New Power Platform Announcements from Microsoft Business Applications Summit

As many of you know, the Microsoft Business Applications Summit (MBAS) was held virtually this past Tuesday, May 4th (insert Star Wars joke here). A big focus of the conference was a review of the entire business applications suite, providing highlights of how customers are currently using it, and outlining newly released features as well as those coming soon on their roadmaps. 

Charles LamannaCorporate Vice President Low Code Platform at Microsoft, discussed how 86% of Fortune 500 customers are using Power Apps in some form, and how customers love the fact that these apps integrate so well with other Microsoft products (such as Teams and Power Automate).  Customers can now author, share, and consume apps directly within Teams, leveraging the Dataverse  directly, using only a Teams license. 

How Office Depot is leveraging the Power Platform

Since the pandemic, Office Depot has had their workforce working remotely, and has been successfully utilizing Teams with custom built Power Apps. This architecture allows Office Depot to save money by not having to rely on development teams, instead they are relying on department heads and business users to build their own apps with minimal guidance from corporate IT. 

Ryan CunninghamPM Director Low Code Platform Power Apps at Microsoft, went into a demo of a Power App that Office Depot built that allows them to approve expense requests.

New Modern App Designer

Another big Power Apps announcement during this year’s MBAS is the new Modern App Designer (see more information in Microsoft’s blog here).  This new designer is brand new to the platform and allows users to build fully responsive applications backed by the Dataverse.  You can easily manage forms, lists, grids on forms and more on your Power Apps by an intuitive WYSIWYG designer. 

Easily drop in a new Custom Page (aka. A Canvas App)

You can also easily drop in a new Custom Page (aka. A Canvas App) using this designer.  This will allow you to embed these Canvas Apps seamlessly within your Model-Driven applications.  Below you can see how the Office Depot app mentioned above was dropped directly into a Model-Driven app.

Customers can also directly embed Canvas Apps within Teams.  Leveraging Power Virtual Agent bots within Teams, bot responses can deep link you back to the app directly within Teams without having to visit an external app.

A 12-month plan for authoring applications

With the existing Model App designer, this new Modern App Designer, the Canvas App Designer, Canvas App Designer for Teams, and finally the old D365 Classic Designer, we can see how this new designer can be confusing.  And trust me, we are still a bit confused.  However, Microsoft provided their 12-month plan for authoring applications:

  • Currently, users have the Canvas App Designer, Canvas App Designer for Teams, and the Model App Designer (not sure if they still acknowledge or have plans to deprecate the old D365 Classic designer).
  • The new Modern App Designer announced at MBAS is in Public Preview starting in May. This designer replaces the Model App Designer with a WYSIWYG approach (see what the app looks like as you design it).
  • Wave 2 / October 2021 is when both Canvas App Designers will be brought together (standalone and the Teams designer). At this point in time, users will have a single Canvas Designer, and a single Modern App Designer (again, the D365 Classic Designer seems to be coming along for the ride)
  • Then, available next year in Wave 1 2022, Microsoft will introduce the Power App Studio. This will converge the Canvas Designer and Modern App Designer into a single Designer.

Brand-new admin analytics center for Power Apps

Microsoft also announced a brand-new admin analytics center for Power Apps.  From this area, you can see who is building apps, what apps are in use, what data connectors are in use, details of any apps being built, and more.

There were also some updates to Data Policies, specifically to prebuilt and custom connectors’ access rights to data.  While data policies in Power Apps aren’t new, there are some new features for these such as providing granularity to say what apps can do with specific endpoints (such as read-only, or if they also have access to create and delete data, and more).

Organization-wide Power App templates for Microsoft Teams

Finally, Microsoft announced organization-wide Power App templates for Microsoft Teams.  These will allow one-click deployment and plug-n-play experiences for very simple deployments.  You’ll also be able to see apps that are built by your colleagues (and shared with you) via the Teams store.  The following 5 templates are available today:

  • Milestones – Stay on top of your work with efficient tracking, team status, and activity log.
  • Bulletins – Read all company communication posts in a central place.
  • Issue Reporting – Identify and manage issues and incidents in your organization.
  • Employee Ideas – Enables team members to quickly generate and organize ideas by campaigns.
  • Inspection – Digitize inspection process for areas and assets.

More templates will be rolled out before the end of summer including Profile +, Boards, Discussions, and two more unidentified templates.

Want to read more takeaways from the summit? Check out these blogs….