It is that time of the year again, the release wave is announced. Here we get a glimpse on what is on the backlog of the product teams. Of course everything on this list is subject to change and Microsoft reserves their major announcements for their big events. However it is still fun going through these items in bulk. So in this post I will give you my top 8 picks and interpretation for this release wave.
Now let me first start that my interpretation is not always the best! For release wave 1 I was skeptical how fast the Modern advanced find would reach the same features as the old advanced find. Boy was I wrong! Not only is it already a great modern update to the interface, it also has all the features you would want. Including the ability to download the FetchXML! It is time to tell your end-users about this as this will be turned on by default in October.
Collaboration is key
Collaborating on your business processes will get a whole lot easier. Collaborative Apps is a focus point for Microsoft and we can see that in features that are coming towards Model-Driven Apps. We will be able to chat via Teams inside our apps. And what is great is that these chats can automatically be added to the activity timeline of the record!
I think it is vital in modern work to keep users in their flow of work. Therefore I like to bring in key processes into the apps that I’m building. One of these can be appointments. Making sure that users do not need to switch to outlook is a productivity booster. A lot of appointments are virtual now so it is great to see that we can soon create and join Teams meetings inside our applications.
Advanced Teams features are already available in preview for Dynamics 365 Apps, so it’s greats that some of these are coming towards the Power Platform!
Release the Converging of the Apps!
For me personally I am very interested in the converging of the apps story. The promise to bring the Canvas and Model-Driven Apps together in one experience. I have hope that we somewhere in the future can add the Dataverse lists or forms in Canvas App. That would bring a lot of Power and flexibility to developing our apps.
This release wave does not bring a lot of news concerning the above. However, and I am speculating here, I do see some progress, reading between the lines. We already could add a form control of a different table inside a form. This works by changing the look-up control to a form component. In this release wave we see a lot of features added to this control. We can soon see Business Process Flows, command bar, header and tabs. This means that rendering of a form is now a lot more loosely coupled then it used to be. One could interpret this as a first step to add a form on a different place then the Model-Driven app!
Another feature which is going to help a lot is that Custom Pages are now responsive by default. Custom Pages are your ticket to bringing that pixel perfect UI from Canvas App natively inside Model-Driven Apps. Now seeing as Model-Driven Apps are responsive by default it is a necessity to make Custom Pages responsive as well. This is easy to forget to turn on, but now they are responsive by default, which will help you remember 😁. Also the layout templates will help you build responsive pages faster.
Low-code Business Rules
If you have seen some of my post before, you might have seen that I like to use Business Rules. They allow you to add business logic to your form and / or table. This is a no-code experience which can do quite a lot. But of course not as much as you can do with pro-code like TypeScript and plugins. With the addition of Power Fx in Dataverse business rules we will get a low-code option with a lot more power. In fact this might be the first step towards Power Fx inside plugins, one can only dream 🤞.
In my team we are currently discussing what to do with Business Rules. We are mostly working on large scale projects with fusion development. Business Rules are very powerful, but adding more then a couple to a table and things can get quite messy. So it is our practice to move to TypeScript and c# plugins. Do we want to just stop using Business Rules as then it is no longer confusing where to look when we have a bug or a change request? Or do we allow for flexibility and speed in our implementations where we don’t need a lot of business logic?
It is an interesting debate. Where do you draw the line between productivity, consistency and supportability? What we do agree on is to never mix Business Rules with TypeScript. That is just asking for trouble!
Expression designer in Cloud Flows
Now if you are like me and writing bigger, more complex expression inside Power Automate Cloud Flows gets under your skin, I have news for you! The editing experience for expressions will improve! It is saddening to see as the general availability of this feature is March 2023. Public preview is also not announced.
However you can enable experimental features in Power Automate and already use this feature. Kind of confusing as no preview is announced. I just came across this possibility so I have not thoroughly tested it. However it gives me more real-estate to work with! Be sure to work in the Power Automate portal. This is not available when working on your flow inside the Power Apps portal.
These are my top 8 picks for this release wave. As always take a look at the actual Power Platform Release wave documentation. The product teams adds, removes and changes new all the time.