Another year, another release wave! This year I once again dive into what I think are the most interesting features. Reading these features will give us some insights on where the product team is investing in. Obviously the bigger and most game changing features will be reserved for a larger stage, nonetheless we can find some cool stuff coming our way!
Now I have to be honest, I am getting less excited about the release waves. Thinking of why I am less excited, I have 2 thoughts that might cause this. One is good and for the other the jury is still out. The good thing is that the Power Platform is moving towards a continuous improvement model. I also highlighted this last release wave. Lot’s of features are rolling out that are silently added to the release plan website. In fact my first highlight is that the monthly channel is coming to general availability in April 2024. Nice thing about this, is that you can set overwrite this on an App by App basis as well!
The second reason is that development of all the various Copilots. They kinda suck the oxygen out of the room. The investment made into building, refactoring and improving these features leaves less money for other product features. Frankly, some of these first iterations of these Copilots are lackluster. I do think they will eventually be really helpful, but sometimes I imagine a world where investments are made into further convergence of Canvas and Model Apps. I do hope it’s not my age turning away my passion from the product 😉
Wave to Power Apps
Let’s go the first couple of features for Power Apps! To start of I will highlight the new Data Model Editor. Coming in April in preview we can build our data model visualized in an ERD. I always advice makers to think about their data model from the start. Preferably writing it down in a simplified ERD. Now what you create on the whiteboard, you can mimic in the designer. This promises to be really helpful!
My second feature is that we will receive Modern screen templates in Canvas Designers. These templates are picked from screens typically build in most apps. They will also utilize modern controls and responsive containers. Meaning when building your new screens you will immediately utilize the best practice of responsive containers. And you will get a quick start for your screen!
The screenshots above are grabbed from the excellent Release Wave Power Platform video. These might be subject to change.
Improving ALM in Canvas Apps
we can save Canvas Apps in a readable format. As the release plan describes, we can read the export of a Canvas App in YAML. Now I am not the biggest fan of YAML, as making a mistake in indention happens quite easily, but this will allow us:
- Share and Collaborate on a single Canvas App.
- Create Templates and reusable blocks.
- Save it in git and actively track changes.
Another ALM improvement I am eager to test out is “Generative AI testing for canvas apps“. Testing your apps is important, but often ignored. Automating tests and adding them to a release pipeline will make sure tests are actually done. However writing tests can be quite cumbersome, so I appreciate every help I get! Of course with all generative AI features it will be a bit of a wait and see. Luckily we don’t have to wait for too long. Both of the features will be in preview in February!
Power Pages says Hello
Uploading files can be done in a Power Page, but the out of the box upload is not quite modern. It has been a while since I worked a Power Page project, but in all the projects I’ve been, improving the upload functionality was always on the wish list. Luckily the product team listens! They will enhance the file upload to make it modern and they will improve the configuration side as well!
On top of this, the Dataverse team is building functionality to scan these files and attachment for viruses and malware. It is always a security concern when sharing files that they contain a virus. This will mitigate those concerns. To emphasize, this is a Dataverse platform feature. So it should work everywhere you are using the File Storage capabilities.
Speaking of security concerns, in April the Web Application Firewall feature in Power Pages will also be General Available. A great feature to protect your Power Page against common threats.
Copilot Studio Artificially Greets
Now a couple of features I want to highlight for Copilot Studio. Let me first start with use generative AI insights and other analytics enhancements to improve your copilots. Power Virtual Agents (the origin for Copilot Studio) already had some world class analytics capabilities. It however requires quite a bit of knowledge to read the data. Which you must then analyse to make it actionable. I am looking forward to this particular feature to help users improve their Copilots.
The second feature I am mostly curious about the implementation. Import and export topics across copilots and environments. We have not much to go on regarding specifics about this feature, but I am intrigued! I often find myself building the same pattern across various Copilots. So having a better way of sharing these can be very helpful. I do wonder if Copilot Studio will stay in the Power Platform context. Meaning, will they utilize solutions for this, just as the other products in the Power Platform? Or will they pick their own vehicle to accomplish this.
That’s it! These are the features that caught my eye. I had to narrow it down somewhat as there were quite a few to choose from! And coming to a close, writing this blogpost and researching the features actually quite rekindled my passion again. I am curious about the features that you are most looking forward to. Let me know in the comments below, or on LinkedIn!