Microsoft Flow is one of the hot product nowadays and it is not new. It is in the industry from the last few years. In this article, we will try to explore Microsoft Flow and know how it can be helpful to you with an example.
I have changed my writing style in this blog to resolve all the question which you might have if you are new to Microsoft Flow.
What is Microsoft Flow?
Microsoft Flow as the name suggests it helps in building the workflow to resolve business problems or we can say that It helps to automate workflow to resolve business needs or problems. It is basically part of the Microsoft Office 365 suites and mainly created to Business users or Business Analyst to solve or automate their business needs without having knowledge of different programming language like Java C# etc.
It makes you smarter to solve your problem with doing automating the steps. It is a graphical based tool to design flow to resolve any problem.
What are the different scenarios where I can use Microsoft Flow?
Now, you might be thinking of where you can use this. below are several business scenarios where we can use flow.
Email or Mobile Notification
Suppose, you are a marketing team head and you want a notification on your mobile whenever any new lead is generated, then, in this case, Microsoft Flow will help you.
Suppose, you are working on Printer server and your task is to continue watch files in a folder and if any new file arrived in that DropBox folder then you have to print it and share in the email to the XYZ person, then in this case also you can use flow.
The other example is to dump the twitter data in your database. For example, you want to monitor what are the different tweets are coming on your newly launched product or product features so you can analyze the sentiments.
your employee added a Leave request in your portal then Flow will send an email to the manager and as a manager you can approve or hold or cancel that request either directly from outlook message of from Flow itself as per your decision the result will be updated in your portal and a notification email sent to requester employee.
There might be tonnes of examples or situations where we can use Microsoft Flow to automate and ease our work.
How it is different from Logic Apps?
Now, as you might have gone through my previous blogs and you might be thinking it is just like Logic Apps. So, my answer is yes, it is the same as Logic Apps because it is created on top of Logic Apps. but there are various different points where it differs from Logic Apps.
Below are some of them.
1. Flow is Office 365 suits part and an Individual application for which you don’t need Azure Subscription but for Logic Apps you required Azure Subscription.
2. Flow is developed for Business users /Business Analyst so, you don’t need to write complex code or modify the existing thing use Visual studio to enhance or create but Logic Apps is mainly for developers or people who have programming knowledge so it may require they can change the visual studio code.
What is the first step to start Microsoft Flow?
To start the flow you need to sign up on website https://flow.Microsoft.com. If you are office 365 users then you can sign in with that account or use any other email like Hotmail, outlook to sign up.
Now, you might be thinking about the pricing. There are 3 different plans available, free, Flow Plan1, Flow Plan 2. depends upon your need you can choose any plan.
Once you opted the plan and sing In after login you will get following home screen to proceed further or we can say this would be your play area where you can create different flows.
Just, make you aware there are various predefined templates available which are created based upon various frequently business needs
How does it work?
Now, as mentioned earlier it is most likely Logic Apps. So, similar to Logic Apps it has the various connector.
Just think if the concept “if something happened then we have to do something”. So, basically this is based on Trigger and then Action. concept.
Example, An email came to your inbox (Trigger) then (Action) send a mobile notification.
There are more than 200+ connectors available to help you and ease your work.
Can we have a step by step example to try it out?
Yes, and believe me this is one of the important examples for all the blogger and they will surely, like it.
For a blogger the challenge is promoting his/her post and for which he/she needs to create a shorten URL either on (goo.gl or bitly.com) and then share on Facebook, Twitter or other social media channel.
Now, this is again a time-consuming process. Now, what you think if we can automate this process.
So, our challenge is whenever a new post is added in the blog then our flow identify that trigger and then provide that link to bitly.com and create a short bitly link and then post the generated link to social media (but in this example I created the notification to make it short and sweet choosing existing template ).
Now with the assumption, you already created your account in the Flow and logged in successfully. we proceed further.
Let’s follow the step here
Step 1: A an existing template “When a post is created in ”WordPress create a Bitlink URL and send the notification” as shown in below figure.
Step 2: Now, as you can see we have to configure the btily authentication and allow Microsoft Flow to access bitly.com to create URL. as shown in the figure.
Step 3:- Once you allowed it. in the next step, we have to give authentication and authorization to access our WordPress blog. So, whenever a new post came flow will identify. so, just provide access as shown in the below figure.
Step 4:- so far so good we have given authorization for bitly & our WordPress blog. we don’t need to configure the next step because it would be automatically configured. Now, we are good to go. we have configured perfectly in a few clicks, just save the Flow and check the flow using flow checker option.
If there is no error you found in Flow Checker just click the Test option as shown in below figure.
Step 5: Now, go to your blog and create a post and publish it. You will be surprised that your flow automatically identified the new post and created a short URL and notify you as well.
You can see all the flow steps are checked it means the flow is successful.
Step 6: Now, you can check bitly.com and you can find the URL is created and also you got the notification.
Step 7: You can check each step detail as well by clicking the object
So we are good with the flow example.
Please, share your input on how you like the flow and this post 🙂