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PowerApps, Flow & Common Data Service
Exciting new Spring Releases for Microsoft's Business Application Platform
There are some new and very exciting features that are coming out for Microsoft's Business Application Platform components, namely PowerApps, Flow and the Common Data Service. The big take from this release is that PowerApps and the Common Data Service are now the same platform that Dynamics 365 is built on, and this opens a new world of possibilities.
There is a lot to talk about on this subject but here are a few of our favourites:
Model Driven PowerApps
This is the new type of PowerApps that comes from the merging of Dynamics and PowerApps. Build your data model in the Common Data Service as the database and then configure PowerApps on top, that make the data accessible using the Dynamics 365 Unified User Interface. All without consuming a Dynamics 365 license. The apps are configured just like you would Dynamics 365, which is great for cross skilling your system administrators and enabling them to easily create LOB apps that are not CRM, i.e. XRM is back and easier than ever. All of the rich Dynamics 365 features are available to Model Driven apps including the app designer, entity forms, views, business process flows, interactive dashboards, custom controls, the timeline control while being available on mobile and meet Microsoft accessibility standards. I've created my own model driven app recently and it is incredibly quick to get a rich feature app up and running.
Common Data Service for Apps
The Common Data Service for Apps is how Microsoft brings together PowerApps, Office and Dynamics 365 data into a single system of record for your business. You can then extend your common data service model to accommodate your stand alone business applications.
There are some nice new features that the Common Data Services has gained from Dynamics 365. These include server-side logic for data validation, calculated and rollup fields, and Application Life Cycle Management through Dynamics 365 solutions. If you are familiar with Dynamics 365 configuration all of this is going to be second nature to you.
There are a lot of small enhancements to Flow which I can see will make people more productive. Here are my favourites:
Request for sign-off flow built into SharePoint
Microsoft will be adding an approval flow to SharePoint files or list items so that with a simple click and entering the approver and a message an approval request is sent. No need for configuration.
Create a Flow for Microsoft To-Do in Outlook Web App
Personally I am a big fan of this new function as I use Microsoft To-Do a lot to manage my workload and keep things on track. You can quickly set up a flow so that when you are mentioned in an email using @[person's name] a task is automatically created in Microsoft To-Do. Having these tasks stored centrally in one place saves the hassle of having to remember to go back to emails to find actions that people have assigned to you.
Test Flows by using sample data
Testing Flows can sometimes be a slow process, having to create your own sample data and triggering it again and again. Microsoft have improved this process by having Flow generate its own sample data for testing.
This article is just a snippet of what is becoming available with the Microsoft's Business Application Platform, see the Dynamics 365 Spring 2018 Release Notes for more of the goodness.
Written by Hamish Sheild
Consulting Manager, Microsoft Dynamics
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