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Top features released in 2021 for Power Platform and Dataverse

2021 has been an exciting year for the entire Power Platform, especially Dataverse. The product teams have been on fire (thanks @NHelgren@rc and team!) releasing new features and bug fixes at an impressive rate (and it’s hard to impress me!). I'm sure 2022 will be as exciting and looking forward to it!

I thought I'll pull together my top features not announced but released in 2021 that you should be aware of and can enable/start using right away. I've selected these based on their usefulness and how long they've been requested for. Also note that these might still be in preview while others have reached General Availability (GA). In my experience, preview doesn't mean you can't use them in production. It just means it's their 1st release, and that Microsoft is monitoring them closely and are very open to feedback, so in short, you'll probably get better support for preview features 😉 


  1. Custom Pages – Model-driven apps/Dynamics 365 user interface (UI) has been a long time pain point with some of the UI constraints. These introduced the need of customizations with web resources or PCF.  Custom pages now allows you to integrate canvas apps within a model-driven app context to gain that pixel perfect experience. This is a game changer. 

  2. Form Component Control (FCC) – Gives you the ability to edit related records directly on a parent form, effectively like having  editable quick view forms. Previously the data model had to suffer or we had to bypass this limitation with some tricks or customizations, but no more!

  3. Dataverse Search – A few enhancements were released like the single result page, intellisense, quick actions, mobile and portal search support and more. BTW stay tune for Context IQ!

  4. Security Model (modernize Business Units) – Dataverse now allows a matrix type of security structure where users can access data not only within their hierarchical level but across business units (BU). What might seem a small enhancement but behind the scenes more complex and a very convenient one when designing your security model.

  5. Telemetry – There were a series of releases for auditing/logging/telemetry with Azure App Insights supporting plug-ins, model-driven apps, canvas apps, etc. This facilitates the App Insights integration tremendously whereas before there were some limitations (e.g table views and dashboard visibility) existed and required customizations.

  6. Advanced Lookup – Another small but convenient feature from a UX standpoint especially when working with large volume and complex data, is the ability to find the right record in context of lookup fields in model-driven forms. Before, users had to know the record to select beforehand or use trial and error.

  7. Maker Portal ( enhancements – As a developer, I constantly needed to switch to the classic to perform some of the configuration, but with the latest enhancements I rarely switch to classic anymore. I invite anyone who hasn't made the switch yet to try out the updated Maker portal experience. More changes are coming and complete parity is expected in 2022!

  8. In-app Notifications – Stop sending emails to notify users of actions and alerts 😉. In-app notifications are great to send notifications within a model-driven app just like you're used to on your mobile apps.

  9. Export to Data Lake with Azure Synapse Link – Enables more exhaustive business intelligence and big data analytics with a few clicks. Also note that Data Export Service is officially deprecated.

  10. There were heaps of Portals enhancements and I can't have a list without at least one of them. The two picked are the ability to finally have multiple portal instances on one Dataverse environment and Web API support!

  11. Environment Variables (EV) as data sources – Before EVs, we had to create some kind of custom system configuration table to put environment specific settings like URLs and feature flags. EVs eliminates this need and are solution aware. With the latest updates, EVs are now treated as a data source in Power Automate and Canvas Apps which simplifies a lot the build!

Hope this was helpful and happy Power Platforming!


Awesome! Great to see all key updates at one place.