Microsoft’s Power Platform, a set of low-code/no-code tools for app development and business intelligence automation, today received a bevy of updates aimed at making life easier for business users and professional developers.
These developments were announced during Microsoft Build 2022, the company’s annual conference for software engineers and web developers using Windows and the Azure cloud. Low-code and no-code refer to the ability to create applications with minimal or no coding, meaning they can be created more quickly.
According to Microsoft, low-code/no-code skills are an untapped skill set that many business decision-makers and users discovered helped solve many challenges. This was revealed in the Low Code Trend Index survey of 1,000 industry workers about their experience using similar tools.
Key takeaways included that efficiency and ease of use were key motivators driving adoption, with nearly 90% of users saying that they felt that low code had a positive impact on productivity and 83% felt that it allowed them to do something themselves without needing to go to a team of developers. More than 80% of users felt low-code/no-code platforms gave them an opportunity to improve their own knowledge or technical skills.
Power Pages, a low-code development and hosting platform for building websites, will become the fifth member of the Power Platform family as a standalone offering and is now in preview. It has also been redesigned with a new user experience and many other new capabilities.
With Design Studio, users can more easily design, style and publish business websites, either from scratch or with a template, which is available via a hub of full-featured websites, including demo data. Templates Hub and Learn Hub will allow users to quickly get off their feet and build websites with ready-to-go websites, guides, tutorials and videos, as well as model business data.
For more code-savvy users, there are also professional developer tools with integrations with Visual Studio, GitHub and Azure DevOps. Users will also be able to provide advanced security with role-based access controls to Azure.
Making conversational bots is about to get easier with an all-new intelligent bot authoring experience, in preview soon, with Power Virtual Agent featuring low-code capabilities. It will add collaborative capabilities for developers to build bots in one studio.
The studio adds rich, multimedia responses for chatbots, including images, videos, adaptive cards and quick replies. It also adds a Power FX editor that permits enhanced variable management for complex conversation paths, speech authoring and telephony bots.
Power BI, a self-service analytics tool, now empowers everyone to build “datamarts” with workloads up to a terabyte. That capability will bring data warehousing to millions of Power BI users and permit them to discover insights in their data in minutes that would ordinarily take months. The update is in preview.
Finally, Power Automate, which allows workflow automation for processes, now supports unattended bots for process automation and virtual machines, in preview. Users can host virtual machines powered by Azure, such as Windows 365, and benefit from Automate’s auto-scaling capabilities to support robotic process automation as processing needs increase and decrease.