PowerApps for Dynamics 365 for Operations (Part 1)

As announced Microsoft PowerApps started with the availability of Dynamics 365. In Dynamics 365 for Operations we see the link to the administration of PowerApps you can access. The main entry point to PowerApps is also direct at Dynamics 365 Administration. From her you can access your, your Organiztations or Third Party PowerApps from Partners. Only for Dynamics 365 for Operations more than 60 PowerApps are avialable at the moment.

In PowerApp Administration platform along to PowerApps you also administrate Environments, Connections, Flows, Gatways and the Common Data Service (CDS).

What are PowerApps?

PowerApps supply a wide area of datasouces to connect to. This could be SharePoint-Lists, Excel-Sheets, SQL-Databases or even Dynamics 365 entities as well as connectors to Facebook, Goolge or Twitter. At the Moment I saw about 50 Standard Data Connectors.

You can create your PowerApp within a Windows App (Win, 8.1 or higher required) or within the Browser PowerApp Builder which is still in preview. The PowerApp can be run on iOS, on Android or within supported Web browsers

Inside PowerApp Builder a wide range of UI Tools (Screens, Galleries, Forms, Diagrams, Controls, ..) go ahead with the Data collections and connected Data sources. Formulas are used to filter, search and lookup data as well as for Navigation and control of any user interaction. Multiple templates are prepared to generate different styles of Gallery views, containung text and media data.

From PowerApp Adminisratin page you can start automatic Generation of a PowerApp after connecting to your Data.

Generate a PowerApp – quick and easy

The Core concept to the automatic generated PowerApp is to have three main types of screens: Browse, Detail View, Edit/Create.

You can enter “Generate PowerApp” from PowerApps Start Screen, selecting “New” and then “Start from your Data” and if the datasource is not shown on the first page selecting the right arrow key to enter connection area to select or create a new one.

generate-power-datasource

generate-powerapp-3

After selecting the connection select a data set and continue to select from the availabe data entities. After this PopwerApp Generation starts.

The automatic PowerApp creation Option works in this way and can really create a simple but useable PowerApp using this assistant. Whenever the automatic PowerApp generation works three types of Screens were created:

 

customer-powerapp
Main Screens of automatic generated PowerApp


Browse (1)
– used for Search, Sort and View a list of Data you connected to.

After the automatic generation of the Browse Screen the search can be configured as a “light Version” of a full text search. Simply define a list of fields you wish to be searched during data load process.

Sorting is also bound to any, but one field automatically. It could be easy modified to use  any field you like – or to choose from a list of fields in a drop down list – to use for ordering the records by your need.

The fields which are displayed for each record is by design limited to the first four fields of your entity. Change the content or add additional fields to present the columns you need to be displayed in Browse Screen.

Details View (2) – is typically called from the Browse Screen to view all details of your data in a straight forward scrollable list of data cards. All fields can be arranged the order you like, as well as fields can toggeled to be hidden or not. As in Browse Screen only the first fields will be added by generation process. Add additional fields in as many data cards as you like.

customer-powerapp-fieldvalidationEdit/Create (3) – For Editing one record from your recordset you can switch to Edit/Create screen.

Don’t be aware of deleting mandotary fields or entering invalid values, Server side computing follows defined business rules and will keep your data consistent. After incorrect data entry you get a message that “validateField” rule fails.

For my evaluation I used a Dynamics 365 for Operations Environment. Generating the PowerApp works fine for the first time i used it. Unexpected on my experiment was the creation of Dropdown Options for fields with underlying master data behind in my environment.

The generated PowerApp Feature reduces the displayed fields on Browse, Detail and Edit/Create screen. This means that on the Browse Screen only the first four fields of the entity are displayed. If the entity has a lot of fields only the first fields were used to be displayed in the list of Records, so it’s clear that the automatic doesn’t know which fields you like to display in the Browse Records Screen. Which fields have to be displayed is easy to adjust after generation of the App has finished.

generate-powerapp-1
PowerApp generates the first fields for Browse Screen in alphabetical order, even these fields  are empty, Generator doesn’t know which fields to select in meaningful way

Even on the Edit/Create Screen only a the alphabetical first fields were activated while Generation of the App. All other field indeed where created but keep deactivated in the Edit/Create Screen. Yes it makes sense for the 7″ Display not to push all fields to the Screen. Furthermore it looks like fields which have Master Data or Enumeratios behind a field, will only cretaed with a Dropdown List, if these fields belong to the happy first eight fields which become activated. These are mostly fields starting with A, B, … . Dropdown Lists to the other fields which will not be activated  are not created. I didn’t find the way to bind them to the underlying base data table or enumeration yet.

This could be the next step in the “generate PowerApp” feature to ask the user the fields he likes to prepare for Browse, Detailed View and Edit/Create Screen.

powerapp-inventoryonhand-1

Next we will take a first look to a Business PowerApp with Dynamics 365 for Operation created from scratch and publish in Part 2 here.

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