The Power Platform Release plan 2020 wave 1 was released to the general public today and it has some pretty exciting announcements specifically for Power Apps Portals.
This blog post is a lot of re-hashing the notes found in the Power Platform Release notes, I have added some extra comments and context that I hope you will find helpful as you discover this new, exciting features!
Lets dive in!
Portal Checker Enhancements
The portal checker is a great tool to identify potentially issues with your portal configuration, such as broken links or situations where your portal may not run efficiently. The release notes indicate that additional scenarios are going to be added to the portal checker. Diagnosing portal issues sometimes can be problematic, so having tools to resolve issues more quickly is a welcome addition!
Power BI embed component in portal designer
The portal team is focused on adding more features to the Portal design studio. Currently for a lot of portal features, a configurator will need to update the portal metadata directly in the Portal Management App or even add liquid tags directly to web templates or content sections on pages. Embedding Power BI currently requires knowledge of liquid code and also needing to extract parameters to pass to the tags.
The 2020 wave 1 release plan shows that portal makers will be able to directly add a Power BI component to a page using the portal design studio, similar to how forms and lists can be added today:
Simplified themes in portals design studio
There is a brief description of this new feature. Currently, we can upload custom Bootstrap (v3) themes into the portal, and a recent feature added was the ability to upload CSS files directly in the designer (as opposed to loading in the Portal Management App) This feature alludes to the fact that we may be able to more easily update the themes and design using the actual design studio.
Additional Entities in Global Search
Anyone who has worked on a Power Apps Portal project eventually wants to add some of their custom CDS entities to the portal global search, only to sadly learn that this is limited to a set of out of the box portal template entities (web pages, web files, knowledge articles, blog, forum posts, ideas and cases). This new feature allows adding custom entities to the global search. This is one of those big changes that may not have a overall perceived impact, but for anyone who has had to implement custom searching in a portal, this is a big feature!
This particular feature will most likely require a follow-up blog post as it will require a few steps to configure the searching.
Authorization Code flow
I am not an expert in some of the particular authentication protocols. The release notes specifies the addition of Authorization Code flow. Just doing some very brief reading makes me believe that this might also serve as a building block for portals create-read-update-delete functions (see below).
Simplified Permission Management
Again, the release notes have a very brief description, but currently configuring Web roles and entity permissions require adding a series of Portal metadata records in the Portal Management App and then relating the contact, web role and entity permission (related to an entity). I would look forward to additional tools to make this process simpler to setup and manage.
Simplified portal identity provider configuration
My previous post on setting up Azure B2C configuration for portals is one of my more popular portals-related posts. The process does require a lot of steps across Azure and portal site settings. MVP Jim Novak has created an XrmToolBox tool that helps with this process.
The 2020 wave 1 Release Plan shows the new Identity provider wizard for portals which will ensure that all the specific steps are accounted for and make the entire end to end process faster and more efficient. Azure B2C is the recommend approach for user authentication.
<<image of identity wizard>>
FINALLY! Web APIs for CRUD operations on Common Data Service entities
CRUD: Create, Read, Update and Delete.
Today, if you want to save data from the Power Apps Portal to your CDS records you need to post from an Entity Form or a Web Form component enabled on your web page.
If you want to update data without posting the form, you will need to create a companion app or some other custom method (see my post on updating data via flow from a portal).
There are few details on this new feature, but it appears that there will be the ability to securely call a web API from Power Apps Portals to update CDS records. Not only does this open the door to address some key business requirements for portals, but also lays the foundation to allow Power Apps Component Framework (PCF) controls on Power Apps Portals!
While there are a few features that I would have liked to see (Easier web form configuration, Portal ALM devops tasks), there still is a lot of new stuff coming in the next few months that will greatly enhance and make it easier to work on Power Apps Portals projects.
Nick Doelman is a Business Applications MVP and a Microsoft Certified Trainer. Join Nick at Scottish Summit 2020 for his Power Apps Portals training class on February 27th and his presentation on “What is the Power Platform Anyway?” on February 29th.