The Ultimate Guide to Microsoft Power Pages

In this blog post, Caroline Mayou uncovers some of the core features of the all-new Microsoft Power Pages product. Power Pages is Microsoft’s replacement and optimization of Power Apps Portals- a product giving businesses the opportunity to provide external and internal users with self-service capabilities within a portal site built using Microsoft’s Power Platform

Caroline Mayou

Caroline Mayou

Introduction: What is Microsoft Power Pages?

In 2019, Microsoft introduced Power Apps Portals, a solution that allows companies to expose their database in a secure way to outside users. Today, Microsoft has announced that Power Apps Portals will be replaced with Microsoft Power Pages, a tool allowing businesses to build secure, low-code websites that are scalable and seamless.

Power Portals is an enterprise grade low-code SaaS platform that allows businesses to create, host, and administer rich, interactive, data-driven, business web apps across the globe. However, it was common knowledge in the Microsoft user community that the product lacked solution maturity, low-code features, and the ability to scale. For this reason, Microsoft has chosen to replace Power Apps Portals with Microsoft Power Pages.

Power Platform Ecosystem With Power Pages

What Makes Power Pages Unique?

Just like Power Apps Portals, Microsoft Power Pages is centered around the low-code concept. The biggest difference is that Power Pages is connected to a full enterprise-grade hosting platform. One of the most prominent things Microsoft learned in the last few years through the organizations they work with, anything they use should be highly scalable, robust and flexible in controls-especially when working with branded external platforms. For this reason, Microsoft wanted to ensure that their next platform offer enterprise-grade website building with elastic scaling, high availability, authentication, authorization, and platform security built-in.

What is Microsoft Power Pages

Building Websites With Fusion Teams

One of the common themes identified in the low-code community of collaboration, is the concept of fusion themes. Microsoft Power Pages Dileep Singh sees Fusion Teams as a collaborative group made of three personas- a low-code website maker, a site administrator, and a pro developer.

Microsoft Power Pages Fusion Teams

The low-code website maker as enough technical knowledge to understand pages and website interactions, and has enough know-how to build low-code websites. The pro developer persona is the IT developer in the organization. This persona develops C# code, APIs, and other complex work. The Site Administrator is responsible for governance, compliance, and taking admin actions such as setting up domains and SSL certificates. Microsoft’s goal with Microsoft Power Pages is to supply all three personas in the fusion team with features that satisfy and bring value to their roles.

Below is an overview of the value Microsoft Power Pages brings to each persona in the fusion team:

  • Low Code Maker Experiences
    • Power Pages Maker Studio
    • Templates Hub
    • Learn Hub
    • Data modeling and visualization
  • Pro-dev Experiences
    • In-line code editor
    • VS Code extension
    • Github and Azure DevOps
    • Integration for ALM
  • IT Admin Experiences
    • ID providers and authentication
    • User roles and authorization
    • Table permissions
    • CDN and WAF

Complimentary Power Pages Consultation

Interested in learning about the new Microsoft Power Pages? Schedule a call with a subject matter expert to learn more about the platform's capabilities.

Power Pages Low-Code Maker Experience

The low-code maker experience is geared towards low-code development I the form of a Power Pages Maker Studio, a Templates Hub, as well as data modeling and visualization tools. The Power Pages Home Screen has a dedicated URL, make.powerpages.microsoft.com. The screen shares the same properties as the Power Apps Platform, with the ability to control the environment you are in the upper-right hand corner. This URL allows you to view all of your sites that are present in the environment you are in. This follows the previous Power Apps Portals framework. In fact, Microsoft has announced that all Portals currently in the environment will appear and will be no migration needed- you can rest assured. Portals won’t even be “ported over”- it is simply a brand name change. None of your capabilities will go away- Microsoft has simply added new tools.

The low-code maker experience is geared towards low-code development I the form of a Power Pages Maker Studio, a Templates Hub, as well as data modeling and visualization tools. The Power Pages Home Screen has a dedicated URL, make.powerpages.microsoft.com. The screen shares the same properties as the Power Apps Platform, with the ability to control the environment you are in the upper-right hand corner. This URL allows you to view all of your sites that are present in the environment you are in. This follows the previous Power Apps Portals framework. In fact, Microsoft has announced that all Portals currently in the environment will appear and will be no migration needed- you can rest assured. Portals won’t even be “ported over”- it is simply a brand name change. None of your capabilities will go away- Microsoft has simply added new tools.

Power Pages Learn Hub

The next tool to be excited about is the Power Pages Learn Hub. Microsoft recognized the community’s frustration with first identifying website framework obstacles, only to have to go dig through webinars, TechTalks and forums to find relevant content and gain the technical knowledge needed to frame solutions. Power Powers Learn Hub provides various aspects of the Power Pages learning directly inside of the Power Platform, to help centralize your learning, and in turn, your project. The Power Pages Learn Hub does link out to Microsoft Docs, but the learning remains centralized in the platform you and your teamwork out of- keeping you from having to go search for it.

Power Pages Templates Hub

Templates Hub provides UI options and use-cases in the form of templates, directly inside of the Power Pages platform. You can think of Templates Hub like the Power Apps template offerings. Microsoft has chosen to expand the pre-built scenarios offered, to drive use-cases for the new product. This includes templates that include API usage. Microsoft’s goal is to expand into 100s of templates and will lean on the community to provide feedback for in-demand use-cases. Microsoft also hopes to offer a “Template Community” where Power Pages users will be able to share their templates across their organization.

Pages Workspace

The biggest addition to Power Apps Portal ‘Power Pages’ is the new Pages Workspace. When Power Apps Portals came to life, the foundation of the product was its low-code abilities However, there were many missing elements that prevented users from modifying the aesthetic in a low-code way. The 2019 effort of beginning work on the designer was the first step of entering styling in a low-code/no-code way- and this has only improved. Within Power Pages, Microsoft ensures that customers can proto-type, design, build, and go-live much quicker and in a more seamless manner.

Microsoft also optimized the navigation within the Pages Workspace. Furthermore, certain pages that weren’t editable in the past- for example the 404 pages- can now be modified.

Complimentary Power Pages Consultation

Interested in learning about the new Microsoft Power Pages? Schedule a call with a subject matter expert to learn more about the platform's capabilities.

Styling Capabilities & Workspace

The Styling Workspace allows you to change the styling for headers, buttons, footers, forms, lists, and more- providing you an easy way to meet the branding needs of the business. The Styling Workspace provides 13 templates or themes to get started and allows you to save your styling to repurposed use. Microsoft encourages the use of a preset theme as a starting point that organizations can add further customizations to. Each theme provides the ability to customize the color palette, background color, font styles, section margins, and button styles of the template. However, customization isn’t limited to themes. In fact, Dileep Singh announced that the custom CSS is still available- with an aim to bring it into the Styling Workspace eventually.

Data Workspace

Microsoft recognizes that portals are heavily dependent on the ability to expose data. For this reason, the Data Workspace strives to streamline the ability for external users to interact with Dataverse data. Microsoft leaned heavily on the Power Apps Portals Community to understand feedback and optimize data-based areas that users weren’t satisfied with.

Power Pages Low-Code Maker Experience

Using Visual Studio Code in Power Pages

Within Microsoft Power Pages, users can use Visual Studio Code to created advanced capabilities using JavaScript, Liquid templates, and web APIs. Using these tools, developers can interact with business data and in turn create custom business logic- without leaving the platform. Power Pages also offers the Microsoft Power Platform command line interface which can help develops access, download, and upload their customizations. Power Pages also offers seamless integrations with GitHub and Azure DevOps, enabling developers to continuously follow best practices around deployment.

Understanding Security in Power Pages

When working with data being surfaced to external users, security should be at the forefront of considerations. Security is what ensures that data from Dataverse, and other data sources, is only accessible by the stakeholders it relates to. Like Power Apps Portals, Power Pages has a built-in security model that ensures business information is put in the hands of the right users. The following components are used to process access to a portal built in Power Pages:

  • Authenticated user
  • Web Roles
  • Table Permissions
  • Page Permissions

Authenticated Users

In a scenario where any user can access any data inside of a portal, that user is labeled as an Anonymous User- meaning, they have not authenticated their access by logging in. Authenticated Users allows organizations to provide access to their portal and in turn their data, through authentication. Users that are accessing Power Pages are represented within Microsoft’s Dataverse database in the form of contact records. Subsequently, Power Pages can be directly integrated with common authentication providers like LinkedIn, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Azure Active Directory and/or Microsoft. Authenticated Users can then be assigned web roles which will determine the specific access they will have to the site, and the data expose on the site.

Authentication in Microsoft Power Pages

Web Roles

Web Roles are what allows the User to access specific data points, and perform actions on the site. Web Roles are linked to Users, table permissions, along with page permissions. Within Power Pages, a single contact can be assigned multiple web roles, to ultimately create a stack of permissions. When a User is created, by default, they are assigned the Authenticated Users web role.

Table & Page Permissions

Table permissions protect the data being exposed in the portal or site. Organizations can configure different table permissions to allow varying levels of access and privileges to Dataverse records. Once the table permission has been configured, it is tied to a web role to provide access to a user.

Complimentary Power Pages Consultation

Interested in learning about the new Microsoft Power Pages? Schedule a call with a subject matter expert to learn more about the platform's capabilities.

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