In this “Overview of Solutions in Power Platform Environment” article, we will learn what solutions are in Power Platform, how to create a solution in Power Platform step by step, and what the benefits of them are.
In today’s fast-paced business landscape, organizations are constantly seeking innovative ways to streamline their processes, improve productivity, and gain a competitive edge. Microsoft’s Power Platform has emerged as a powerful suite of tools that empowers businesses to achieve these goals efficiently.
Within the Power Platform ecosystem, “solutions” are a pivotal component that offers a structured approach to managing and deploying applications, workflows, and customizations. In this article, we will delve into what solutions in the Power Platform are, their advantages, best practices for their effective use, and real-world scenarios where they can revolutionize your organization’s digital transformation journey.
Overview of Solutions in Power Platform Environment: Create Step By Step
Let’s get into the below sections to understand the solutions in the Power Platform.
What Are Power Platform Solutions?
Power Platform Solutions are a containerized mechanism that allows users to package, manage, and distribute components such as apps, flows, dashboards, and customizations across different environments, including development, testing, and production. There are two types of solutions on the Power Platform. 1) Managed and 2) Unmanaged; see the description of these solutions below.
We can think of solutions as organized collections of related resources, enabling seamless collaboration, version control, and simplified deployment processes.
For example, let’s say I want to keep all my developments, like Power Apps, Power Automate, Chatbots, Cards, and Tables, inside a central repository for ease of development, maintenance, and deployment from one environment to another. The repository or place where we keep all these files is called a solution.
A solution can be created in a Power Platform Environment. To learn what a Power Platform environment is and how to create one in Power Platform, refer to the following articles:
- Sandbox vs Production Environment in Power Platform: Unleashing the Power of Choice
- Quickly create Power Platform Development Environment: Overview view of PowerApps development environment in Power Platform
If you want to play around with the Power Platform Solutions and Environment, you can create a free development environment using the Power Apps community plan.
Advantages of Solutions in Power Platform
Streamlined Collaboration: Solutions provide a structured way for teams to collaborate on Power Platform projects. Multiple stakeholders can work on different parts of a solution simultaneously, enhancing overall efficiency. For instance, while the app development team works on the user interface, the data integration team can simultaneously work on data source connections.
- Version Control: Solutions offer versioning capabilities, allowing users to track changes over time. This ensures that you can easily revert to previous versions if issues arise during deployment. Version history helps in identifying and addressing issues efficiently.
- Reusability: Components within a solution can be reused across different apps or environments. This promotes consistency in design and functionality while reducing development time. For instance, if you’ve created a custom control for one app, you can include it in multiple apps without duplicating efforts.
- Ease of Deployment: Solutions simplify the process of moving your applications and customizations between environments. This is especially valuable when transitioning from development to production environments. Automated deployment reduces human error and ensures consistency.
- Dependency Management: Solutions automatically manage dependencies between components. This ensures that related items are included when you move or install a solution, reducing the risk of broken dependencies. For example, if your app relies on a specific data source, the solution will include it when you deploy the app.
- Granular Control: With Solutions, you have fine-grained control over which components are included, making it easy to isolate and deploy specific updates or changes. This level of control ensures that you only deploy what’s necessary, minimizing disruptions.
- Security and Compliance: Solutions enable administrators to maintain a high level of security and compliance by controlling who has access to create, export, or import solutions. This is crucial for ensuring data privacy and regulatory compliance, especially in highly regulated industries.
How to Use Power Platform Solutions Effectively?
To leverage the full potential of Power Platform Solutions, consider the following best practices:
- Plan Ahead: Define your project’s architecture and design the structure of your Solutions before starting development. A well-thought-out plan reduces rework and accelerates development.
- Use Solution Layers: Organize your Solutions using layers to separate common reusable components from environment-specific customizations. This separation makes it easier to manage and update your Solutions over time.
- Testing and Validation: Rigorously test your Solutions in a development or sandbox environment before deploying them to production. This includes thorough testing of all components, workflows, and integrations to identify and resolve issues early in the development cycle.
- Documentation: Document your Solutions comprehensively to aid in troubleshooting, future updates, and knowledge sharing. Clear documentation ensures that team members can understand and work with the Solution efficiently.
- Backup and Restore: Regularly back up your Solutions to avoid data loss and have a reliable restore point if issues arise. This practice is critical to maintaining data integrity and business continuity.
- Security Permissions: Assign permissions carefully to restrict access to sensitive Solutions components and maintain data integrity. Ensure that only authorized users can make changes to critical components to prevent security breaches and data leaks.
Real-World Scenarios of Solutions in Power Platform
Let’s explore some real-world scenarios where Power Platform Solutions can make a significant impact:
- Sales and Marketing: In a sales-driven organization, Solutions can streamline lead management. Sales teams can have a dedicated app, while marketing teams can manage customer data and campaign information in separate Solutions. This separation ensures that each team has the tools they need to excel.
- HR and Onboarding: In the HR department, Solutions can be used to create custom onboarding apps. These apps can include forms, workflows, and document management, ensuring a smooth onboarding experience for new hires.
- Finance and Reporting: Finance teams can utilize Solutions to develop custom dashboards and reporting tools that pull data from various sources. This provides real-time insights into financial performance and helps in strategic decision-making.
- Manufacturing and Inventory Management: Manufacturers can use Power Platform Solutions to optimize inventory management. Custom apps can be built to track inventory levels, reorder supplies, and manage production schedules.
Demo: How to create a solution in Power Platform step by step?
Select your environment from the environment list as shown below (1).
Click on the “Solutions” link from the left-side panel.
Then, you will get to the solutions gallery page.
Click on the “+ New Solution” link from the top left menu.
Pass the below parameters:
- Display name: Your solution’s display name
- Name: Your solution’s internal name (automatically created without any spaces based on the display name input; however, you can change the text if you need it).
- Publisher: Select the solution publisher from the available publishers.
- Click on the create button.
- We can also create our own publisher; see below how to do so.
How to create a new Publisher in Power Platform Solution?
To create a new publisher, click on the “+ New Publisher” link.
Then, pass the below parameters:
- Display Name: Publisher Display Name
- Name: Publisher’s internal name (pass without space)
- Prefix: The prefix of your publisher (here we have passed gsd as our site name is Global SharePoint Diary; whatever text you type, it will be converted to lower case).
- Choice value prefix: Keep the default value, or you can change it.
- Click on the Save button, and that’s it.
Once we click on the “Save” button, we can see our newly created publisher in the list.
What is Managed Solution in Power Platform?
In simple words, managed solutions are those that are meant for the final solution in the solution lifecycle; meaning, any solution deployed to the production environment must be a managed solution that doesn’t allow us to modify Power Platform resources like Power Automate Flow, Power Apps, etc. Let’s understand this in more detail.
In the Power Platform ecosystem, a managed solution is a specific type of solution that offers a way to package and distribute customizations, applications, and components in a secure and controlled manner. Managed solutions are designed for scenarios where you want to deploy your customizations to different environments while protecting your intellectual property and preventing unauthorized modifications.
Here are the key characteristics and features of managed solutions in Power Platform:
- Protection of Intellectual Property: When you create a managed solution, your customizations, such as custom entities, workflows, plugins, and other components, are packaged into a binary format. This format protects your intellectual property by making it difficult for others to reverse-engineer or modify your solution.
- Sealed and Unmodifiable: Managed solutions are sealed, meaning that the components inside the solution cannot be modified or customized in the target environment. This ensures that your customizations remain consistent across environments and prevents accidental or unauthorized changes.
- Exporting and Importing: You can export a managed solution as a single file (a .zip package) from one environment and then import it into another environment. This simplifies the process of deploying customizations from a development or testing environment to a production environment.
- Versioning: Managed solutions support versioning, allowing you to track changes and updates to your solution over time. You can create new versions of a managed solution, making it easier to manage updates and rollbacks when needed.
- Security and Access Control: Managed solutions allow you to specify who can export, import, or install the solution. This enhances security and ensures that only authorized individuals can work with the solution.
- Dependencies: Managed solutions handle dependencies between components automatically. If a component relies on other components, the solution will include all necessary dependencies, ensuring that everything works as expected when the solution is imported into a new environment.
- Distributed Development: Managed solutions are particularly useful when you have multiple development teams or partners working on different parts of a project. Each team can create managed solutions for their specific customizations, which can then be integrated into the main project.
- Marketplace Distribution: If you develop solutions or applications for the broader Power Platform community, you can package them as managed solutions and distribute them through the Microsoft Power Apps and Power Automate marketplace, allowing others to easily install and use your solutions.
Managed solutions in Power Platform offer a secure and controlled way to package, distribute, and protect your customizations and applications across different environments. They are a valuable tool for organizations and developers looking to maintain consistency, protect their intellectual property, and efficiently manage the deployment of their Power Platform assets.
What is an unmanaged solution in Power Platform?
In the Power Platform ecosystem, an unmanaged solution is a type of solution that allows for flexibility and customization in a development environment. Unlike managed solutions, unmanaged solutions are not sealed, which means that their components can be modified, customized, or extended in the target environment where they are imported. Unmanaged solutions are typically used during the development and customization phase of a project when you need the ability to make changes to the components within the solution.
Here are the key characteristics and features of unmanaged solutions in Power Platform:
- Customization and Flexibility: Unmanaged solutions are designed to support customization and development efforts. When you create or import an unmanaged solution, its components, such as custom entities, fields, workflows, and forms, can be modified freely in the target environment.
- Open for Modification: Components within an unmanaged solution are open for further customization in the target environment. You can add, modify, or delete components and customizations as needed, giving you full control over your development and customization efforts.
- Rapid Development and Iteration: Unmanaged solutions are ideal for scenarios where you are actively developing and iterating on your application or customization. You can make changes and test them immediately without the restrictions imposed by managed solutions.
- No Protection of Intellectual Property: Unlike managed solutions that protect your intellectual property by sealing components, unmanaged solutions do not provide this level of protection. This means that anyone with access to the target environment can modify or delete components within an unmanaged solution.
- Version Control: While unmanaged solutions don’t have the same level of version control as managed solutions, you can still manage versions manually by exporting and importing the solution as needed. However, you must manually track changes and updates.
- Development and Testing: Unmanaged solutions are often used in development and testing environments where developers need the freedom to make changes and adjustments to customizations without restrictions.
- Collaborative Development: Unmanaged solutions are suitable for collaborative development scenarios where multiple developers or teams are working on different aspects of a project. Each team can work on separate unmanaged solutions that are later integrated into a final solution.
- Learning and Exploration: Unmanaged solutions are also valuable for learning and exploration purposes. Users can import unmanaged solutions to explore the customizations and configurations made by others, facilitating knowledge sharing and learning.
The unmanaged solutions in Power Platform are essential for development, customization, and testing phases of projects where you need flexibility and the ability to make changes to components without restrictions. However, it’s important to note that unmanaged solutions do not protect your customizations and intellectual property to the same extent as managed solutions, so careful consideration should be given to security and version control practices when working with unmanaged solutions.
Managed and Unmanaged Solution Example in Power Automate Environment:
As we can see below, some solutions are managed and some are not. We can convert an unmanaged solution to a managed solution while exporting a solution.
Thus, we can say managed is one of the metadata of a solution.
Summary: Power Platform Solutions
Thus, in this article, we have learned the following with respect to the solution in Power Platform:
- What is the solution in the Power Platform?
- How to create a solution in the Power Platform
- How to publish a solution in Power Platform
- What is a managed solution and an unmanaged solution in the Power Platform?
To summarize the above learning, we can say that Power Platform Solutions are a game-changer for businesses aiming to optimize their operations, enhance collaboration, and accelerate their digital transformation journey. By encapsulating various components and offering streamlined deployment, solutions empower organizations to adapt quickly to changing market demands while maintaining control over their Power Platform assets. Embrace the power of solutions and watch your organization thrive in the dynamic world of technology and innovation. Whether you’re in sales, HR, finance, or manufacturing, Power Platform Solutions are your key to efficiency, agility, and success in the digital age.