Thursday, January 16, 2020

Dynamics 365 or Power Platform New Year's resolutions

We are already 3 weeks in 2020 but there is still time for New Year's solution so choose one of the 12  potential Dynamics 365/Power Platform New Year's resolution as proposed in Episode 69 of the CRM MVP Podcast hosted by @gusgonzalez2.



I will try to take at least 10 out of 12 in 2020 so what is yours?
  1. Write a valuable blog article every month - I probably want to go for 52 blog posts this year.
  2. Deliver at least 4 webinars or  community presentations in a year
  3. Register for the Dynamics Insider program and commit to test every new release and provide feedback to Microsoft
  4. Answer 60 questions on the forums (Microsoft Dynamics Forums, CRMUG Forums, etc...) 
  5. Attend a training from a Dynamics 365/Power Platform expert that you admire or who you consider to be a top expert in the domain
  6. Create a XrmToolBox plugin 
  7. Speak at a major conference
  8. Contribute 24 tips to @crmtipoftheday by sending an e-mail to jar@crmtipoftheday.com
  9. Learn something new about Power Platform/Dynamics 365 every month - you can learn a lot by dedicating 8 hours a month on a single topic
  10. Teach something new about Power Platform/Dynamics 365 every month e.g by delivering a lunch&learn session in your company
  11. Use "new" functionality in Power Platform/Dynamics 365 at least once every month e.g. use Flow/Power Automate instead of using workflows or use the new Admin portal and solution designer
  12. Release a free solution to the community  e.g. a PCF control 

Update on Dynamics 365/CDS request limits

End of August Microsoft announced an API based limitation which is based on users and the type of licenses they have - the latest documentation is available on http://aka.ms/platformlimits  as well as PowerApps and Microsoft Flow licensing FAQs for October 2019. I would recommend regularly checking these pages as they have been updated quite a few times in the last months.

During interactions with Microsoft the last couple of months, they explained that the allocated number of API calls within the different licenses are based upon internal telemetry on the current Dynamics 365 customer base. The claim is that 95% of customers fall within the standard allocated API limits. But if you are using a lot of integrations, you might need to  re-architect part of your solution.

Listed below are the key takeaways:
  • Users with a Dynamics 365 Enterprise Application license have 20.000 API requests allocated in a 24 hour window.
  • Technical/non-interactive/application users get allocated 100.000 API requests if at least one Dynamics 365 API license is available.
  • If a user exceeds the limits the admin for the tenant/environment will receive a notification - end users will not be blocked from using the app.
  • This new licensing went into effect for new customers who on boarded after October 2019. Existing customers have a transition period until October 2020 or when their licensing contract expires. Whichever is longer. For customers with an enterprise agreement this will be the end of their EA (in most cases I know these contracts are valid for 3 years), customers on a CSP contract typically have a yearly expiration date. Reach out to your licensing partner or Microsoft for more details. 
  • The currently available statistics in the Power Platform Admin Center are still quite rudimentary but are a good starting point to assess the impact on your environment 
  • It is possible to purchase additional blocks of 10,000 daily API requests for $50 per month (For details reach out to your licensing partner)
  • Batch requests (Executemultiple) only count as 1 API call, so you can wrap a 1.000 individual calls in one ExecuteMultiple call.
References:

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

My perspective on the PowerApps Build Tools for Azure DevOps

Mid July 2019 Microsoft released a preview of a set of PowerApps specific Azure DevOps Build tasks.  In the last months this tooling has been updated on a quite regular pace which indicates that  ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) for Power Platform (and Dynamics 365 Sales/Customer Service/etc..) is high on the priority list for Microsoft.


For those of you who are new to Azure DevOps, here is a small summary. Azure DevOps is a set of services hosted on Microsoft Azure cloud which support your full software development lifecycle  e.g. you can use Azure Boards for work tracking and backlogs, Azure Pipelines for  CI/CD, Azure Repos for source control, and much more.  Azure DevOps is successor to  Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and the best thing of all you can get started with it for free. (For more details see Pricing for Azure DevOps). You can start learning Azure DevOps by exploring the Azure DevOps Hands-On Labs

In the past most Dynamics 365 CE consultants largely relied on a BYOALM (Bring Your Own ALM) approach meaning that you need a combination of PowerShell script, SDK extensions, etc … to automate the build and release of Dynamics components. I even think that in the majority of cases there is no fully automated build and release process in place - meaning that a deployment relies on a number of (hopefully documented) manual steps.  In one of the projects I recently worked on - we have been using the excellent Dynamics 365 Build Tools for Azure DevOps from Wael Haemze so there are other extensions available for Azure DevOps as well.

After you have installed the PowerApps Build Tools you will see a whole set of build and release tasks that you can use in your build and release pipelines. To explore the possibilities you can start with the PowerApps Build tools for Azure DevOps Hands On Lab files which contains a walk through of the different scenarios like for example using the PowerApps Solution Checker (see reference section for more information on this)



If you compare the PowerApps Build Tools with the Dynamics 365 Build Tools, you will probably see that Dynamics 365 Build Tools currently still offers more capabilities but it does seem worthwhile to start exploring the newly released Microsoft tooling.  I recently also got feedback within the context of a Microsoft support case that they recommended to use the new PowerApps build tooling because they would not troubleshoot issues with other extensions on top of Azure DevOps in combination with Dynamics 365.

I  also expect more information to come available in the coming weeks as we are getting closer to the Dynamics 365 and Power Platform 2020 Release Wave 1 . In the meanwhile I will be sharing more information in some upcoming blog posts.


References:


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement release version transparency

By now, you should be aware know that all Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Online environments are on the same “major” version but it is also important to understand that Dynamics 365 CE receives continuous updates on a weekly release cadence. You probably already saw these updates being announced in Office 365 message center.



Each update is deployed as part of a Release Train, stopping at each ‘station’ along the way before rolling on to subsequent station. Not all regions would be on the same release as any time. Early station will have lower levels of number of customers impacted, ending with Europe and North America where majority of our customers are and then dedicated scale groups where customers with larger organisations are hosted. For a more in-depth session on this topic I can highly recommend the recording BRK2039 - Microsoft PowerApps and Dynamics 365: Modernizing the way we update

In November 2019  Microsoft updated their documentation and provides a lot more transparency on this release process - so you can now get a full overview of Released Versions of Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement which outlines all previous releases as well as the upcoming releases in the different stations.

The version number mechanism for Dynamics 365 CE instances has also been updated so it is now easier to see which update has already been rolled out to a specific instance.


Dynamics 365 and Power Platform monthly reading list November 2019

Technical topics (Configuration, customization and extensibility)

Topics for Dynamics 365 Business Application Platform analysts, project managers and power users

Friday, November 29, 2019

Microsoft webinar redelivery Dynamics Power! Saturday Brussels December 3th

Two weeks ago we had Dynamics Power! Saturday Brussels - a community event on Microsoft Business Applications with over 250 attendees and 25 different international speakers.


For those of you who were not able to make it, Microsoft will organise a short redelivery of 3 sessions in webinar format on Tuesday December 3th - more info and registration available on https://www.microsoftevents.com/profile/form/index.cfm?PKformID=0x8855388abcd 

Agenda:

  • Updates on Power Platform (UI Flows, AI Builder, … )
  • Integration between Dynamics 365 Sales/Customer Service and Dynamics 365 F&O (ERP)
  • Dynamics 365 Mixed Reality

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Transition to the Unified Interface presentation from Dynamics Power! Saturday Brussels 2019

I had a lot of fun presenting at Dynamics Power! Saturday Brussels 2019 together with @philipverlinden and @stephanedujour



The presentation was largely composed using the slide decks that Microsoft made available in the Unified Interface Playbook

References:

Dynamics 365 and Power Platform monthly reading list October 2019


Dynamics 365 – 2019 Wave 2 topics

Technical topics (Configuration, customization and extensibility)

Topics for Dynamics 365 Business Application Platform analysts, project managers and power users

Monday, October 21, 2019

Using Twitter analytics data in Power BI – Part 1

I have been using Twitter for over 10 years but I never paid a lot of attention on engagements or impressions statistics but after listening to the Microsoft flow with Jon Levesque podcast  from @nz365guy I decided to take a look at what are drivers for more impressions or engagements on my Twitter account. So I decided to create some Power BI reports based on Twitter activity exports.



I only used Power BI in proof of concepts up until now so this was a good opportunity my Power BI skills which got a little bit rusty after not using it for more than a year. To get started I first exported my tweet activity report in CSV format from Twitter Analytics  (I did it manually but there is a REST API available as well). Next I combined the different CSV files while loading it into Power BI (I followed these instructions - How to load data from a folder in Power BI). After the usual data cleansing (remove unused columns, rename columns, setting appropriate date types) and data transformation I started extending the data model. Since I also wanted to know whether there is a difference in engagements/impressions based on the day of the week the tweets was sent, I created a custom date dimension. Power BI creates a default date dimension as well but I decided not to use this – see Power BI Date Dimension: Default or Custom? Is it confusing? for more info.

I also wanted to remove the urls/hyperlinks from my tweet text before building up a word cloud with the most common terms. Luckily Power Query supports some interesting transformation, you can temporarily transform a text into a list using Text.Split(text, “”), perform operations on each word and then reassemble it again using Text.Combine(list, “ ”)  (Trick found on Multiple replacements or translations in Power BI and Power Query)


I used a similar trick to found out the number of hashtags used in a specific tweet.




The Power BI report is still a work in progress but if you already want to have a temporary copy - DM me on Twitter

References:

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Quick tip: Using XrmToolBox with a MFA enabled login

More and more customers are introducing Azure Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for Dynamics 365 CRM and while this is a good idea, there are some gotchas. If you are using XrmToolbox – the Swiss army knife in the Dynamics CRM consultant tool belt – you will need to revise the way you setup connections to your CRM/CDS environments.

Use the SDK Login Control when choosing a connection method


Next click on Open Sdk Login Control – this will open the standard browser login page and will allow you to fill in the details required in MFA.




References: