The main focus of the release plan focuses on collaboration and AI features. Several of these features are already in preview, such as the co-presence and multi-developer enhancements. While working on model-driven apps, we can identify other app-builders are online and we can add comments/have conversations with other app builders.
With canvas apps, multiple app builders can work on the same canvas app at the same time. The designer can merge changes and store the output in source control. This feature is in preview in certain regions.
For model-driven apps, a highlight is an editable grid control. Compared to today, this control will make it easier for users to view and to edit data.
With portal apps, a highlight is the addition of relevance search, the powerful search feature that's currently available in model-driven apps. This type of search can take spelling mistakes, abbreviations, and name variations into account (eg, a search for 'Bob' can match results that contain 'Robert').
Customer connector enhancements include the ability to add customisations with C# code, and there are also a range of other planned enhancements that relate to administration (ALM and conditional access policy enhancements).
7 Amazing Power Apps feature enhancements for 2022
With regards to new announcements, here are 7 outstanding features that were announced in the release plan.
1. The ability to assign variables with the = operatorAt present, we set variables by calling the Set function. This can be very confusing for new users who expect to be able to make variable assignments with the = operator. As an example, here's a post that I answered yesterday about this exact issue.
This enhancement will permit variable assignments to be made with the = operator. For example, we'll be able to set a variable called varCurrentEmail with the following syntax.
varCurrentEmail = User().Email
Another benefit of this feature is that variables that we assign using this method will automatically recalculate and will always be up-to-date.
For example, if we retrieve the last record into a variable with the formula beneath, varLastRecord will always return the most up to date record, as opposed to the record that was retrieved at the time of the assignment.
varLastRecord = Last(SharePointListName)
2. Support for dynamic schemas, direct support for SQL Server Stored Procedures
External web APIs can often return different columns of data depending on the input values. At present, it isn't possible to create custom connectors that connect to endpoints that return variable columns. This is because a custom connector expects the result to always match a fixed schema. The proposed enhancement is to support dynamic schemas, which will improve the ability to connect to third-party systems.
However, the exciting thing about this upcoming feature is that it paves the way for Power Apps to directly support SQL Server stored procedures, including those that return resultsets. The ability to directly call stored procedures is great news for SQL Server users. It can bring great performance benefits and avoids current tricky workarounds that involve Flow and custom response actions.
3. Built-in data caching and prefetchingTo overcome delegation limitations, particularly with SharePoint, app builders commonly collect data into local collections, typically when an app starts. This manual process is inefficient, time-consuming to implement, and can cause data synchronisations that we need resolve.
This proposed feature will enable app builders to specify data caching and prefetching rules at the data source level. Let's take an example of a SharePoint list. We'll be able to control the number of records to prefetch and access those records by referencing the online data source directly. This will help us overcome the dreaded 2,000 row limit without us needing to resort to manually creating collections.
4. Offline support for Canvas and Model Driven AppsThe proposed update to the Windows/Android/iOS players will include built-in offline support for both model driven and canvas apps. It's currently very difficult to implement offline support for canvas apps, which involves lots of manual code to retrieve, cache, and to synchronise the offline data. This enhancement will be a very welcome addition, although I expect that it will initially work only with Dataverse data sources.
5. Improved Dataverse table designerThe table designer that's currently available in Power Apps for teams will be available in the main version of Power Apps. With this improved designer, we can define table columns through a visual grid view, similar to the list design view that's available in SharePoint and Microsoft Access. Through this view, we can also view and edit records. This feature will make it easier to define columns, compared to the clunkier experience today, where it's necessary to enter a new panel to provide additional details for each column that we need to add.
Another interesting enhancement will be the ability to generate a working app based on the table definition. I imagine this will create a working app, similar to the auto-generated 3 screen canvas app that Power Apps creates today when we choose the 'start with data' option.
6. Intelligent formula correction The designer will provide AI-based formula correction. When app builders write formula that is syntacally incorrect, the designer will offer AI-based suggestions to correct the errors. This will simplify the process of writing formulas.
7. Ability to create native mobile Android/iOS appsAlthough this feature was announced earlier at the Ignite conference, it's worth mentioning again as it will be a great enhancement. At present, users open apps through the Android/iOS Power Apps player. It will soon be possible to create branded apps that can be distributed through the Android/iOS app stores. This will facilitate the ability to deliver apps that look more 'professional'.