Power Platform

2022 Release Wave 1 – First impressions

Today Release Notes for 2022 Release Wave 1 were made available. In this post I will summarize my first impressions and focus will be on Power Apps and Power Automate, but there are also new features from other areas that I will highlight. Here are links to the Power Platform 2022 Release Wave 1 Plan and Dynamics 365 2022 Release Wave 1 Plan.

Some features presented have been announced earlier, either on some Microsoft event or on the Power Apps blog or both. Examples of such are custom code in Custom Connectors, licensing for ISV products, co-presence in Power Apps among users, i.e. users to see who else is working on the same Account for instance, and in-app notifications. Other features are new (at least to me but it might be the case that I just did not pay attention to it earlier).

This made me reflect a bit over what is the difference between features being announced on events and features being announced when the Release Plans are made available. As I see it the Release Plans are go-to documents when you want to look up dates. The Release Plans will tell you when to expect what features to become available for preview, i.e. when it is possible to start evaluating different features. It also tells you when features are expected to become General Available and hence are to be used safely in a Production environment.

Remember that Release Plans should be seen as living documents which will change and become updated over time. Dates can move, planned features can be taken out of the plan, new features will be added. That is why there is a chapter called CHANGE LOG. Remember to keep an eye on it! (Actually, I can’t find it but I assume there will be such a chapter soon). 

Reading through the Release Plans, what caught my attention the most was all the bits and pieces which overall together helps improve ALM, so let’s start with a few of those and I will come back to some later on as well. I have chosen to present new features/improvements in BOLD, hopefully you will find it helpful when reading.

Connections and Connection References

Working with Power Automate cloud flows, connections and connection references has been a bit of a challenge and deployments have not always been the smoothest thing to manage. With this Release Wave we will see improvements to connections and connection references.

  • Use connections provided by run-only users with the Dataverse connector. Makers to choose between a stored or a user-provided connection for flows that are manually triggered.
  • Solution references will be visible when viewing solution resources
  • Solution list warnings are shown when connection references are not ready for use
  • Greater control over connection reference creation and reuse during flow creation
  • Connection references will be copied too when copy/pasting a cloud flow

Power Automate cloud flows Maker perspective

I usually have Maker Portal as an entrance to the Power Platform world, even if I am to work with cloud flows. The reason is because I most likely work with other components as well, e.g. Dataverse and apps are often a part of the solutions I work with. One thing that is presented in the Release Plan is a new “Home” experience for Power Automate. To me it looks like a perfect match to Maker Portal. I will most likely continue to enter the Power Platform world from Maker Portal, but for users who mostly automates this might be a good entrance!

New Home experience for Power Automate (picture from Release Plan)

Power Automate cloud flows related improvements include

  • Flow ownership supported for Service Principals
  • Possibility to resubmit multiple failed runs at once
  • Solution cloud flows are shown in the My Flows experience
  • Copy paste improvements. Connection References to be included and also e.g. copy paste nested switch statements.
  • Undo feature in the designer

Power Apps Maker perspective

ALM enhancements continues as you read through the Power Apps chapter. Makers can collaborate together on the same app by merging changes. Maker world comes closer to pro developer as this story continues.

App changes by Makers (picture from Release Plan)

Here follows some more interesting Power Apps news from a maker perspective.

  • Power Fx named formulas to ease development and improve performance. In this chapter you can read about the change from today using Set(x, y) to instead writing x = y and e.g. how that will make it possible to improve performance, reduce errors and misunderstandings.
  • Intelligent formula repair. Supported by Program Synthesis using Examples (PROSE)
  • Command designer – e.g. enhanced ALM support ALM again!
  • Prefetching and caching mechanisms (Canvas apps)
  • Quickly create tables, load data in Dataverse. Table designer from Teams to Maker Portal, Quick create app over data from table, From Excel to table creation. Creation of tables – probably good for demo or PoC scenarios but not for real work, assuming prefixes will not be predefined by a publisher.
  • Support for data sources with dynamic schema − Some connectors can returns extra columns. Support for SQL Stored procedures in the future.

Power Apps User perspective

Here follows interesting Power Apps news from a user perspective. As already mentioned, part of it have been seen before at Microsoft events last year, but still, here we go!

Collaborate with your colleagues easier, see who is working on the same Account at the same time, with Co-presence in rows, see who is online with Owner field, presence indicator, contact card and start teams chats from within an app. Share rows with your colleagues with Easy record sharing.

Easy Record Sharing (picture from Release Plan)
Co-presence in rows (picture from Release Plan)

Explore data through modern advanced find. Legacy Advanced Find has been a go-to option. We also have FetchXML Builder, but as a maker, when in an app testing something, Advanced Find has been an easy and quick way to find data. Legacy is… well, the name says it all… it does not really have the modern look and feel as the rest of the UI.

Improvements to activities in Model-driven apps. Appointment description supports rich text. From within an app it will be possible to create and join Teams meetings. Display only activities relevant to a certain app with New activity dropdown to show only relevant activities.

Custom Connectors

Here follows some news for Custom Connectors.

  • Create and update custom connectors using Power Platform CLI
  • Azure Key Vault secrets can be used in custom connectors using environment variables
  • Service principal support for connectors
  • Support for custom code in connectors

Other interesting new features

Application Dependencies Management is presented as a new feature which will be available for Public Preview in February and planned to be General Available in April. App developers (publishers) will be able to define what applications that needs to be installed prior to installing a certain other application. Declare dependencies as part of app package creation which will then be validated and during the publish process. Reduce failed installs because of missing dependencies. If this means that we in the future can utilize such a feature in AppSource and say that a certain application needs to be installed before you install another application, that becomes even more interesting.

Last year ISV app license management was introduced. You can read about it here. It was also in the 2021 Release Wave 2 Plan, ISV app license management and it was a topic on the Power Apps blog, check it out here. In todays plan you have a similar topic under the Governance and Administration section, Purchase Dynamics 365 and Power Platform ISV offers from AppSource. The purchased licenses will appear in the Microsoft 365 portal where they can be assigned to users. Sounds like a next to explore feature for anyone who is on an ISV journey.

I started this post by mentioning that ALM related improvements caught my mind the most. Let’s also end this post with such. Another ALM enhancement I noticed was that we are getting better possibilities to enforce Solution Checker as part of solution packaging, export and import. Presented under the Power Apps chapter.

Remember that this is where you will find the Product Roadmap, and now we’re looking forward to the early opt-in date, 31st of January!

Cover photo by Jeremy Ricketts on Unsplash

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