ACDC 2022 – Summary

I just participated in a 3 day hackathon ACDC 2022 (arcticclouddeveloperchallenge.net) and it was one of the biggest emotional rollercoasters I have had in MANY years.

Let me just paint the picture first.. ACDC is a yearly hackathon where the best of the best in Norway gather to explore the Dynamics/Power Platform/M365/Azure platforms, creating stellar products. What makes it different from other hackathons?

  1. Mandatory physical attendance
  2. Sleepover at the hotel required, even though you live in the city
  3. Surprise challenges with rewards (head to head)
  4. Lunch and Dinner every day at the hotel, mandatory attendance
  5. Mandatory Socializing activities outside of the teams
  6. Amazing Judges Every time
  7. End of the hackathon dinner and party
  8. Great swag 👊
  9. Lots of energy drinks 🔋
  10. Little to no sleep.. Yea.. I felt that one personally 💤💤💤

I know I know.. Many of the hackathons out there have similar setups, but often they only include parts of what we have to offer. I am of course extremely bias, because I am part of the committee. Today I am writing as the participant from the Team Pizza Time. 🍕

Most of the teams participating were senior teams with tons of experience in Dynamics and lots of years experience within the workforce. We did however have a few new teams with us this year, and that usually is always quite the challenge. The Rules can be complex to follow the first times, and most would struggle keeping up.

The judges this year did an extraordinary job keeping everyone in line, and also helping out all of the new teams understanding what was going on.

Day 1

Welcome commetee

After the initial rigging of computers, each team was introduced. Every team presented their initial ideas and small hints on what technology they were planning to use the next 3 days.

Team:

Mikael Svenson, Eivind Berge, Thomas Sandsør and Poja Mofakheri

Business Case:

  1. Build a Turles HQ
  2. Pizza Ordering Store
  3. Pizza Delivery

An ambitions plan involving the following keywords for technology:

  1. Dataverse
  2. Power Apps Portals
  3. Power BI
  4. Canvas App
  5. Model Driven App
  6. Raspberry PI
  7. IOT (proximity, heat)
  8. Motion Sensor Camera
  9. Hue Color Lights
  10. Intranet in Teams

Progress:

Our team had a pre meeting deciding what tech we wanted to work on, and the scenario’s we wanted to solve. Our scenario was to build a Turtles HQ with security notifications and control center functionality. Then we were going to migrate this story into a Pizza Shop having to work with Pizza Orders and Deliveries.

After our first meeting regarding the solution, I think we all had an idea of what we wanted to solve but not necessarily the same one. It is not uncommon for creative people to think differently about one topic even though they think they are on the same page. This is one of the challenges when working with technology. Later on this would prove to be a huge challenge for our team.

After day one we had been picking a solid amount of points. We had our Teams Intranet, Portals for Ordering, Power Apps for Ordering, Power BI report, Raspberry PI, IOT sensors (2 heat, 2 motion sensors, 1 Hue light bulb), Google Nest Hub, Native React app for Pizza inspo etc etc.. We were on fire, and far beyond the other teams in technology!! (personal opinion). 🔥🔥💯💯

We even won a head to head challenge against the other teams. A challenge where the first one to finish received extra points. In the head to head challenge we had to embed a Power App within Power BI report, and read/edit the data in this Power App. The idea was to update Power Bi directly via the embedded Power App. This scored us a solid extra number of points and a new badge for the collection🥇

At this point in time we were seriously kicking some ass and went to bed as potential winners.

Day 2 – WTF happened?

Where to begin…. I woke up happy and proud of all the achievements from day 1. Everything seemed to be going as I had planned. We were geeking BIG TIME and having so much fun putting different technical things together. We were also gathering lots of the extra bonus points for doing the occasional odd “side quest”.

This day we had started to automate processes so that sensors were triggering events, the Power App was connecting to feedback surveys, and the portal for ordering was working with weather API + maps to give estimated delivery times etc etc.

At the end of the day, every team had to deliver a blog post explaining what we had done since day one. We were 9 teams onsite, so it was important for the judges to have something to read through to be able to cover everyone’s updates. We had made some great progress with our technologies and almost all gadgets were functioning in automation as we had planned. We were feeling quite confident in the next round of points.

This is where the rollercoaster of emotions started! 🎢🎢🎢

Announcing the points from day 2, we had moved from point winners to point losers. We were almost dead last in every category that we had been winning the day before. This was not only the case for Pizza Time, but it was also the case for a few of the other senior teams. What had happened we were asking each other. The junior team with almost no experience at all was getting all of the points. This surely must have been some type of error.. Right!??!?. Of course we had a lot of meetings with the judges trying to figure out what the f*** had happened, but their answers were quite simple.

“Thomas, did you answer how you had added more value to the main categories from day one?”.

Judges

I was baffled..

“Answer: I wrote about all of the amazing things we put together of tech ** Check blog day 2**. What we have done is really cool!!”

Thomas

“But how does that relate to the categories where you present business value, user experience etc?”

Judges

“Well………………..Fuck….

Thomas

I had to think about that one. In my mind the business value was obvious. We had put together so much technology that was pretty impressive (given the amount of time). After about 30 minutes of not saying much, and just looking at my screen in despair, I realized they were right. We were not presenting the solution with a value proposition. It even made us wonder if the initial value proposition was good enough.

After dinner and some “bad vibes”, started what I personally felt was an extraordinary journey. A journey that made me extremely proud to be a part of the team we were on.

We sat down for almost 2 hours straight just breaking down every piece of our solution, trying to figure out what the business value was. We compared it to other deliveries that had lots of points, and that’s when we noticed a few key elements. They were better at selling business value, where the technology only was secondary. It was so simple and obvious that it pissed me off that I hadn’t thought of that before.

The principle applies to every real life scenario. If I can’t convince my customer that my technology add value to their business, they will never by my services.

So the seniors put their heads together and pulled an “all nighter”. We completely ripped our business case apart, and revitalized every aspect of our technology. Our mission was no longer about the Turtles HQ and keeping the city safe from monsters, but it was about the city being in a bad state and helping out those in need.

Day 3

I never really know when I started day 3, because I simply didn’t sleep. I was up all night doing adjustments to the tech, having to say yes/no to a few components. It hurt having to trash parts of a solution I had been working on for 1,5 days, but that’s the name of the game!

Our pitch had moved from a crime fighting city with Turtles, to a city in need of help after covid. Unemployment was up and the gaps in poor were even bigger now than ever before. People living on the street needed food, and we had a service that could provide food for the needy. Our mission statement went from being bold and covering a lot of work loads, to simpler “We make pizza for the people, no matter what social status you have”.

You can read more about our final delivery here, and you could even compare it to the first post if curious

Final Delivery

Conclusion

The youngsters made us realize what we should have been focusing on all along. What is the problem, and how can we solve it. We were so focused on being geeks and having fun that we lost track of a key element to delivering IT solutions. I am a little angry that I didn’t think of this earlier when delivering, but at the same time it would not have given us the chance to turn around and prove the value of Senior Consultants. When we got hit in the face with reality, we could have just quit.. Instead we pushed through the night and delivered a phenomenal presentation (personal opinion) that we were really proud of.

Eventually we finished 2nd place behind the kids, but I am extremely happy how the team managed to work together and push each other to the limits. We ended up feeling like we won that 2nd place, and next year you better believe that I am coming for the 1st!!!🏆

Business Unit Name Change

Something small, but yet useful. Thank you Tanguy for the tip🤗

As you probably figured out the Default Business unit name is something you can’t change OOTB after you have created a CRM/Dataverse environment.

If you are not careful when creating a new environment the org name will be set for you, and that is also when the Business Unit Name is set.

This can result in the following main Business Unit, and it just doesn’t make any sense. Also you can’t change it because Parent Business needs to be entered. Problem is that there is no parent to the parent in this case 🤣

XrmToolBox – Bulk Data Update to the rescue😎

Open the view for active Business Units and find your result.

⛔NB!! Make sure your search only returns one business unit

Next thing you do is set a fixed value, add attribute to the bulk job, and the update the record.

Power Apps Pay As you GO!!💸

When Microsoft introduced Azure for the Microsoft public, it was a new way of thinking. We were suddenly paying for what we needed and when we needed it. Amazon had been there for a long while, but for Microsoft customers this was a new way of thinking. After a skeptical start, this model has really become somewhat of a system standard.

As of today Power Platform will be available on Azure subscription! It is being introduced as a “Pay as you go” model. It is important that you don’t mistake this for the same as Azure. In Azure you actually only pay for the compute time used (in most cases), but here you will pay for a license once you use an application.

WOW THIS IS SOOOO COOL … Well, is it really?

Let’s just think about the following first. Just a few weeks ago Microsoft dropped the prices to half of what they used to cost. They are now only 5$ and 20$ for the different plans. When you think about the value you get from a Dataverse OOTB that is a BARGAIN already.

So why am I not overly excited about the “Pay as you Go” PAYGO model? Well, I don’t really see the big impact yet. Most of my customers are on the CSP agreement, and can flex as much as they feel for. Planning ahead for apps is also hard, and is counter intuitive for innovation. By releasing a plan as PAYGO, you essentially need to plan financially for all users that might use an app, while you silently hope that not all users actually use the app that month. For every user that didn’t use the app, you save some money.

I am sure that the plan makes sense for many scenarios, but I just don’t really see them yet. The good thing is that “limitations/possibilities” for the new plan will be monitored closely in the beginning to find the correct levels for all types of use cases. Remember to voice your opinion if you see some great opportunity. Microsoft will be listening😀

Pricing comparison

Standard Pricing App and User Plan

Standard Pricing Storage

PAYGO Pricing app

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-platform/admin/powerapps-flow-licensing-faq#add-ons

PAYGO Storage

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-platform/admin/powerapps-flow-licensing-faq#add-ons

Personal Thoughts

The only thing that we know for sure is that licensing will always be a situation where we as consumers want changes. We want more more more, and want to pay less less less. Microsoft will continuously find new license models to adapt to our wishes while finding ways to keep profits. Don’t get me wrong. I am all about Microsoft being able to charge what they want. After all it’s a great product!!! I’m just saying that you need to look behind the shining stuff before you automatically assume that everything new is automatically better.

What you need to do as a customer is get help to assess assess your licensing situation. Not only is licensing complex from a rules perspective, but the applications can be modified to adapt to licensing changes. I am not saying PAYGO is bad, but I’m not jumping on the PAYGO train quite yet. Most of my customers are CSP customers and have a lot of freedom with licensing (Up and Down). Just going to see what happens first 😁

I might also have misunderstood quite a lot in regards to the benefits received from this model, and if so I would love feedback to learn new ways of thinking!👌

GIF Custom Connector

In my last post I wrote about Adaptive Cards in Teams, but a vital factor for that adaptive card to be interesting is the content on the card. Dynamics 365 Sales Adaptive Card🚀.

One of the technical bits last time was connecting with an HTTP GET request to the API. I will be using the same information to create a custom connector so that anyone can reuse for the future 😁

Creating the Connector

Step one.. open https:///make.powerapps.com .

Step 2.. Break down the URL from the first picture like this

Step three… If you don’t really know how to do this, ask a friend!! 🙂

Step three again.. Enter the security settings. When entering the security settings and providing something more than blank, you will be prompted with the credentials first time you create a connection to the connector.

I broke the URL down further with the “api_key” as a query, so that it would show in the URL like the example on the first picture.

Step four.. Create a search tag like the one I had in the URL from the first picture

Step five.. Get the URL from the first picture with your API key, and add this to the import sample

Choose the GET in this case, and add the full URL

Your request should look something like this:

Step 6.. Add a connection to the connector and test with a tag. It should return some info like this:

Result

When you are done, you have a custom connector you can reuse from Power Apps, Flow or any other tool that can use custom connectors.

Connector Gallery 🌌

What better thing to do than release this to the https://connector.gallery when you are done creating a new connector?? :😁💪🥇

Dynamics 365 Sales Adaptive Card🚀

Doesn’t matter how many times you tell a salesperson that input of data is important. They will always ask you what’s the output that I can look forward to. A few years back I remember gamification being important, but you normally need high volume of sales + many sales reps for it to be any fun. So in the constant pursuit of having some fun with sales I managed to find a new way of spreading some joy 😉

Adaptive cards?

If you are not familiar with Adaptive Cards, you are not alone. Adaptive Cards are configurable messages that can be delivered either within a chat or channel (plus many other services). The card is basically just a “custom page” that you create and send to the chat in Teams.

Kjør flyten.
Image from Microsoft Docs

Adaptive Card Configuration

Learning how to create adaptive cards isn’t all that hard. Head on over to https://adaptivecards.io/designer/ and begin designing your personal adaptive card. Because we are working with Teams, we choose the following.

  • Start by choosing the Microsoft Teams – Light or dark. Other configurations might not work.
  • Middle part is your actual card.
  • Left side are the components you can drag/drop to the center card.
  • Down low is the JSON we are going to copy paste once we are done with the visuals

Adaptive Card Samples

If you are as terrible as I am being creative, you can find tons of samples here.

Gif’s ‘R’ us 🙌

For the next step we want to get a random GIF from a GIF site. I have found an API for Giphy that seems to be working great.

Head on over to Gyphy API and create a new account. Then open a new app to attain an API key

Power Automate

Create a Team for the sales users, or just use the one you already have. Once you have found the right place for the adaptive card we can start the next process.

Open Power Automate and setup a flow to trigger once the Opportunity Closes as Won.

The first steps are pretty basic. When Oppty closed as won get the following pieces of data. These are standard Get Item by ID, so no need to dive into details here.

Next step is where it gets fun!!!

Add an HTTP step with the following text

https://api.giphy.com/v1/gifs/random?api_key=***ADD KEY***&tag=win

This will send a request to Giphy asking for a random GIF with the WIN tag.

Opening the URL in the web browser you will receive a LONG json back. The only text we need is the

Therefore we have to parse the Json to get the URL of the Original Image. If you don’t know how to do this, look for Power Automate Parse Json. Basically just copy the text above from the web browser, and open it in the “Generate from sample” part. This will automatically create the following Json Payload.

Last step to the process is adding the Adaptive Card to the Flow

The text in the adaptive card is what I copied from the adaptive card configurator on top 🔝

I could add the complete Json here, but all you need is your personal adaptive card inserted to this step.

Result – CHECK OUT THIS BAD BOY😎

It’s just a simple message in a chat, but this stuff really get the sales team going.. Now it’s a competition getting the funnies GIF, and most likes:) It’s not really gamification, but it sure is a lot of fun🎉😁🎈

Dynamics 365 App for Outlook button

Tiny blog for a tiny button 😂 This is only relevant if you have users that work in Outlook Web. Every now and then I do encounter a few Apple users that prefer the Outlook Web, even though it works well with Outlook for Mac.

Outlook client

If you use the Outlook client you know the button from the ribbon. Click the button do load the client.

Outlook Web.

OOTB the Dynamics client is hidden once it is deployed for the user. Only way to find it is to open the actual email and choose the ellipsis

Great thing is that we can change the order of the buttons:)

Solution

Open the Outlook Web settings and choose “View All Outlook Settings”.

Find the Dynamics 365 button in the Customize Actions and click save.

You now have the button easily accessible 🤗

🚨Update🚨 Automatic record creation rules NOW!

If you are using email to case, SLA or any Automatic Record Creation in classic you really need to update your rules ASAP to the new UI.

I can’t seem to find the message in the make.powerapps.com, but it’s one of the first messages that appears when opening the classic editor in solutions.

This post is not going to comment the pros/cons of the old vs the new. I will have to come back to you on that one. I am simply stating that you have to do this because it’s not only being deprecated, but it is being shut down. Microsoft has actually created a migration path for the rules, and documented the process fairly well.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/customer-service/migrate-automatic-record-creation-and-sla-agreements

I use these rules for the most in the email to case scenario. First it has some conditions, and then it has the actual create of the case record.

When running through the migration, it does in fact get the conditions correct when migrating, but not the owner that I have in the create statement later. This has to be manually added to the flow created by MS.

Post Migration

After the migration is done, I had the following:

A record rule in the new UI

The conditions also got migrated without issues

And a new flow that Microsoft Autocreates for the email to case record creation. The red box marks where I had to add the “owner” field for the Teams ownership that I normally use.

All of these steps are automatically added by Microsoft. This is also the case if you do a NEW Email to Case from the UI. It feels a bit odd to put my faith in the hands of something automatically created, but for now I have to go with the flow.

NB!!! REMEMBER TO CLICK THE SAVE BUTTON IN FLOW BEFORE ACTIVATING THE RULE

So far it seems to be working OK, but I have to do some more heavy testing before I can conclude that the Flow is as stable as the old rules within Dynamics. We are running it in production, so I will update if I see any problems 🤞

SSIS – Dataverse for Teams DV4T

Earlier I wrote about connecting SSIS to Dataverse for Teams. At the time of writing the article it was not possible to connect to DV4T via KingsWaySoft and SSIS.

Dataverse for teams DV4T – Exploring Data Migration – CRM Keeper

I wrote about the theme because I still think it is highly important to merge some data to DV4T in some business scenarios from a Dataverse table. DV4T is essentially built for quick and agile projects, but these projects could need a little data from time to time to hit the ground running. Exporting / Importing data via Power Automate is in my book not a very solid option, and feels like a “work arround”.

In the recent update of KingsWaySoft they just released an Interactive Login Experience

Normally the best practice for SSIS and KingsWaySoft would be with an Application User. The only problem is that Dataverse for Teams doesn’t support application users. With the new type of connection the you have to manually add the username/password for each run. It retrieved a new token for each run.

How to set it up

Open your preferred SSIS tool and start a new connection manager. Notice that I have chosen the Interactive Login for OAuth Type.

Add the username and open “Select Organization”

I am not completely sure what the “Use SDK App” is for, but we have 2 factor authentication, and I had to activate this option for it to bypass the need for App ID.

Click on Retrieve and now we can see all organizations. Dataverse AND DV4T. The BlueberryAPI is a Dataverse for Teams database.

WAIT BEFORE YOU TEST CONNECTION! Click on OK

Right click on the connector and open properties

On the right side make sure you add the API 9.1

NOW you can test the connection 🤗

The results

This is what Dataverse for Teams looks like. 1 table called events.

This is what we see in SSIS 🙌🎉🎈

Big thank you to Daniel Cai for this💪

The rise of the Galleries🌌

By now I hope most people know the https://pcf.gallery (run by Guido Preite). A great page for sharing community components (PCF) and exposing awesome contributions to the rest of the world. 🌎

What I like about the PCF Gallery is the simplicity of the site only being about PCF components. This is why I asked Guido if we could create a similar site for other components regarding the Power Platform. He was so kind to share his code for the project, so Matt Beard and I decided to give it a go. 🤗

Connector Gallery

First out in list of future galleries is the CONNECTOR gallery . This site will contain all sorts of custom connectors for Power Platform that you can share with the community. If you want to contribute to this gallery, you only have to share the custom connector file you have on GitHub, and we will post it out!

Dynamics 365 Case add new contact missing

Recently I had this happen twice without really knowing why. The add new contact button was missing on the case form. In the old UI it was present, but in the new UI it was gone.

Problem

Luckily support found out that this is caused by the contact field containing some old “metadata”. All you have to do is remove it and add it back.

FIX

As you see here we have added the same field twice.. Now you can remove the “OLD” contact field and then publish..

Voila!

A pretty random thing to happen, but an easy fix:)