Today the Release Plans for 2020 Release Wave 2 were released, one for Power Platform and one for Dynamics 365 and the accelerators. It is time to prepare for a new wave, features will be rolled out starting from October 2020 and continue to be rolled out until March 2021. If you have not already learned how to surf like a Pro, I will let you know how to do that. What I mean with a Pro here is that a Pro knows how the waves works and knows how to be prepared when a wave is coming. If you already know everything about the Release Wave process, then you still might find the section about Power Apps highlights interesting to read.
Release Waves – How does it work?
Everyone should learn how to prepare for the waves, know what to expect from them and how to make the most out of it.
There are two Release Waves each year. The roll-out for Release Wave 1 is April to September and for Release Wave 2 October to March. The documentation for these waves is put together in what is called Release Plans. The Release Plan describes all new features that are to be rolled out as well when and for whom and are release 3 months prior to the roll out of the wave. Key dates are presented, take a look here for 2020 Release Wave 2 key dates. Also make sure you keep an eye on this page.
There is a concept called Early Access and a concept called Early Opt-in. Early Access means that some features are available 2 months before everyone starts to get updates (before the wave is “turned on”). Early Opt-in means that you can “turn on” the wave before it is mandatory for everyone and pushed into all environments. Read more about the concepts here. Read about what will be available as early access in 2020 Release Wave 2 for Dynamics 365 here and for the Power Platform here.
In the Release Plan there is a section called Change History. Keep an eye here, you might find changed in dates for when the different features are made general available as well as information about that certain features have been added or moved to a later wave.
There is also a Release Schedule for each wave, which describes when the wave becomes mandatory and “pushed out” to all environments. It is done at certain dates and the dates differs depending on your region. Take a look here for an example for the 2020 Release Wave 1.
Learn to surf like a Pro
When you are familiar with how it works with Release Waves, then make it a habit to follow the below guidelines.
- Read through the Release Plans when those are made available (today!)
- Find out what features will be available as Early Access.
- Utilize the Early Opt-In in development environments.
- Embrace the wave without fear – prepare, explore, learn and share.
- For Microsoft partners – let customers test current solutions with the new wave.
- Keep an eye on the Change History.
I could not think of a better illustration for Release Waves and the 2020 Release Wave 2 plans than going with a Neil Benson and his Customery style. I made a little creation and this lego girl looks so happy, just like one can be over the 2020 Release Wave 2!
Now on to presenting some highlights from the Release Plan for the Power Platform and the Power Apps chapter!
Sophisticated apps on a unified platform
Power Apps can be divided into the three app types Canvas Apps, Model-Driven Apps and portals. In the plan portals got its own chapter and the other two app types Model and Canvas got their enhancements and new features mixed.
As part of the 2020 Release Wave 1 Model-Driven Apps and Canvas Apps came one step closer to each other when we were able to run both app types in the Power Apps mobile app. In the plan for 2020 Release Wave 2 I sense more pieces of the two app types coming closer together. The new features and enhancements are presented together under the heading Sophisticated apps on a unified platform and in the beginning of the chapter you can read:
Power Apps combines the flexibility of a blank canvas that can connect to any data source with the power of rich forms, views, and dashboards modeled over data in Common Data Service.
A completely new designer for Model-Driven Apps is presented and I think it reminds us about the Power Apps Studio and designing Canvas Apps. Custom pages are also presented.
Makers will be able to add custom pages to model-driven apps using the app designer, bringing together the best of canvas and model capabilities including custom layouts and components.
So a new Model-Driven App designer is presented. Making Model-Driven Apps is promised to be easier. Well, it is already easy, but it has been a bit of jumping here and there to get all the pieces together. It sounds like this will get smoother with a “page-based authoring approach”, we will get a “preview canvas to clarify the parts of the app that are being edited” and it will include both the modern entity, form and view designers. Very cool! Reach the entity, form and view designer when you are modifying your Model-Driven Apps. Sounds a great enhancement this new modern Mode-Driven App designer and I just can’t wait to try it out!
Makers will be able to add a custom page. Here we have one more feature which seems to come with this new app designer. “Create custom layouts and use PCF controls in ways that are not possible with the model-driven app form and dashboard pages”. Sounds like we will get the possibility to modify the UI in new very cool ways!
Improvements to the mobile app are presented. The ability to interact with e-mails (both Canvas and Model apps), UX improvements to sub grids and form tabs (Model apps) and support for recurring appointments from within the app.
One interesting thing when we talk about mobility is that in the Dynamics 365 Release Plan it is presented that Dynamics Sales with come with a completely new mobile app – just for Sales. It is presented in detail with print screens, make sure you check it out in the Dynamics 365 Release Plan!
We will get what is presented as “a new search experience” for Model-Driven Apps (and by that also for the First-Party Apps – Dynamics, former CRM parts). There will be a search bar in the header – seams we do not need to click on the global search icon first – one click less for the end users. There will also be support for recent searches and recently accessed records and there will be a new improved search result page. Sounds great!
One other interesting feature related to search functionality is the ability to e.g. search with natural language. It is presented under Business Q&A integration with Common Data Service relevance search.
There is one new feature presented which sounds like it is for Canvas Apps, but it does not say that it is, assume it is though. Organize business logic in your app with components. My mind thought for a while – it is something new for creating business logic for our Model-Driven Apps… but I assume not.
I actually did not know this feature was not already there, probably because I have not used this functionality, I have just known we have had the possibility to use Power BI reports in Model-Driven Apps, never played with it. But it is a great improvement to be able to get proper ALM for Power BI in dashboards. Power BI reports will be supported in system dashboards. There will be a new type of dashboard to be used for this purpose.
Under the Power Automate section we can read about improved integration with Power Platform products. Microsoft are planning for a more integrated solution for using Power Automate in Power Apps. As an example, it is described that it will be easier to add a flow into a Canvas App from within the Power Apps Studio and there will be templates for popular scenarios. The plan also says the app can automatically respond to changes in the connections or parameters in the flow and that users will not need to delete and re-add the flow from their app to make it work after changes in the flow. Yay!
Do not forget about the fact that the First-Party Apps for the “former Microsoft Dynamics CRM” are built on the Power Platform and as Model-Driven Apps. That means those can be extended using Power Apps and the features described under Power Apps which refers to Model-Driven Apps will be applicable also for the First-Party Apps and extending those.
As already mentioned, portals is a Power Apps app type and among the Power Apps Portals enhancements PCF control support, Power Virtual Agents bots and Web API for portals are presented.
Model and Canvas closer together!
If you have read this far you have probably noticed by now that the two app types Model and Canvas come closer and closer together. I believe this post by by Jukka Niiranen is really interesting and it reminds us about the plan of bringing the two app types more together. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future. One thing is for sure, the plan for the 2020 Release Wave 2 does not bring the app types apart, rather the other way around!
… and so much more!
There are so much more to read about in the two plans! The things I have highlighted in here are just a small, small part of what is coming!
How about Power Automate + Teams, set up flows directly from within Microsoft Teams and templates for common scenarios like recruitment and vacation management. There are also new AI Builder scenarios presented (e.g. for translation), an invoicing processing starter kit and the possibility to train your AI models with data which is NOT located in the CDS, make use of a connector instead.
Make sure you learn to surf like a pro and start to prepare for the 2020 Release Wave 2 today by taking a first look at the Release Plans. Happy surfing!