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Microsoft Common Data Model preview available for PowerApps

Following the July announcement of the Microsoft Common Data Model (CDM), we’re happy to make it available for preview today. The CDM is the Microsoft Azure–based business application model and storage mechanism for the Microsoft business application platform. The CDM comes pre-provisioned with a rich set of standard entities and plays an important role in our business application platform innovation focus to accelerate application development by power users.

Business application platform innovation

With the CDM in PowerApps, app creators can use and extend standard entities, and define custom entities and custom entity relationships to build and share applications. The CDM roadmap and this preview go far beyond schema definition and storage. This preview delivers the following features:

  • Preview versions of standard entity definitions
  • Rich data type support for extending standard entities and defining custom entities
  • Simple schema definition tools aimed at non-developers
  • Rich control support in Microsoft PowerApps
  • Integration with Microsoft Flow
  • Rich Microsoft Excel integration for viewing and editing data
  • Bulk data import and export capabilities

The CDM roadmap will continue to add and enhance definitions of standard entities, and will add integration capabilities for importing data from multiple sources. It will also include enhanced security and many more capabilities. For more context about the roadmap, review the introductory blog post.

With the standard schema and integration capabilities, the CDM aims to bridge the data gap between the many business apps deployed in an enterprise. It is much more than a relational database: it has a meta-model that understands business primitives and semantics such as currency, amounts, and auto-number fields. It encapsulates core business concepts in a standard set of entities.

Future iterations of the CDM combined with PowerApps will fundamentally change and accelerate how organizations build custom business applications. The goal for the CDM is to enable applications that will source data from multiple systems, join that data, aggregate it, and let users make decisions based on it.

Get started with the CDM

The CDM is integrated into the PowerApps management and authoring experiences. After you sign in to the PowerApps portal, you will see a new Entities option on the Manage tab. When you click Entities, you will be asked to create your CDM database, which you can immediately start to use in your apps and flows. The following video provides an overview of CDM integration into the PowerApps portal.

Microsoft Common Data Model Overview

Once the CDM entities are provisioned you can start browsing and working with the standard entities and sample data via interactive Excel. The Interactive Excel experience lets you quickly view, edit, and enter data before you build any applications.

To open entity data in Excel, click the ellipsis (…) button next to an entity, and then click Open in Excel. The workbook that is provided will use the PowerApps Excel Add-in to read data from the CDM.

The Excel Add-in lets you filter, create, delete, and edit data. In addition to providing data to Excel, the add-in reads metadata from the CDM and supports rich data entry capabilities, such as calender based date pickers, relationship based lookups and enumerations in the add-in pane.

Standard entities and extensions

This first preview version of the CDM contains a rich set of entities across some common domains. The entities are organized into five functional groups.

Functional group Description
Foundation The Foundation entities contain information that is relevant to nearly every other entity group. This group contains entities such as Address and Currency.
People, organizations, and groups These entities encompass a rich set of people and organizations that you might interact with, including employees, contractors, donors, volunteers, fans, alumni, and families.
Purchasing The Purchasing entities let you create purchasing solutions.
Sales The Sales entities let you create end-to-end sales solutions, from tracking leads and opportunities, to following through with contacts, to accepting and delivering orders, to sending invoices.
Case management The Case Management entities manage issues from your customers, including tracking, escalation, and documentation.

Full details of the schema are provided in this document: CDM Entity Reference

. We recommend that you explore the schema and data by using the Entity management experience in the PowerApps portal and integrated Excel experience.

Your feedback will help us understand your requirements and deliver updates beyond the initial preview.

Create your first app by using the CDM

There are two ways to create an app by using the standard entities in the CDM:

  • Create an app from your data automatically creates an app by connecting to your CDM data source.
  • Create an app lets you start from an empty canvas, which you can customize and connect to CDM data.

Because the CDM is a first-party data source for PowerApps, there is no need to configure connectors before you develop your first application. The following videos will provide an overview of how to build apps with the CDM.

Create your first app on the Microsoft Common Data Model

Personalize an app built on the Microsoft Common Data Model

Build an app from scratch on the Microsoft Common Data Model

Share your apps with other users

Just like any other app built on the PowerApps platform, you can share your CDM-based apps with other users or security groups within your organization. In this preview, permissions to the database are automatically managed as you share the app. However, future iterations will introduce additional options to help secure data based on entities, fields, and records. Data authorization is done on the server tier, so only authorized users will be able to access CDM data based on the apps that you have shared with them.

Summing up

As you start to build and share apps, explore standard entities, and build custom entities, think about the benefits of having a business data store that is easy to provision, customize, and share. The CDM preview provides a business data store and much more. It also has a standard set of entities, data management tools, and basic security. This is a preview, and we know that our journey has just started – we are working feverishly to enhance the functionality. We will enable many more features soon, such as additional data types, an entity data browser and editor, and entity definitions for productivity scenarios. Look for the 1.0 version of the entity definitions with the PowerApps general availability release.

The public preview of the CDM is available for you to use starting today, so get started by signing up at powerapps.com. After you start using PowerApps with the CDM, you can always get answers to your questions, report issues, and submit ideas by using the PowerApps community site. We’re waiting to hear your feedback.

— The PowerApps and CDM teams