Top tools to use with Power Platform
PowerApps on its own is a great toolbox of different components to create a solution. But that doesn't mean there is no need for extra handy tools and websites that expand this toolbox.
PowerApps code components are created by professional developers to achieve unique components that can be used in Canvas or Model-driven applications. Those components help with expanding the front-end capabilities on the Power Platform. But not everyone has the time or necessary skills to create those components. Luckily there is an active community that loves to create code components and share them for free with the world.
All of these can be found on the PCF Gallery. The gallery allows users to search and filter out specific components. You can easily see in which type of application the component can be used. In many cases there is also a link to a youtube tutorial or a written explanation on how to implement it.
Another great part is that it's open-source, which means that you can edit the code so it fits your needs. You might like a certain component but want to change the styling or maybe even some business logic, all of those components are hosted on GitHub with the source code.
You can also submit your code if you want to help the community grow. You will need to host your code on GitHub and then fill in a form on the gallery. This is a great way to get feedback on your component and improve it further. So you are not only helping the community but also yourself!
XRM Toolbox is a must-have for every Power Platform developer! As the name states it is a toolbox, which means that many different tools are inside of it. It is a Windows application to ease customization, configuration and operation tasks for anything built on Microsoft Dataverse. You can grab the tool for free at the following link: https://www.xrmtoolbox.com/
Standard the toolbox is shipped with 30 tools to make administration, customization or configuration tasks easier and less time-consuming. You will be able to focus more on the task at hand and will prevent tedious work in many cases. Besides the 30 tools it comes shipped with, there are many different other tools to download. At the moment the toolbox download page holds more than 100 tools to use.
The following tools are a must-have in the toolbox:
- FetchXML Builder will allow you to build queries for Microsoft Dataverse and also see the results inside the tool.
- Ribbon Workbench, ever dreamed of quickly editing the PowerApps Ribbon in Model-Driven applications, well this tool allows you to exactly do that.
- Plug-in registration is an XRM toolbox flavored version of the plug-in registration tool offered by Microsoft. You will be able to register your plug-ins on all the connected Dataverse sources from the toolbox.
There is a great overview of all the tools available with the ability to sort them on most downloaded, creator and rating on the following page: https://www.xrmtoolbox.com/plugins/
Architecture Review Application
Reviewing applications can be time-consuming when you need to do everything manually. The Power CAT team understood this struggle and created a Power Application that checks Canvas Applications on a great set of best practices. It allows solution architects or even developers themself to check their applications on any faulty or discouraged configurations.
The tool itself is free to use on your PowerApps environment and is just like any other application, you only need to import the solution file. Once imported you can run the application if you have the correct security role. The great thing about the tool is that it accepts a .msapp (Canvas app) file or you can directly select one from your environment. After some processing time it will show the results and a build score. This score is a great indicator of your application quality. You are also able to see all the feedback in depth and where it is located in your application. This makes it easy to spot where you need to apply changes to follow the best practices.
You can find the application on the following GitHub link: https://github.com/microsoft/powerapps-tools/tree/master/Tools/Apps/Microsoft.PowerApps.CodeReview
Visual Studio Code
Another must-have for any development in general is Visual Studio Code. It is a source code editor created by Microsoft. It allows developers to write code but also provides debugging tools, version control, syntax highlighting and many more. Visual studio code also has a great number of extensions, but for PowerApps developers the most important ones are the "Power Platform Tools".
The tools make it easy to do all kinds of different operations related to the Power Platform. It allows you to pack and unpack Canvas files, connect to different environments and deploy solutions. This can be helpful and also very interesting for pro developers. An understanding of the underlying configuration/code files gives a deeper insight into the system. You will also be able to edit the code and re-deploy your applications with those modifications. Use cases could be a mass update of a certain variable name, code review or maybe even an experiment to see what the boundaries are on the system.
The Power Platform Community
This one could not be missed on the list, it is such a powerful tool/website if used correctly. The Power Platform Community is always awake and ready to answer your questions. When looking for a new feature, a solution to a bug, to share a great idea, the community has it all. Besides all the questions and news you will be able to connect with user groups and share your expertise with other users. This is a great example of the expression: "two heads are better than one".
So go on, register and start sharing or learning about the platform! ;-)