One of the most affordable ways to analyze, build apps, and automate workflows, the Power Platform is Microsoft’s set of solutions designed to make your job easier. Following our brief look into the enhancements coming to the Power BI product in 2021 Release Wave 1, we would like to today look at the improvements coming in the next few months for Power Apps and Power Automate.

Power Apps

Power Apps dramatically lowers the cost, complexity, and time of software development that goes into building a work application. Providing a range of powerful low-code development tools, a deep data platform in Microsoft Dataverse, and hundreds of connectors to common business data sources, this flexible tool makes life easier for leaders.

Focused on two main areas in the coming release, Microsoft has committed its resources to improving connection with Microsoft Teams and providing more sophistication in its apps. Though much more will be coming, we’re highlighting the things with general availability between April and September.

Enabling Remote Work with Deep Integration to Microsoft Teams

Continually focused on delivering for the remote workforce, Power Apps developers are working to help users find, deploy, and build apps quickly and easily directly within Microsoft Teams. Whether it’s directly embedding apps in Teams or enhancing collaboration, the continued improvement will facilitate the business day no matter where users are.

Broader Packaging Opportunities in Microsoft Teams

Coming in April 2021, instead of embedding a single app into Microsoft Teams, you’ll now have the opportunity to bring an entire solution to Microsoft Teams so that you can package up flows, apps, and more within a single Microsoft Teams app.

You can then bring the app to your tenant’s app catalogue so that other parts of your environment can install and use your solution in just a few clicks.

Sophisticated Apps on a Unified Platform

In addition to the continued developments in response to remote work needs, Microsoft is constantly putting effort into the main goal—improving the usability and functionality of its low-code apps. As a blank canvas that can connect to any data source, users can make apps with ease and improve them with the power of rich forms, views, and dashboards modeled over data in Microsoft Dataverse.

Here are just some of the things available to the public in the coming months:

  • Improved Debugging Capabilities with Canvas App Monitor: Monitor allows makers greater collaboration and user published app debugging capabilities, which allows users to diagnose and troubleshoot applications more quickly. In April 2021, users will be able to easily import and export log files and share diagnostic sessions, helping makers to easily identify problem areas and fix them in their apps.
  • Improved Global Relevance Search Experience in Model Driven Apps: Coming in April 2021, Global relevance search experience in model-driven apps is intuitive, intelligent, and modern. Whether it’s suggestion-based or improvement focused, this improvement will help to deliver better results to searchers.
  • Merging Records has been Updated and Improved in Unified Interface: Initially introduced in last year’s release, this will become the default user experience as of April. Built to help simplify data merging, the new interface will facilitate the merging experience, helping to provide a clearer picture.
  • List Views for Model Driven Apps: Available in April, lists will be easier to use and sort.
  • Improved Apps Discovery and Selection in Power Apps Mobile: Power Apps mobile has an enhanced apps list experience so that users can always get to their most relevant apps quickly and easily. Organization, relevance, and swipe gestures will make it easy for a user to find and save apps.
  • Notifications in App: Releasing this June, app makers will now be able to offer notifications in app. Notifications are directed to a specific user and can be sent through external systems, Power Automate, or from within the system.

Power Apps Portals

For those who want to connect internal and external users, Power Apps portals empowers organizations to extend data and business process in a secure manner. These solutions continue to improve, and allow organizations to create multilingual, responsive, and branded portals.

The 2021 release wave 1 provides significant improvements for portals developers of all skill levels, improving the low code toolset to reduce the time taken to build sophisticated websites, enabling support for familiar pro-developer tools for advanced developers, and allowing organizations to increase their reach by enabling new channels. Here are some of the things to expect:

  • Low-Code Maker Experiences: Power Apps portals Studio and Portal Management app are low code/no code tools that allow portal makers to configure Power Apps portals. This will make configurations easier and allow users to have more control.
  • Web Roles in Power Apps Portals Studio: With a preview available in September, a simplified web roles experience in Power Apps portals Studio will enable makers to see more about web roles related to a portal, troubleshoot with ease, create and edit roles, and add contacts, all within Studio.
  • Professional Developer Enhancements: Available to preview in the coming wave, professional developers will gain access to new functionality as well. One of these will enable Power Apps portals developers to use Power Apps CLI tools for continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline implementation. Pair this with API enhancements and more, and professional developers will be able to extract more value as well.

Power Automate

Microsoft Power Automate makes it possible to grow your business productivity by automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks. Power Automate provides a better way to get things done across your organization through digital and robotic process automation (RPA). Formerly referred to as Microsoft Flow, this product continues to improve the speed and reliability of workflows, adding new sources of data and helping users extract value. Here are just some of the things coming to Power Automate, focused on Cloud Flows and Desktop Flows.

Cloud Flows Enhancements

In 2021 release wave 1, there are a number of different new capabilities for users of cloud flows (the flows that you build in the Power Automate portal which connect to 400+ services through connectors). Focused on Digital Process Automation, improvements span the lifecycle of a flow from creation to administration and more. Here are some of the things on the horizon:

  • Use Connection References to Simplify Application Lifecycle Management: Available to the public in April, Makers can use connection references in flows to share connections between flows. When a solution is imported, there will be a guided experience for providing new connections within the connection references, allowing the flows to run successfully after importation.
  • Better Usage Visibility: Power Automate will provide additional reporting and analytics to help customers better understand their usage against entitlement limits in their license.
  • Easier Onboarding: Get users up and running more easily with improvements built to help them get up and running quickly.
  • Easier Search: With this feature, you can create cloud flows that include a Microsoft Dataverse action to search records using relevance search, which is an AI-based fuzzy search that’s built on Azure Cognitive Search.
  • Connection with the Dataverse: Available in June, this feature will enable users to create flows that trigger when an action is performed in Microsoft Dataverse. This feature improves working with the common events model and even provides better integration with Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations.

Desktop Flows

In addition to cloud flows, Microsoft has continued to help users facilitate backend tasks as well. Expect a number of different new capabilities for users of desktop flows (the flows that you build as part of the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) offering). Broadly, these cover increased support for applications and websites as well as working in heterogenous environments.

Here are some of the things to watch for:

  • Connect to Desktop Flows without On-Premises Gateway: Expected in July, this change eliminates the need to install the on-premises data gateway separately.
  • Automate UI with Citrix: Part of Microsoft’s new collaborative mentality, Power Automate will now allow users to automate Citrix systems using image recognition with desktop flows. Expect general availability in September 2021.
  • Capture iFrames: Currently, desktop flows cannot capture iFrames. By September, you will be able to capture iFrame elements, unblocking the scenario where your automation needs to work with iFrames on a webpage.
  • Invite Others to Record Experiences: Available this May, Users who create processes in process advisor can invite others to record their experiences running the task. This way, the process owner will be able to see different variations of the process.
  • Track Repetitive Processes for Insights for Future Enhancements: With process advisor, users will be able to create a process and add a recording they make of that process on their desktop. They will ultimately be able to see this in the process-based process map with the associated analytics.

Wide Variety of Enhancements: Get More with the Help of MIBAR

At MIBAR, we’ve long specialized in delivering Microsoft products for our customers. What started with a focus on Dynamics has continued to evolve, and we’ve quickly become a leading provider of services for companies who want to make the most of Power Platform applications.

Get to know more about how to make your business more successful with the Power Platform. Contact us to learn more.

Additional Resources

PowerApps Forever Changing the Game at Work

Predictions Satisfied: How the Power Platform Exceeded Expectations

Making a Low-Code Reality With PowerApps

From Bricks to Clicks—One Company’s Journey from “The Best NYC Paper Store” to International eCommerce Player4/22 Webinar

New York is great, but for now-CEO of JAM Paper and Envelope Andrew Jacobs, it was only the beginning. Brought on as the Director of eCommerce at JAM in 2005, he guided the company from a bricks-and-mortar chain known as “The Best NYC Paper Store” to an Internet Retailer Top 1000 ecommerce player and key player on online marketplaces. But as with any transformation as fast and significant as JAM’s, there were bound to be a few growing pains along the way.