of Microsoft, this would be yet another example of a language developed by a large company that in recent years makes the leap to open source and ends up being adopted by a broad community of developers, as has already happened with C# and TypeScript (from Microsoft itself), or with Go (from Google).

Power Fx will be available both in the Power Apps Studio environment and, if more complex applications need to be developed, in Visual Studio Code. We will also soon be able to use it in Power Automate (the former Microsoft Flow) and Power Virtual Agents.

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