Getting Started with Microsoft Flow – Building Blocks

Microsoft Flow; the workflow engine that anyone can use?  Triggers, actions, connectors; the shear amount of options can be intimidating at first.  So much so that regardless of the tutorials and templates, there is still thought of “What the heck do I do with this?”  Turns out you can do a lot, and you do not need to be a programmer to get the most out of Flow.

Lets start with a couple of important sites.  These two will help you get through the basics of creating your first Flow.

Building Blocks.

So now what?  From the above sites you learned that you can use a “connector” that when an event is “triggered”, you can have an “action” performed.  The trigger can also be something manual or triggered, such as a flow button or timer, but the idea is the same. The samples in the Guided Learning tutorials provide some simple one step cause and effect. The great thing about the way Flow was designed is that it takes a building block approach. You can start with the simple example, copy it, build in a new step, test, and repeat. A simple two step flow can become 3,4,5 steps with branches and loops.

Take my sample:

I started with a common business case ingesting data from a simple form and emailing out the responses.

  1. I created an anonymous form in Microsoft Forms.
  2. In Flow, I created a trigger using the Microsoft Forms connector that fired off when a new response was entered.
  3. I created an action that took the values of the questions from the form, copied that into the body of an email, and then emailed those responses out.

Simple and it worked. However, email is archaic, so I thought why not put in some logical that actually creates the tasks for you.

Building upon what was just created, I inserted two actions in between 2 and 3 that invokes the Microsoft Planner connector to create a new task in Planner itself, then update the newly created task with the remainder of the information from the form.

Realizing that maybe bogus responses could be entered into the form, I inserted a new action after 2 but before the Planner tasks to send out an approval action on the responses of the form. I then took everything after this action and moved it into a condition that stated if the approval status was “approved”, to continue on with the remainder of the flow.

Now my Flow looked like this.

  1. I created an anonymous form in Microsoft Forms.
  2. In Flow, I created a trigger using the Microsoft Forms connector that fired off when a new response was entered.
  3. I created an approval action on the responses of the form and assigned it to an approver.
  4. A condition was created that stated if the approval status was “approved”, to continue on with the remainder of the flow. Otherwise terminate.
  5. I created an action in the Yes section of the condition that invokes the Microsoft Planner connector to create a new task in Planner itself, then update the newly created task with the remainder of the information from the form (UPDATE:  A Do Until loop was added as it was discovered that there is a delay between when a task is created and when it is available for access.  The Do Loop compares the body of the create task with the body of the update task, and will only continue when the update task returns something (in other words, is available for update). This was not the case originally so the Planner connector must have been updated.)
  6. Lastly, I took the values of the questions from the form, copied that into the body of an email, and then emailed those responses out, just in case.

 

Flow_Sample1

And there you have it; taking a simple 2-3 step workflow and building upon it until to meet your growing and changing needs.  This particular flow has been submitted to the Flow Template library, so please look for it and modify it as you see fit!

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