I have finally got to learning the basics of Microsoft Flow. If, like me, the curly brace keys are most under-utilized keys on the keyboard, you have a new best friend. My first mission was to bring attachments from emails into CRM. In a couple of days I have gone from zero to achievement unlocked. For the Flow curious I thought I would walk through how to set it up. There is a bit to explain so I will split this over a few blogs (probably three). This one will introduce Flow and show how to set up a trial.
What Does Flow Do?
The usual explanation for Microsoft Flow is “Microsoft’s If This Then That (IFTTT)”. If you are familiar with IFTTT, essentially Flow provides a series of Connectors which link to various online apps and you then chain them together to do something. For simple migrations and integrations, Flow offers a configurable and more manageable alternative to code.
To compare to CRM Workflows, Workflows are great at moving data around CRM and performing actions. Flows allow you to do this beyond the boundaries of CRM, interacting with products such as OneDrive, Exchange, and SharePoint (as well as quite a few non-Microsoft ones).
Getting a Trial
This is by far the easiest trial I have ever set up for a Microsoft product. Go to http://flow.microsoft.com and click “Sign up free”.
Follow the prompts and you will get a 90 day trial. Alternatively, if you already have an Office 365 account, sign in with this to make linking to your Office 365 products automatic.
To see if the things you want to talk to each other are available for Flow, go Connectors. Here you will be presented with all available Connectors, including Dynamics 365 (CRM).
There are also some non-system Connectors called Actions (available when setting up the Flow) such as:
- Approvals: Services for Approval Flows (discussed briefly later on in this blog)
- Content Conversion: Not the most extensive of services but it allows HTML to be converted to plain text (maybe useful when turning emails into things like Cases)
- Data Operations: Reasonably self-explanatory but here are the specific services offered
- Notification: To send a mobile or email notification as part of the Flow
- Schedule: To insert delays in your Flow
- Variables: Useful for passing ‘bits’ between the Steps in your Flow and for using in loops
NB: Approvals and Content Conversion sit under Connectors in Flow but are Actions in my mind
Fortunately, we do not have to start from scratch when linking Connectors and Actions. Microsoft provides a large set of Templates to base your Flow on. Going to Templates, shows a series of pre-made Flows which are very useful as a starting point.
For the purpose of setting up our sample Flow we now have everything we need but there are other sections on the page:
- My Flows: Where the Flows we make reside
- Approvals: Specifically for setting up approval processes
- Learn: A bunch of tutorials, documentation and the like to get you on the right track
In Our Next Episode
In my next blog I will show the Flow that failed (Taking Exchange email attachments and creating CRM Notes from them) and then in the last blog how I went to SharePoint to solve the problem.