Tag Archives: Microsoft Flow

Microsoft Flow – Platform Review

It looks like Microsoft created a generic workflow platform, product independent.

Microsoft has software solutions, like MS Outlook with an [email] rules engine built into Outlook.  SharePoint has a workflow solution within the Sharepoint Platform, typically governing the content flowing through it’s system.

Microsoft Flow is a different animal.  It seems like Microsoft has built a ‘generic’ rules engine for processing almost any event.  The Flow product:

  1. Start using the product from one of two areas:  a) “My Flows” where I may view existing and create new [work]flows. b) “Activity”, that shows “Notifications” and “Failures”
  2. Select “My Flows”, and the user may “Create [a workflow] from Blank”,  or “Browse Templates”.  MSFT existing set of templates were created by Microsoft, and also by a 3rd party implying a marketplace.
  3. Select “Create from Blank” and the user has a single drop down list of events, a culmination events across Internet products. There is an implication there could be any product, and event “made compatible” with MSFT Flows.
    1. The drop down list of events has a format of “Product – Event”.  As the list of products and events grow, we should see at least two separate drop down lists, one for products, and a sub list for the product specific events.
    2. Several Example Events Include:
      1. “Dropbox – When a file is created”
      2. “Facebook – When there is a new post to my timeline”
      3. “Project Online – When a new task is created”
      4. “RSS – When a feed item is published”
      5. “Salesforce – When an object is created”
    3. The list of products as well as there events may need a business analyst to rationalize the use cases.
  4. Once an Event is selected, event specific details may be required, e.g. Twitter account details, or OneDrive “watch” folder
  5. Next, a Condition may be added to this [work]flow,  and may be specific to the Event type, e.g. OneDrive File Type properties [contains] XYZ value.  There is also an “advanced mode” using a conditional scripting language.
  6. There is “IF YES” and “IF NO” logic, which then allows the user to select one [or more] actions to perform
    1. Several Action Examples Include:
      1. “Excel – Insert Rows”
      2. “FTP – Create File”
      3. “Google Drive – List files in folder”
      4. “Mail – Send email”
      5. “Push Notification – Send a push notification”
    2. Again, it seems like an eclectic bunch of Products, Actions, and Events strung together to have a system to POC.
  7. The Templates list, predefined set of workflows that may be of interest to anyone who does not want to start from scratch.   The UI provides several ways to filter, list, and search through templates.

Applicable to everyday life, from an individual home user, small business, to the enterprise.  At this stage the product seems in Beta at best, or more accurately, just after clickable prototype.  I ran into several errors trying to go through basic use cases, i.e. adding rules.

Despite the “Preview” launch, Microsoft has showed us the power in [work]flow processing regardless of the service platform provider, e.g.  Box, DropBox, Facebook, GitHub, Instagram, Salesforce, Twitter, Google, MailChimp, …

Microsoft may be the glue to combine service providers who may / expose their services to MSFT Flow functionality.

Create from Blank - Select Condition
Create from Blank – Select Condition

 

Create Rule from Template
Create Rule from Template
Create from Blank Rule Building UI
Create from Blank Rule Building UI

 

Update June 28th, 2016:

Opportunities for Event, Condition, Action Rules

  • Transcoding [cloud] Services
  • [IBM Watson] Cognitive APIs
    • e.g. Language:Translation; E.g.2. Visual Recognition;
  • WordPress – Create a Post
    • New text file dropped in specific folder on Box, DropBox, etc. being ‘monitored’ by MSFT flow [?] Additional code required by user for ‘polling’ capabilities
    • OR new text file attached, and emailed to specific email account folder ‘watched’ by MSFT Flow.
    • Event triggers – Automatic read of new text file
      • stylizing may occur if HTML coding used
    • Action – Post to a Blog
  • ‘ANY’ Event occurs, a custom message is sent using Skype for a single or group of Skype accounts;
    • On several ‘eligible’ events, such as “File Creation” into Box,  the file (or file shared URL) may be sent to the Skype account.
  • ‘ANY’ Event occurs, a custom mobile text message is sent to a single or group of phone numbers.
  • Event occurs for “File Creation” e.g. into Box; after passing a “Condition”, actions occur:
    • IBM Watson Cognitive API, Text to Speech, occurs, and the product of the action is placed in the same Box folder.
  • Action: Using Microsoft Edge (powered by MSN), in the “My news feed” tab, enable action to publish “Cards”, such as app notifications

Challenges \ Opportunities \ Unknowns

  • 3rd party companies existing, published [cloud; web service] APIs may not even need any modification to integrate with Microsoft Flow; however, business approval may be required to use the API in this manner,
  • It is unclear re: Flow Templates need to be created by the product owner, e.g. Telestream, or knowledgeable third party, following the Android, iOS, and/or MSFT Mobile Apps model.
  • It is unclear if the MSFT Flow app may be licensed individually in the cloud, within the 365 cloud suite, or offered for Home and\or Business?