Build is the lead event for all things developer related in the Microsoft ecosystem. This year was the first time that the Business Applications side of MS’s stack also had dedicated tracks in the event agenda. While I didn’t attend the event myself (the Elisa Microsoft developer community was of course represented in Seattle), I was quite curious to see what kind of story is being told to the dev crowd about CDS for Apps, Dynamics 365, PowerApps, Flow and Power BI. Luckily there’s the virtual Build Live experience for viewing the live streams from the event these days.
What’s not so fortunate is that the Build site doesn’t seem to provide a very good experience for discovering the specific content from a particular technology. At least the content selector for “Business Apps” doesn’t really show all too many relevant sessions at the time of writing:
The good news is that us virtual attendees can also access the session catalog for My Build, which allows to perform either free text searches or filter the content to products in the Business Application Platform category:
Once we know the IDs for the sessions we’re interested in, we can then dig the content from from Channel 9’s Build 2018 page. There we can continue our journey to the YouTube videos of session recordings and SlideShare for the presentation decks. Not really all that hard for anyone who’s accustomed to navigating the maze of portals that MS partners encounter, but of course it might be a bit tricky for newcomers into the ecosystem. So, just for the sake of convenience I though it might be useful to have the most relevant Business Applications content fro Build 2018 collected onto a single page. Which is what this blog post essentially is about.
Accelerate your SaaS App development using the power of the Business Application Platform (BRK3411)
“Join this session to learn how the Business Application Platform can accelerate the time to market for your next Line of Business SaaS app. Through the lens of an ISV/software developer, we will walk you through the entire application development process showcasing what it takes to build a new, composite app from the ground up using out of the box no-code/no-code tooling, to extending with custom code and connectors through to packaging and publishing to AppSource allowing you to reach 120M+ monthly active users. During this session we will also touch upon the value of the Common Data Service for Apps as it applies specifically to you as an ISV, how you can extend and contribute to the ISV ecosystem flywheel and greatly reduce both cost and time to market for new SaaS apps.”
A good introduction to what the steps for app development are when working on the Business Application Platform (BAP) as opposed to other environments. Includes a demo of the development path as well as discussion on what investments are being made to deliver a more seamless app delivery experience in the future.
Be sure to check out the slides if you want to see the “before” and “after” architecture of XRM, PowerApps + CDS 1.0, and the final Common Data Service for Apps (a.k.a. CDS 2.0):
There are more ways than ever for partners to work with the platform, now that it also encompasses PowerApps and CDM:
Watch the session recording on YouTube, then view the presentation on SlideShare:
Extending PowerApps and the Common Data Service for Apps with custom controls and server side logic (BRK3403)
“Professional developer extensibility is a key capability to the Business Application Platform. We’ll focus on enriching model-driven PowerApps solutions with server-side code and custom controls on the Common Data Service for Apps. We’ll utilize the developer toolkit and write code for native plugin development, use of functions and logic apps, Web API, Administration API, and the Virtual Entity subsystem.”
Whenever Matt Barbour delivers a session, you’re going to want to pay close attention. This session is no exception, as Matt talks through the story how XRM evolved into CDS for Apps in his candid manner and explains to us what decisions and choices were made along the way. No matter if you’re an XRM old timer or only starting to look deeper into app development story of CDS for Apps, you need to watch this session.
While the logical architecture of CDS is quite familiar to friends of the XRM SDK, the important bits are about how plug-ins will eventually be replaced by Azure Functions, how Microsoft Flow now owns the Business Rules story, and all these details about future investment areas that you can pick up from Matt’s presentation. After all, the former XRM solution management system will be how you’ll deploy also Canvas Apps, Flows, connections and gateways from one instance to another in the future, so it’s far more relevant to an ever larger audience.
Watch the session recording on YouTube. No slides available so far, but Matt only had a few anyway and mostly focused on the demo side.
Build and extend applications for Office 365 with PowerApps and Flow (BRK2303)
“Come discover the capabilities of PowerApps and Flow as the unified high productivity application development and workflow platform across Office 365 and Dynamics 365. As the successor to InfoPath and Access Web Apps, PowerApps enables users to build both simple forms to advanced, feature-rich apps, while Flow as the successor to SharePoint Designer Workflow, enables users to build automated workflows for a range of scenarios from notifications to approvals. In this session, we’ll cover integrations with SharePoint, Dynamics 365, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Graph, Excel, and more. Start extending and building apps and workflows for Office 365 and Dynamics 365 today!”
If the earlier presentations were more developer focused platform discussion, this is a more citizen developer themed session that demonstrates the built-in integration points of where the different MS provided apps meet each other. If you have less hands-on experience with the non-Dynamics side of things, then have a look at these demonstrations to catch up on things.
The slide deck contains a lot of good reference material for you to store on your hard drive for customer facing presentations. There are also updated product roadmaps for PowerApps and Flow that are always interesting:
Watch the session recording on YouTube, then view the presentation on SlideShare:
Automating business processes and approvals with Microsoft Flow (BRK2302)
“Use Microsoft Flow to easily add business process automation and approval processes to your solutions. You’ll learn to build Flows with a few simple clicks and extend your learnings to more advanced techniques and expressions used to build complex workflows. Finally discover how you can take it up to Azure Logic Apps when it makes sense.”
Stephen Siciliano has been doing great presentations on Microsoft Flow that sort of work as the missing manual to how us citizen developers can approach scenarios where Flow doesn’t quite offer any obvious ready-made features – yet there are capabilities hidden in the tool that could solve the problem. Judging by the slides, this looks like another information session where you’re bound to learn many things you thought Flow couldn’t even do.
Funnily enough, Stephen’s deck actually seems to offer the best answer to the question that most Microsoft Build attendees probably would present when encountering this Business Applications side of MSFT for the first time: how does the Business Application Platform differ from the Azure platform?
Check out the slides below, and the session recording on YouTube.
Deep dive into building apps on Common Data Service for Apps (BRK3404)
“In this session, we’ll deep dive into the concepts needed to build applications on CDS for Apps, whether you leverage it PowerApps or in your custom built solutions. We’ll cover all the fundamentals like entity modelling, business rules, business processes, and include an introduction to extensibility options like Plugins, Virtual Entities, and more.”
No one can escape the Digital Feedback Loop slide, not even the developers. This is a demo-heavy presentation where a sample app is built and the various capabilities of Model-driven Apps are explained. All pretty familiar to anyone who’s done app building with XRM.
Video only, no slides.
More Business Application Platform content from Build
For session recordings that touch upon parts of the platform we’re working with, here are some more that I picked up from the Build 2018 catalog:
- Real-World Solutions with PowerApps: Building Composite Controls (THR3402)
- Real-World Solutions with PowerApps: Tips & tricks to manage your app complexity (THR3403)
- Advanced app building with PowerApps expressions and rules (BRK3408)
- Common Data Service for Analytics capability in Power BI (THR3404)
- Supercharge your app with Power BI Embedded analytics (BRK3410)
- Deep dive into building apps on Common Data Service for Apps (BRK3404)
Did I miss any session that you think is worth watching? Then be sure to leave a comment!