In 2021, there will be a blog covering the webinar of the month for the Low-code application development (LCAD) on Azure solution.
LCAD on Azure is a solution that integrates the robust development capabilities of low code Microsoft Power Apps and the Azure products such as Azure Functions, Azure Logic Apps, and more.
This month’s webinar is ‘Fusion Teams 101: Low Code Apps with Power Platform.’
This blog will briefly recap Low-code application development on Azure, provide an overview of the fusion development learning path, low code serverless architecture, and recent pro developer focused updates to the Power Platform.
This is a helpful blog for those looking to deep dive on Fusion Development with Power Platform and those who want to integrate a fusion development team in their work environment.
What is Low code application development on Azure?
Low-code application development (LCAD) on Azure was created to help developers build business applications faster with less code.
Leveraging the Power Platform, and more specifically Power Apps, yet helping them scale and extend their Power Apps with Azure services.
For example, a pro developer who works for a manufacturing company would need to build a line-of-business (LOB) application to help warehouse employees track incoming inventory.
That application would take months to build, test, and deploy. Using Power Apps, it can take hours to build, saving time and resources.
However, say the warehouse employees want the application to place procurement orders for additional inventory automatically when current inventory hits a determined low.
In the past that would require another heavy lift by the development team to rework their previous application iteration.
Due to the integration of Power Apps and Azure a professional developer can build an API in Visual Studio (VS) Code, publish it to their Azure portal, and export the API to Power Apps integrating it into their application as a custom connector.
Afterwards, that same API is re-usable indefinitely in the Power Apps’ studio, for future use with other applications, saving the company and developers more time and resources.
To learn more about possible scenarios with LCAD on Azure go through the self-guided tour.
Fusion Development Learning Path
The fusion development learning path is centered around a unique story telling style.
The learner is embedded as part of the fusion development team and helps them solve their business problem. The fusion team needs to track inventory more easily and needs to track data on their back end, but the data is in a legacy back end.
The two teams of the professional developers and the citizen developers work together, and the learning path situates you as a member of the team.
Below are the 5 modules that you walk through to solve the problem. Keep in mind each module can be completed individually but you learn more throughout each module.
Transform Business Software Authoring
You learn how software development, IT, and business teams work better together using a new software paradigm called fusion development and how to develop apps better and faster using fusion development, which increases technical intensity.
Understanding Low Code as a Traditional Developer
Professional developers are used to using VS and VS Code, Power Apps is a different environment therefore the module covers bridging the gap between existing traditional development knowledge and Power Apps logic, user interface creation, and data flow.
Build a Power Apps component
This module is about building a custom Power Apps component. The ability for code first developers to create something that does not exist yet, build it, test it, deploy it in Power Apps. Like their current role but they only build one component of the app rather than build the entire app.
Integrate Open API-enabled web APIs with Azure API Management through Visual Studio.
In this module you take a web API, add an Open API description to it, and deploy to Azure App Service and API Management.
Discover and use web APIs with Power Apps
Lastly, in this module you build a custom connector to bridge the gap between Power Apps and API Management to bring an existing web service into your Power App.
In the webinar the presenter, Matt Soucoup will take you through a demo on building the inventory management application and will walk you through modules 2, 4, and 5.
Low Code Serverless Architecture
To understand the benefits of building a low code serverless architecture you must first understand the benefits of serverless and traditional PaaS architectures.
What is Serverless?
Serverless applications can be defined by three groups, abstraction of servers, event-driven or instant scale applications, and micro-billing charges.
Abstraction of servers
When as a professional developer you deploy and develop apps, but you don't have to manage servers.
The ability for your apps to scale elastically, scaling can be triggered and be brought back down as needed.
You are billed on a per transaction basis for the services your applications consume.
Conventional PaaS Architecture
It was important to highlight the benefits of serverless before we dove into the differences of conventional PaaS architectures, standard serverless architectures, and serverless architectures that leverage low code.
In conventional PaaS architectures web and mobile front ends are where the end user consumes the application. While the business logic is hosted in an app service, if you’re using Azure, then Azure App Service.
That app service communicates with the database, however if any adjustments are needed for the application the entire app must be taken down. Or if a function in the app needs to scale up, the entire app must scale up which increases costs.
With standard serverless architectures the way the end user experiences the app on a web or mobile front end is all normal. However, rather than the app being stored in an app service, it is broken into its core functions as serverless APIs, on Azure we call this service Azure Functions.
These functions have all the above-listed benefits of serverless applications, the ability to scale elastically and only pay for what you consume. Moreover, react or angular software is used to build the front end.
Low Code Serverless Architecture
Serverless Architecture with Power Apps can be the same build architecture as a standard serverless architecture build. However, rather than React or Angular software it is replaced with Power Apps to build the front end of the app. Power Apps takes less time than traditional front end build software and can save up to 74% on development costs.
Build 2021 Fusion Team Power Platform Enhancements
In the webinar the speaker, Kartik Kanakasabesan walks you through the new improvements to the Power Platform’s capabilities for professional developers and fusion teams. More specifically, he demonstrates the Microsoft Power Platform Command Line interface support for packages and canvas source files, Microsoft Power Platform tools for Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio, and the New Microsoft Power Platform application lifecycle management accelerators.
Power Platform Command Line interface support for packages and canvas source files
As part of the fusion theme, Microsoft now provides developers with the ability to render canvas apps in a source-code-friendly format.
The benefit of this capability is to enable canvas applications to take advantage of enterprise CI/CD pipelines for deployment and enhance the collaboration between citizens and code-first developers.
For example, when resolving Power Fx functions, a citizen developer referencing a complicated regular expression for rounding updates in their canvas app, can collaborate with a pro developer to fix the function in the developer’s primary tool.
The citizen developer can then continue with their application development work using the fixed regular expression by the pro developer.
Traditional rendition of Canvas App in Source control system (Top) issuing the unpack command (Bottom).
Source code rendition of a canvas app (Top) authoring PowerFx in VSCode (Bottom).
In addition, the Microsoft Power Platform CLI now also simplifies the package deployment process for Microsoft Power Platform developers and independent software vendors (ISVs).
In the past, this process required several other command-line tools just to deploy a package into an environment. Now the Microsoft Power Platform CLI has a simple new sub command called package.
Within the package sub command, developers can now initialize a package with a template, add package references to solutions, and build and deploy without manual procedures.
Microsoft Power Platform tools for Visual Studio Code and Visual Studio
Microsoft has been actively working on simplifying the myriad of tools required to develop, pack, and deploy code first components to Microsoft Power Platform.
Microsoft Power Platform CLI was the first iteration of this, and there are now similar capabilities directly into the code first experience for developers in Visual Studio Code.
The Visual Studio Code extension will be available across different Operating System platforms like Windows and Mac OS, as Microsoft continues to bring consistent experiences across platforms.
In addition to the Visual Studio Code capabilities, the Visual Studio team has been actively working on improving the application programming interface (API) publishing experience for developers.
In the past, developers building APIs would have to go outside of their developer environment, after publishing their API to Azure, to register their API in Azure API Management.
There are improvements to simplify the process and provide the ability to publish the API and register in API Management from Visual Studio directly.
Publishing the API and registering the API in API Management from Visual Studio.
Once the API is registered in the API Management catalog, a developer can then export the API to Microsoft Power Platform as an API Management connector with only a few clicks.
Publishing the API from Management to Microsoft Power Platform.
This now allows citizen developers to easily access their own company data when creating Microsoft Power Platform apps and flows.
Similarly, this capability expanded to also include Azure Functions, allowing developers to build serverless functions and have them be consumed via API Management in Microsoft Power Platform.
Using the Visual Studio 2019 preview edition, developers within Visual Studio can author their Azure Functions, and publish them directly into Azure, where developers are also able to register their Functions in API Management without leaving Visual Studio.
Publishing Azure Functions and registering in API Management from within Visual Studio.
Once the API is published and registered in API Management, the API can be exported as a connector to Microsoft Power Platform and consumed by apps and flows with ease.
Using the Azure Function as Custom Connector in Microsoft Power Platform Applications.
Microsoft is constantly looking at ways to make citizens and pro developers collaborate in a frictionless way, without leaving their authoring environments.
You can download Visual Studio 2019 build 16.10 to try out these API publishing capabilities in June.
New Microsoft Power Platform application lifecycle management accelerators
The Center of Excellence (CoE) Starter Kit, empowers pro and citizen developers alike to participate in application lifecycle management (ALM) and accelerate the process with out-of-the-box Azure DevOps pipelines and GitHub workflow templates.
New template Dataverse Solution to reference and exercise pipelines and workflows ensures all developers understand all elements of how the toolkit works and what’s available.
With ready-to-go pipeline templates enabling Microsoft Power Platform ALM scenarios that can be quickly configured to drive advanced scenarios, developers can now benefit from a streamlined experience saving them valuable time.
New canvas app for developers and advanced makers familiar with GitHub concepts and Azure DevOps will offer a convenient way to drive the dev loop.
It allows developers to manage all Dataverse solutions in a single place, enables an easy approach to commit to Git branches, submit pull requests, and deploy specific builds to a dev environment while surfacing the status of those activities.
New canvas app for citizen developers will offer an easy approach to drive their portion of DevOps by viewing and managing source code on GitHub and community contributions.
Once a project is created and approved, a dashboard allows users to view projects and navigate to the maker portal to build and create assets under a newly created solution in just a few clicks.
Makers can deploy their progress or finalized solution to a test and a production environment.
Open source on GitHub, with acceptance of community contributions, is coming soon.
With an active backlog on GitHub, Microsoft is actively building new functionality and will start accepting changes from the community soon to make the toolkit better for all developers.
This is just the beginning of what is possible with fusion team development. To learn more about Fusion teams watch the Fusion Teams 101 Low Code Apps with Power Platform webinar that premiers June 4th.
To get hands on experience creating a custom connector and extending a Power App with custom code as covered in this blog, start with the new learning path “Transform your business applications with fusion development”.
After completing the learning path, if you want to learn even more about how extend your low code applications with Azure and establishing a fusion development team in your organization read the accompanying e-book “Fusion development approach to building apps using Power Apps”.
Lastly, if you want to try the new Power Platform Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code Extensions, visit aka.ms/ppcvscode.
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