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HectorSolano
Frequent Visitor

Lifecycle management: How to turn existing sharepoint-list data-sources into environment variables?

Hello experts! 

 

Regarding environment variables.

My question is: how to turn existing data sources into environment variables?

 

I have imported a solution into my organization's development environment. Its an unmanaged solution, so I can now freely test in there. The solution in the dev environment only contains the power app. Its data sources (sharepoint lists) are not environment variables. I need to turn them into environment variables to export the solution and import it into the production environment.

What didn’t work

Here are the steps that I tried:

  1. Enable the setting to generate environment variables when adding new sources
  2. Remove and add the same data source.
    That way, I thought the data source would be created as an env. Variable and at the same time it would be consistent with the data source names in the code of all the functions in the app.

 

It didn’t work. I got the error bellow, which doesn’t make sense because the name of the sharepoint list is a little under 30  characters.Also searched for a way to increase the length attribute, but this post states its not possible.

 

HectorSolano_1-1674596038081.png

 

What might work (but it will take too long)

The only other method I can imagine is to do it all manually:

  1. In SharePoint, Create empty copies of each SharePoint list (I’ve already done this)
  2. Inside the app, enable the PowerApps setting to create an environment variable for each new data source (I’ve already done this)
  3. Inside the app, add the empty SharePoint lists as sources so that their respective environment variables are created (I haven’t done this because I’m hoping to find a way to convert the existing data sources into environment variables)
  4. Manually edit each function in the app to replace the name of the old data sources with the names of the new environment variables. There are dozens of instances, so I’d like to avoid it if possible. This process would be slow, cumbersome, and highly prone to human error because the app is big (12 screens and dozens of elements per screen, most of which contain data source references in their functions). 

So, I ask again:

Is there a simpler way? I would like to convert the existing data sources into environment variables.

 

What probably won’t work

I think I could unpack the MsApp code in VSCode (using this tutorial) and then replace the data source definitions with the URLs of the newly created environment variables. 

HectorSolano_2-1674596038082.png

 

However, I think it won’t work, knowing how picky PowerApps is. Also, it sounds complicated. There must be an easier way.

 

Please help! I need to move this app into production in 3 days. 

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Accepted Solutions
HectorSolano
Frequent Visitor

Hi Shivani, 

 

Yes, I managed to do it.

However, this solution might not work for you, as it is too specific to my environment settings. I don't know that I can share them with you because of security concerns, but in general, I would recommend to  skip all this hassle, and just create your app as a Model Driven app because that makes it so much easier for data source management (no env. variables required for lifecycle management). If dataverse is not an option for you, then read on. Do take things with a grain of salt because your specific IT infrastructure might make this impossible to follow. 

The big picture idea here, is that you keep the existing data sources by creating env variables in a solution for the sharepoint site and each sharepoints list, to then assign the existing sharepoint lists to the env variables, and finally go to powerapps edit mode to replace the data sources with the environment variables. That's basically the logic of this. 

In more specific terms (and if memory doesn't fail me): 

  1. Verify what environments you are working with. In my case, I had the app in a personal development environment, so I had to pack it in a solution to later import it into the DEV environment as an unmanaged solution because I also had a PROD environment available for the project. I didn't have a testing environment though. So, step 1 is to plan how your environment management is going to work. 
  2. After verifying which environments that you will be using, pack your app into an unmanaged solution and move it to your DEV environment, if you havent already done that.  Within the DEV environment, access the Solution you just imported. 
  3. Still in the DEV environment, go to the solution and create an environment variable for the sharepoint site where your data sources are stored. Important: ensure you leave the "Current List value" empty. This is the most important detail. You will set that up later in the default solution. For this part, just know you will need one env. variable for the sharepoint site where your data sources (sharepoint lists) are stored. Later, when you migrate your solution to the other environments, you will decide whether or not to use the same site for your DEV, TEST, and/or PROD environments.
  4. WITHIN THE DEFAULT SOLUTION, find the environment variable you just created and assign it to its corresponding sharepoint site URL
  5. Create one environment variable for each sharepoint list you have set up as a data source in your canvas app
  6. WITHIN THE DEFAULT SOLUTION, find each env. variabl you just created and assign it to its corresponding sharepoint list URL
  7. In the DEV environment, go to the solution, and open the powerapp in edit mode.
    In the data sources panel to the left, teplace each existing data source with its corresponding environment variable data source. This should make all your powerapps objects point to the env. variables, and aaaaaaall of your code should be updated accordingly. No manual editing required!

Voilá, your canvas app is not migrated to a DEV environment and your existing data sources are now being updated through environment variables. Now all you have to do is create one sharepoint list for your other environments per each sharepoint list that you assigned in your DEV environment. Each sharepoint list in TEST and PROD should have the exact same column types than their DEV counterparts. When you migrate your solution from DEV to TEST or from TEST to PROD, the system will prompt you to specify which sharepoint lists to assign to each environment variable. Also, when exporting your solution into PROD, make sure you export the solution as Unmanaged to safeguard the integrity of the PROD environment. 

 

Hope that makes sense. 

View solution in original post

4 REPLIES 4
Shivani_PowerAp
Frequent Visitor

Hi, Did you find a solution to the problem. I am also trying to add environment Variable to an existing solution but not able to do so.. 

HectorSolano
Frequent Visitor

Hi Shivani, 

 

Yes, I managed to do it.

However, this solution might not work for you, as it is too specific to my environment settings. I don't know that I can share them with you because of security concerns, but in general, I would recommend to  skip all this hassle, and just create your app as a Model Driven app because that makes it so much easier for data source management (no env. variables required for lifecycle management). If dataverse is not an option for you, then read on. Do take things with a grain of salt because your specific IT infrastructure might make this impossible to follow. 

The big picture idea here, is that you keep the existing data sources by creating env variables in a solution for the sharepoint site and each sharepoints list, to then assign the existing sharepoint lists to the env variables, and finally go to powerapps edit mode to replace the data sources with the environment variables. That's basically the logic of this. 

In more specific terms (and if memory doesn't fail me): 

  1. Verify what environments you are working with. In my case, I had the app in a personal development environment, so I had to pack it in a solution to later import it into the DEV environment as an unmanaged solution because I also had a PROD environment available for the project. I didn't have a testing environment though. So, step 1 is to plan how your environment management is going to work. 
  2. After verifying which environments that you will be using, pack your app into an unmanaged solution and move it to your DEV environment, if you havent already done that.  Within the DEV environment, access the Solution you just imported. 
  3. Still in the DEV environment, go to the solution and create an environment variable for the sharepoint site where your data sources are stored. Important: ensure you leave the "Current List value" empty. This is the most important detail. You will set that up later in the default solution. For this part, just know you will need one env. variable for the sharepoint site where your data sources (sharepoint lists) are stored. Later, when you migrate your solution to the other environments, you will decide whether or not to use the same site for your DEV, TEST, and/or PROD environments.
  4. WITHIN THE DEFAULT SOLUTION, find the environment variable you just created and assign it to its corresponding sharepoint site URL
  5. Create one environment variable for each sharepoint list you have set up as a data source in your canvas app
  6. WITHIN THE DEFAULT SOLUTION, find each env. variabl you just created and assign it to its corresponding sharepoint list URL
  7. In the DEV environment, go to the solution, and open the powerapp in edit mode.
    In the data sources panel to the left, teplace each existing data source with its corresponding environment variable data source. This should make all your powerapps objects point to the env. variables, and aaaaaaall of your code should be updated accordingly. No manual editing required!

Voilá, your canvas app is not migrated to a DEV environment and your existing data sources are now being updated through environment variables. Now all you have to do is create one sharepoint list for your other environments per each sharepoint list that you assigned in your DEV environment. Each sharepoint list in TEST and PROD should have the exact same column types than their DEV counterparts. When you migrate your solution from DEV to TEST or from TEST to PROD, the system will prompt you to specify which sharepoint lists to assign to each environment variable. Also, when exporting your solution into PROD, make sure you export the solution as Unmanaged to safeguard the integrity of the PROD environment. 

 

Hope that makes sense. 

Thank you for your help. I managed to get the environment variables working in the existing app by following the above steps.. 

HectorSolano
Frequent Visitor

Thats great to hear! 

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