If you’ve followed my blog, you know I’ve been looking at PowerApps. PowerApps consists of two parts: Flows (formerly Logic Flow App) and just Apps. Flows allowed you to do things like “If someone tweets about my company, send me an email”, or “When a record is added to SalesForce, add an item to a SharePoint List”. Microsoft has now taken out Flows / Logic Flow Apps, and released it as a separate product: Flow. I think this is a good step, PowerApps can then focus on enabling power users to create mobile apps. I will briefly discuss what Flow is, and show an example of an automated tweet translator emailer.
I compared Flow previously to IFTTT, and this is still true, but Flow is so much more. IFTTT only allows one trigger (If This) and one action (Then That). Flow allows you to create relatively complex workflows, like “If a record is created in SalesForce, check the customer name, and depending on the budget send an email, or add an item to a SharePoint list. Finally, update the item in SalesForce that it has been processed”.
Flow is not to replace complex (SharePoint) workflows, but it is aiming at connecting different applications. You could still have a complex workflow running behind the items that are added by Flow.
I’ve played around before with Flows in PowerApps, and found it unreliable. But my feedback to Microsoft has been heard, Flow really impressed me! One of our customers asked us the other day: I want to receive an email when a company tweets about them, but it should also translate it if the tweet was in a foreign language. I tried it with PowerApps, but it failed due to some issues with the translator. But with Flow I’ve got it working, as I will show you!
Let’s start: Open Flow
Yes, this is not a surprise, start off by going to the Flow dashboard at: https://flow.microsoft.com. You will see a nice, clean UI with one text box: What do you want to automate. As stubborn I am, I thought: that search is not for me, but after trying it out it was really helpful. I typed in “Twitter” and it showed me all the templates that are using Twitter. What a list! Compared to PowerApps, the list is much longer, which is good. Truth being said, it looks a lot like IFTTT, but it works!
Click on the most popular one:
In the next screen click on “Use this template”. It will open up a screen where you have to authenticate against the three services: Twitter, Office 365 Users, and Office 365 Email. The latter two can be the same account. On the next screen you will see the Flow designer, which shows all the steps in the Flow:
- Trigger: If a tweet matches a certain query,
- Action: Look up information about the tweet, look up your user information in Office 365, and send an email.
Configure the Twitter Trigger by adding a query. Double click on the Twitter tile and set a Query Text. In my example I have set it to “#flowtranslatetest”.
The next thing to do is to add the Translate action. Click the + icon at the bottom, and then “Add an action”
Search for “Translate” and select the Translate Text action.
Now, configure this action as follows:
I’ve chosen Spanish as my target language, as I’ve had some Spanish classes 10 years ago and I would like to check I can still read it.
The final step is to configure the Send Email task to include the translation. The body of the email already contains a lot of information, you need to add the translated text at the bottom:
And that’s it! Save the flow, send out a Tweet that contains your query, and check your email.
… and after a minute I got an email!
This was just an example
Flow can do much more, and will make it very easy to connect all of your business applications like Salesforce, CRM, Dropbox, Slack, SharePoint, etc. It does not require any developer knowledge and is very easy to use. Keep in mind it’s still in Preview, so things may change, and may not work. Please shout out if you want me to write about a business scenario you want to solve with Flow!