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January 2021 Updates for Microsoft PowerApps

Headshot of article author Charles Sterling

February 19th I will be delivering a session at the Power Apps Global Bootcamp titled “What is new and exciting in Power Apps”; this seemed a great excuse to do a Power Apps feature recap for the month of January. January was an amazing month for the Power Apps Team; with 11 new features and/or announcements. One of these features “Source code files for Canvas apps” is both a huge productivity boon for developers using Power Apps in their development cycle and also will serve as a building block to enable other developer focused features in future releases. Three of the announcements are announcing general availability of features of: AI Builder, Geospatial and Power Apps monitoring. Meaning these “Generally Available” features should be considered for production use and fully supported. For keen readers you may note the responsive layout containers was released in November; I have included it in this roundup as it is a game changer when building Canvas applications.

For the Power Apps global boot camp session, I will not only go through the features below but will also demonstrate a feature we are working on that enables even better integration of Power BI and Power Automate. So on to our January line up:

Source code files for Canvas apps

We are very pleased to announce the experimental release of a tool that enables full GitHub support, using Visual Studio Code with a Canvas app, a full screen editor with search and replace with Canvas apps.  Full GitHub support enables text diffs between versions, and not just storing opaque *.msapp blobs.   Teams can collaborate on apps: they can work on private branches, diff changes, create pull requests for review, and merge into master. While a huge boon for developers it is the first step as we make application lifecycle management easier for formulas and Canvas apps.

Source code files for Canvas apps | Microsoft Power Apps

Introducing intelligence in relevance search

The Power Apps maker studio relevance search has been enhanced through infusion of machine learning results will improve over time, thus making it easier to find the data you’re looking for. This announcement was through new capabilities, which will continue to evolve with increasing usage including Spelling check, Recognizing common abbreviations and acronyms and Better understanding.

Introducing intelligence in relevance search | Microsoft Power Apps

Announcing the General Availability of Geospatial Features in Power Apps


This posts announces the general availability of geospatial features in Power Apps, which include both the Address Input and the Interactive Map Component.

Geospatial features empower app makers to introduce location-based capabilities into their apps to visualize and update geospatial data using tools they are already familiar with. Geospatial components, powered by Azure Maps services, can now be added with the ease of drag-and-drop and with low code development.

Announcing the General Availability of Geospatial Features in Power Apps | Microsoft Power Apps

Now available: model-driven app push notifications


Now, you can also send push notifications to model-driven apps using Power Automate. The updated Power Apps Notifications connector, you can direct users straight to a specified page or section of your app – like the relevant entity view or form. The new Power Apps Notifications V2 connector includes the Send a push notification V2 action. To use add this action as a step in your flow and enter the necessary information to configure the push notification.

Now available: model-driven app push notifications | Microsoft Power Apps

Announcing the General Availability (GA) of Monitor in Power Apps


Power Apps Monitor has introduced a new collaborative troubleshooting capability “Connect User” in Monitor to better facilitate team collaboration and troubleshooting and is now generally available. Monitor is a tool that offers makers a true low-code approach through a rich troubleshooting experience that does not require any complicated setup such as plug-in installations, or configuration settings. Through a one click experience, Monitor enables makers to start viewing a stream of events from a user’s session to diagnose and troubleshoot app behavior during development in Power Apps or to monitor published apps during runtime.

Announcing the General Availability (GA) of Monitor in Power Apps | Microsoft Power Apps

Simple Image control for model driven apps


Announcing the addition of the simple image control for model driven apps. The new experience consists of a file picker button, thumbnail along with open and delete buttons.  The open button will retrieve the full photo in a new browser tab.  This experience simplifies the UI for users and saves additional overhead for displaying the larger images within the form.

Simple Image control for model driven apps | Microsoft Power Apps

Editing related records on a main form in a model driven app

Announcing a new preview feature that extends multi-entity experiences and provide the capability for a maker to add a related table main form as a component directly onto another table main form.  This new feature provides a more streamlined experience when working with related information on a main form. You can add a form component directly inline on a main form or you can add it onto a tab.  The component supports onLoadonSave events, the main form save pipeline, form error handling and duplicate detection.

Editing related records on a main form in a model driven app | Microsoft Power Apps

Share Dataverse for Teams apps beyond a team

We have added the ability to to broad distribution apps within Dataverse for Teams. With broad distribution apps, you can take an app that was built within a Teams team and share it with others inside of your company. This makes it possible for a centralized development team to build an app on top of Dataverse for Teams and then share it with a bunch of users who don’t belong to the original development team.

You can now share Dataverse for Teams apps beyond a team | Microsoft Power Apps

New Model Driven Apps Calendar V2 controls

All new Calendar control V2 refreshes the existing calendar.  Also based on Fluent UI, the Activities calendar is a direct copy of OWA’s calendar design.   The new calendar control is also accessible, mobile and allows for items to be created directly from the control. This post also covers the deprecation of some gauge controls, Linear Slider, Radio Knob, Arc Knob, Linear Gauge; along with the Website Preview control and the MultiSelectPicklistControl (v1)

New Model Driven Apps controls, deprecation of old controls | Microsoft Power Apps

GitHub connector features for Power Platform

The new GitHub Connector makes it possible to build self service CI/CD apps using Power Apps and  Power Automate and how the Power Customer Advisory Team (CAT) has even built an app for you to get started!.

With GitHub Connector, you can create a GitHub repo, create a pull request, merge a pull request, compare commits, trigger a GitHub actions workflow and much more from Power Apps and Power Automate.

GitHub connector features for Power Platform | Microsoft Power Apps

New AI Builder capabilities are now generally available

Announces two AI builder preview capabilities are now generally availableFeatures that are generally available are considered production ready. Both new capabilities can be found under the Prediction model card in AI Builder. One of them is prediction of multiple outcomes, and the other is prediction of a numerical field. These new features make the prediction model richer and be able to solve more business problems for you. Previously, AI Builder prediction model could predict binary outcomes, such as whether a shipment would arrive on time or not. Now you can use it to predict more than 3 outcomes, like will a shipment arrive early, on-time or late. You can also predict a number, like how many days it would take to close a customer ticket.

New AI Builder capabilities are now generally available | Microsoft Power Apps

New Layout containers in canvas apps make responsive apps easier


As mentioned earlier this feature was released in late November but am including it as it transformational for building Canvas apps. The preview of the horizontal container and vertical container layout controls that help automatically reflow and resize controls within them to enable easy, no expression responsive layouts in canvas apps. These containers are available both in Power Apps web studio (mainline) and the Teams authoring experiences.

Hope to see you at the Power Platform Global Bootcamp!