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Did you know about the powerful "Native CDS Connector" in Power Automate?

  • 1.  Did you know about the powerful "Native CDS Connector" in Power Automate?

    Posted May 12, 2020 12:08 PM
    Edited by Christoph Gschliesser May 13, 2020 10:43 AM

    The Common Data Service is one of the most convenient data sources when it comes to storing data for Power Platform applications. Not only is it possible to adapt and expand the data model directly through the Power Apps makers portal, but also Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement applications store their data within it.
    People who know Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement probably also know Dynamics Workflows which can be used to automate things in the background. While Power Automate always had advantages over Dynamics Workflows in terms of connectivity to other systems, it did lack some functionalities in areas which are very CDS-specific which is why Dynamics Workflows are still commonly used.

    But did you know that there is a rather new "Native Common Data Services Connector" which brings the capabilities of Power Automate already pretty close to the CDS-related capabilities of Dynamics Workflows while still going to be improved as time goes on?
    If not, let me give you a brief overview of the different connectors and which to use in which scenario.

    Probably the most obvious connector to use when accessing CDS instances where D365 is installed is the "Dynamics 365" Connector:

    While this connector of course can access data in the CDS, it is not the best choice in my opinion. This connector has been around for years and comes from times where the CDS (2.0) has not yet been established. When the CDS (2.0) came into existence, a new CDS connector has been introduced which lead to this Dynamics 365 connector not getting much "love" anymore. Therefore, I would not recommend to use the "Dynamics 365" connector in 2020.

    So, let's put our attention to the Common Data Service connector then... This connector already has more options than the Dynamics 365 connector and when you type "Common Data Service" in the search bar you can easily find it.
    The normal CDS connector works fine for most scenarios. Also, it lets you choose which instance of the CDS you want to talk to. Therefore it's perfect if you want to move data from one instance to another.

    If you want to get as close to a Dynamics Workflows experience in Power Automate as currently possible, you have to make use of the "native CDS connector". In order to find it, the trick is to create the flow inside a solution. Upon typing "Common Data Service" in the search bar, you can then find a second CDS connector called "Common Data Service (current environment)"; that's the one!
    The native CDS connector does not let you choose a CDS instance but always works with the CDS of the environment you are creating the Flow in. However, I do not see this as a drawback as that's what you want in most cases anyway. In addition to the standard CRUD Operations each of the above-mentioned connectors supports, the native connector has additional capabilities which are very useful for more advanced solutions.
    It also lets you explicitly choose in which user context the action should be performed and is in general more performant than the other connectors.

    If you did not know the native CDS connector, leave a like, jump into Power Automate, and give it a try! ;)
    Also, if there are any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.

    Christoph Gschliesser
    Product Manager
    BE-terna GmbH