Embedded within the Microsoft Teams platform, Dataflex for Teams provides true relational data storage, and when combined with Power Apps, it becomes a true relational database. Dataflex for Teams combines Microsoft Teams and Power Apps, providing a new platform of choice for building productivity grade applications for use by teams, individuals, and business groups.
Organizations with Microsoft 365, Office 365, and Teams subscriptions will have the ability to produce no-code to low-code apps and intelligent chatbots directly in the Teams environment with Dataflex as it combines Microsoft Power Apps and Microsoft Power Virtual Agents. Dataflex provides one-click solution deployment and is supported with enterprise-grade governance. Dataflex is built on top of the Common Data Service which has been rebranded as Microsoft Dataflex Pro.
There are some differences between Dataflex for Teams and Dataflex Pro, but in this instalment, we will focus on Dataflex for Teams.
As mentioned above, Dataflex is a true relational database and with it comes capabilities to find, sort, and filter basic and rich data types such as images, files, charts, and graphs. It also can do roll up, calculate fields, and includes a version of the currency data found in Dataflex Pro.
Based on the Common Data Model (CDM), tables are easily created by adding columns and rows. The data can easily be populated into them with a friendly and easy to use UI. Creating a table is very similar to using an Excel spreadsheet, but Dataflex is a dynamic database and Excel is not. The CDM is a straightforward looking grid and can easily be edited to suit your Team’s needs.
Combining Microsoft Power Virtual Agents and Microsoft Power Apps, Microsoft Team members can create no-code to low-code chatbots. By building an intelligent chatbot, Team members can ask questions and have these answered quickly without leaving the Teams environment. With intelligent chatbots, a Team’s productivity will increase as there is no time wasted sitting in a queue waiting for an answer.
Historically speaking, developing apps was done inside of SharePoint with Lists as the data source. Now, developing apps will be done inside Microsoft Teams and will reference Dataflex as the data source. By doing so, a single environment for each Microsoft Team is created. Because each Microsoft Team will have its own connected Dataflex environment, when data, apps, workflows, and chatbots are populated and/or created, they are created specifically for that Team. This environment supports a 2 GB capacity, translating to the storage of 100 million rows of data including relational, file, and image data. The Microsoft Teams Dataflex environment will also support backups, point-in-time restore, and disaster recovery.
Because Dataflex for Teams creates an environment for each Team, the lifecycle of the environment relates to the associated Microsoft Team, making environment management easier. When a Team is deleted, the associated environment is also deleted.
Solution and Application Development
Collaboration in Teams can take three different avenues, including members creating their documents, creating in collaboration with Team members, and acquiring documents from trusted sources. This concept is carried over with the combined powers of Power Platform and Dataflex for Teams to build and to use apps, chatbots, data, and flows (but note that business rules or classic workflows are not supported).
To easily choose templates from a trusted source, a gallery view provides a visual layout, allowing easy installation, and it is fully customizable for your Team. This can all be done from within Microsoft Teams so Team members never have to leave the application while information is at the Teams’ fingertips.
When a Microsoft Team is created, Team security is defined. As Team security is based on access for collaboration between members who are internal and external of the organization, the security for Dataflex for Teams is pre-configured as security roles are based on membership types within the Team, such as Owner, Member, and Guest. Activity logs, such as the author of a record that is created, is supported. To access admin functionalities, simply go to the Microsoft Teams admin centre.
Microsoft Teams was designed to support, encourage, and enhance collaboration between internal and external Team members of an organization. As the number of staff working remotely has increased significantly in the past few months, Microsoft Teams’ capabilities have been expanded and further evolved. Within its application, Microsoft Teams combines Power Apps, Microsoft Virtual Agents, and Dataflex, allowing users to work within Teams as an application platform and to produce no-code to low-code apps. As the world continues to fight the pandemic, and workers continue to work remotely, Microsoft Dataflex and Microsoft Teams is Microsoft’s solution to the surge in need for tighter, more efficient, and easy management of collaboration data, environments, and security. Working smart, Microsoft Dataflex enhances and expands productivity, communication, collaboration, and efficiency in Microsoft Teams.
For the past 20 years, SharePoint has had a list building capability (think Access and Excel) and in 2016, Modern SharePoint Lists was officially launched as the default list. Building upon this legacy, Microsoft evolved and re-branded the Modern SharePoint List as the new Microsoft List in Microsoft 365. Microsoft List is a smart information tracking app, not your typical to-do list app (do not confuse this with Microsoft To-Do).
Building upon SharePoint Lists, Microsoft List is all about tracking and sharing information such issues (software, hardware, facility), inventory, teams, reporting, daily routines, pending actions, projects, event and speaker schedules, contacts, vacations, travel, and computer upgrades or anything that you want to track. This is all done in Microsoft 365 on your desktop or within Microsoft Teams. In the future, a mobile version for on the go will be released. Microsoft List will help organize your work by tracking information in a simple, flexible, and smart way across locations and geographies so everyone at your organization can be on the same page.
How does Microsoft List work?
The Microsoft List experience will be launched from within the Microsoft 365 desktop application. Once Microsoft List is launched, you will be brought to the List Home page. On the List Home page, your lists will be divided into two sections: Favorites at the top (pinned) and Recent Lists on the lower section of the page.
For Lists that are used frequently or if you want to pin a List to the top in the Favorites area, you can easily add your List by clicking the star on the top right of the icon on the List that you want to easily access. If you want to remove a List from the Favorites List, simply click on the star on the icon and it will disappear as it is “unfavored”. Navigating to the list is simple – just click on the List icon and you will be taken to the list.
The List Home page has three options for customization. On the icon of the List that you want to customize, click on the three ellipses located at the bottom of the icon. A pop up will appear and allow you the options to change the name, color, and icon picture.
Creating Microsoft Lists
Creating Microsoft Lists is simple, and two types of Lists can be created – a shared List and a personal List. As Microsoft List is a collaboration tool, a shared List is exactly that – it is shared with team members who are provided access by the List creator. Shared Lists live in SharePoint Teams sites. Sometimes, you might want to create the List before sharing or perhaps you want to have a private and personal List that is only accessible and seen by you. Though created as a personal List, this List is shareable when you are ready to grant permission to other team members. A personal List will have your name on the List title while a shared List will have the Team name or project name on it.
To create a new List, click the + Create New List located at the top. From here, you can now choose one of four options to create your new Microsoft List:
1. Blank: this is a blank canvas and you can create any type of list that you want;
2. Excel File: with your Excel file located in OneDrive or on your desktop, you can upload the file and extract one of the data tables from the file to create a new List;
3. Existing List: working smart, you can copy a List that you or another Team member has created and modify it to your needs; and
4. Template: out of the box tracking templates will be available and these can be used as starting points. Each template is purpose-driven and includes tracking for issues, assets, teams, inventory, contacts, reporting requirements, pending actions, vacations, department/division travel, projects, events and speaker schedule, computer upgrades.
The default view for Lists is grid view, but there are two other options including a gallery view and a calendar view. Each view provides ease of access to perform tasks.
The grid view is the best view for editing as it gives you rows and columns to reorder. However, it does not have point and click capabilities as it is very much like a database with rows and columns (like a spreadsheet, so if you’re accustomed to Excel spreadsheets, this will be familiar to use). A worthwhile feature to note is the ability to change the default autofit height to the fixed height of the rows which allows you to change the row height that results in the ability to see more rows on the screen at one time. This is super handy when you have long lists.
Gallery view is the most visual view, providing images and cards that display information and dates. Each image can be uploaded from the desktop or OneDrive without the app having to fetch it from the source.
The third view is the calendar view. This is an extremely handy way to see your Lists that have dates associated with it and you can easily see the higher priority and ones coming up due that requires action. Using the Format View, List creators will have the ability to determine how cards will look for everyone upon loading the List.
Conditional formatting is available in Lists and these rules are based on if this, then that scenarios. With conditional formatting, notifications and reminders can be sent to the Team. Leveraging conditional formatting, program values can be updated in Lists based on value changes. Additionally, the background colour fill of an item can be changed to show conditions such as approved, review, and more. The font will not need to be changed as it will adjust automatically with the background colour fill.
Microsoft List and Microsoft Teams
Microsoft List and Microsoft Teams continue to support, enhance, and encourage collaboration in your organization. In Microsoft Teams, by navigating to a Teams channel, you can create a Microsoft List without having to leave the app. Visually, Microsoft Lists that are created in Teams will look like Lists created on the web. There will be options for creating and saving views (grid, gallery, or calendar) for each List, adding new columns, defining choices in drop-down menus, setting up custom filters, editing share links, and changing the pill shape of the buttons to the classic rectangular shape.
Coupling Microsoft Teams and Microsoft List produces a process for smooth, open, and accurate communication. Lists are the product of many people working together, and the goals of Lists is to fulfill the fundamental goal of collaboration.
Microsoft Lists can easily be shared with Team members by granting access to that person. When you share a List, there will be two options available: edit or read-only permissions. Like OneDrive and SharePoint, individual items in a Microsoft List can be shared with the team or individuals. There are options to allow or disable editing abilities, entry of a required password before granting access or setting an expiration date. Once a List is shared, there will be an expandable comment feed and the indicator that there are comments in the feed is indicated by a chat bubble. By clicking on the chat bubble, it will bring up the form and the comments related to the List item. You can converse on the List for better collaboration. Later, there will be an @mention so you can pull them in to collaborate.
Easily configure simple business behaviours inside a List and efficiently keep your team updated when things happen in the List by specifying conditions and the actions in response to the conditions by applying and modifying rules and notifications. Several types of rules, including sending of notifications, can be created in a response to specific actions. For example, if any of these conditions occur – deletion of an item, changes to a session type, creation of a new itinerary, and changes or additions to a duration of an event – then a notification is sent to the Team members and/or to the List creator.
Microsoft Lists, either combined with Teams or on its own, is a smart and flexible app that tracks, shares, and conveys information in Microsoft 365. Undoubtedly, Lists are simple and the most efficient way to organize important details while communicating what needs to be done to your Team. Using SharePoint Lists and Libraries, Microsoft Lists collects, manages, and distributes content and data with native efficiency. Microsoft Lists empowers the business process on its web application through Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams. Soon, Microsoft Lists will be launched and ready for on‑the‑go creation, editing, and collaboration.