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Aug 18

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Did I learn anything at Scottish Summit 2022 ?

 

Did I learn anything at Scottish Summit 2022 ?

I learnt that two modest Scottish bearded gentlemen (MarkChristie and Matt Beard) with help from volunteers and sponsors can put on afree community conference which is better than paid for and that it isdifficult to choose from fourteen simultaneous tracks! I learnt that PowerPortal is now called Power Pages and that there are fantastic community toolsavailable that astound me with the technical skills involved to create them. Ilearnt that it is maybe OK to talk about mental health in the workplace and sawbritish sign language translation of the most technical of topics. I learnt thatAzure Static Web Pages is a darned cheap way of building a global website andthat Scottish Summit is full of technically excellent attendees as well asoutstanding speakers. I learnt that the trip up to Glasgow from Brighton was soworth it and that we are going to do it again on 24 April 2023.

I thought Power Pages difficult to set up until all wasexplained by Victor Dantas. It is a still the complex data driven product thatit always was but the design studio makes it easy to access the underlying HTMLand if you know Bootstrap 3.3 you can easily edit the HTML and provide webtemplates and snippets to create some reusability within the site. You caninsert “fluid” syntax within the page to bring in and control these componentsas well as easily adding lists and model driven forms from Dataverse tables. Atop tip was to create a separate environment if you are developing for a customeras there are so many components created in Azure to power the portal (sorryPages).

Oliver Rodrigues showed us how to control Power Pages formswith JavaScript and the combination of a model driven (or Dynamics 365) formwith Bootstrap and JavaScript is a very familiar development environment formany of us. Development is a little strenuous involving jQuery and a lot ofinspection using the Browser Development Tools but that is how Igrew up with JavaScript in the old days. It brought back memories of coding upold CRM forms using the client side JavaScript SDK and now it seems we just useplain old JavaScript to control these forms. Disappointing that Business Ruleshave not made it into Power Pages and we need to revert to the old techniquesagain.

There is a raft of independent Publisher Connectors beingbuilt for the Dataverse and Ahmad Najjar and Troy Taylor showed us how we canbuild a connector to anything with some C# code and help from the community.These connectors require Premium Power Apps licenses and are certified to allowthe Dataverse to connect to almost anything. There are 100 independentconnectors out there from Spotify to Schipol Airport and Troy and Ahmed tell usthe community is very helpful and proud of contributing in this area.

Joe Griffin and Mark Carrington showed us how the XRMToolboxcompares with the Azure toolset for managing aspects of Dynamics 365 and theDataVerse. Mark has built a SQL interface to Dynamics 65 that utilises FetchXMLunder the cover to allow you to issue standard SQL against your Dynamics 365tables. There is even an ADO.NET Connector. I have been in awe of this sort ofdevelopment expertise right back when I discovered that FoxPro had a team ofjust 6 developers and it is awesome to see such SQL genius in action for a communitytool. When I think of the time I have spent trying to parse ODATA queries programmaticallyI must bow down and worship (I know I should have used Entity Framework).

Marcel Meurer installs and manages Virtual Desktops in Azureas his day job and has created the WVDAdmin tool to manage complex VirtualDesktop roll outs. His alternative approach allows you to maintain a “golden”desktop and easily duplicate and prep and roll out scalable desktops to userswithout having to learn the CLI yourself. Not only is this an invaluable timesaver but Marcel has carved years of experience and his best practise into thetoolset.

Static Web Applications and Blazor wrapped up in a PWA aresomething of interest to me in my day to day programming.  Stephanie Stimac madeus aware of some of the latest tips and tricks for PWAs including link and protocollaunch handling to better integrate your application with the underlyingoperating system be it Desktop or Mobile. I was especially interested with theWindows Control Overlay that lets you control the menu system when running aPWA under windows. See https://whatwebcando.today/for general PWA info and https://web.dev/window-controls-overlay/for specifically the Windows overlay.

Poornima Nayar introduced us to SWA and the ease ofdeployment because of automation with Github for instant seamless deployment.She also showed us the power of GraphQL and how the nuget libraries HotChocolate, StrawberryShake and BananaCake can help us develop functions rapidlyusing this data platform.

Maxim Salnikov also showed us an Evangelists view of SWAbuilding his PWA for DJs to analyse beats per minute with a PWA applicationhosted on SWA. He showed us how to build and test an SWA locally by installingthe Azure SWA CLI which creates a proxy server (driven by node) to route Httprequest between the SWA functionality and the auth and Azure functionendpoints. Many things are controlled by the staticwebappconfig.json file whichcontrols routing, page rewrites, redirects, error pages, fallbacks (to helpwith JavaScript frameworks) and roles.

Stacy Cashmore did a masterclass in how to give a live demowhen she built her Static Web Application from scratch in 45 minutes. An SWAutilises Azure functions with client-side JavaScript (perhaps a framework) toaccess data from the functions. Authorisation with Github, Twitter or Microsoftauthentication allows you to authenticate users and assign roles. SWA web sitescan have a free SSL domain and are syndicated around web servers worldwide toprovide a hugely robust set of pages for around £6 a month. The main hasslehere is that you need to learn a JavaScript framework or use Blazor to presentyour data on the page. I am not quite sure though how Google will read andindex these pages.

I do a lot of development for our Power BI Connectors toallow multi-company financial reporting from Xero, Sage 50X and 200, andQuickBooks Online so was very happy to attend Triparna Ray’s session describing herexperience on very large-scale financial reporting and how to create a “singlepoint of truth”.

There were so many tracks and interesting sessions happeningall at the same time that I was only able to sample some of the knowledgeoffer. Zaid Zaim for example showed us how he uses the Hololens to create avirtual word representation of Palmyra blown up and partially destroyed by ISISin 2020.

I assume everything was financed by the sponsors includingMicrosoft so we need to thank them for that. CODEC is a reseller for our Sage50 Connector for Dynamics 365 so I tagged along with Brian Illand for somecorporate entertainment and had some beers on Codec too.

So I did learn a lot and am going full steam ahead withdeveloping Azure functions and SWA for delivering scalable functionality forour software products and taking a serious interest in expanding our PWAapplications. Finally, I can get around to developing the Dataverse andJavaScript Power Pages to supplement our Dynamics 365 knowledge. I have comeaway very impressed with the community and am inspired to dive in now to thesetechnologies having learnt from the community experts at Scottish Summit 2022.

See you at the Southern Summit in October…

Dynamics 365 Connector

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