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Written: 25/05/2021 | Updated: N/A

Today at Microsoft Build it was great to run a Table Talk with Vesku Nopanen, Reza Dorrani, Mar Llambi, Karoliina Kettukari and April Dunnum. Lots of people showed up. I think – and I say think – we answered most questions. The chat was moving so fast that Reza, Mar and I were leapfrogging each other trying to answer them in time. There’s a lot of interest about Dataverse for Microsoft Teams – particularly the apps which can be installed in them and extended with by Fusion Teams – Teams which are mixes of citizen and professional developers. Now some of these apps you may already know and used, and some of them I have already written about: Bulletins and Employee Ideas. There’s Milestones too and a few others. Today, at Microsoft Build, three more were announced. Profile Plus, Perspectives and Boards. Over the next few days I am going to write about all three and all three are available in preview. Today I am going to cover Perspectives.

Perspectives has been defined as ‘a place to listen and be heard in your organization. Start a discussion on any topic by simply posting a question or a conversation starter. Other members of the team can provide responses to the posted questions. The most relevant content rises to the top when team members upvote a response or the discussion’s creator flags one as “Recommended”. Sounds good. Sounds like I can get my own lightweight Tech Community going for my organisation.

This blog will cover

  • Getting the Preview from GitHub
  • Deploying into Teams
  • How to set up Perspectives
  • Deployment Notes
  • How to share Perspectives with colleagues inside and outside of the Team
  • Adding Perspectives as a Personal App to the App Rail
  • Adding a topic
  • Adding a discussion
  • Adding a perspective
  • Linking to existing Teams Conversations
  • Removing perspectives, discussions and topics
  • How to remove Perspectives
  • How to rename Perspectives
  • How to extend Perspectives
  • Concluding thoughts

Note this blog will have abridged steps which will assume some experience with Teams and navigating the Microsoft 365 environment

Pre-requisites

  • Teams licence/Power Apps licence (In an Office/Microsoft 365 Subscription)
  • App Permissions to install apps in the Team (and Perspectives to be installable via the Teams Admin Centre)

GETTING THE PREVIEW FROM GITHUB

1.) Go to https://aka.ms/TeamsPerspectives and select Perspectives_1.0.301.2

2.) Select the TeamsCustomApp zip file which will download to your local machine

DEPLOYING INTO TEAMS

1.) Go into the Teams Admin Centre (logging in via https://login.microsoftonline.com with admin credentials) within Microsoft 365. Select Teams Apps then Manage Apps and then select Upload

2.) Select Upload a File

3.) Select the Perspectives Zip that you have previously downloaded

4.) The App will now be installed into Teams

HOW TO SETUP PERSPECTIVES

1.) The Perspective app, like the other Power Apps which can be installed into Dataverse for Teams, needs to be installed into a Team. If you don’t already have a team to house the app, set one up. Select + in a channel you want to deploy Perspectives into to add a Tab

2.) Search for and select Perspectives

3.) Select Add

4.) Select Save

5.) You can now go off and work whilst Perspectives installs. The experience is similar to other apps such as Bulletins and Employee Ideas. Once done, you will be notified in the Activity app on the left app rail

6.) You will need to allow the app permissions to access other apps. Select Allow. You may need to refresh during this process if you are doing this in the web app version of Teams

7.) Perspectives is now installed as a singular tab within the channel

DEPLOYMENT NOTES

A few observations about this deployment

  • Perspectives can only be deployed as tabs within Teams, it cannot be deployed as a personal app – although it can be used as a personal app and pinned to the app rail once it is deployed – see section below
  • Deploying Perspectives into another team will deploy a second instance of the app in a second environment – however the app can be shared with others outside the Team – see section below
  • You cannot add Perspectives into Private Channels currently. It errors.
  • When deploying, the perspective tab is visible to all members of the Team
  • When you deploy the app an environment is created at https://admin.powerplatform.microsoft.com. This is where the Power App is housed – in Dataverse for Teams

HOW TO SHARE PERSPECTIVES WITH COLLEAGUES INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE TEAM

By default, colleagues within the team will already have permissions to use Perspectives from the start. We can confirm this as follows

1.) Select Power Apps – either through the app rail or add via a Tab

2.) Select Build, then the Environment Perspectives is in (Name of the Team), then select Share with colleagues (top right)

3.) As shown the Microsoft 365 group linked to the Team is already there with the slider turned on. This means anyone who is part of the team can use Perspectives

4.) Other members of the Team can now use Perspectives. Here is a member of the team, Vesku, accessing it

5.) Now lets move on to two other scenarios. People outside the Team, or Simply a group of administrators who will manage the Perspectives app who are not in the Team. In the M365 Admin Centre add a Security Group for Perspectives with members who you want to use the app

6.) Select Power Apps within Teams – either through the app rail or via a Tab

7.) Select Build, then the Environment Perspectives is in (Name of the Team), then select Share with colleagues (top right)

8.) Enter the Security Group created, use the sliders to share Perspectives and then select Save

9.) The green bar confirms those in the security group can now use Perspectives

10.) However in a broad distribution scenario, the group will not be able to use the app until you assign the correct Table permissions which are set to none by default. In order to do that, see this blog how to apply table permissions to the security group. Do this and set the appropriate permissions on all the required tables

It is worth noting here that members of the Team who are part of the security group created will still be able to see the app within the Team whilst those outside will be able to see it as a personal app (see below)

ADDING PERSPECTIVES AS A PERSONAL APP TO THE APP RAIL

Currently, Perspectives in v1.0 in preview does not support a personal app scenario natively. This is confirmed by selecting More Options (…) on the left app rail, search for and select Perspectives, or trying to add via the app store where it can only be added to a Team as a tab

However, it can still be accessed by those who have permissions outside of the Team through a browser experience subject to the correct licencing. You, as the one who deployed the app can access this via the Power Platform Admin Centre within the environment, and then provide the URL of the web experience to users outside the team

Or even better you can use this in a web tab, or even better than that, use App Studio to package up and then deploy it as a personal app. Here is a screen shot of me testing this tonight. Anyone with permissions in the Security Group will be able to use Perspectives assuming they can access this app packaged via App Studio, have the permissions within the security group and have the right licencing. Of course, this app created needs to also be installed into Teams via the method above

Neat isn’t it. We don’t need to wait for a personal app to be supported.

ADDING A TOPIC

1.) When you first access Perspectives, the first thing you want to add is a topic. Think of a topic as a container for discussions on that topic and within discussions, users perspectives. A Topic is broad, such Microsoft Teams or Microsoft 365. Select Add a Topic

2.) Add a topic name, description and picture and then select Save

3.) The topic has now been created

ADDING A DISCUSSION

1.) Select the topic

2.) Select New Discussion

3.) Add a title and context and select Save

4.) The discussion is now created. You can vote up on the discussion by selecting the vote up icon. You can sort discussions by upvotes and by responses

ADDING A PERSPECTIVE

1.) Select the discussion

2.) Select Add a Perspective

3.) Add the perspective, which includes a rich text editor, and then select Add

4.) The perspective has now been added. All perspectives can can be marked as helpful. Perspectives can be sorted by age or by helpfulness. If the author marks their own answer as helpful the perspective is marked as author recommended

5.) If the author of the perspective has marked the perspective as ‘allow others to contact you’, others will be able to contact the author by sending a message or scheduling a 1 to 1 which opens the calendar app

LINKING TO EXISTING TEAMS CONVERSATIONS

1.) Discussions can often start and spill over from discussions in the posts tab of a channel. This could be a better place to discuss than clutter up the channel. Copy the link to the message from the posts tab

2.) In the topic, select Existing Teams Conversation

3.) Copy the link to the conversation in the channel, give the discussion a title and context and select Save

NOTE: in v1.0 of this app in preview these do not save to topics but are orphaned discussions without a topic. This has been fed back. You can go in and ultimately remove the data in the correct table which is discussions. Or if you want to put the orphaned discussion into a topic you can assign it to the correct topic within the table. Of course, you don’t want to have to be doing that all the time

REMOVING PERSPECTIVES, DISCUSSIONS AND TOPICS

From an administrative perspective removing perspectives, discussions and topics of others requires you to be the owner or a co-owner of the app and the environment. Here you can remove the data from the tables

To remove your own data

1.) Removing perspectives can be done on the perspective by selecting the red bin

2.) Check the I understand box and select Delete

3.) To remove a discussion, select edit (pencil) on the discussion

4.) Select delete (red bin)

5.) Tick I understand and then delete

6.) To remove a topic, select the button Edit within the topic

7.) Select Delete Topic (Red Bin)

8.) Select I understand then Delete

HOW TO REMOVE PERSPECTIVES

1.) Like other apps, you can’t simply remove Perspectives by simply removing the Tab

2.) Select Power Apps from the App Rail, and then Build. Select the Team, then Installed Apps, then More Options (…) on Employee Ideas, then Delete

HOW TO RENAME PERSPECTIVES

We may want to distinguish this app from others, especially if we plan to deploy multiple instances of Perspectives within our organisation

1.) Select Power Apps from the App Rail, and then Build. Select the Team, then Installed Apps, click on the name of the app. This will open it in Power App Studio

2.) Click on the name of the app and rename then Save

3.) Select Publish to Teams

4.) Add the channels in the Team where new tabs should be and select Save and close

5.) Clean up any old Tabs in the Team

6.) The app is renamed throughout Teams including in the App Store

HOW TO EXTEND PERSPECTIVES

1.) Select Power Apps from the App Rail, and then Build. Select the Team, then Installed Apps, click on the name of the app. This will open it in Power App Studio and you can now customise and extend the app

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Our job here is done

I said it last time with employee ideas but for me, this is the best Power App so far which I have tested. It is a very simple app but its really effective. Discussions and perspectives can be taken out of the posts tab which will leave more spaces within teams uncluttered. It could really become like a local team version of the tech community where team members can reference the best answers and perspectives to common questions. Somewhere to really talk it out and not on the landing page of the team. I imagine it would go down very well in other verticals such as education for example: the use case is pretty universal. As shown, it doesn’t just have to be team wide either. It can be org wide if you are willing to put time into creating an app via App Studio. I am sure there will be support for personal apps coming at a later date in line with other Power Apps like Employee Ideas.

So dedicated places to have dedicated discussions. I like upvoting, I like crowdsourcing. I like the ability to have a rich text formatter. I like the ability to allow getting into touch if permitted. It gives choice but it’s simple. I like the idea also that each team could have their own perspectives too. Or you could have both. One for the team and one for the org. Your choice.

There are a few things which could benefit Perspectives in the next versions

  • I think it would benefit from an optional list view of the topics. I like it how it is, but using a surface topics scroll off the page to the right and I can’t fully see all of them. The topics are not arranged alphanumeric too which I know will bug some people
  • The orphaned discussions which occur through linking from existing conversations need to go in a topic otherwise it may look disjointed. Whilst you can remove the orphan or assign it to a topic to remediate it’s orphaned status it can’t fall to owners to repeatedly correct it
  • It would be good to be able to archive discussions
  • It would be good for someone to be able to mark a perspective as a solution
  • Perspectives in this version have html in them – <p> and </p> > start/end paragraph visible around the text
  • It would be good in the future to allow images and files in the perspective however we have to be aware of space and in the perspective you can use hyperlinks so can direct them to where they are stored within teams

Great job team. I look forward to seeing this develop further

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