Microsoft Power Platform 2020 Release Wave 1 Plan: The bits which excited me


Microsoft are getting quite organised with their documentation these days and last week they put out their Power Platform ‘roadmap’ for April 2020-September 2020. This is separate to the Dynamics 365 2020 release wave document whose 400+ pages will have to wait for another day.

Here are the bits in Power Platform, going to General Availability, which excited me.

Power BI

  • Drillthrough Buttons: This should make guiding a report user through the report a lot easier. They also are context aware, which is great.
  • Office ribbon for Power BI Desktop: Getting everything consistent makes it much easier for people to get on board with an application
  • Incremental refresh: Only data that has changed will update in a report. Less data consumption, quicker refreshes, less frustration
  • Conditional formatting for totals and subtotals: For exception reporting, this is a fantastic inclusion and I am surprised it was not there already.
  • Being able to render a paginated report in any format, such as PDF or Excel via the API: Very useful for automated report comms/invoicing etc.
  • Copy and paste visuals into other applications: If only Dashboards would follow suit! Interoperability of apps is a key foundation of Microsoft Office. It is great Power BI has followed suit on this. I hope others will also come to the table soon.
  • Sub-report support: In the category of “why was it not there in the first place?” we have sub-report support.
  • Datasets larger than 10Gb in Power BI Premium: The whole point of Power BI is to synthesize large data into meaningful reports. The bigger the better as far as I am concerned. The only limit now is the limit of the memory capacity.

Power Apps

  • Deep integration from Azure to Microsoft Teams: The ability to create apps directly in Teams is very exciting to me. We start to depart from a collaboration tool to a truly useful productivity tool
  • Canvas and model-driven apps run on a single mobile application: Some of us still have scars from the early attempts of taking Dynamics to a mobile device. Users do not know or care whether an app is canvas or model-driven so having them launch from the one place makes a lot of sense.
  • Power BI Embedded component in portal designer: No more need for liquid code to make this happen. Easier to build and manage.
  • Save and Save & Close are back!: With auto save on the only way to force a save was the tiny disk icon in the footer. The Save and Save & Close buttons are now back in the Command Bar which certainly make me a lot happier as I am trained, by the ghosts of Microsoft past to hit save and hit it often

Power Automate (what used to be called Microsoft Flow)

  • Copy and paste Actions: Actions can now be copied and pasted. A huge time saver for branching scenarios
  • UI flows: Probably my favorite feature in the release. This is like a macro recorder for flows. Record mouse clicks, keyboard strokes and data entry and then automate it. UI flows also comes with error handling and it is solution aware
    • Automate web-based applications: Supporting Google Chrome (and Microsoft Edge Chromium) this allows the automation of web-based applications. This is crazy powerful and allows for all sorts of automated testing which may be hard to execute through traditional script
    • Automate Windows applications: Macro capture for Windows applications. Very exciting.
    • Automate on virtual machines: UI flows can be run on virtual machines, including Microsoft Remote Desktop

Power Virtual Agents

These are very new and exciting and allow you to create a chatbot without any code.

  • Add a Power Virtual Agents bot into a Power Apps canvas app: Great for automated help within an app
  • Add images and videos to topics: The bot’s response can now include video and images. With a picture being worth a thousand words it makes sense to make responses more than just text
  • Additional language support: Bots will be able to converse in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese (a specific bot can only handle one of these though)

AI Builder

  • Form processing: Teach it what your form looks like with a few examples and you can automatically extract data for Power Apps or as part of a flow.
  • Object detection: Used for recognizing or counting objects, this has a huge range of applications from checking an employee has work safety gear on through to automated stock taking

Power Platform governance and administration

  • Admin connectors for Power Automate/Power Apps: These will be in General Availability in July 2020 they literally allow an admin to manage the tools with the same tools i.e. create flows to manage flows/apps. A great way to ensure an admin is familiar with their management tools.

Common Data Model and data integration

  • SAP ERP connector for Power Apps and Power Automate: I thought this one was already there but obviously not. This allows you to connect to SAP ECC or S/4HANA which is often part of a client’s ecosystem
  • New connectors in Power Query Online: There are quite a few of these but the ones which I want to explore further are: Active Directory and OLEDB

They really have listened!

All through the document I kept seeing:

Historically it was not clear that Microsoft considered outside feedback from MVPs or the public in setting priorities for their development. They are very clearly stating this is now part of the process and I applaud them for it.


Innovation in the Power Platform is coming thick and fast and this document proves it. All of the above features are coming into General Availability, although not all straight away, so check the document if there is a specific feature you need. The one I really want to play with is UI flows. For legacy automation and low code automation this could really be an inexpensive way to achieve a lot. I have said it before but it is a very exciting time to be in Business Applications.

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