Microsoft Business Applications MVP
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Thanks for listening 🚀 - Mark Smith
[mark_smith]: Today's guest is from Montreal, Canada. He's a senior developer for Dynamics 365 at Hilo. He was first awarded his MVP in 2022. As always, you can find links to his bio, his social media, as well as any blogs, et cetera, that he is involved in writing in the show notes for this episode. And with that, welcome to the show, David.
[david_rivard]: Mark.Nice to finally meet you.
[mark_smith]: Right, exactly, right, exactly. It's so good to see another Canadian MVP. I think the MVPs that have gone before you in Canada have done you proud. It's always good to see the numbers increasing.
[david_rivard]: Yes, of course. So yeah, thanks for having me on the show. Like, as you said, just a bit about me on the, just to start, yes, as you said, I'm based in Montreal,Canada,which is the French province of Canada. So the main language here is French. So that's where you'll see my accent might come out a bit tonight. I am a power Platform architect developer for a,it's been almost 10 years now, started on on-prem dynamics, CRM on-premise 2011, so I consider myself almost as a dinosaur,but I've been able to see the evolution of the power platform to see where it is right now and it's clearly a very good time to be developing on this platform.
[mark_smith]: Awesome, awesome. And it's so right. You've been in the game a long time. You've seen the birth of the Power Platform. And of course now, whether it seems to be accelerating away with all the latest chat, GDP, GPT stuff being added into it, as well as, yeah, so many new connectors, features,et cetera, coming out. Tell me about family for you, food, what's the best things to eat in Montreal, Quebec, what do you do that involves snow? I assume you get a bit of snow there.
[david_rivard]: I have an amazing wife that supports me in all my crazy things and all the extra hours I put in my career and also becoming an MVP. I have a lovely daughter of five year old, so right now its a they're my rock. its a spending a lot of time, trying to spend a lot of time with family like career is good but family is a having a good balance between the family and work is also very important for me. What do I do these days? It's winter here in Canada, so these days I'm teaching my girl, my daughter out to ice skate, so that's things like that.
[mark_smith]: So, in Quebec.
[david_rivard]: And of course, the best food in Montreal would be the most known would be the poutine.
[mark_smith]: I have not heard of that.
[david_rivard]: It's a... you don't know that?
[david_rivard]: It's our main... it's one of our most popular... It's what you eat after you go out. When you go for a paint with your buddies, that's what you go to eat after to settle down. It's like fries with gravy and cheese.
[mark_smith]: Wow, so just literally fries with gravy and cheese poured over the top? Wow, I'd not heard of that. I'd not heard of that.
[david_rivard]: Yeah, that's one of our most notable...dish in there.
[mark_smith]: I had no idea. How cold does it get in the middle of winter there in Quebec?
[david_rivard]: It can be, we get minus 20s, minus 30s. But with climate change, it's better and better, but maybe that's not that good.
[mark_smith]: With climate change it's better and better. Wow. Thank you, that's my job. Yeah, yeah, totally, totally. So how did your journey begin into tech? How did you get into technology? And particularly then, as you transitioned through that story, how did you get into dynamics back in the day? 2011, ACRM 2011. I remember that product.
[david_rivard]: Yeah, I started, actually I started in 2013 to be a complete full dynamics set developer, but my journey is not linear in tech. Actually,my first career was in biotech. So I worked for been almost 10 years in the and pharma industry. So it's there that I began, before the term was coined, I was a citizen developer.One of my tasks, the thing that I really enjoyed in that career was to automate processes. Things, it was the early 2000s, so things were not as automated as they are today. So one of my tasks was to automate the production in the labs and things like that. And this is where I began to be passionate with IT and then I went back to school in the evening school. my computer science class and then I decided in 2013 I decided to switch completely to the tech as a developer. So that was very... Actually, it's my first job as a developer. We had a consulting firm taking care of our dynamics. We had the the dynamics in the end. in that company, and they wanted to get of the consultants. So they asked me if I wanted to go. learn dynamics. At the beginning, I was not sure. I wanted to do the cool stuff. NET MVC and I'm a.NET developer so I was not really sure but if I look back right now with a bit of it was the best decision I ever made. so I'm very happy to have been assigned to this project.
[mark_smith]: in a science project. I love it. I love it. And it's such a good story. I like that it was the best decision you made because it resonates with me, that type of feeling. Tell me, you know, when you were first introduced to Power Platform, and if you look at the underlying data verse and the predecessors to it, and the various names it went to, we're really on version two, right? There was about a year where Microsoft attempted to create originally back then CDS1 and then CDS2 came into play. When did you kind of see through that timeline even up to modern day, you know, you'd obviously been working on from CRM 2011 forward, which you know, if your experience is similar to mine, is that you often implemented it for people without any customer relationship management. You built other tools with it, right? used it as a platform to build other line of business applications. Where was it that you kind of clicked for you that you didn't need to use Dynamics 365 products anymore to build applications? You could just go straight to the core, go to the Power Platform, get a clean, data-verse environment and build from there up. Was there a point that you recognize that there was a transition, that you didn't have a dependency anymore on Dynamics as such?
[david_rivard]: Yeah, actually, most of the project I've been working on, even when I, because I worked for a consulting firm for five years, we were specialized in dynamic CRM. So I've always worked for big companies that were leveraging the first-party apps. So, but of course, for even for personal stuff, you don't need these first-party apps. that I've worked on in the past, they could have gone with just their own version of maybe the lead things like that. Sometimes they only need a small subset of all the capabilities, so they could have gone vanilla and built their own entities and have maybe a better Harsitlah ya, itu bagus.
[mark_smith]: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I find projects with customers transition from being Power Platform to then bringing in dynamics more and more as they have an idea that they want built and you're like, hey, there's actually an app already for that, we transitioned to there. Tell me about, and I know I'm jumping around a bit, but I saw you've got some experience with PCF, right?
[david_rivard]: I was hoping to talk to you about PCF. It's one of my favorite subjects.
[mark_smith]: favorite subject. Okay, so first of all, not everybody will know what PCF is. Do you want to explain what it is and then why you're passionate about it?
[mark_smith]: So it embraces the kind of teaching that you're learning. So, you know, and I'm not deep in this area of the product. I fundamentally know what PCF is and the whole idea of creating controls and that extensibility that you create in the UI for makers, you know, from a developer perspective. Tell me how much is changing in the UI, particularly in the last 12 months that you've observed and how much additional UI control would you like?
[david_rivard]: So of course we've seen more and more of new types of control that are being infused out of the box in the platform. What I would like to see.um, simplicity. Like you, sometimes I feel like the forms it's hard to say. It's more on the feeling of the that you get out of the form. I know they're trying hard to, to change the, some of the layout to, to, Fluent UI.
[david_rivard]: This is coming.They're talking about like,what do you call it? dark team, sorry. That would be nice, but I know that some of our customization will break when they will bring the dark team. I want to see it, but I fear that moment a little bit.
[mark_smith]: Yeah. So what are your thoughts on the whole of Fluent UI?
[david_rivard]: But actually, that's a good question,because Fluent UI,it's a term,but it's actually right now,in a developer perspective,it's like two libraries. There's two Fluent UI,version 8 and version 9. Mostly what we see in the platform out of the box is from version 8.
[mark_smith]: I know they're scrolling transition into version 9. Right.
[david_rivard]: but I know they're product. It's more like used in teams, but it's called Fluent UI, but it's not the same thing. Sometimes it's hard to get what is what and put the things in the good place.
[mark_smith]: Yeah, but do you think that Microsoft is going in the right direction with the power platform bringing Fluent as part of it?
[david_rivard]: I think so. Yes.
[mark_smith]: What do you think the benefits are going to be to the end users using the apps built with it?
[david_rivard]: maybe more fluidity, more... And also if other application from the stack are getting developed with the same then you will see a unicity between different application or experiences for the end-users. So I think this can only be beneficial.
[mark_smith]: Have you had people ask you about how to become a power platform architect? Like what are the things that you should do if they wanted to move their career to become a power platform architect? Is there any recommendations you make to them?
[david_rivard]: be passionate. You always need to learn. The power platform is so vast that you can't know everything. As an architect,of course, you need to have a 360 vision to know a bit of everything, but you won't be able to be an expert in everything you really like, because if it's going to be your career, you might as well do something you like. But never stop learning. It's a great platform.It keeps evolving from wave to wave. You see the amount of investment that is being made from Microsoft in the platform form.
[mark_smith]: Yeah. But nothing before it's going to evolve all the time. How did you, who nominated you? How did you become an MVP? What was that process for you?
[david_rivard]: Yeah, actually I was first nominated by Eric Sauve,he's a Canadian MVP,I had the chance.
[mark_smith]: I know, he's a great guy. My kid's Teddy Bear, she's two and a half years old, came from Eric. Oh yeah?
[david_rivard]: Oh yeah, And actually I had the chance to work with him for five years. So he's a close friend to me. He first nominated me in, I think in 2021 I didn't make the cut but It's all good because I upped my game a little bit. nominated this year by Guidu Pryti. So I'm very happy to be nominated by such a such a legend. And this time I was awarded in last October.
[mark_smith]: Are your components in the PCF Gallery?
[david_rivard]: Oh yeah, of course. If you're a PCF author, you need to... Whenever you're done with your control, the first thing you need to think is to publish your component in the PCF gallery. It's the best exposure you can have for your controls.
[mark_smith]: Yeah, so true. He's, he's definitely a legend, Greedo. He's an amazing guy, amazing guy. I've spent some time with him and followed his career for all the years he's been in the MVP. So yeah, can't speak highly enough of him. Tell me about, did anything change for you when you then became an MVP?
[david_rivard]: Of course, it's a big achievement. If we're having an MVP, if you're a restaurant owner, it's like having a Michelin star. You know, it's a very, very big recognition. But I think you need to take this the next level. You need to, once you get it, you need to get it. to up your game again and keep producing stuff. That's the hardest part, because you get to a point where you invested so much, then you have it, then you take, sometimes you take a break, it's good for family, but after that you need to push the machine again and start doing stuff.
[mark_smith]: I like it. I like it. David, it's been very interesting talking to you. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
David Rivard is an experienced Power Platform and .NET architect and developer. He specializes in creating innovative solutions using Power Platform flagships (Dataverse, Power Apps, Power Automate) and Azure Cloud technologies.
As a Microsoft MVP, he is passionate about sharing his expertise and helping others get the most out of these technologies. David loves to blog about technical topics and he enjoys building and sharing open-source tools like PCF controls with the community.