Application Lifecycle Management for PowerApps

Application Lifecycle Management for PowerApps

Application Lifecycle Management for PowerApps

By managing and streamlining the process that updates and maintains web apps, you can develop software at a lower cost, to the highest quality, and on the most efficient timeline. Power Apps’ application lifecycle management (ALM) makes this process even easier for Power App users.  

What is application lifecycle management (ALM) in Power Apps?

Application lifecycle management is an integrated software development process that involves:

  • Planning and tracking
  • Developing
  • Building
  • Testing
  • Deploying
  • Operating
  • Monitoring
  • Learning from discovery

The process includes people, tools, and processes that are in place to monitor a software application in Microsoft Power Apps from its planning to development. By organizing the lifecycle in this way, ALM improves Power Apps’ performance and productivity. 

Purpose of ALM in Power Apps

The purpose of ALM is just what the name implies: to help better manage applications in Microsoft Power Apps from their genesis through updates and improvements. 

Why should you automate these builds and deployments? Because ALM:

  • Decreases human error
  • Faster deploy times
  • Analyze performance on every build
  • Process is defined in a visible space
  • Centralize build artifacts

How are Microsoft Power Apps different than other web apps?

A web app is a computer program that web browsers use to perform a particular function, like a contact form. Microsoft Power Apps serve more integrated functions. While other, simple web applications are hosted on a local computer, get code from repo, manually run test and deploy compiled binaries, Power Apps:

  • Are hosted in a Power App environment
  • Can be manually triggered
  • Export solutions from dev environments
  • Unpack solution and commit unpacked solutions to repo
  • Run solution checkers
  • Deploy managed solutions

What environments are used by an automated build?

Updates move through production environments to best manage applications and minimize disruption to the front-end user. The four environments that ALM moves through are: dev, build, test and production. 

  • Dev: All configuration and development work starts in dev and can be recreated from version control if needed.
  • Build: Typically build environments are only accessed by automated processes, not by users. This allows a clean build that comes from version control and can set the solution version. Managed solutions are exported from this environment. 
  • Test: Customizations are imported to test as managed solutions. Users perform testing here before solutions advance production. There can be additional test environments like UAT for other groups after this one but before production. 
  • Production: Customizations are imported as managed solutions. Only solutions that have made it through the test environment should be pushed to production. 

By moving configurations and come changes through these different environments, solutions convert from unmanaged to managed. This process also allows configuration to be version-controlled and more easily sustained. 

What tooling is available to help?

If you are already using Azure DevOps or Github for your project management tasks or version control systems, you can create your build automations in those platforms.  Microsoft provides build tools for both of those environments:

If the learning curve seems too steep on these, or you don’t have the right skillset in house to manage a build using these platforms – fear not!  Microsoft has recently announced Pipelines in the Power Platform which can provide a lot of this functionality for you.  Be warned that it is currently in public preview.  It lacks some of the granular control that Azure DevOps and Github provides, but you can get an automated build set up in minutes instead of hours/days, so it is worth consideration.

Ready to start using Power Apps?

Root16 is a Gold Certified Microsoft Partner, specializing in Customer Engagement, Power Platform, and ISV development. If you are looking to optimize your business or processes using Microsoft Power Apps, contact Root16! 

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