8 Days of Power Platform — Day 1

Prelude

I woke up on 1 January 2020 and thought to myself “What is one thing that I want to do more in this new year?”. As a technologist, I have been wanting to experiment with technologies and platforms, sharing with the community on ideas to make their lives easily — both professionally and personally.

Hence, the thought of starting this Power Platform Series came about and I decided to wrap this exploration with a theme to make things interesting and relatable.

With Chinese New Year around the corner and making this an easy and digestible series, I chose the number “8” — representing an auspicious number to the Chinese and 8 days covering my journey.

What is Microsoft Power Platform

Before going into the scenario, please allow me to introduce Microsoft Power Platform. Microsoft Power Platform is a low-code platform that spans Office 365, Azure, Dynamics 365, and standalone applications, allowing citizen developers to develop and innovate with intelligent applications without the need to worry about the programming platform(s) or where the data resides — be it in a database, flat files etc.

Microsoft Power Platform Landing Page — https://powerplatform.microsoft.com/en-sg/

The objective of Power Platform is to empower millions of people to achieve more — democratizing technologies by making more approachable and accessible to anyone who has ideas to easily develop, test and innovate within their organizations without any constraints.

Power Platform Overview

Power Platform implements this vision via three cloud-based services: Power BI, Power Apps and Power Automate focus on allowing anyone to — Analyse data, build solutions, and automate processes across your organisation.

  • Power Apps is a low code application development platform — allowing anyone to build web and mobile applications without writing code.
  • Power BI connects to all your data and get a consolidated view across your business through a single pane of glass.
  • Power Automate (formally known as Flow) automate and model business processes across your apps and services, allowing anyone to build simple automation to advanced scenarios.

Beneath the platform, there are the following components providing connectivity and intelligence:

  • Data Connectors provide connectors for many popular services and on-premises data sources, including SharePoint, SQL Server, Office 365, Salesforce, and Twitter.
  • AI Builder is a turnkey solution that brings the power of AI through a point-and-click experience. With AI Builder, you can add intelligence to your apps even if you have no coding or data science skills.
  • Common Data Service (CDS) is a built-in, fully-managed, enterprise-grade data store, letting you securely store and manage data that’s used by business application.

In the recent release, Microsoft has also announced Power Virtual Agents — Easily build chatbots to engage conversationally with your customers and employees — no coding required.

Power Virtual Agent — https://powervirtualagents.microsoft.com/en-us/

In summary — Power Platform can help you to:

  1. Build a simple application for web or mobile using Power Apps
  2. Automate workflow using Power Automate
  3. Display and analyze data with Power BI
  4. Leverage on Azure AI services to build intelligent applications from a power user perspective

Scenario

This series will focus on my journey learning the key components of Power Platform and build an application related to 红包 (“Ang Bao”).

During Chinese New Year, it is a tradition to visit your family, relatives and friends, the best (could be the worst) part is the collection or giving of Ang Bao. Below is a simple illustration of the mentioned activities for Chinese New Year:

For this Chinese New Year, The persona — 小明 (“Xiao Ming”) would like to be able to achieve the following with the application:

  1. Plan his visitation
  2. Track his Ang Bao (Give and Receive — Inbound and Outbound money flow)
  3. Track and Analyze his gain/loss during this festive season

To further breakdown on the high level scenarios:

Plan and Visit Places

During Chinese New Year, especially on the 1st and 2nd day, there will be lots of planned visitations to either relatives or friends’ houses to pay them a visit. User should be able to have a calendar view to add all the intended places for visitation and any other details. Th2e idea behind is to use a ready calendar view or integrate with a calendar service and expose the view in Power Apps.

Receive and Give Ang Bao (Outbound and Inbound)

Before going into the specifics of this scenario, I will take a minute to explain the significant and reason behind the tradition of giving red packets.

The Chinese New Year red envelope or packet is a traditional gift for children during Chinese New Year. In China, the red envelope is called yasui qian (压岁钱 /yaa-sway chyen/), which means ‘suppressing ghosts money’. Those who receive a red envelope are wished another safe and peaceful year. For those who are interested in the history, you may click here to read further.

Fast forward to today, the meaning behind giving of red packets during Chinese New Year is a way for married working adults to share their wealth and blessings with the young ones. Giving a red packet is a way to share your blessings. Traditionally, there is a custom that if you are not married, you do not need to give red packets to others.

For this scenario, we go with the assumption that 小明 is eligible to receive and give ang bao as he is not married and as a working adult, he would like to bless his younger siblings/nephews/nieces/friends’ children.

Track and Analyze

Based on the data collected through Power Apps, it is important to give the user an overview of all inbound and outbound cash flow and any other form of data which can be properly represented for some insights. Building a dashboard would be a nice way to representing all the data points collected through the Power Apps.

Conclusion of Day 1

Day 1 is about giving an introduction of Power Platform, the offering and value. We will based on the above scenario to design and build the Power Apps using the 3 key components, and the use of other components (i.e. AI Builder) as and when possible for the purpose of exploration and learning along the series.

We will be diving deeper in the platform; with Day 2 focusing on a design approach before getting some hands-on to develop a simple app.

Happy #powerhacking away!

The opinions and views expressed here are those of my own and do not necessarily state or reflect those of Microsoft Singapore or Microsoft Corporation.

Closet geek, on the cloud journey with @Azure. Love Baseball. Git + LinkedIn: jenzushsu

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