I am happy to announce that we are adding Excel and SharePoint to the virtual connection providers for virtual tables. You may have used the SQL virtual connection provider during its public preview, based on popular requests, we have enabled the same functionality for two of the largest external data sources for Power Apps.
What are Virtual Tables?
Virtual tables connect to existing data outside of Dataverse allowing Power Apps and the Power Platform to treat it like local data. If you have a list that stores all of your product data in SharePoint, a virtual table lets you access that data within an app and also provide relationships between Dataverse tables and the SharePoint lists. You can even use your custom Power Apps code to make changes directly in the source, just by using the APIs that Dataverse provides.
Virtual Table Components
Virtual tables require connectors and connection references in order to authenticate to the data source and allow Dataverse to speak to the connection. If you are building a virtual table manually, you need to build plug-ins to allow the Dataverse and source APIs to communicate, set up a connector, set up a connection reference, register a service principle with Azure to allow authentication, and then finally build the table.
Why are Virtual Connector Providers important?
Virtual Connector Providers make the process of creating virtual tables easier. If you use a Virtual Connector Provider, Dataverse does some of the work for you. You will no longer need to:
- Create Plug-ins for APIs
- Create Service Principles
- Search for which tables or lists are compatible in your data source
All of these steps are handled for you!
The Entity Catalog will provide you a listing of every table or list from a connected data source that can be used for creating a Virtual Table. This reduces the creation time by eliminating the need to search for the exact table or list names in your source. The catalog is created automatically once you connect to the Virtual Table source.
Note: If you have used the virtual connector provider for SQL you may notice some changes. Creating the virtual entity source no longer requires details like Client ID and GUIDs as this is managed by Dataverse.
When is this available? NOW! Feel free to try it out. Check out our online documentation for more details.
Important note: At this time there is a required step to download and install the Virtual Connector from Appsource. This will not be needed in a few weeks from now. Since this is temporary it is not included in the video walkthroughs. The process for doing this is covered in the online documentation.