A couple weeks ago was the first ever Microsoft Power Platform Conference in Orlando. The conference lasted 3 days and had over 150 knowledge sharing sessions and an incredible line-up of speakers, both from Microsoft and the Community. From Microsoft the Product leadership and engineers gave insight into the roadmap of various products. At Dynamic People we like to stay on top of things so we send Ingrid den Heijer and Ben den Blanken. In this blog we asked them to share their highlights.
Ben: The Power Platform sees tremendous growth. Not only in usage of apps, but also in monthly active developers. This number is currently on 7,4 million! Not only is this an impressive number by itself, this also shows the ease of entry of the Power Platform. The first time I heard this number I was sceptical, but with the amount of lateral entrants I talked to during the conference, I think it’s safe to say Citizen Development is real!
The ambition of Microsoft is that the skills to develop Power Platform solution should be as widespread as Microsoft Office skills. And with that Microsoft launched its Power Up Program for career switchers. In this program you can go on a course to become a certified Power Platform Functional Consultant. It is also possible to sign-up as a mentor, which I have done.
Power Platform is a playground and toolbox for everyone
Ingrid: This growth of the platform and the number of users is very visible in new features and roadmaps that were presented: the focus is on the ease of use of the platform for every type of user. Low code is very much at the forefront, but at the same time the platform offers a lot of exciting options for more seasoned developers.
The platform is an ever-growing toolbox: with small extra features like easier debugging in power automate flows, to Cards in Microsoft Power Apps, which are micro-apps directly inside Microsoft Teams. From the new abilities of Power Pages, which looks like a great step in the direction of easier creation of websites based based on Dataverse, to the evolution of custom pages, where model driven apps and canvas apps are merging into one. And let’s not forget Power Bi. The integration within for instance Power Apps is getting better, introducing a charts like replacement for classic Dynamics CRM dashboards. It is safe to say I was inspired by all the possibilities of the platform and the many different and creative ways it is already being used.
Because of the growth and user adoption, governance, security and maintaining apps within an organization become more and more important. There were quite a few sessions on how to govern the use of the platform by using the The Center of Excellence toolkit. It is important to think about a strategy on the use of the platform, something I think will become more important in the coming years.
Development as a team sport
Ben: A much awaited feature is also coming, we can soon work together on the same App in real time! This feature will come for both Canvas as well as Model-driven applications. The first step is that both applications will allow to develop inside the application at the same time. But lock the screen currently working on. In a future update that last hurdle will also be taken.
This feature is part of a bigger story of collaborative development. You can now also see who is presence in the maker experience of the app on what screen, just as when you work together in a Word Document or Power Point. Commenting and mentioning your colleagues is also possible. Thus you can stay in your flow of work, instead of e-mailing or messaging through Teams.
What amazes me is that this feature is ground-breaking. I have developed applications with C# and .Net in various teams. A normal workflow consisted of coding features locally on my development machine and then merging it with features others were building. But this is the first time people can actually build apps at the same time!
ALM for citizen developers
Ingrid: One of the more exiting announcements for functional consultants like myself was the introduction of ALM Pipelines from within the power platform maker studio. Creating new apps is a lot of fun, and we like to focus and spent our time on that, but deploying our solutions is part of the job and can become a bit of a hassle. Of course, there are tools available to help us, like pipelines in Azure DevOps, but it makes a lot of sense that the platform introduces ways to make it easier and more secure, eliminating errors in that process. It will come with pre-flight checks, approvals, automation, and backups per version. It also has abilities to extend on it with plugins or create integrations with GitHub. Pipelines will become available in preview during this last quarter of 2022.
The first Microsoft Power Platform Conference was a great success. Almost 4000 people enjoyed 6 days of learning, sharing and connecting. Both Ben and Ingrid felt inspired by both the knowledge shared as well as the energy from the crowd. They will bring all their knowledge back to their team and our customers. Do you have any questions? Feel free to reach out to them: