This blog won’t be a technical one. But while getting ready for my first MVPSummit, I’ve thought it’s the right time to review my path.
Who am I?
My close friends knows that I don’t really enjoy the spotlight. I’m the quiet type, and prefer to let the results speaking for me. I’m not a born speaker.
I’m a developer and it never came to my mind to do something else. As a developer, I always try to stay on the edge of the technology, try to find the best framework which lets me deliver the software. Not because that makes me look clever, but because I owe that to my users: make “sexy apps” with a good performance. In this believe, I’m proud to be a developer.
I did CRM/Dynamics 365/PowerPlatform for the last 18+ years
I work for ORBIS AG since 2000. In the beginning I’ve worked on our own web app, later started with Microsoft CRM in the early days of version 1.2. Maybe some of you cannot imagine , but back then we had to make triggers on the SQL Database since there were no plugIns, and we used our own web application in order to emulate custom entities.
So I’m about 18 years on board. I’ve seen the transformation of the platform. In the backend the Callouts were introduced in CRM 3.0, replaced in CRM 4.0 by PlugIns. The Workflows were introduced, and then shifted to a new base. I’ve seen several stages of client script sdk, Business Process Flows, Business Rules, CustomActions, aso. And when the PowerPlatform was raising, I took it as a natural step in the process of evolution. It was a huge step, which was bringing so much we’ve always wanted, and beyond that. And I still see it that way, even if I know that it’s much more than that, and that it opens up a lot of new opportunities.
First stages of Power Apps
Generic solutions means not having to do similar tasks over and over again. This gives you time to develop other tasks, the special ones.
No need of developers anymore?
But then the Microsoft marketing machine rolled over me, and I couldn’t understand the world anymore. The Power Platform was presented like it had nothing to do with Dynamics, Canvas Apps was the future where you don’t need developers anymore, since everybody was able to do an app.
Don’t get me wrong! I appreciate the possibility to be fast in making apps, and I welcome it. I know what a bless it is, beeing able to use all the connectors, and even extend it with custom ones. I don’t want to go back on having to dig in all that special libraries und frameworks to integrate external systems. And of course is much slower to make a react app, compared with a Canvas App.
I did my first CanvasApp in March 2019 during a Hackathon, and for me it was clear, that this won’t be enough, to make apps like the ones we did before. But a lot of people believed what they were told: some of them wanted to believe that, the others didn’t knew better.
LowCoder and ProDev fusion
Presenting the LowCode as an innovation, implied for some people that the older devs cannot adapt and that’s why they saw only problems. How do you explain somebody who is new to Power Platform, what is missing, if they don’t have problems yet?
But even if in the future we’ll be able to do everything with LowCode, I still think that the truth lies in the middle: because LowCode is still programming, just with simplified tools.
I see a lot of “LowCode” solutions pushing the limits, because they don’t know that there are better ways. And sometimes they don’t know when it’s “too much”. And the results are performance issues. Low Code is still programming, still following the rules, still needs to be learned and requires experience and best practices; just based on a meta-language. Know the alternatives, listen to the experience, before you bet on the “hammer”. Only together we’ll drive towards the best solution.
PCF gave me new hope
But then I’ve heard about PowerApps Component Framework (PCF). I knew about the plans for CCF (Custom Control Framework) a few years ago, but it seemd that the team dropped that in the meanwhile. In April 2019 was the first time I saw the PCF comming. The Power Platform finaly started to make sense again to me. But my colleagues were too busy with projects, with a lot of other new technologies and the others were talking only LoweCode, so I had to look outside. And I’ve found the community.
In May 2019 I did my first PCF: the first version of Colorful Optionset. The code was not clean enough to make it public, but I wanted to share the knowledge, so I’ve wrote my first blog ever.
The Power Apps Community Forum
Of course I had problems where I needed help. But I’ve found my answers in the PowerApps Community Forum. I wasn’t used to that. Maybe in the past my problems were too special or too technical, I wasn’t used that somebody could help. But this time was different. Not only the community was there, but also the Microsoft software engineers , the developer of the PCFs, were involved. They took the time to help us, explain how the things are supposed to work, spot problems and tried to fix things. Mostly I was impressed as Hemant Gaur, Principal Program Manager on Power Apps took the time to answer my question about a best practice pattern in designing a PCF. I mean, I saw him on the stage presenting the PCFs for the first time, I’m sure he was more than busy, but he took time to “talk” about architecture. With me :-).
Since then I’ve falled in love with Power Apps ProDev Forum, and I’m still there. I’ve read every single question asked there. Soon enough I realized that I can answer the questions too, and I was more than happy to do that. And that helped me to learn farther: not only reading the answers from others, but trying to find a solution for the questions, which made me try things out. Sometimes we ended up in very intersting discussions with the other community members.
Last year I became a Power Apps Community Super User (#Appstronaut). I was happy for the recognitions and for beeing able to better connect with other Appstronauts.
The “war” between Citizen and Pro Devs bothered me so much. And then I’ve saw Scott Durow’s call “ProCodeNoCodeUnite” : it really spoke to my heart. It made me understand, that I was not alone…
And it was really amazing to see that the community really exists; to see the support from the others whenever you have a question or a problem, and to feel that the blogs you do for the community really makes a difference. Beeing able to communicate with people you don’t know, and still get an answer which helps you go on, was really nice. And, with the time, I’ve got to chat with so many community members. I feel bounded with each of them. #CommunityRocks
Open Source Projects & Blogs
I remember that it was december 2019 until I’ve got the time to redo the ColorfulOptionset PCF. It was between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This time I used React. My first Open-Source Project. My first PCF published in the pcf.gallery. Some more OpenSource PCFs followed after that.
Every time I’ve learned something new, I wanted to share it in a blog. Some subjects had to wait a little until I’ve got some time. But I’ve thought: “I had to search for a subject, maybe sombody will be happy to read this without spending time with searching”. My colleagues started to make PCFs too, and sometime their questions led me to write blogs too.
Writing blogs helped me to learn too. Honestly, I’ve read about this before, but didn’t believed this. When I write, then I know it, how should I learn from writing? But when I start to write a blog, I have maybe about 75% the knowledge, but some parts are not totally clear. Before I put it to words, I go deep, try to see the problems from all angles. And sometimes I was surprised about what I’ve found out. Wonderful way to learn. It helped me, it helped my colleages, it helped the community. Win-win-win!
My first MVP nomination was in June 2020. As Scott Durow asked me, I was very honoured. I mean, it’s Scott, he did so much for the community; everybody knows him. I didn’t knew I made an impact to get noticed. I didn’t made it in the first try. The second nomination was made by Joris Kalz. I wasn’t sure if I should try again, but was honoured to get asked by him.
During the procees, I’ve got support from other great community members and MVPs like Natraj Yegnaraman, Andrew Butenko, Danish Naglekar and a lot more.
And in January 1, 2021, I was more than happy to get the MVP congratulatory email 🙂
MVP in virtual times
I hear a lot, that we miss so much since there is no in person event. This will change eventually. But for now, I see the glas “half full”: during these virtual events we get to meet people that wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise. I’m an MVP born in the virtual times.