Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Microsoft, in its Ignite 2021 conference, introduced a new programming language known as Power Fx, its first low-code programming language for logic customization across Power Platform applications and Microsoft clouds. The language is rooted in Excel and utilizes the knowledge of Excel users to make it easier for citizen developers to perform low-code development. It also takes elements from tools and languages like Pascal, Mathematica, and Miranda.

Power Fx, which will be open-sourced on GitHub, is set to provide familiar concepts to millions of users. It is a language expressed in text that users can work with directly, said Charles Lamanna, corporate vice president of the Low Code Application Platform at Microsoft. “Programming languages are very much in our DNA,” Lamanna said, noting that Microsoft has delivered at least four languages that have been widely adopted, including Visual Basic, C#, F#, and TypeScript.

Power Fx is being developed by a team consisting of Vijay Mital, Robin Abraham, Shon Katzenberger, and Darryl Rubin.

“Something that we noticed is that for low-code, no-code, where there are all these experimental expression languages, there really wasn’t a name for these things,” he said. “And there wasn’t a community or open-source adoption around these little local programming languages.”

“We have this long history of programming languages and something really interesting happened over the last 15 years, which is programming languages became free, they became open source and they became community-driven,” he added.

While Power Fx will become the standard for writing logic customization across Power Platform, it is expected to become the de-facto standard for these kinds of use cases. Currently, it will be used to develop canvas apps in the Power Apps service and in time, become “the consistent language” across the whole Power Platform.

Power Fx will enable the Microsoft Power Platform to become more intuitive, approachable, and easy to learn, enabling makers to leverage their learning of one Power Platform solution with others. It will also enable more transparency, enhanced governance controls, and solution checker capabilities, with more visibility and solution telemetry. The language is set to bring true consistency to the Platform over the next 24 months, with its use expanded across Power Apps’ Model-driven customizations, Dataverse Data Components and calculated columns, Power Virtual Agents, and Power Automate.

Lamanna said that this is a rallying cry to create an entire ecosystem and focus on other places where Power Fx could show up, adding that he hopes that it would become a common concept, like JavaScript or TypeScript. “We think these new languages have been historically underserved,” he said. “They have not gotten the same level of treatment, attention, and community that we see for professional developer programming languages.”