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Microsoft Dynamics Profile: New MVP, a developer at heart, embraces Power Platform ethos

by Linda Rosencrance
Contributing Writer, MSDW
June 25 2021

Diana Birkelbach has been nominated for the Microsoft MVP award twice. She didn't receive the award the first time, and as the second nomination came and went without that congratulatory email, she began losing hope.

But Birkelbach's efforts to share her knowledge about Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform, like on her blog and at events, paid off as she received the honor in January. MSDW caught up with Birkelbach, who hails from Saarland, a southwestern German state, to talk about her career working with the tools of Dynamics CRM/365 and the Power Platform, her participation in the community, and the significance of being an MVP.

MSDW: What is your role at ORBIS AG?

Diana Birkelbach: At ORBIS I'm a principal developer. I do development, but I also take care of everything that's software architecture on Microsoft Dynamics and Power Platform. I'm a technical lead in the competence center development. I try to stay "on the edge" of the technology and help my fellow developers improve. I'm contributing to the core components we develop, I help to write guidelines, and I collaborate with solution architects and technical consultants. I've preferred to stay on the technical track and I'm happy to work with great developers. Nobody knows it all; we are a great team, who learn from each other and help each other. When I think about it, in some ways my job is similar to what I do for the community.

When and how did you start working with the Power Platform and Power Apps?

For me, Power Platform is an evolution of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Dynamics 365. I started in the early days of Dynamics CRM 1.2 – sometimes in 2003, think. I've seen all these stages of the evolution. In the beginning we didn’t have plugins so we used some SQL triggers. And we didn't have custom entities, so we docked our own applications to CRM and aimed the lists and forms (which, by the way, we already had in a generic customizable way).

On the server side I’ve seen callouts in Dynamics CRM 3.0 then plugins (CRM 4.0+), and the low-code possibilities back then: workflows, which changed the engine once from CRM 3 to CRM 4. I consider the Power Automate (Cloud Flows) the next level in the evolution.

On the client side, I’ve seen the client SDK changes and the possibility to make HTML WebResources. I've done a lot of them. I've worked on a core library, I've made a generic editable grid based on HTML WebResources in CRM 4.0+. The business rules were a first (small) step in the direction of low code for the front end. The Canvas Apps (and PowerFx) are a huge step in that direction, like evolving from riding a bicycle to driving a car. If we focus only on Canvas Apps and Flow, I built my first app in March 2019, when ORBIS organized a hackathon.

How do you see your career evolving as a developer of PCFs (Power Apps component framework)? Are the needs of your employer or your clients changing thanks to Power Platform?

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About Linda Rosencrance

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer/editor in the Boston area. Rosencrance has over 25 years experience as an reporter/investigative reporter, writing for many newspapers in the metropolitan Boston area. Rosencrance has been writing about information technology for the past 16 years.

She has covered a variety of IT subjects, including Microsoft Dynamics, mobile security issues such as data loss prevention, network management, secure mobile app development, privacy, cloud computing, BI, big data, analytics, HR, CRM, ERP, and enterprise IT.

Rosencrance is the author of six true crime books for Kensington Publishing Corp.