Can You Keep A Secret? Bloggers, Podcasters, and Vloggers Wanted for Secret Office 365 Community Initiative

If you know me, you know I like to have fun adventures, and work with the community on events and community events and stunts.

I’m working on something for Ignite with some online efforts before hand.  Even if you’re aren’t going to be attending, I can still use your help.  Those who participate will share in the traffic during the reveal.

Please fill out the form below to request to be included as a volunteer.  I do promise it will be fun and entertaining… Like I said, there is no commitment required.  I’m really hoping to have a few volunteers who want to have some fun on a community driven initiative.

>>Register for Project Elephant

Does InfoPath Still Have You Paralyzed and Holding Your Breath?

There are Six Key InfoPath challenges that people are still holding their breath to find solutions.  They have been paralyzed in their migrations, in the upgrades, and in strategies to make progress in business applications, workflows, and processes.  I hope this Infographic and Webinar help you to understand the Microsoft roadmap.

DontHoldBreath_Infographic2

These Infopath challenges continue to paralyze people in their efforts to modernize and move forward in their efforts to optimize business processes.  In this session we’ll analyze each of the challenges and provide guidance and workarounds as well as review solutions to the product gaps.  We’ll help you better understand the direction of the Power Platform and gaps.  PowerApps is a fantastic product, but it unfortunately does not provide feature parity which has resulted in many not knowing how to proceed.  We’ll analyze those gaps as well as look a the PowerApps Roadmap.  What are you waiting for?  Stop holding your breath and let’s get you unblocked!

Here is a sampling of what you’ll get in the webinar.  There is information that has been provided around addressing these challenges and there are ways to progress.

We’ll go into depth in each of these areas:

– Print-ready forms

– Rich XML files

– Complex HTML and JavaScript forms

– Anonymous external user access

– Simple client form editing tool

– Offline client filler

 

Print-ready forms

There are a couple of attempts to address this:  This request has over 1000 votes.

You can see this is complicated.  I’ll be digging into this in the webinar, but here’s the response from Microsoft on their roadmap plans.  Note this is a comment on an answer, but is written in a pretty authoritative way.  I recommend you read this at the original source if this is something you’re looking for.  Emphasis added by me.

“Report generation capabilities – This request is document-style reports with visualizations that provide additional control, like which tables expand horizontally and vertically to display all their data and continue from page to page as needed.  Think of this as generating fixed-layout documents optimized for printing and archiving, such as PDF and Word files. Currently there are existing methods of doing this today on the platform. People creating canvas apps with SQL leverage SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS).  People using CDS are leveraging the CDS reporting capabilities available to them (backed by SSRS). 

PowerBI Paginated Reports are now generally available for use as well. Long term, the strategy here for PowerApps is to become more integrated with PowerBI to allow a common report generation story for the platform. At the PowerApps Vision and Roadmap session at the Microsoft Business Application Summit when this question was asked, the answer is that we want to avoid having both PowerBI Reporting Services AND a hypothetical “PowerApps Reporting Services”.  We don’t currently have a further timeline to share, but our teams continue to work together on this integration.”

Printing direct to a printer – This is something that users will still have to configure for themselves utilizing existing device and browser capabilities and defaults.”

The source for this information and to read more about it here.

https://powerusers.microsoft.com/t5/PowerApps-Ideas/Print-amp-PDF/idi-p/60736

 

Rich XML files

Currently XML file format is not supported in PowerApps.  Here’s a list of the available data source/Connectors that currently could work with PowerApps:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/connectors/

A Microsoft Vendor (v-micsh-msft) commented in the forums that one could use Flow.  “A possible workaround that could get the XML data is through Microsoft Flow, then convert the XML into other data source, or send it back to PowerApps directly through Microsoft Flow”

Parse XML using Microsoft Flow

Saving Entries into an XML Library

Another strategy could be to export the data into PDF or Excel.

“Export to PDF from a canvas app – Today, users are leveraging Flow with the Word connector to create word documents to become PDFs, and another strategy is writing HTML to use with Flow to create a document using OneDrive, or other connectors with convert to PDF capabilities. These options are available today but require some knowledge of HTML and some effort to accomplish. The plan is to provide a simple way to export the contents of a printable screen to a PDF from a canvas app, primarily focusing on the export form scenario. This allows users who use all different data sources to create PDFs using skills they know. However, this solution is not intended to be the answer for really long table heavy documents, banded or cross tab reports​, as well as a few other advanced scenarios. These features can be found in the Report generation solutions provided in Number 1. Now, the work on this particular item has already started, and we have been working on the infrastructure to enable this capability. This is a complex problem, with a lot of different requirements and this is expected to be delivered in 2020.

Export to Excel– We don’t currently have any plans to support this as a further capability. PowerBI Paginated Reports have this as a capability. In canvas apps, you can connect and write to excel today through a connector to write to the templates needed.”

More details here:

https://powerusers.microsoft.com/t5/PowerApps-Ideas/Export-Form-to-PDF/idi-p/1375

Complex HTML and Javascript Forms

PowerApps up to now have been only been able to create customization with Canvas Apps and limitation enforced by the PowerApps Studio and the modern UI.  The in beta PowerApps Portals may bring some further options, but is still based on the modern UI schemes and extensibility is changing slowly over time.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powerapps/maker/canvas-apps/transform-infopath

The PowerApps and SharePoint teams have worked together to create a customization story for you to use with SharePoint. If you’re like most InfoPath developers, you learned InfoPath to interact with SharePoint. SharePoint is great, but the default forms are a bit pedestrian and don’t allow for customization or business logic without InfoPath. Well, that was the old way.

With PowerApps you can now customize your list forms as native functionality. And when you do so, you get the full power of PowerApps.

Don’t build one super app
There’s a new way to design PowerApps.  Design itself needs to be approached differently.  With PowerApps, you can call one app from another. So, instead of the mass InfoPath form, you can build a group of apps that call each other, and even pass data across, making development simpler.

SharePoint Forms Integration in PowerApps Canvas Apps

The UI for creating new apps by template is really quite interesting.  They now have canvas or templates to help you get started.

powerapps create app

Use the canvas app to build out a custom look and feel

Anonymous & External User Access

Power Apps only supports users in the same organization in fact licenses must be assigned.

  • You can share apps with users in your organization but not users in another tenant.

external users not allowed

PowerApps has some updated licensing and this story will be updated.  I don’t plan to dig into it here, but there’s more to understand here and currently no plans include partners, customers.

Here’s a forum discussion on requests for external users of PowerApps with a number of upset customers asking for more.

NOTE: With over 1500 votes since a request back in 2016, this is now something that the product team has acknowledged they are addressing.  Share Apps to External Users of PowerApps – Has Started

As of 7/30/2019 Microsoft has acknowledged they are working on sharing outside the domain B2B or B2C. 

Simple client form editing tool

It’s been getting better with each release for the PowerApps Studio for Web.  Those who may have been used to using the InfoPath a client for filling out forms will be disappointed.  It’s browser or mobile app.  The desktop client is deprecated.  It’s a think different type of scenario.  It’s important to see Microsoft’s vision for this web based integrated client. This is a power user scenario.  Good news is there are a lot of videos and the community has been growing for those sharing knowledge.

“Going forward, we’ll be deprecating the authoring capabilities of the PowerApps for Windows.[…] The current studio authoring experience in the desktop app will be deprecated June 1st 2018.”

Here’s the response to a user asking about ability to use PowerApps studio for filling out forms.

“If you want to edit your PowerApps app within PowerApps Studio for Windows (Desktop), I afraid that there is no way to achieve your needs in PowerApps currently.”

Offline client filler

Infopath had a client to allow you to have a rich offline experience.  PowerApps is slowly adding some Offline capabilities, but not like you might have wanted.

Features planned: You’ll be able to fill out some forms in Dynamics 365 mobile app.  Offline capabilities for apps on the Dynamics 365 mobile app.  When building solutions for CDS there are options.  Implementing Offline capabilities into your PowerApps apps.

Please join us on the Webinar where we’ll walk through these and more!  Bring your questions…

Best Practices for Overcoming the Issues Paralyzing Your Migration from InfoPath

Presenters: Joel Oleson, MVP & RD and Scott Restivo, CEO, Crow Canyon
August 27, 2:00PM-3:00 PM EDT 11:00AM-12:00PM PDT

Register Now

Join Microsoft MVP Joel Oleson and Scott Restivo CEO from Crow Canyon Software as they present and analyze these challenges, provide guidance and workarounds, and review solutions to migration from InfoPath. They’ll help you better understand the direction of Microsoft’s Power Platform, including its strengths and its gaps. One big gap is that PowerApps, despite its many good points, does not provide feature parity with InfoPath. This has left many people unsure how to proceed. They’ll look at these gaps and suggest solutions. What are you waiting for? Stop holding your breath and let’s get your InfoPath migration going!

>>Register Now

3 Steps to Microsoft MVP!

“Be an expert, do lots of what you love, and let us know!” – Microsoft MVP site “What is takes to be an MVP”

A decade ago becoming a Microsoft MVP could be confusing.  While there were activities you could do there wasn’t a prescriptive way to become an MVP.  It actually seemed like wanting to be one would automatically disqualify you.  That is definitely not the case and it’s never been more accessible as the Microsoft MVP program has grown to over 2000 MVPs globally across dozens of technologies.

MVP award is something to aspire to.  It’s ok to ask other MVPs what activities they are involved in and how to be one.  In fact the Microsoft site http://mvp.microsoft.com has an entire section on how to become an MVP.  What it takes to be an MVP…

  1. Be an Expert – 10,000 hours is all it takes to become an an expert. Put in the time.  Learn the products and help your company or customers, and share what you learn.  Learn to love it if you don’t.  It will be much easier to share your passion and love for technology if your passion is your job.
  2. Get involved in the Community: Get involved in the community and do the things that you like doing best on this activity list and more. If you’re doing all this just to become an MVP you’re missing the point.  The MVP is an award that recognizes people for their contribution.  You should enjoy doing the activities you’re doing whether you are recognized or not.  These activities will benefit your career both ways and have a lot of satisfaction in doing them as you are helping others.
    1. Contributing code to Projects: Github, Community and Opensource projects
    2. In person speaking: Microsoft, Third party, and community Events and user groups!
    3. Helping others: Forums, Twitter, wikis, MSDN/Technet
    4. Creating Content: Blogs, books, videos, webinars, teaching and instruction
    5. Providing Feedback: Early access TAP programs, reporting bugs, User Voice, and connecting with Microsoft experts at the events like SPC, Ignite, Inspire and many more…
  1. Get Nominated by an MVP and Submit Your Nomination: A nomination referral must be first submitted on your behalf by either a Microsoft Full Time Employee (FTE) or Microsoft MVP. (Even if you can have someone else do it, this is the preferred method.) Many aren’t aware of this part in the process. Once you’ve spent a good year doing the community activities that would qualify someone to be an MVP you should approach an MVP and ask to be considered an MVP which ultimately means asking an MVP if they would consider nominating you.

    A very important part of the nomination is making sure to keep your data up to date.  You should put in the whole entire year of activities, and then keep it up to date.  That’s key.  The nomination is an active process that is ongoing after you click submit, it is not the end.  It may be months before someone looks at the nomination and keeping the data accurate and up to date is very valuable.

Bonus TIP get to know your MVP Lead and the MVPs in your region and don’t stop there: There are different MVP leads in different parts of the world.  Asking an MVP in your region will help you get to know who the person is.  They play an important part of verifying your efforts in approving and submitting the nomination to Microsoft.  It’s not unusual to get a request from the MVP lead to send a list of MVPs or MS employees who could vouch for you.  Who are these people and how is your relationship with them?  Continue to work on your relationship

Don’t Give Up We Believe in You, I Believe in You!

If you ever feel like you’re not getting anywhere and just want to talk.  Please reach out on social media.  I understand that feeling and am happy to coach anyone who sincerely wants to help the community and get more involved.  I’m happy to help you get more connected with the other MVPs and RDs in your area.  You may think you’re off the radar or off the map, but really there is no place on the planet that is off the radar.  Let’s connect.

Read more about the MVP Program and Regional Director program at:

https://mvp.microsoft.com/

https://rd.microsoft.com

 

Skype for Business Online Retirement Date Set July 31, 2021 – Prepare to Migrate to Microsoft Teams Now

Skype for Business Online is being sunset. The roadmap for this integration is now complete and the Skype for Business online services are now fully part of Microsoft Teams.  This is a retirement party you’ll need to pay attention to.  If you simply decide to ignore this you’ll find yourself in a pickle.  Just like any retirement, you need to be prepared.  This will impact those currently using Skype for Business Online and as I see it… this is the beginning of more… and more on that later.  Wake up!  There will be NO Skype for Business Online in less than 2 years.  This is a call to action to be prepared to migrate.

While this announcement only relates specifically to Skype for Business Online if you are using other editions of Skype you also should become aware of Microsoft’s focus on Microsoft Teams.

Here are some great resources to refer to:

Call to Action… Prepare Now: Don’t Just Mark Your Calendars: July 31, 2021.

What is the Skype for Business Retirement plan?

“…After that date the service will no longer be accessible. Between now and then, current Skype for Business Online customers will experience no change in service, and they’ll be able to continue to add new users as needed. However, starting September 1, 2019, we will onboard all new Office 365 customers directly to Teams for chat, meetings, and calling. Please note that the Skype Consumer service and Skype for Business Server will both be unaffected by this announcement.”

I’m working on organizing a number of Teams events across the United States to help with the transition.  I will be partnering with Microsoft and Perficient to set up events in Microsoft Technology Centers in Irvine, Chicago, Atlanta and more.

It’s Official.  I’m joining Perficient one of the Top Microsoft Partners!

“Dear Joel,

On behalf of Perficient, Inc., I am pleased to make you this written offer of employment for the position of Director with Perficient’s MSFT CS US (and Canada) team…

We are confident you will find Perficient to be an excellent company in which to invest your time, talents, and energies.  Perficient invests in our people through training, the opportunity to work with advanced technologies, and to work with other creative people.  You will make a great addition to the talented team that is building Perficient into one of the leading technology management consulting firms in North America.

Anticipated Start date: 6/24/2019″

Super excited to get started.  I will not be moving.  I will be working in their national or North America practice, and yes they support me in my global efforts as well.  I definitely see this as a great opportunity to help them and continue on the path of digital transformation for the world.  With their help, I’ll be able to do even more for the community.  This is a Win/Win/Win.

Over the past decade Perficient has grown through acquisition… you may recognize any number of the more than 30 acquisitions… here are few notable ones: PointBridge Solutions, Northridge Systems, speakTECH, Genisys Consulting Inc., Southport Services Group, Clarity Consulting, Market Street Solutions, and Enlighten. You probably know Blue Rooster (16 Employees and the Product Rise) which is one of the top Intranet in a Box solutions, they bought the product and the employees who came with it, but not the company or brand.

Who is Perficient?  They are the industry’s best kept secret, but don’t take my word for it.  Here’s some information I’ve clipped information below from the Perficient website and wikipedia to better explain the company and relevance to you.  You can read more about it on the Perficient site which I highly recommend.

“Perficient, Inc. is a consulting firm serving enterprise customers throughout North America. The company’s efforts include enterprise mobile applications, creative services, marketing, digital strategy, Internet of Things, information technology, management consulting, custom development, and platform implementations.

The firm primarily performs project-based work, a large portion of which involves business intelligence and portal collaboration. Perficient also has offshore capabilities.

Perficient is a Microsoft National Solution Provider (NSP),  Microsoft Gold Certified partner and has been recognized as U.S. Partner of the Year, Global Messaging Partner of the Year, U.S. EPG Office 365 Consumption Partner of the Year, and Performance Partner of the Year. Perficient employs more than 450 Microsoft-focused consultants including more than 125 certified Microsoft Cloud consultants. Perficient became known for its experience with cloud migrations and deployments related to Microsoft 365, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, Microsoft SharePoint, Windows Intune and Dynamics.

Perficient has offices in North America, Europe, India, and China.”

Those asking… What does this mean?  I say, this is what it sounds like.  I’m going to be getting back more involved with the community, more speaking, more webinars, more community events and more customer experiences and outreach.

 

Perficient
Type Public
Traded as NASDAQ: PRFT
S&P 600 Component
Industry Management consulting
Outsourcing
Founded 1997
Headquarters St. Louis, Missouri
CEO Jeffrey S. Davis (CEO)
Revenue US$498.4 million (2017)
Number of employees ~3000

Perficient is in the Russell 2000 and S&P SmallCap 600

Picture: Property of Perficient.  This happened on the day I got my offer.  Perficient rang the bell at the close of the NASDAQ.

%d bloggers like this: