Everything You Need to Know about the Power Platform – June 2020
If you have not heard the term Power Platform that is the family name of Power Apps, Power BI, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agent. And in a sign of their rise to prominence, we have decided to produce a monthly article that is a wrap up of news and notes from the month. The pace of change and growth of these products, at this kind of scale, is unprecedented in our industry so hopefully, we can help you keep up.
The article is broken up into general news, specific functionality updates, and new connectors to help you better get the details you are looking for. Also, as a bonus, you get my thoughts (and sometimes sass and this month too much usage of the word cool) about the updates. And while the updates are quick bites, I promise links where available to let you dig deeper.
Just the news and my ramblings on the related topic. Ignore me and click the link if you don’t like commentary.
Power Apps and Power Platform continue to expand the democratization of AI – One of my favorite features of the Power Platform is the fact that it empowers anyone with the ability to use things like artificially intelligence, mixed reality, and a wealth of other tech that is probably way more powerful than you should have access to. What is even more awesome is Microsoft keeps refining it and making more functionality. Every time I use the tech it gets better and they are releasing something new. The mixed reality really has my attention now. So easy, yet so powerful.
Say Goodbye to Traditional PC Lifecycle Management
Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.
UI flows (RPA) App in a day training now available for free – If you haven’t checked out UI flows yet then this training is the perfect jumping-off point. And what are UI flows? This is where you can build a flow that you train to interact with websites or legacy software running on your desktop PC. Allowing you to automate previously manual processes due to a lack of an API. Pretty darn cool. It falls under the category of Robotic Process Automation aka RPA. I will be honest; I still need to take the training myself. Always so much to learn.
Govern the Power Platform – This is where the Power Platform gets a lot of grief from traditional IT. Basically the platform was built to go viral, and it did. So, putting the genie back in the box has been tough. I would argue we should not lock it down, but a lot of large companies are trying to do just that. To that end, Microsoft continues to release more content on how and tools to help you manage things. Make sure you don’t miss the COE kit if nothing else. It does cool stuff.
Power BI enhanced the Studio to make building mobile app easier – I feel like this whole mobile phone thing is here to stay. To support this the Power BI team rolled out enhancements to the development studio to make building mobile-friendly dashboard easier. Nothing major here but just a nice enhancement that makes your life and mine easier. Yay!
Technical things you should know
In this section, I try to call out little technical changes that are easy to overlook but make you better with the Power Platform. Some are announced and some are things I found the hard way. Either way, little nuggets to keep you going and I keep the commentary to a minimum, again, you are welcome.
- Power Apps authoring formulas with Dynamic Schemas
- Power Virtual Agents adds Global Variables
- Power Apps AllowEmptySelection for Dropdowns – The rolled out this major change with no announcement. Add a dropdown and look under the properties dropdown.
- Power Apps Self referencing and Launch Target
- Power Apps Notify and Exit changes
- Power BI added Dark Mode to IOS – Dark mode exhausts me but seems to be trendy and cool. <sigh>
I do my best to list connectors I saw roll out this month and other connector related notes. Remember the full list (in theory) is available here. Nothing super exciting but knowing what is available is half the battle and now you know. You can thank me later.
- Six new Connectors Azure IOT Central, Eduframe, LIFX, Microsoft 365 Message Center, Office 365 Groups Mail, and Virus Total.
- Power BI releases Snowflake connector to GA
- UI Flows now allowed in GCC – If you are a GCC customer you know the list of connectors is much smaller for you so glad to see this roll out.
So what did I miss? Please leave comments and share so other readers will know. AND if you have thoughts on how I could do this better each month I am all ears.