Get started building apps using the Power Platform with Keith Whatling


>>I’m Dona.>>I’m Sara.>>We are the hosts of
Less Code More Power. Today, on our very first episode, we are going to introduce you to
a fine gentleman from the UK.>>Gentleman. Yeah, I’ll say
he’s a gentleman, Keith Whatling.>>Yes. He’s one of the very
first people who jumped onto the Power Platform with
both arms and said, “This is a thing that I’m
going to be an expert in.” By the end of the episode, you will be 100 percent convinced to become a
Power addict yourself.>>Yeah. Jumps in both
arms by his legs, I think.>>I think so.>>With literally every
part of his being.>>Yes.
>>He shows us some really cool stuff that you can basically
get started with.>>Especially if you’ve never
used Power Platform before, this a great place to
start. Stay tuned. [MUSIC]>>Hello, I’m Dona.>>I’m Sara.>>We are your hosts of an amazing new Channel 9 show
called Less Code More Power. On this show, we’re
going to be talking about some pretty cool tools
that might be useful for you, such as apps for your
Android or iOS phone.>>Dashboards, websites,
analytics dashboards, too. So full on analytics.>>Chat bots, and guess what, all of these can be built with?>>Less Code.>>More Power. You’re
going to be meeting a whole slew of our friends
from all over the world who are using the Microsoft Power Platform to live their lives and their
businesses. First up is?>>Keith Whatling. We literally have the amazing pleasure of
introducing Keith today. Welcome, Keith, on the show.>>Hello.>>So Keith, one of the things
that we really want to be able to really get
across is your story. How did you get into
the Power Platform? Tell us who you are, what you do, and how you started.>>I was working for a bus
company doing public transport. A friend of mine, we were talking about
forms of data and how that was a real problem and we
needed to get away from paper. So he looked at Microsoft
Forms and it just didn’t do content-sensitive drop-downs and I really needed
contents-sensitive drop-downs. I went back to my desk
and all of a sudden there was this little button called “Power Apps” came up and I
clicked on it and I thought, “Man, that looks really hard,” and I went away for a day
and I came back and was, “Yeah, I’m going to give it a go.” I took parts and templates and stuff, and I just started building apps. I suppose a couple of hours, I had something that was
writing data to a data source.>>In a couple of hours?>>Yeah, a couple of
hours. It was Excel, and then I connected the app, I found this thing called
the Common Data Service. In 53 hours, I put together an
app that connected to an API, an external API data source, connected to Terraform’s data source. So I was putting the
locations of buses. It was taking QR codes
or bar codes of parts. So if an Engineer got
called out to a bus, they can find out where that bus was, they could do
content-sensitive drop-downs, they could take a
picture of the defect, and they could check out the parts, and that was done in about 54 hours. Obviously, it’s a proof of
concept with no documentation.>>Obviously, wow.>>But it was really
cool and I was just absolutely hooked because I’d spent the best part of the
last four years of my life becoming
reintroduced to technology. I taught myself VBI
and that was great, but it didn’t quite cut the mustard. So I thought I should learn Python, and that was okay. Then I tried to learn C Sharp. I was trying to be
this pro Developer, building this cool
tech for my company. I have a family. I’ve got young kids and
a wife, and every night, it was daddy sat in
front of the laptop, not paying attention, not
putting the kids to bed, not reading them stories, not doing the daddy bits, not being fun, just
being really boring.>>Weren’t you at least enjoy
that you’re enjoying it?>>Yeah, I got a massive
kick out of it now, but you’ve got to go,
it’s such an effort. It’s such an effort to do
absolutely everything. Then I look around and I’m like, “Well, I’m missing the best
years of my kids lives. Maybe I shouldn’t bother
with this thing,” but I know what apps I want to build. I could see in my head exactly
what I wanted to build. I just needed a more
efficient way of building it. Yeah, I’m not a pro
Developer, I taught myself. I’m failing as fast as I’m
learning. That’s what I’m doing. So I just clicked on the
“Power Apps” thing and it was Excel, it was even easier than any programming language
you ever come across. It’s not even a programming language. I mean, they’re basically
Excel formulas. It’s like 50 percent of
all of the things you can do inside of Power Apps is an
exact copy and paste from Excel. Why would you not want to do that? Then the real crazy thing happened. I started showing other people. I started sharing what I’d learned and they started getting
real benefit from it, too, they started building apps. I’d build an app and then I’ll
give it to somebody else to carry on building. The
business was growing.>>Was this internally then,
you started sharing it?>>Yeah.>>That was the biggest
thing for you, was like, “Wow, have you seen this stuff?” So I’m assuming it just got enabled through Office 365 in Europe?>>Yeah. Yeah. It got
enabled through 365, they switch it on, They were one of these fantastic companies who’s got to turn it on, sort it out later on mentality. So you always get everything cool. But yeah, it was really cool. I must have been so annoying. All I was banging on about all
day long was this thing I’d found and how it could transform the business
and that kind of stuff. So that was really super cool.>>Sorry to interrupt you.
But what I find extraordinary about this is I’ve been
a ProDev 18 years. If you told me, “Dona, I need an
app built in 53 hours that solves this problem,” I would be running around trying
to solve this problem.>>Wow.>>Because as a ProDev, we’re generally good at
one or the other thing. We’re good at the UI, the UX, the look and feel, where people
click and fill out stuff or we’re good at the backend,
but we’re not good at both.>>So you would normally would have more than one person developing
around this problem?>>Yeah. Exactly. It’s pretty
rare to have someone who’s exceptionally good at building the backend of an app and
the frontend of an app, especially for both iOS and Android, which it just doesn’t happen. You’re either an Android Dev
or an iOS Dev because you’re learning JDK or you’re
learning Swift. It depends on what
you’re trying to do.>>Yeah.>>Don’t worry about all that,
Dona. You don’t need any of that. Literally, the most fun that I ever had because thinking
about deployment, right?>>Yeah.
>>So I had this app. We’re having a discussion
about whether there should be a star rating on the bottom of the app because it
was for staff, right? We’re thinking we should
really write staff, that’s probably a bad idea. There’s this argument going on, this discussion going on
between all the Managers, and they’re going, “Well, put it on,” okay, put it on. So
one star means this, five stars means that. No,
you need to change that. Every time we were changing it, every couple of hours because the war was raging
backwards and forwards. Every time, I was just like, yeah, share with my all, boom,
done. That’s deployed. See you later on, forget about it. Throw it over the
thing, it’s finished, it’s out there, it’s all good. It was like I didn’t need
to go through that whole, and this is stuff that
I’ve learned later on, Power Apps has been a
gateway to learning. So DevOps and that stuff
and that governance piece. But it was just, fire and forget, fire and forget, fire and forget. Those apps really weirdly, as long as you go in and
publish them every 60 days, they just kept working. That’s some really miraculous thing, and what do I get out of it? I’ve got a change in career. Because I don’t work at
the bus company anymore. I get my kids back,
I get my wife back. That’s been the real
magic of it really. I’ve made a huge bunch of friends.
So yeah, it’s pretty cool.>>So you feel like you’ve
essentially been able to make the apps you want as well as have the family life you want,
too, and so it’s possible.>>Yeah. A social life as well. This whole thing and meeting
all these wonderful people. Like I said, I’ve met Sara in
real life and it’s incredible. The way that these people
transform your life if you let them, it’s really cool. It’s the most wonderful community
I’ve ever been a part of. I tried to be part of the ProDev community and
I just got shot down because I didn’t know anywhere near enough and I
was asking stupid questions. I didn’t know the
forum etiquette rules, and if you don’t know the
forum etiquette rules, it’s literally like walking
into someone’s house and pouring a drink over the
carpet. You just don’t.>>Such a good analogy.>>Yeah.>>Yeah. You’ve got
to be really polite. I didn’t know how to
behave in that world. But fast-forward to the
Power Platform community and the forums that are there, just fantastic because
everyone’s in the same boat. Everyone’s beginning, everyone’s like epiphany here, epiphany there. Never been on the forum before, never done this before.>>Yeah.>>We’re all learning together and
people are helping one another. So I found with the ProDev stuff, I would get an answer
to half of the code, to half of the problem that I was trying to solve and I
could never solve it. I deployed one website in the whole entire time I
was trying to be a ProDev. There was this thing called Gunicorn and NGINX and I thought
they were gangster rappers. But I could not get my website past these things and it
was driving me potty. So I just said, “Enough’s enough. I’m going move away from this thing.” But now, I’m good. But the point being is
that I was trying to get this thing done and I only
ever got part of the answer. With the Power Platform, what I got was the
full answer, right?>>Right.
>>I got every bit that I wanted. If I was still stuck on the thread, people were offering to
jump on a call with me. They were saying, Look,
Watling, I’ll just Teamed you.” Back in those days, Skype. I’ll just Skype you and
we’ll just just crack on and have a conversation
and we’ll unblock you. Why? Well, because we’re
paying it forward, someone’s done that for us. Shane and Brian, Shang
Young and Brian Dang, and all these people who are out in the community, and
they set the standard. They set the bar [inaudible]. Massively set the bar for what
the community should be about. About caring, sharing,
and paying it forward. That was the number one thing, and it’s just transformed
everybody’s lives. It’s been pretty incredible really.>>So what I think is
really interesting is this pay-it-forward culture that exists in the Power Platform
community, the Power addicts. Less Code More Power people, because Keith, you
do that for people, where I introduce
you to someone maybe a month ago and you
were on the phone with her helping her debug her problem. Even this morning, we’re all on a chat trying to help
her debug her issue. I noticed that about this
community right away as well, where everyone is a beginner
and no one is a beginner because the product itself is so
new that there is no experts. No one has been around doing
this for 30 years, right?>>Yeah.
>>So no one gets to say, “Oh my God, I’ve built 900 of these. I’ve done them for so long, I no longer have anything
to learn.” It’s all new.>>Yes.
>>Everything is new.>>Yeah.>>So I really, really like that. So do you have something
new to show us?>>Yeah. I stumbled across
something the other day.>>Oh really? Stumbled?>>Stumbled, it happens
to come across this.>>Yeah.>>I just happened to
come across this thing, right? So I was trying to figure out, I got this big thing
about local authorities. Because I think Local Authorities do an incredible job. So in the US. I don’t know why it’s called, it’s probably the Government,
but in the UK, they call it Local Authorities,
it’s like the Counsel, the people who sweep
the streets, right?>>Okay.>>I get really upset by the lack of technology that they have
because in their pocket, they’ve got a mobile phone, but for work, they’ve got a
piece of paper and I worry, and I’ve seen it before in the
Bus Industry where you’ve got someone who houses down
the underneath of the bus. That’s their job, right? They
got this hazmat suit on, and it’s an awful job, but they’re assuming that the robot’s going to replace them, right? That’s the whole race
[inaudible] of their existence. The robot’s going to come and
it’s going to take my job, and it’s a huge technology people
that are going to do that to me. What I found was that I wanted
to democratize the tech. So what I started doing is that
I find people around them who had just about enough
compute the knowledge, literally but not internally
on and empower them, and they started building
these People Apps. All of a sudden, transformation
comes around when you find that this person who thinks they’re in this dead end job actually
feels massively valued. No one in their right mind is going to do a traditional
app for that person. That’s just not going to happen
because it’s too much money. But at least you can
and they feel valued, and there’s a lot of things.
So imagine that there’s a guy or girl walking around outside
the roadside operative, they’re going to put right
what’s wrong out there, or they’re doing something in the council and they
see something wrong. They’d be the eyes and the
ears of the community. So they want to log what that
thing is and where that is, right? So in Power Apps, I built a very simple form that’s
going to do down on it, right? So they can go in and say,
I found a broken thing, it’s in playground
equipment because it’s me, and around about and
that’s the end question. So what I’ll bet generate, it was any questions
to a very end answer, and when you hit that ”End” answer, so that’s written to
the database, right? So that seems fairly cool, right? Now, in the background here, we’ve got things with power
platform, which is really cool. So for example, to help
that street operative, I can go and do crazy things like get the location of where that person is. So I can just literally hit
that, and “Allow” that. I’ve got part of my GPS lat-long there and I could do the other one by hitting ”Location longitude.” Do you have any idea how difficult that is to do
in traditional code? I tried to look, it’s just
mind boggling, right? I just did that by typing location
dot latitude, and there is. When I hit ”End”, they’re going to write
that to my record, right? Now, the other cool
thing is I built this on something called the Common
Data Service, right? So that’s a really
weird analogy common. Right? So I think of it like
common land in Britain. So in common land in Britain, you for taking catalogs
to great. Yeah, right? So this is a database
that’s ERP great. That ERP word meaning it’s expensive. So theoretically expensive and but good, but really secure,
really powerful.>>Getting you’re money’s
worth, don’t you?>>Getting your money’s
worth, like big time, get your money’s worth, right? Yet it’s designed for
communists like me. So I could go in and I can build this top quality data
source that’s relation all, that’s got all of the
governance around that you’d expect, all of the audit in
random that you’d expect. I think the price is about
eight quid at the moment. So I’m checking the pricing
now but it’s about eight quid. That’s nothing, right?
That’s like nothing. If I can’t save you eight pounds
a month per user with an app, I should not have the app,
you should delete it, right? That’s just the way is. So this data source as it
were, so it’s a bit cool. It’s a bit crazy. This data source. I’ve got an entity in it
and that’s like a table, and what I’ve done is I’ve
created a relationship. But instead relating
it to another entity, I’ve related it to itself. So it’s spinning round, right? So the questions inside are
just spawning more questions, more questions, more questions. Now, I hear you say, ”But Keith you could do that with a SharePoint list or other data source”, and I agree, you could. But if you change
the parent question, you’ve then got to go and populate all those other text fields with
this because it’s relational, it will automatically
cascades all the way down and all that
governance goes away. So you change it one place, goes everywhere. Fantastical, right? So spam, and we can see and the best bit
about a Common Data Service, I think, personally,
is this incredible, I’ll have to change my little
screen here one second. Do apologize. Very
unprofessional thing.>>This is looking great though
Keith. This is looking great.>>So in the wonderment, that is the Common Data Service, there is an Excel Connector. What are you? You ask, So what
now is an Excel Connector? That means that someone
who’s in Excel, fanatic like me, can still go in, get down and dirty with the data, and I got this wicked little
panel over in a corner here where I can publish my
changes and all that stuff. Look, this is my relationships. These are looking at relationships. This is like proper ERP stock. This is connecting to a database. I’m going to ask the question again. Do you have any idea how difficult that is to do in Excel with API? It’s very difficult. It’s not straightforward, right? I’ve got a proper
date picker as well. It’s all there for me. It’s literally when I clicked on it, it was Power Apps, so like,
“Yeah, that’s cool,” Power Apps is cool. Right?
It’s not denying it. It’s the cool kid. But then
this thing was just like, this is what makes it serious. This is what makes it
the next big thing. So it’s just absolutely epic, and the best bit about it is, it can connect to 280
plus data sources, and I can mesh data
up from everywhere. If I haven’t got a data source, like I said, 53 allies to connect it to an external API.
Do you know what I did? I copy and paste it at the API into a box, I think it was
a little green tick and I hit “Okay”, and that was it, right? That’s as much as I did. It’s not like connect to an API code, an HTTP responses and none of that. I copy and pasted stuff
into boxes until it worked. That’s an IT. ”Copy” and
”Paste” until it works. Right?>>That’s pretty good though
in terms of the fact that from an absolute beginners realm, you’ve been able to
do so much with it. You’ve been able to connect a CDS, you’ve been able to make it a UI. You’ve been able to bring that all together in a very
short amount of time.>>Yeah.>>Yeah, because it’s easy.>>Yeah.>>I’m sorry, I’m
just going to say it out loud because it’s pretty easy, right? There was a course you can do a good app in a day and
by then you can build apps, and I’ve seen people on day
two build a business solution. Just like job, see you later.>>I love it. Awesome. Thank you so much for being
here with us, Keith. It was wonderful to talk to you, and I can’t wait to meet
you in person this week.>>Yeah, definitely.>>One of the last things
we wanted to do is that this has been really amazing, but from a takeaway
perspective for our audience, we really want to
give for those people watching a takeaway that
you can go into now.>>Yes.
>>You can start right now.>>Go do this today.>>This isn’t about scheduling it in, or you’re too busy, or whatever you want to
insert in that bracket. Go and do this now.
What would you say, what would be your thing, your call to action, Keith?>>So I’ve been working
at Quantiq, right? I’ve learned [inaudible]
and [inaudible] , and all these amazing
dynamics technologies, and when I started seeing all over the place was this
tiny little button, this tiny little Power Apps buttons. It’s like just little squares
with a loop, and it’s everywhere. It’s in Azure, right? It’s in Azure for Azure SQL
data type, it’s in SharePoint, it’s in Ephinol, it’s
everywhere, right? Dynamics built on the Common
Data Service and part of those apps are all Power Apps. So what I’ll say is, I’d love you to click on that as a
technologist, right? Someone who knows how
to build technology, and you’ll be surprised
how far you get. Once you’ve clicked on
that button, right? Download app in a day, go on and start teaching
people technology, because like I said
about the guy who has the buses out and the people
on the street and stuff, we are so lucky to have
technology, right?>>Yeah.>>We assume that it’s a
language for everybody, and there’s this
barrier to entry that everybody’s got in their brain
that “I can’t do this thing”. But I guarantee you, they can. There is an app in everybody. Just like there’s a
book in everybody, in every personality they
are found, there is an app. There was a problem,
there’s a solution, and this is where you
come to unlock it.>>I love that. It’s amazing.>>There’s an app in everybody.>>Yeah.
>>I love that line. We’re totally using that the rest of the show.>>Yeah.>>All right. Thank you very
much for being here with us, Keith and everyone, until
next time. Less code.>>More power.

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