The big news this month is the release of the next Release Wave Plan. As if we were all excited enough about Power Platform, this is over 100 pages of excitement for your bedtime reading pleasure. It isn’t quite a page turner but, still good to be in the know.
Those highlights dominate this article. Then there are a few other updates after that, but they are boring in comparison. (Sometimes the truth hurts.?) I also recently saw an unofficial tweet that we are now over 600 connectors. That is crazy, I remember when we broke 200. Anyway, enjoy the update and let’s hope some of these features start rolling out soon.
The big news this month is that Microsoft has published their plan to release new features for the Power Platform beginning in April. Many of the features they’ve been touting over the past few months will be part of this release, and there’s so much to unpack here, they’ve included a 148-page release document (available here).
For Power Apps, updates include built-in collaboration features allowing more than one app-maker to work on the same app, simultaneously. Natural language coding AI assistance being added, as well as the end of the requirement to “Set()” variables (taking a cue from Microsoft Excel, makers will no longer have to Set variables, they’ll simply declare them in the format of “variable = value”). As promised last year, businesses will be able to make standalone, native mobile apps. You can check the release document to look at the many updates coming for model-driven apps and Power Apps Portals.
For Power Automate, some of the many enhancements will feature the ability to copy and paste flow steps with the connection reference included in the copy, an updated homepage experience, improved error messaging, an updated OData editor (yay!). Also, there are planned upgrades to the help bot to assist in flow building, and an undo/redo button. Power Automate Desktop is getting some upgrades including a SharePoint connector and the ability for Administrators to monitor/control desktop flows across multiple machines.
AI Builder is getting upgraded to enable creation of custom document processing models to extract information on any type of document, and better connect this information to your flows and Power Apps. Developers will also have access to existing pre-trained models, which should speed production of customized solutions. Microsoft is also adding a collaborative authoring feature for AI models, enabling teams of makers to work together to develop/train their AI models.
Power BI is gaining the use of natural language statement support to help you program in DAX using the Quick measures pane. Power BI is also getting better integration with Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint and Office. Other improvements will include Data protection enhancements that will make Power BI more manageable for organizational DLP policies. Also touted are automatic aggregations that will be maintained and updated by and AI-driven system, and hybrid tables integrating historical data with real-time data for enhanced performance of big data queries.
Microsoft is planning a plethora of upgrades to Power Virtual Agents, but their release scheme is still not concrete, so stay tuned for that. Microsoft tells us that bots will be proactive and not “introverted” and will be better integrated into Teams. PVA will also be available for US Government customers in the Government Community Cloud (High) environment as well as Germany and the United Arab Emirates regions through this release.
Dataverse enhancements include moving Dynamics 365 data into Azure Delta Lake. Their idea is to simplify your connection to large data sets currently in Azure.
Microsoft continues to tune their design with their “Ideas” AI model in writing Power Fx formulas. Power Apps Ideas now works with galleries and data tables connected to SharePoint and Excel, it supports more ways to filter data (including Choice and Yes/No), it has a better understanding of natural language (no code input), and the display formula suggestions has been packaged in cards to enhance the UI.
Additionally, these updates have now been rolled out to all Power Apps regions and languages. Microsoft’s plan is to continue to develop Ideas to add increased functionality, simple and accurate formula production, and enhancements of the “Train with examples” so that you can better tune your results when formula suggestions don’t get you where you want to go.
A new Dataverse search API is being rolled out which enables the same search service currently available in model-driven apps and other services that are built on Dataverse. If you’re interested, you can now try this feature. I am not big into portal but if you are this is a big deal.
Microsoft is trying to assist organizations in the adoption of Power Platform best practices and workbooks to help develop internal “champions”, figure out a training strategy, and assist the IT community with governance. My predication is 2022 will be the year we start to all hear the word Governance a lot more. That is just where we are in the lifecycle.
So if you haven’t yet, starting to understand what tools you have available to better manage all of Power Platform, is a good idea.