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or In the new Common Data Service World what exactly is Dynamics 365 for CE / Customer Engagement

Yesterday Microsoft announced general availability of the Common Data Service version of PowerApps aka PowerApps version 2 or Model Driven PowerApps (take you pick of name even the announcement uses all 3 variations). On reading 2 questions sprung to mind, 1 boring one – (can you use a custom workflow activity within an async workflow) and a bigger one – what exactly is the difference between a Dynamics 365 instance and a PowerApps application.

So it’s time to create a new PowerApps application and see how it looks compared to the Dynamics 365 I know and love.

So from the Office Admin screen I boot up PowerApps Admin pages.

and create a new instance, although its worth noting that my Production Dynamics 365 instance also appears in the list of Apps – I will investigate that later.

And after a few minutes with the instance created we can start playing.

Now that’s interesting – the Environment type is Dynamics365Instance (so yes Data Model PowerApps are clearly based on Dynamics 365) and that Instance version looks strangely familiar.

Yes, it’s identical to the Spring Release of Dynamics 365. Mind you the link to the Dynamics 365 Administration Center is just as big a clue.

Now let’s go and look at the instance itself by clicking on “Manage Security for this Instance”

Now that menu looks awfully familiar as does the query string after the URL (we’ll get back to that in a minute). So once again let’s head back to my production playpen.

Yep the menu is identical and actually so is the Querystring in the PowerApp app – it’s exactly what you need to send if you want to open a particular form or view without Dynamics 365’s menu bar. So let’s see what happens if I remove it from the address bar and just visit the default menu.aspx page of the test PowerApp?

 Well I think we can safely say that Data Model / Common Date Service PowerApps are based on Dynamics 365 and also why some forms in Dynamics 365 are now branded PowerApps rather than Dynamics 365 as this page is one you probably shouldn’t be seeing as a PowerApps user.

And because we have the ribbon we also appear to have Dynamic 365’s big global menu so lets see what else is available:


So nothing to do with Sales, Service or Marketing but a lot of the Settings options are there including Solutions – which means we can see what PowerApps is made of.

Now I know there are 6 solutions there but I suspect the AssetCheckOut / InnovationHub and msdyn_SampleApp are there because I selected import sample data when I created the instance.

In fact we can check that by looking at my test 365 instance once again and seeing what solutions exist there

Now names may change but the Common Data Service, CDS Management and Base Custom Control solutions look very familiar and the only one that differs is clearly CRM related so I think its clear to see that PowerApps and version 9 of Dynamics 365 for CE are one and the same.

Now the obvious next question is can you import a solution

Now I know the solution I need to import cannot contain anything sales, service or market related because those options clearly aren’t there (remember the menu screenshot above) but our core security solutions files are explicitly designed to only support Account and Contact records. So in theory our core solutions should install just fine. Let’s go and see

Oops – that definitely didn’t work as planned but I can continue playing later. However that error messages contains solutions with names I don’t recognise – they definitely aren’t listed in my production instance above

So what can we conclude from the brief test above:-

  • Data Model / CDS PowerApps definitely share the same environments and core functionality as Dynamics 365.
  • Dynamics 365 for CE (version 9) is built upon a PowerApp base.
  • but Dynamics 365 for CE is still more than just a PowerApp as there are hidden solutions installed that are not visible within the Dynamics 365 front ends.
  • finally its worth noting that the url of the PowerApp is org……, you cannot browse to it using the user friendly application name as you can with a Dynamics 365 instances..

and equally

  • the various parts of Dynamics 365 have their own separate lifecycles – note the different version numbers and even different version numbering schemes.
  • If you know how to develop Dynamics 365 applications your world is now far, far bigger. You have all of PowerApps to play with.

Post Author: Ben Thompson

The Boss.

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