Announcing New Power Apps Portals Features in 2021 Wave 2 Release

In Microsoft’s 2021 Wave 1 release, Power Apps Portals benefited from many new features that offer streamlined improvements to portal product Microsoft customers have come to love. 

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Caroline Mayou


Power Apps Portals is one of Microsoft Power Platform’s latest products- an external facing website that your organization’s users or customers can access 24/7. This website leverages your organization’s existing Dataverse instance (database), offering your internal users, vendors, partners and more direct access to your company data. Unlike blob storage security roles in Dynamics 365, the Power Platform portal uses the concept of web roles to secure permissions to specific tables and columns within Dataverse. A web role is then tied to an authenticated user’s login credentials, and “Voila!”, your data is protected and in the hands of the right person. 

Get Excited About Power Apps Portals New and Planned Improvements

Twice a year, Microsoft puts out Wave Releases that contained all new and planned feature-drops for their products. In this blog post, we’ll be covering the most important features recently added or planned for Power Apps Portals from the 2021 Wave 1 release. Please keep in mind that these Microsoft plans to release these features from April 2021 through September 2021- meaning certain features covered in this blog post may not have been release yet, and delivery roadmaps are subject to change. 

Core Power Apps Portals Platform Features & Capabilities

The core of the Power Apps Portal Platform is what enables the most fundamental portal capabilities. For example, the underlying Content Management System (CMS), portal authentication and authorization, as well as the search functionalities available. These core solutions allow portal-makers to create modern and easy-to-use portals. 

Feature Enabled for Public Preview General Availability
Users by admins, analysts or app makers
April 2021

Microsoft Azure Analysis Services Live Connections Support

The most important feature covered in this section of the Wave 1 release guide, is the ability for app makers to embed Power BI dashboards and reports while leveraging live connection capabilities of  Azure Analysis Services. Citizen developers working on portals will now be able to use the CustomData function available in Power BI to send additional metadata when personalizing dashboards and reports for users. 

Low Code Experiences for App Makers

App makers, use the Portal Studio and the Portal Management application to build portals. This platform interface is the perfect building-space. for a citizen developer:  it offers a low code experience with drag and drop features. By offering an easy-to-use platform, Microsoft ensures that portals can be built in granular detail with minimal effort.  

Feature Enabled for Public Preview General Availability
Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically
Jun 2021
Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically
Sep 2021

Access Entity Permissions from the Portal Studio

Developers at Microsoft wanted to make it easier for portal makers to set-up portal security. To move foward with this effort, they decided to offer the entity-permissions configuration piece of the portal, directly inside of the Portal Studio. From within the Studio, portal makers can now view a summary of entity permissions created, find and troubleshoot those permissions using different views, and even create new entity permissions. But that’s not all- Microsoft also included the ability to create and edit existing nested entity permissions directly from the Portal Studio as well.

Power Apps Portals Studio- New Configuration Menu
Within the Power Apps Portals Studio Editor, users will find a new tab called 'Configurations'. On this tab you'll find 'Roles', 'Page Permissions', and 'Entity/Table Permissions'. Nested entity-permissions will also be available under table permissions.
Create Entity Permissions in Power Apps Studio
Users will be able to create entity permissions directly within the Power Apps Studio- offering simple and centralized configuration.

Access Web Roles from the Portal Studio

Another enhancement added to the Portal Studio is the ability to edit and create web roles. Users can now view a summary of all web roles, find and troubleshoot web roles based on a view, create and edit web roles, and even attach contacts to a web role- all within the Power Apps Portal Studio. So why  are these two configuration additions so important? Historically, users would have to access the Portal Management Application to make any configuration changes. They would then have to sync those changes from within the Portal Studio and pray to the ‘Cache gods’. Now, users can configure security directly within the Portal, saving them time and sparing major pre-existing frustrations. 

Web Roles in Power Apps Studio Editor
Users can now access Web Roles from within the Configuration tab in PowerApps Portal Studio.

Professional Developer Toolsets

Microsoft had unlocked professional developer tools and capabilities through the use of familiar toolsets within the portal applications. 

Feature Enabled for Public Preview General Availability
Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically
Apr 2021
Admins, makers, marketers, or analysts, automatically
Aug 2021

Develop Portals with Power Apps CLI Tools

In April 2021, Microsoft announced CI/CD Support specifically for Power Apps Portal configuration. Microsoft Power Apps CLI is a developer interface that leverages command lines. It aids developers and app makers in creating core code components. You can picture CLI as a piece of the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) process. The goal with introducing the CLI tooling is to offer developers and ISVs a way to create, troubleshoot and publish extensions and customizations. You can download Power Apps CLI directly on Microsoft’s website. In order to use it, you’ll need Visual Studio 2017 or later as well as Windows 10. 

The new CI/CD feature allows developers to check-in portal configurations inside of the source control. It also allows you to move portal configurations across environments using the CLI tools offered. This means archiving portal configurations in an Azure DevOps and therefore easier management of pipelines. 

Web API Enhancements

By enhancing portals Web API, Microsoft has created added support for all Dataverse custom actions and access permission configuration. Portal makers will now be able to call Web API to perform complex operations. 

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