Last week, I had the privilege of attending the 2023 Microsoft Power Platform Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The conference was a huge event that brought the Power Platform community together from across the globe to discuss upcoming news and the future of the Power Platform.
This year, the event’s overall theme focused heavily on Microsoft Copilot, which will be generally available for enterprise customers on November 1, 2023. While the event covered how Copilot can be your personal assistant across the Microsoft 365 suite of products, today we will specifically address what is coming to Power Automate and what you should prepare to see very soon.
With Copilot enabled in your environment, you can begin developing as soon as you open Power Automate. When you navigate to Power Automate, you will be greeted with a multiline text box that simply asks, “Describe how you want your automation to work.” Here, you can begin describing the type of automation you would like, and Copilot will take your natural language and create a workflow. This first step is crucial. While it may seem simple to tell Copilot what you want and have it generate a flow, there are certain ways to help format your prompts for Copilot to understand your needs better and generate a flow specifically designed for you. Unfortunately, Copilot cannot read your mind … yet.
While at the Microsoft Power Platform Conference, I attended an informative session by Matthew LeHew, a Senior UX Content Designer for Microsoft. This session stressed the importance of creating a good prompt before development even begins to alleviate reworks later down the line. It is important to think not only about what you want a particular automation to do but HOW you think those steps would occur, which connections would be used, which email addresses are meant to receive notifications, etc. Providing these additional details while forming your prompt helps remove ambiguity and allows Copilot to better understand how this flow should be created to meet your needs.
Once you have entered your prompt, Copilot will then show you different suggestions based on what was entered. Choose the suggestion that best suits your needs and establish your necessary connections. Upon completion, your flow will be created, and you will be brought to the new and improved flow designer.
Copilot is not only used for generating flows but also serves as your personal assistant every step of the way! A new “Copilot” button now resides next to the Save and Test buttons in the top right corner of the screen. Clicking this button prompts a pop-out window to appear on the right-hand side, allowing you to interact with Copilot during your development. You can also ask Copilot questions you may have or even have it redesign your workflow.
Beyond the upcoming Copilot announcements, Power Automate is also receiving some major updates to the Flow Designer. Viewing and developing a workflow has never looked better! The new changes help alleviate many pain points I and many others have endured for quite some time. The first major thing you will notice about this new and improved flow designer is the actions themselves. Similar to before, the actions still display only the title of the action; however, now, when you select an action to customize it, the action expands for you to configure its settings with a pop-out window. This new window is also much more responsive than before, alleviating some issues that would arise when developing larger workflows.
With the redesigned action steps comes quite possibly the most exciting announcement from this section of the keynote presentation – the new and improved formula bar! This announcement received the most vocal praise during the presentation for good reason. Before, it was all too common to wrestle with the formula bar when creating the logic required for your flow. With the recent change, the formula bar is easier to read and work with and more responsive, reducing the need to reenter logic due to them not saving properly or not properly updating with the correct dynamic content.
Overall, these announcements from the Microsoft Power Platform Conference left me very excited for not just what is coming in the next few months for Power Automate but for the future of the Power Platform and AI in general. I am eager to get my hands on these new tools and to begin developing with my new virtual assistant.