Canvas Apps & Power Automates

So it’s been a busy few weeks here, which is why I haven’t really been putting up any articles. March/April is always a busy time for our family with stuff going on, and this year I decided not to push myself to get articles out, as otherwise I’d be running very low on sleep!

That being said, I’ve still had some great ideas about things that I’d like to share, and have been keeping a series of short notes for me to pick up. Today’s topic is one of them, which I think has been a major pain to anyone involved in canvas app development!

So, the back story to this is that we’re able to use Power Automate flows together with canvas apps. What I mean by this is that we’re able to directly trigger them from within the canvas app, rather than needing to do something like edit or create a record, and then have the Power Automate flow trigger from the record creation or modification.

There’s a specific Power Apps trigger that’s available within Power Automate exactly for this purpose:

When clicked, it gives us the trigger line in the steps as follows:

So what we’d do is within the canvas app, we would bind a button (or another control) that when selected, it would then go away & trigger the Power Automate flow. Great – so many different things that we can get to happen! One of the benefits of doing things like this is that we can then pass information from the Power Automate flow back to the canvas app directly:

This can then mean that the user can know, within the canvas app itself, that the Power Automate flow has run, and use data (or other things) that have come out of it.

OK – all good so far.

The main issue to date has been with deploying canvas apps together with Power Automate flows. See, as per best practise, we would create a solution, place the canvas app, flows, and anything else that’s necessary for it to work within it, and then deploy the solution to our target environment/s. And that’s where things just…didn’t go quite right.

Obviously within the development environment, the canvas app would be hooked up to the flows, and everything would work. Clicking the button would cause the flow to run, etc. User authentication would be in place (along with licenses of course!), and it was just fine.

But when deploying a solution containing canvas apps and associated flows between environments (regardless of whether it’s been manually deploying, or automated using a tool such as Azure DevOps), the connections to the flows would be broken. Ie, the canvas app would run, but the flows wouldn’t trigger. Looking at the connections in the canvas app within Studio would show something like the following:

All of the connections to Power Automate flows would show as ‘Not connected’. It’s not even possible to click the ellipse next to them and re-connect them – the only option available is to remove it from the canvas app!

So in order to get things working again, we’d need to do the following steps:

  • Open up the canvas app
  • Remove all connections to Power Automate flows
  • Add a temporary button, set it to be a Power Automate trigger
  • Click through all of the Power Automates needing to be connected (waiting for each one to connect, then go to the next one)
  • Remove the temporary button
  • Save and publish the solution

This, in a nutshell, has been a (major) headache. For example, I’ve been working with a solution that has over 30 Power Automate flows that can be triggered from the canvas app (lots of different functionality!). Each deployment has needed the above process to be carried out, which has usually added on at least an hour to the deployment process!

Now, this hasn’t been something that’s been unknown. In fact, the official Microsoft documentation noted the following:

So this is something that Microsoft has been well aware of, but it’s been a pain point that we’ve had to work with.

However, this has now ALL changed, which I (and MANY others) are really pleased about!

Microsoft has rolled out an update last month that means that canvas app connections to Power Automate flows will NOT break when they’re deployed across environments! This is such a massive time-saver, that I’m now trying to work out what to do with all of my free time! Only kidding…more project work will commence!

So what we can now do is take our solution, deploy it across the different environment/s that we need to get it out to (whether manually, or automated using tools such as Azure DevOps), publish the solution, and then everything works! Amazing!!

One small caveat though – to ensure that this work, you will need to go into the app, and re-publish it on the latest Power Apps version. This should of course be done in a development environment, and then can be exported and deployed as required.

Microsoft have also updated their documentation at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powerapps/maker/data-platform/solutions-overview to remove the limitation text shown above. It’s a good place to keep an eye on changes that occur over time too.

This is definitely a welcome piece of development, and I know that we’ve been eagerly waiting for this for a while, and now it’s here!

The post Canvas Apps & Power Automates appeared first on The CRM Ninja.

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