Lifecycle management in PowerApps got upgraded!

As you might know, at RoboRana, we are always keeping up to date with the new trends and technology evolutions on the market. Recently, we noticed that one of our hyperautomation tools, the Microsoft Power Platform, and more specifically, PowerApps, launched a new feature that we needed to share with you. With this new feature, moving PowerApps between different environments just got a whole lot easier. Who cares you might think? Think again, because this is a crucial part of the operating model that helps you to govern your low code applications. We believe governance is (hyper)important in your journey.

Okay, okay… Tell us more.

Microsoft recently streamlined the application lifecycle management (ALM) process. How did they achieve this? Simply by natively supporting data source environment variables. Now, you may ask us: how can one simple change in Power Apps make moving between different environments easier? Let us explain.

Beware for changes in environments

During the life cycle of every Power App, there is always a moment where you need to define something that is different in each environment. For example, the API or database that you are calling in production will probably not be the same as the one in the testing or development environment. Prior to data source environment variables, developers had to change those hard coded links in the Power App itself.

This meant that with every move through the application life cycle, from development to production, developers had to remain aware of every change that needed to be made between environments. This created the risk that developers might forget to update the links in the application and consequently, reference the wrong data sources. With this new feature of data source environment variables, all of that is gone! The feature allows developers to declare a variable that lives in the scope of the environment, linking the application to the right data source for that environment.

Reusability in the Power Platform

Moreover, this feature will increase reusability. The new data source environment variables will be reusable in each Power App (canvas and model-driven), Power Automate flows and other Power Platform components. This means that developers will be able to reuse them and, by doing so, decrease the repetition of certain values. When adjusting the value from the environment variable, it will change everywhere in the environment. Doing this will increase development speed and decrease the risk of wrong references/data.

Streamlining solution imports

With this new feature, the solution import experience also becomes more streamlined. When importing a solution to a new environment, PowerApps will ask the values for the data source environment variables, further reducing the risk of connecting to the wrong data sources.

The example below will illustrate where an environment variable can be used. In this example, the application references to a SharePoint site. The problem is that the SharePoint site needs to be used on different bases in the environment. Previously, we had to dive deep into the application and change every value to reference the correct SharePoint site, but now, with data source environments, we must declare it once and change its value when importing the solution between environments.

Example of environments
Application references

We have already added the use of data source environment variables to our PowerApps best practices. We love this great update that significantly increases the quality of the Power Platform! Need help with streamlining your Power platform deployements and feel the power of hyperautomation? Reach out to us and let’s discuss the possibilities.

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April 22, 2021

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