Amongst the usual flurry of announcements and fanfare at their Build 2022 event Microsoft have announced Power Pages. Power pages is a subset of the larger product Power Apps Portals. In the future Power Apps Portals will be compatible with Power Pages. You can see the announcement here and some of the details here. This is another step in the ongoing evolution of the portals part of the Dynamics 365 family. It moves Power Apps Portals out from under the Power Apps banner and promotes the function to be a fifth full member of the Power family along with Power BI, Power Automate, Power Apps and Power Virtual Agents.
At HSD we have been along for the journey with the web parts of the Microsoft ecosystem for a couple of decades. As a result, we’re well versed in the experiences that come with new names and new features. Whilst it’s fair to smile at the sometimes frequent rebranding, it’s also fair to say that in the web space Microsoft are engaged with tough, fast moving, and vigorous competition. Since cloud enterprise platforms started to make an impact, the struggle to have those platforms present an engaging face to the web has been real, long and, at times, frustrating.
One of the struggles in delivering a web presence for enterprise platforms is that the skills to run them can be scarce, even more so than skills in the core platforms. I have friends on the front lines who had great things planned for their sites only to find the person with the skills is only available in their time zone on alternate Wednesdays. By comparison, open source platforms like WordPress have a lots of skilled people available. Even tougher competition comes from SaaS platforms like Shopify and Square Space who are doing an increasingly attractive job of being codeless.
Faced with this competitive environment, and persistent demands from current and future customers, Microsoft have worked hard at graduating what used to be just the web face of Dynamics CRM into a genuinely general-purpose web platform. They have done this with an emphasis on codeless tools, driving towards less dependence on arcane skills. Power Pages is the latest iteration of that work and includes some key changes.
Power Pages introduces a new Design Studio which replaces the Power Apps editor for Power Apps Portals and offers some key features such as
- Templates for getting started quickly
- A Pages workspace for visual design of site navigation and page layouts
- A Styling workspace offering swept-up styling of pages, very handy if, like me, you are CSS challenged
- A Data workspace that allows you to work on fields and forms directly
At time of writing, there are still a few “Coming Soon” items showing up, like editing in mobile format, but overall, it’s a definite step up from the Power Apps portal editor.
For those of us who are old enough to remember the wood, wire and string stage of what was then known as the World Wide Web, any working content management system seems like a fine thing. But, of course, there are good, bad and ugly ones and the good ones make a crucial difference. Power Pages looks like being one of the good ones and it will further the cause of bringing Dynamics 365 data to web front ends in a supportable and effective way.
As ever, our experts here at HSD were well across the new version even before it got announced and have started putting it through its paces. If you’d like to know more about what you can do with Power Pages, or if like several of our clients, you already have lots of customers using Power Apps Portals, get in contact with us and we’ll be happy to take you on a deeper dive. We have been seeing a lot of interest in the past year in providing web portals backed by Dynamics 365 from corporates as well as all levels of government. So, we expect to be putting Power Pages to work very soon.