Canvas apps, Community, Scottish Summit, XrmToolBox

Scottish Summit 2020 – Kilts, bagpipes and a new little ⭐

It was last year in October at Power Platform Saturday Sweden that I first heard of the Scottish Summit. Several people said to me that the Scottish Summit is going to be THE event of the year 2020. I heard that it was going to be huge and that it had this amazing list of speakers. Coming home and still having all that positive energy that came from the Swedish event, I knew that the Scottish Summit was the next event for me and I was very honoured to receive the news that I could attend as a speaker.

This will be a series of two blog posts. In this first one I will focus on how it was to be there as an attendee, of course with some reflections coming from the speaker part of me, it is not easy to split the two experiences entirely in two. In my next blog post I will tell you all about my session.

People arriving to the University of Strathclyde

The event was held at the University of Strathclyde, just a short walk from the hotel where most of the speakers stayed – at Premier inn. Not a chance anyone could miss the fact that we were in Scotland, there were kilts and there where bagpipes. As the attendees arrived to the University there was a band playing bagpipes, so Scottish and so brilliant, loved it!

Welcome to the Scottish Summit 2020!

This is more than just technology

The keynote was held by Jon Levesque from Microsoft with the title “This is more than just technology”. The entrance? Wow, you should have been there. I assume this is the entrance you get in Scotland if you are a Senior Platform Evangelist.

Jon Levesque appears for the Keynote – wearing kilt and accompanied by bagpipes!

Jon is an amazing storyteller and told us his story from a young, not the healthiest Jon to the place where he is today. To a Senior Platform Evangelist and I truly believe that this is his place to be because he was absolutely shining telling us his story and speaking about the Community. He not only gets payed to speak and he loves it, he is also engaging the audience and the Community. 😀

Key takeaways from the keynote: Go and be an Evangelist for the Power Platform and a catalyst for change in your organization!

The Scottish Summit was appified

The amazing organizers of the Scottish Summit had provided us with an app, “Scottish Summit 2020”. You can get the app from Google Play or get the app from App Store. In this app you could browse and set your favourite speakers and sessions, chat, schedule meetings, see a map over the University etc.

This is a tip for you: Download the app and you will be able to see what sessions there where and also download the presentations (pdf or slides), if provided by the speakers.

The app could also be used to schedule your day. I had too many favourite speakers and sessions, I simply decided to be spontaneous and let my mind choose sessions as the day went by. Not sure that was the best decision though, that made me show up in the last minute to Claire Carmichael and her session non-Standard Use Cases for Power Platform. It was such a popular session that I almost did not make it inside of the room, instead I took a step back and just focused on preparing for my session.

Taking a step back turned out to be a good thing – I got to meet and chat with lovely people during this time as well.

Let’s Build a Responsive Canvas App!

After my session it was lunch time and by then I had learned from my mistake in the morning and I was the first person in the room making sure to secure a seat at my former colleague and now friend – Jonas Rapp’s – session, Let’s Build a Responsive Canvas App!

Better be here on time, it will be crowded!

Jonas started with a quote:

Now this announcement is to say that creating responsive apps is possible, unfortunately, not that it is easy.

Emma Cooper, Microsoft

It is from the announcement from Microsoft on the 18th of March 2019.

Jonas made a demo where he first created a Canvas App from CDS data, not any data, but data about Rockets. He mentioned that you then get an app you can run, however there is a lot to wish for, particularly on the UX side. Jonas showed us how you can get the app to scale better and with some magic related to that size matters he impressively showed us a good user experience for when flipping your phone from vertical to horizontal mode.

Imagine what you get when you create an app from data. E.g. you get a gallery on the browse screen, but instead you might want to display a galley on top and details about a chosen record in the bottom. Not only do you want that – switching your phone from vertical to horizontal you would probably not want same layout, i.e. gallery on top and details in the bottom. Rather you would want the gallery to the left and the details to the right.

App from data, modified to have details below the gallery and has been made responsive – details to the right when in horizontal mode!

The coolest part was when Jonas also demoed how he ran the app on his phone and showed us the behaviour of the app – when he switched to horizontal mode.

Yay – This is what a responsive Canvas App looks like!

One could think about these as obvious and easily configurable features when creating mobile Apps but no, it is a bit tricky to get it the way you want. Thanks Jonas for showing us how it is supposed to be done!

I also learned the quite new short cut Ctrl + Shift + P to both save and publish a Canvas App at the same time. See all shortcuts here. Other tips from Jonas was to use containers group things together – block of different controls, use variables and be careful so you do not kill your formulas.

Reading Emma Coopers artice about it, I really like what she says in the end of it.

This capability is one small step for PowerApps, one giant leap for the PowerApps community. 

Emma Cooper

Top 10 FREE tools for Functional Consultants and CRM Admins

Next up was Gus Gonzales and his session “Top 10 FREE tools for Functional Consultants and CRM Admins.“. I entered the room thinking that I probably already know about the 10 tools, then I was surprised to learn that I only know half of them. Not only did Gus tell us about his top 10 free tools, he also gave us demos of several of them. See my findings below. As I mentioned earlier – the findings will be a mixture of information from the sessions and my own thoughts, in this case also my own experience from using these tools.

This is were you will find more from this Dynamics CRM/365 legend

1. Snapshot

This tool can be used to create backups of your data, recover deleted records and create copies of existing records. Good to know is that this tool creates duplicates of your data and fields such as Created on will get another date. Before you had to enable auditing in order to use this but nowadays they use a plugin instead so no need for that. Get if for free here. You also find it here on Azure Marketplace.

2. BPF Manager (XrmToolBox)

Business Process Flows (BPF) are used in Model-Driven Apps and help ensure that people enter data consistently and follow the same steps every time they do their job.

Imagine that you are migrating data into your system. You might want to set the records to be in a certain stage of a Business Process Flow. There is no way to do that, but with the BPF Manager you can. BFP Manager lets you pick the process and the stage. Another situation when it might be handy is when you have e.g. Opportunities within your system and you use one Business Process Flow. Then you create another one and want to use the new one instead.Read more about it here.

3. User Settings Utility (XrmToolBox)

From your Model-Driven App you can access Personalization Settings. Each user can go in there and change e.g. How many records should be displayed in the views, Do not send errors to Microsoft etc. One thing I have used it for is to bulk change the e-mail settings. This tool will help you change the settings for several users at the same time.Read more about it here.

4. Bulk Workflow Execution (XrmToolBox)

If you have ever wanted to run a workflow for many records, you know that workflows can be run for only as many records that you can have in a view, i.e. 250 records at a time. Bulk Workflow Execution lets you do what the name implies – run workflows in bulk – for more than 250 records at a time. Read more about it here.

5. Attribute Manager (XrmToolBox)

Here is a tool for the person who needs to “do it again and do it right”. Imagine that you have created a field for an entity in a solution, you use that field on forms, in views, in workflows, business rules and you might even have some data for this field. Then you realize – you really should have used another data type for this field. Perhaps it is a text field and you want it to be of type URL instead in order to improve the UX.

Well, do it again and do it right. That means, remove the field from all places you have added it to, create a new field and add that field to those places and there might be data to transfer from the old field to the new field. Attribute Manager will help you do that and take away the painfully manual work for it.     

This tool is only applicable on development environments I assume, since you cannot use it for managed solutions – and who uses unmanaged solutions in other environments than development environments?! 😉 Read more about the tool here.

6. Personal User Views Migration (XrmToolBox)

In Model-Driven Apps the users can create their own views. There are system views and there are personal views. There is no way to natively migrate personal views nor delete a personal view. With this tool you can accomplish both of those tasks. Read more about it here.

7. Organization Settings Editor

There are over 90 organization settings but there is no user interface to modify those. However, there is a tool for just that. Go to GitHub and you will be provided with a solution which you can import. Examples of those settings are: Increase the number of rows to export to Excel, modify how many BPF you can have per entity from 10 to maximun 100, change how many grids that are allowed on the form. Read more and get it from here.

8. Storage Analyzer

This tool will help you analyze your storage and with their own words “Identify what entities which overburden your system.“. Read more and get it from here.

9. Ultimate Workflow Toolkit

A set of Custom Workflows to be used. Read more here.

10. Level Up for Dynamics CRM/365

Extension to Chrome (and Firefox as well nowadays). Let’s you do all kinds of things such as quickly find the record id (guid), record URL, see the logical names of the fields when you are on a form and there is even a “god mode”, which unhides controls and makes read-only fields editable. OMG how dangerous it that. This is only for organized people who knows what they are doing. It is very handy though. Read more about it here

As you have noticed by now, many of these tools can be found in the XrmToolBox. If you are not already using the XrmToolBox, go and download it today, you are missing out!

Power Platform and Azure Functions a match made in Azure heaven

Next up for me was Lee Baker and Mario Trueba and their session Power Platform and Azure Functions a match made in Azure heaven. By now I was way too tried to actually remember things in detail. But this was a really great session where they demoed a Model-Driven App and they used Azure Functions for the business logic instead of e.g. using plugins/Custom workflows. Well done you two!

Lee and Mario kicking off their session

Developing XrmToolBox Plugins

The last session I went to was held by Jim Novak. He totally rocked the stage! I have been wanting to go to Jonas Rapp and his session Let’s create an XrmToolBox tool but never had the chance, so I am very happy I got to go to Jim Novaks session. He gave us a really good intro to how to build XrmToolBox tools, what parts they are built up of and he even created a small tool right in front of us. 

Jim also pointed out that there is a wide variety of tools, e.g. if you are a Business Analyst then you might be interested in the Metadata Document Generator, developers definitely benefits from using FetchXmlBuilder and if you are a System Administrator then you might be interested in using Attribute Audit Explorer. There simply is a tool for you whoever you are.

But what if you want to create your own tool?

The building blocks: Plugin class – extending the PluginBase class and XrmToolBox uses this to load the tool into the application. PluginControl class – extending the PluginControlBase class and this is your area for providing a UI for your tool. You can find a project template for building XrmToolBox tools here.

Want to read more about this subject? You can find great links in the picture below.

Great links provided to us by Jim Novak

Pub Quiz and the sparkly red jacket

The Pub Quiz master Andrew Bibby lived up to his role, bringing us an entertaining show. Not only did he wear the famous sparkly red jacket – for Scotland he had upgraded the outfit to include a kilt.

What is a Pub Quiz without the sparkly red jacket?

A new little star in the Communty!

As always, I was amazed by the enthusiasm in the air and the willingness among everyone to share their expertise. There is one Community friend who I would like to highlight a little extra. That is a 10-year-old girl who had went with her mom to be with her all weekend, listen to her session and just hang around with us all weekend long.

Being a mom myself I know that it is not the easiest task in the world for a 10-year-old to have the patience and stay by her mother’s side the whole weekend while there is a lot of boring (for a kid) stuff going on. Not only did she do that, she kept doing these wonderful drawings of the speakers.

Say hello go the next generation and the new creative artist Rochelle! She has a new twitter account @LittleArtistRo, please follow her and let her know how amazing she is and what beautiful drawings she makes. If you are lucky, she might want to make one for you.  

Beautiful art from @LittleArtistRo

Random pics

Here are some random pictures. 1. Me and the always encouraging and amazing person Jonas Rapp, backstage in the spakers room. Can you see who is in the background?! 2. The Scottish Summit is about to start, why didn’t I ask Michael Roth to look into the camera?! 3. The Keynote speaker himself wearing a kilt. 4. Met with Iain Burnley and Sheryl Netley. Lovely people I got to meet for the first time in person. Team pink! Thanks for the photo Iain!

Random pictures

Thank you to the organizers!

Mark Christie and Iain Connoly sure had set high expectations for this event and if you ask me, it turned out to be just as amazing as one could imagine if not even more. We cannot thank them enough for the amazing job they have done organizing this massive event. True Community heroes! 

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