Power Platform, Release Waves

2023 Release Wave 1 Highlights

Today the Release Plans for 2023 Release Wave 1 were made available. This post highlights some of the features presented and we are going to focus on Dataverse, Power Apps, Power Automate and the cross app capabilities (Finance and Operations 💙 Dataverse). Many features might not comes as news to you, they might have been announced at a Microsoft event last year or even been documented in an earlier Release Plan. Take it for what it is, these plans can be revised and updated, see it as living documentation. Below are the features mentioned in this post. As usual, do take a look at the plans yourself, there are more to take in than what I cover here.

  • Power Apps: Run automated tests for custom pages and model-driven apps
  • Power Apps: Test Power Apps in CICD pipelines
  • Power Apps: Coauthor with other makers in the modern app designer
  • Power Apps: Add table columns to forms and views automatically
  • Power Apps: Be more productive with modern app designer improvements
    Power Apps: Look up records easily with modern advanced find
  • Power Apps: Power BI quick reports in Power Apps enabled by default
  • Power Apps: Enjoy the new look and feel for model-driven Power Apps
  • Dataverse: Do more with enhancements to personal environments
  • Dataverse: Governing personal environments
  • Dataverse: Makers can quickly and easily access a (personal) Dataverse environment
  • Dataverse: Approve and enable mailboxes without an administrator
  • Dataverse: Associate activities with other activities
  • Dataverse: Implement calculated column capabilities inside formula columns
  • Dataverse: Create virtual tables easily in Maker Portal
  • Pro Dev/Dataverse: Send alerts when Dataverse API hits usage limit
  • Pro Dev/Dataverse: Optimize data ingestion performance with CreateMultiple & UpdateMultiple APIs
  • Pro Dev/Dataverse: Include dependent assemblies with plug-ins
  • Power Automate/cloud flows: Store cloud flow execution history in Microsoft Dataverse
  • Power Automate/cloud flows: Use natural language to create flows
  • Power Automate/cloud flows: Generate expressions from examples
  • Pro Dev: Make solution export source code repository friendly
  • F&O 💙 Dataverse: Add efficiency in prospect-to-cash integration with Sales
  • F&O 💙 Dataverse: One Dynamics One Platform
  • F&O 💙 Dataverse: Experience combined Power Platform & Finance and Operations VS tools

Power Apps

The Early Access features presented in the 2023 Power Platform Release Wave 1 plan are for Power Apps. The Power Apps chapter is divided into features that benefits the maker and features that benefits the user. The Early Access features are all in the User category (more specifically Users, automatically).

(Note that the Dynamics 365 2023 Release Wave 1 plan also outlines features in Early Access, e.g. for Dynamics Sales, Customer Service and Field Service).

Another example of improvements for users is an updated user interface, Enjoy the new look and feel for model-driven Power Apps.

“The new look and feel for model-driven Power Apps include new controls, layouts, fonts, colors, and more. The updated user interface is a per app, opt-in feature. When enabled, model-driven apps will use the latest Microsoft Fluent Design-based elements as they’re released. Microsoft Fluent is an open-source, cross-platform design system to create engaging product experiences—accessibility, internationalization, and performance included.

Examples of features that benefits a Maker are tools for testing the apps you have built. Run automated tests for custom pages and model-driven apps and also to use these tests in pipelines Test Power Apps in CICD pipelines. You can co-author with other Makers, i.e. see who else is working with an app and build it simultaneously Coauthor with other makers in the modern app designer. Another feature for the maker is enhancements to configuring tables, Add table columns to forms and views automatically. Changes in how to work with the modern app designer are described too Be more productive with modern app designer improvements.

Dataverse

In the plan you can read about lots of investment areas such as Microsoft 365 collaboration, Enterprise trust, Dataverse personal environments, Power Fx in Dataverse, Dataverse extensibility, Dataverse APIs, Dataverse events. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.

Developer environments improved

In the plan you can find three headlines related to Developer environments. Note that “personal” environment is the same as Developer environment. First we have Do more with enhancements to personal environments.

“You can do more in a personal environment than ever before as we continue making improvements in Dataverse experiences. For example, you’ll now be able to use your SharePoint list more effectively by accessing choices, Boolean, and attachment data.”

If you have payed attention you might have found this Power CAT video, Dataverse Environments For Everyone – New Developer Plan – Power CAT Live. As a summary you can get 3 different environments for free, try out Power Pages (see Nick’s tweet), virtual tables (mentioned in the video), ALM capabilities, premium features etc.

Next one is related to governance. So your colleagues have created their own personal environment in you tenent. What now? Governing personal environments. We will get enhancements in governance for Developer environments. Power Platform Admins will be able to enable and disable Developer environments.

“Controls will be given to Power Platform admins to enable or disable personal environments for the makers in the tenant, along with additional controls, such as assigning labels to the personal environment.

Then we have a feature which I believe is the same as what is described in the Power CAT video that I mentioned. It will get easier to get yourself a personal/developer environment. Makers can quickly and easily access a Dataverse environment.

Microsoft 365 Collaboration

When your customers want to use the Outlook app e.g. in order to track e-mails from Outlook and have them saved in their (Sales or other) app, then part of the configuration is to enable mailboxes. When you get to that configuration part, you need to be a Global Admin in order to do that step. Targeted GA April 2023, from that date users will be able to approve their own mailboxes. Approve and enable mailboxes without an administrator.

Here is something for the end user (and the maker who helps with guidance how to best use the apps), Associate activities with other activities. Accounts (and other tables) can have several related activities such as appointments, tasks, e-mails, phone call etc. This feature makes it possible to associate activity rows with other activity row, e.g. to have several Teams chats associated to an appointment or Task with a Regarding column.

More Maker capabilities

This one is found under the Power Apps chapter. But since it’s related to Dataverse I’ll add it here, Create virtual tables easily in Maker Portal. We’ve already seen an announcement in January and a video from Microsoft PMs New Virtual Table Creation Wizard in Maker Portal. The below picture is from the Release Plan.

Then we have a Power Fx related feature, improvements to formula columns, Implement calculated column capabilities inside formula columns. Known gaps are brought up with hope for the future that we will get parity with calculated columns:

  • Creation of currency fields
  • Support date and time with user local and time zone
  • Support for choice columns
  • Ability to set precisions for decimals

Pro Developer enhancements

In the Dataverse chapter you can find some parts that are for Pro Devs. Dataverse APIs and Dataverse extensibility are examples of that. Send alerts when Dataverse API hits usage limit, APIs – new capability with public preview in July 2023 and GA in September. APIs – Optimize data ingestion performance with CreateMultiple and UpdateMultiple APIs. That one is targeted to be GA in May 2023. Extensibility – Include dependent assemblies with plug-ins. This one have been in preview since March 31, 2022 and is GA targeted April 2023.

There is also a chapter of its own Microsoft Power Platform Pro Development, where you will find improvements to ALM management among other things. One of the features presented in there is Make solution export source code repository friendly. Public Preview targeted for March 2023 and GA targeted for July 2023.

“Today, when exporting and storing Microsoft Power Platform solutions in Git version control, customers can’t branch and merge due to unnecessary files from Power Platform causing conflicts, even if just a small solution component is changed. This feature enables customers to successfully branch and merge the relevant solution files and adds support for auditing Power Platform assets properly in SCCS.”

Power Automate

As we use Power Automate cloud flows, at some point we need to either go and look at flow runs or make sure to build something in Dataverse to let the users access execution history (or the result of it). Here is one piece of news that I found interesting. We will be able to Store cloud flow execution history in Microsoft Dataverse.

With this feature, you can use Dataverse to store your flow execution data. This enables you to:

  • Build custom reports for automation ROI (return on investment), monitoring, and more.
  • Retain flow execution records for longer than the current limit of 30 days.
  • Centralize the automation execution storage data across cloud and desktop flows.

Then we have two features which were first announced at Microsoft Ignite 2022, Use natural language to create flows and Generate expressions from examples.

Power CAT Live has a video for you related to the above, Create Flows With Natural Language – Power CAT Live, and it was also described in an announcement post, New ways to innovate with AI and Microsoft Power Automate.

Finance & Operations 💙 Dataverse

Let’s take a look also in the Dynamics 365 2023 Release Wave 1 Release Plan and look for improvements in the areas where we xRM people meet with the ERP side of the Microsoft product portfolio. I’ll focus on Finance & Operations meeting Dataverse. First I can find:

Add efficiency in prospect-to-cash integration with Sales

“Previously, the dual-write integration between Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management and Dynamics 365 Sales had several shortcomings, such as only allowing sales quotations and sales orders to be created in isolation rather than as an end-to-end process flow. Also, while the previous solution did make the advanced Supply Chain Management pricing engine available to Dynamics 365 Sales, important pricing features such as manual discounts were not fully supported.

This is exactly the challenges I have struggled with for the past months. I have entered the world of Finance & Operation from the Dataverse side. I have experienced several enhancements already when it comes to using the Supply Chain Management price engine when working with Sales Quotations, happy to hear more improvements are coming. The below improvements are mentioned:

  • Support sales quotation revisioning and state transitions
  • Make sales quotation and sales order line pricing more transparent and solid
  • Support the crediting process, cover sales credit notes with negative charges and discounts

One Dynamics One Platform is presented not as a feature of its own but an investment area. You might have heard of this concept One Dynamics One Platform before. It’s about the convergence of Finance & Operations and Dataverse. We saw it e.g. in the 2022 Release Wave 2 plan and there has been TechTalks from the Dynamics 365 FastTrack Team, One Dynamics One Platform – Series. As a summary it is mentioned:

In 2023 release wave 1, we will start enabling developers to write business logic that spans both platforms (Finance and Operations apps and Dataverse) in a transactional, consistent manner, enable them to create background jobs in Dataverse, introduce IP-based cookie binding for apps, and improve performance of virtual tables.

You can also find pieces of consolidation information in the Power Platform Release Plan, I’m thinking about this one: Experience combined Power Platform and Finance and Operations Visual Studio tools. You can tell Microsoft is really working on bringing their product portfolio closer together. I have hope for the future that integrating the products will go smoother.

That was highlights from my perspective. Going through the Release Plans made me think about product updates and how news are presented to us in a broader way. Stay tuned for a new post with my reflections around that!

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

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