Julian Sharp is the author of Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant: PL-200 Exam Guide, we got the chance to sit down with him and find out more about his experience of writing with Packt.
Q: What is/are your specialist tech area(s)?
Julian: Microsoft Power Platform and Dynamics 365
Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?
Julian: I have been delivering training and creating my own material for several years now. There isn’t a lot of comprehensive content for the Power Platform and I had thought about a number of books I would like to see when Packt contacted me via LinkedIn. So perfect timing really.
Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?
Julian: I spoke to a few who had developed video content for other platforms to discover their experience and Packt sent me a lot of information about the process.
Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?
Julian: The main issues have been around the changes to the certification exams. Microsoft made a number of changes to the exam as I started writing and then had a major refresh of the exams about half way through. Originally I had planned a book for MB-200 which is Dynamics 365 focused. The exam changed to be more about the Power Platform and a brand new exam was created PL-200. I had to wait for the scope of the exam to be released and then had to through away about 4 chapters of material.
Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?
Julian: The Power Platform makes a huge difference to organizations building business applications. With Power Apps and Power Automate you can build apps with no-code. Thousands of people are able to build apps that would not have been able to do before.
Q. Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?
Julian: Although this is an exam prep book, I have made sure that it takes you through learning how to build apps and covers most of what you need to know day-to-day. My aim has always been to provide comprehensive information on each of the topics. It helps that the exam is aimed at the person who builds apps as part of their job. Microsoft has done a good job in targeting the role so that helps.
Q. What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away from the book with?
Julian: There are many. Ideally, readers will be able to get started with all the components of the Power Platform, whether that is creating a Power Automate flow, a Canvas app, or a Power BI dashboard. My experience of delivering training is that people are just overwhelmed by all the options and the mass of information. They just need a guide to help them through. I hope the book achieves this goal.
Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?
Julian: Get Hands-On is my mantra. You need to try something for yourself. Luckily with the Power Platform it is easy to start a trial – my instructions can be found at https://tinyurl.com/trydyn. The other top tip is to get involved in the community and attend events, you will learn so much!
Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?
Julian: I blog on exams and certifications at https://ukcrm.wordpress.com/
Q. Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?
Julian: I always start with the Microsoft Power Platform blog https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/powerplatform/ as it helps show how the Power Platform can be applied to your business scenarios.
Q. How would you describe your author journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?
Julian: I am quite self sufficient so I suspect I didn’t use the support that Packt provides as best I could. I know I would approach a book very differently now. So yes, I would say to an author to go for it but leverage the information Packt provides.
Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?
Julian: The Power Community https://events.powercommunity.com/ where you will hear me speak. The Power Apps Community https://powerusers.microsoft.com/t5/Power-Apps-Community/ct-p/PowerApps1 and Power Automate Community https://powerusers.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-Power-Automate/ct-p/MPACommunity
Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?
Julian: I read The Register https://www.theregister.com/ and Zdnet https://www.zdnet.com/. I follow a lot of blogs and twitter is one of the best for keeping up with news around the Power Platform – search on #PowerAddicts
Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?
Julian: My life as a trainer used to be very chaotic with lots of travelling and changes of schedule which made organizing hard. I do find I need to commit a block of time when writing, I cannot just pick up and do a little and come back to it later. Finding that block of time has been difficult.
Q. What is that one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?
Julian: I plan out each chapter with the sections I will use. I then write the start and the end and then fill in the structure with a few notes for each topic I will be covering. Having that structure really helps being clear what each section is aiming to get over.
You can find Julian’s book on Amazon by following this link: Please click here