Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and Power Apps

Introduction

This article will explain how to apply Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) in Azure DevOps for Power Apps. It will be shown how to set up the required Azure DevOps environment. Furthermore, it will be described how source code/Power Apps can be versioned, quality assurance can be performed and subsequently artifacts delivered to the production environment.

The history of the article is longer. The first draft was already written by me in 2019. In the meantime I have worked on it again and again. What finally kept me from publishing it was, in my opinion, not yet “finished” tooling of the “Microsoft Power Platform Build Tools for Azure DevOps – Power Platform | Microsoft Docs”. The originally available tooling (Azure DevOps Extension) is still available now but has been marked as “DEPRECATED” since the jump to version 0.3.7. Already since the jump from version 0.1.16 to version 0.3.6 the original tooling has been fundamentally revised/improved.

In version 0.1.16, the access credentials (user name/password) had to be stored in plain text to set up the connection. Since version 0.3.6 this authentication can finally be setup using Service Principals.

Authentication methods

Figure: Authentication methods

The old (not recommended) method (yellow) is still available. So the transition to the new option (green) is seamless, even for users who have already used previous versions of BuildTools or have not yet set up Service Principals. When changing to or starting with the current version of the Build Tools, you should always be using Service Principals.

Two versions are available in the Visual Studio Marketplace:

  1. Power Platform Build Tools – Visual Studio Marketplace
  2. (DEPRECATED) PowerApps BuildTools – Visual Studio Marketplace

As described above, this extension [2] is now marked as “DEPRECATED”, so only [1] should be used.
The tools currently available for Azure DevOps are basically a wrapper around the SolutionPackager for D365 Customer Engagement (CRM).

The final architecture, for the integration of Azure DevOps and Power Platform, will look like the following on an abstract level.

Architecture overview

Figure: Architecture overview

Microsoft itself suggests two different approaches for ALM in conjunction with the Power Platform. 1 In this article the first variant is described, where only the source code is versioned, but not the packed solutions. In the context of classical software development this is also the normal way, because usually only source code and not compiled binaries are versioned.

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