Tag Archives: Power Apps

Geospatial Maps using Power Apps

Did you know you can create Geospatial Maps using Power Apps? You have to twiddle a few settings, but It’s a lot easier that you think.

It has all the usual things we would expect such as zoom control and satellite versus road view and there’s also an option to cluster the pins.

To follow through the video you’ll need to get hold of the spreasheet I’ve made available at https://github.com/roryneary/Mapping/blob/master/MappingPowerApps.xlsx

Other than that, sit back and watch the fireworks start!

In order to have full control of the environment you’ll need to be an environment admin. Personally, I would recommend anyone serious about the power platform to get their own tenant. Microsoft don’t ask me to say this, it’s just that I did it a few years ago and it changed my life.

To get your own tenant you can follow through the following video on PowerApps4Kids. This means that you’re a global admin (super user) and you won’t be restricted in any way.

If this isn’t to your liking you can get a Power Apps community plan, which ironically means you are the only person that can ever use the plan – it’s a personal enviroment. To do that all you need to do is click the button below.

Microsoft Dataflex and Dataflex Pro

Today, to coincide Microsoft Inspire 2020 a fundamental development of the “Common Data Service” was announced. Firstly the Common Data Service is being renamed as Dataflex Pro, and and a NEW product has been created called Dataflex.

An Introduction to Dataflex and Dataflex Pro

So what is Dataflex?

You would be forgiven for thinking that this is just a ploy to address some of the confusion that has surrounded the original naming of the Common Data Service, but in this case there is quite a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Firstly, the Common Data Service is coming to Teams. Under the hood this means each Team has the right to 1 Dataflex Environment. An environment is essentially a container for both Data, Data Model, Apps and Power Automate Flows.

The integration within Teams is fundamental as you can author your apps within Teams, and deploy them directly to your team without leaving the teams experience. On one level this might seem trivial, however it does create a very streamlined process for creating productivity tools.

Why is this important?

Because up until now the only “free” data source for Teams members has been Sharepoint, which for all that it has been successful, is based on some quite old technology, born on-premise nearly 20 years ago.

When building apps we feel sharepoint pain in the following ways:-

  • Our ability to filter large datasets is limited
  • Sharepoint is not a relational database, which can be problematic when linked to the above
  • There are only a limited number of field types available to us
  • The security model can be cumbersome, and frankly unable to provide the necessary permissions
  • Sharepoint does not include simple Development, Test and Production scenarios.
  • The “grow up” story to move an application from Sharepoint onto other data platforms is problematic
  • Sharepoint does not contain the same trigger types for Power Automate as does Dataflex

How do I create an App?

Well – whilst Dataflex is in private preview the best I can offer at this stage is a look at the Dataflex Pro experience (I’ll be calling it the Common Data Service). Dataflex is a much more sanitised and cleaner version of what I’m demonstrating below.

For a much more trivial app, you can take a look here – in this app we don’t use any data at all.

Do I get anything else?

Actually yes. Surprisingly you have access to Bots, essentially virtual agents that you program in a low-code way that enable people IN YOUR TEAM ONLY (in this case) to get answers to the questions that they have.

We are also expecting to get Power BI integration in due course.

Is there a catch?

I’m afraid so, you’re limited to 1m rows of data and 2 GB of storage.

To get this into perspective, the entire works of Shakespeare fit onto an app that weighs only 10mb, the size of a medium to large photo. So for many teams they will never feel any ill effects from these limitations.

Additionally, the teams environment is limited to Teams members. By all accounts guest access does exist, but we need to learn more about this.

You get 1 environment per team, so no scope for Dev, Test and Prod.

You may not get ALL data types, but this remains to be seen.

Why bother upgrading to Dataflex Pro

The easiest way of explaining this is that Dataflex pro is just a renamed version of the Common Data Service, which is in turn Dynamics Customer Engagement, which has been around for many years and is used by organisation such as Coca Cola. What this means is you get a tried and tested ENTERPRISE GRADE platform with all the complex security measures, multiple clients, full Application Management Lifecycle, all data types, virtual entities, business rules and business logic and full integration with the Azure stack.

You should also bear in mind that you can upgrade directly from Dataflex to Dataflex pro.

In many respects the aim of the product is to enable the data platforms available to Teams grow up significantly. Sharepoint lists have been for many years data repositories for organisations, in spite of all their limitations, however Sharepoint was never made to have been extended to the extent that has been the case.

It’s worth noting that there are some instances where DataFlex pro licensing is seeded to users by virtue of some arrangements such as Dynamics 365, so this feature is worth bearing in mind.

So how does old Common Data Service fit into all of this?

The Common Data Service lives on, and is subject to a name change and the licensing has not been altered, so keep doing what you are doing in that space.

I’ve heard about Microsoft Lists – what’s all that about?

Essentially Microsoft Lists are Sharepoint Lists repackaged with quite a nice front end with Microsoft App on Mobile and tablet that sits in alongside Excel and friends. Ultimately, they will always be Sharepoint lists for good or ill, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be effective with them. You can find out more below:-

Where can I find out more?

Sign up for the blog here – I’ll be keeping on top of this.

Also – go and check out the Power Apps Blog post here.

Good Luck – and keep Power Apping.

SCARF – The 5 things that REALLY get people motivated

And how they relate to Storytelling with Data

I took a look at a book recently by David Rock called Your Brain at Work. I must admit that I didn’t hold much hope out for it, but I thought I would give it a go.  

5 years on from originally reading it I found that the points resonated for me as being applicable to Storytelling with Data. 

If you want to tell a story that the audience will listen to, you need to make them care, and I very much suspect if you have the points below in mind you’ll have a chance of being successful with getting the attention of the audience.
There were quite a lot of passages that were helpful such as prioritise prioritising (i.e. Prioritise what you need to do it as the first thing of the day) but the part that resonated the most for me was the section around how the brain is geared for survival. Essentially we walk towards reward, but run from danger and when we are running from danger it is hard to think properly and deeply. The book then went on to categorise these domains using the SCARF model where each letter signifies a certain domain as follows:-

Status

It’s difficult for any of us to say that we are not affected by status in some way, but it may take different forms. There are those of us who seek this through job titles, salary, a bigger desk, not having to make the tea etc and there are also those who might achieve status through recognition by peers and so on.

Certainty

The caveman in all of us craves certainty, because certainty means survival. In the real world this might translate to holding onto your role, knowing where the next client is going to come from or, quite often, what the next request might be from customers and clients you service, and whether you might live up to this.


Autonomy

This is around the degree of control over what we do and when we do it. This is particularly relevant in the manager/subordinate relationship. Most, but not all people, seek autonomy and this can impact on management style.  The Brexit argument delivered via the bus is primarily about autonomy.

Relatedness

Mankind’s success has been in large part due to it’s ability to act as a collective and we build maps in our minds over time where we are socially connected. Facebook probably has an awful lot to thank for this attribute.  Whilst this isn’t borne out in the Brexit bus example it is true to say that “loneliness” is extremely toxic for humans because in times gone by this would equate to a very short life.

Fairness

Everyone likes a bit of fairness, but one persons fairness is not the same as another’s. The Brexit bus pulls out this emotion very well and even uses the colour red to emphasise the point.
When you’re telling your stories, keep these points in mind, if you pick up on just one of them you may find your audience more attentive and your message better received.  I’ll be exploring this further in the weeks and months to come.