Power Platform at Microsoft Build 2020

The developer conference Microsoft Build was last week. This online only conference was a great success! The Power Platform even got a bigger stage then last year. And the story is similar as the one carried out by Scott Durow and Sara Lagerquist, #ProCodeNoCodeUnite

As I try to digest the news coming from Microsoft Build I will write down my thoughts. And let us start with the Rapid application development blogpost by Charles Lamanna. A write-up of all tools available in the Power Platform which lets you quickly build enterprise apps and automation. Not a lot of news per see, but it shows the focus the team has going into Build.

Rapid application development with the Power Platform
Rapid application development with the Power Platform

Describing the Power Platform as a rapid application development is something I’m used to since the XRM days. I have built a lot of solutions on Dynamics CRM which are not systems of engagement. But by using the tools available you could quickly build and add value.

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Desktop UI Flows – automate your legacy applications!

Following up on my previous blog about automating web apps with UI Flows, it’s time for legacy applications. I will show you how desktop UI Flows for windows applications can automate manual entries in legacy systems.

Imagine you are a call center agent and a new customer is calling to place an order. You enter their contact information and order details in your modern CRM system. However your organization still has a legacy order delivery system. Therefore you need to enter all information regarding their order again inside that application.

This can now be automated using Power Automate UI Flows! I record a UI Flow to enter contact information into this legacy system. A regular Flow inside a model-app starts the UI Flow. After the desktop UI Flow creates the contact in the legacy system a unique identifier is created. We grab the unique identifier of the just created contact. And as a result we can add this to our contact record in the Common Data Service. Let’s check out more details.

Scenaro description of the attended UI Flow automating legacy desktop application
Attended UI Flow scenario
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Automate web apps with UI Flows

So UI Flows for Power Automate is now general available! UI Flows is the new Robotic Processing Automation capability for Power Automate. For my talk on UI Flow during Dynamics Saturday Amsterdam I played around with the public preview. In this blog I will write about my experience automating a web app with UI Flows.

Let’s begin with a short explanation what Robotic Process Automation (or RPA) is and how it compares to Power Automate. The concept of RPA is around for some time now. RPA wants to automate user tasks just as Power Automate. However RPA does so by exactly mimicking the input done by the user. You record the mouse clicks and keyboard inputs and the robot replays those. While Power Automate is a Digital Process Automation tool who utilizes API’s wrapped in connectors to automate the tasks.

Power Automate bridges modern systems with legacy systems
Power Automate bridges modern systems with legacy systems

Microsoft bridges the gap between RPA and Power Automate with UI Flows. UI Flows are great for automating tasks on applications where there are no API’s available. So in my company we have one such application, we use it for our time registration. As a consultant I am scheduled to work for different customers. After my working week I register the time I worked for this customer. This is a mundane and simple task which I really want to automate.

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Synchronous and On-demand Flow inside Model Apps!

Let me first start of with wishing you all a happy new year. I hope you all had a lovely holiday season. I enjoyed a few days off and spent it with my family. On to the subject at hand, synchronous and On-demand Flow in Model Apps. As most of you know Microsoft prefers us using Power Automate Flow instead of Classic Workflow. However there are still some gaps in functionality between the two.

When developing solutions I follow Microsoft guidelines as much as possible. This ensures that the solution is durable and I create the least technical debt. With that in mind, I now keep away from Classic Workflow and use Flow whenever I can. Last few weeks I tried to fulfill business requirements within these restrictions.

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Embedded Canvas App – Exploring the OnDataRefresh property

It’s been a while since my last blog. Life took over, but I now finally got round to it. I want to share my experience with the OnDataRefresh property of the Embedded Canvas App. I will continue with my previous example of replacing a dialog with embedded canvas app.

Previous posts:

  • Click here for part 1. In this post I describe the task scenario and show how to set up the Embedded Canvas App and save the task.
  • Click here for part 2. This describes how to use Microsoft Flow to set the owner of the task as the CDS connector did not allow us to do so.

First things first, let me start by apologizing. I gave you wrong advice in part 1. If you want to use the OnDataRefresh property you need to use a “single line of text” field which is required, rather than creating a new field which I proposed first

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Embedded Canvas App – Replacing dialogs – Part 2

In my previous blog post I started making an embedded canvas app to replace dialogs. I started off by creating the app, the screen, some basic navigation and the form. Finally, I added patch logic to save the screen. If you have not read part 1, do not worry this video shows the functionality. The patch logic shows the Relate function, which is very useful, so I would recommend to check that first.

In this post I want to focus on setting the owner of the task. Setting the owner of the task is important because this allows us to distribute tasks to teams or individuals. An entire team could then process the task assigned to them and work them to completion. In this case the credit check that the finance team has to perform will help us resolve the case.

I wasn’t able to set the owner of the task using standard functionality. The PowerApps CDS connector does not allow for updating the owner field. Neither does the Relate function work after the record is created. But of course I have a solution, we can create a synchronous Flow!

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Embedded Canvas App – Replacing dialogs – Part 1

Embedded canvas apps are generally available since last month! This will be another way to create richer experiences for users using your model apps. Embedded canvas apps only work in the Unified Interface. In this blogpost I will show you how you can easily replace the deprecated dialogs with an embedded canvas app. In contrast to the PowerApps Component Framework, which I previously blogged about, this is a low code solution.

Dialogs were a great way to guide users through more complex decisions . Canvas apps are the Microsoft recommended way to replace dialogs. To showcase how you can replace your dialog I’ve created and implemented a fictive scenario.

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PCF – Iban Validator

My first blog post is about my experience with the PowerApps Component Framework so far.

What excites me about this framework is that it provides developers with a native way to integrate development into Model-driven PowerApps / Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. No longer are we restricted by IFrame’s where we have little connection to the app. It promises to provide us with the same API’s the Microsoft development team uses. Last but not least, this framework will come to canvas apps soon.

I created an IBAN validator. This is validation we build for a lot of customers, so this is a good component to start with.

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