Power Platform

Looking back at 2021 – Power Platform Edition

The year is coming to an end and it is time to take a moment and reflect on the year that has gone by. Features that are mentioned in this post are either General Available, in Public Preview or upcoming functionality. This is from my own perspective, looking back at some of the announcements that has been made as well as trends I have seen while working in Power Platform projects.

Introduction and expansion of Power Fx

The top biggest announcement according to me was the introduction of Power Fx. Introduced at Microsoft Ignite in March as a new open source low-code programming language. At the time of the announcement it was a new name for the formulas in canvas apps and a new low-code home and open source to be in GitHub. That does not sound very big, but it came with an ambitious plan to expand across and beyond the Power Platform.

During the year parts of the plan were executed when model-driven commanding was re-imagined, Dataverse for Teams Power Fx Formula Columns was introduced and eventually not only the documentation got a home in GitHub, but also the code base. Without a doubt we will see more of the expansion in the future, it will be interesting to follow the Power Fx journey in 2022.

Power Fx Roadmap presented at Microsoft build 2021

Power Apps Model-driven 💙 Canvas = Custom Pages

Another big announcement was made during the summer. Big because we have heard about the plan to make two become one before and during 2021 we saw some pieces of this plan put together when Custom Pages was introduced. A new page type within a model-driven app, bringing the power of canvas apps into model-driven apps. These differs from embedded canvas apps, read more about it here and Power Fx formulas can differ a bit to, mentioned here. I am looking forward to see more samples from the community as well as to explore Custom Pages more myself.

Independent Publisher Connector program

During the year a new program was introduced, allowing anyone to submit a custom connector for certification. Earlier you had to be the owner of the underlying service and API. During the year we have seen lots of new connectors being made available. You can recognize them in MS Docs by the Independent Publisher in parenthesis behind the name, see e.g. the Spotify connector. These connectors can be used directly from the platform when creating a cloud flow, but they will not have a logo of their own, they all share the same look.

Independent Publisher connectors – introduced at Microsoft Build 2021, picture from one of the presentations

Collaborate as Users and Makers

New collaboration possibilities are sneaking their way into building apps and flows as well as working in apps. Co-presence in rows, e.g. see what other users are working on the same Account. Using comments while creating apps and cloud flows in the same way you collaborate when creating e.g. a document or presentation. Closer integration between Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365.

During 2021 the Community Plan was re-branded to Developer Plan and news were that we now get more than 1 environment and can share apps for development and test purpose. This is how you can have your own environments for free, exploring Power Platform, without loosing your work because a trial environment came to an end and now we also have some possibilities to share apps when using this plan.  

The ALM stories continues

We build solutions for or in collaboration with different organizations. When doing so, we need to be able to establish good habits and proper ALM. The concept of being able to work with all kinds of different components in solutions and easily move components between environments is the start for managing a healthy ALM process.

Ideally, we do not want to have any manual work after a deployment, we want the process to be as smooth as possible. We also do not want to use our own user accounts in the different connections used in a solution containing cloud flows. We also want to be able to collaborate and work together in a good way, being able to not only have one person to manage all deployments, but rather a team of such people. I am still struggling a bit getting all of these pieces together and that is something I need to look into more during 2022.

During the year both Public Preview and General Availability of Environment Variables and Connection References support in Power Platform Build Tools were announced. We have seen improvements helping us work in a better way e.g. with cloud flows. I am looking forward to seeing more improvements within solution and deployment management, especially for custom connectors, cloud flows and apps. Some limitations are still documented here. I am looking forward to exploring these parts more in 2022!

Picture form the Power Apps blog

Organizations embracing the concept of Fusion Teams

Another year with Fusion Teams often in the center of attention during Microsoft events. We also saw a new whitepaper and Microsoft Learn learning path released dedicated to Fusion Teams. Center of Excellence and the starter kit has been in the center of attention at many organizations which are in the beginning of their Power Platform journeys.

I work at a consultancy firm. Traditionally we have had Dynamics 365 projects, CRM related or solutions with custom tables a.k.a. xRM projects. Traditionally we were the makers and the developers. During 2021 we have seen more and more organizations staffing their own Power Platform projects and we as a consultancy firm either work as part of such a team and/or help the organization with guidance building such teams. We are all simply learning to adapt to these new types of projects and mix of people. Is this the low-code revolution happening? 

Happy Holidays!

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

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