Getting started with Microsoft Flow

Microsoft embed the couple of new services to office 365 service club on May 4th 2016. From that day on wards, most of persons may noticed two new app tiles are visible in the suite bar.

App Tiles
Figure1: App Tiles

One is Microsoft PowerApps and another one is Microsoft Flow (this is similar to the workflow designer)

This article covers the introduction to Microsoft Flow, its users and a simple example to connect Outlook and SharePoint. Will cover PowerApps later.

Introduction

In our world, we are using most of the services separately and enjoying their benefits alone. There is no easier way to connect each services. For ex., There is no easier methods available to connect between the Dropbox and SharePoint, SharePoint and Twitter, Salesforce and Dropbox, etc…

To achieve those connectivity, we have to spend lot for our time and money to establishing the connectivity between each service. To avoid that cons, Microsoft introduces the Flow service, that bridges the gap between each services / application in the form of automated workflow.

At present, Microsoft Flow is in preview state and this enables us to setup (configure / create) automated workflows between our favorite apps and services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data and more.

Microsoft Flow
Figure 2: Automate Tasks

Below screenshot shows the apps / cloud services available for connectivity in flow. We have to setup a connection between each services to start creating a flow.

List of Available Services
Figure 3: List of Services

 

Before jump in to sample, Microsoft Flow ships with around 50 pre-defined templates. The template can save our time and simplify our work life by connecting the services in a flow instead of starting from scratch.

I have listed some available templates below,

  • Save my email attachments to SharePoint Library
  • Get daily remainders in email
  • Send me an email when a new file is added to SharePoint online
  • Save email attachments to dropbox
  • Translate non-english emails

I’ll cover detail about each template in upcoming articles.

Example:

In this example, we are going to use a pre-defined template called “Save my email attachments to SharePoint Library” to create a flow.

This template used to copy the email attachments to the SharePoint Library, whenever a new emails reaches with attachments to the Inbox.

Prerequisites:

  • User should have access to SharePoint site
  • User should have office 365 outlook account
  • SharePoint site should have some library to copy attachments. (In example, we are using document library named “Email Attachments”)

Create a new Flow:

  1. Signup and sign in to a Flow site https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/ with an office 365 account
  2. Click Browse from the suite bar / enter “Save my email attachments to SharePoint Library” in search box to view the flow template, which is used for our example.

    Flow Templates
    Figure 4: Flow Templates
  3. Select / click “Save my email attachments to a SharePoint document library” box.
  4. In the template page, click “Use this template” button to start create a flow,

    Flow Template
    Figure 5: Select Flow Template
  5. Now the system redirected to the page, where you can create new connections to establish the permissions to access Outlook API and SharePoint Online API services.

    Add Connection
    Figure 6: Manage connection for template
  6. To add a connection, click on Select a connection drop down under Office 365 Outlook and then select “+ Add new connection”, which redirects the user to sign-in page for selected product.

    Add Connection to Flow
    Figure 7: Add Connection to Flow
  7. Click “Sign in to Office 365 Outlook”, which open an another window to enter credentials to add the connection to the flow.

    Sign In Page
    Figure 8: Outlook Sign-in page
  8. Once the connection established, Manage Permissions page looks like below, (for ex., I have used the same account to connect the Office 365 Outlook and SharePoint online). Click “Continue” start creating a new flow.

    Manage Permission
    Figure 9: Service Connections
  9. You can set name for the flow in “Flow name” textbox. I have changed from “Save my email attachments to a SharePoint document library” to “My First flow application”

    Create Flow
    Figure 10: Flow creation page
  10. Expand “On new email” by clicking on that, then select “Inbox” folder from outlook email box.

    Add Outlook Settings
    Figure 11: Add Outlook Settings
  11. Then expand, “Create File” to provide SharePoint site and Library details. And Flow application provides some predefined termsets for setting file name and content for new file.
  12. Enter SharePoint Online url in Site Url,
  13. Select or enter web relative url of library folder name in Folder Path
  14. Select “Name” term for File Name and “Content” term for File Content.

    Add SharePoint Online Settings
    Figure 12: Add SharePoint Online Settings
  15. Click “Create Flow” button available next to the Flow Name text box.
  16. We will get success message after creation of flow.

    Success Message
    Figure 13: Flow Submission
  17. Click Done to open “My Flows” page.

    My Flows
    Figure 14: My Flows
  18. Click List Rrns List Runs button to view the history of runs for the selected flow.

    Flow History
    Figure 15: History of flow runs
  19. If the outlook receives the emails in Inbox, our “My First flow application” flow runs and check for email attachments. If attachments available in email, the workflow will automatically copy the attachments to SharePoint Library “Email Attachments”

Conclusion:

Microsoft flow provides a nice feature to integrate different services and all we can control by creating a workflow.

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