In the last few years, Microsoft Flow has taken off like a storm. It is one of the most versatile product, but also quite tricky to completely cover because Flow can be many things.
It is workflow
It is automation
It is serverless middleware
It can be a messaging orchestrator
It can be integration service
Microsoft Flow is a product that everyone, from Power Users to IT Pros to Developers need to understand and utilize in our toolbelt.
Two years ago, I remember excitedly telling everyone I meet about Flow - a year later, the same people that thought I was way over the top is excitedly telling me they have also discovered what I meant and caught the same fever.
On Learning - a Roadmap to Mastery
When learning Flow - there are milestones that we go through. Consider our own experiences and where we are, the next step isn’t very far away.
Get started - read the templates and see what’s available
Understand the triggers and actions
Understand how to chain them - how each output work, and how the properties are filtered by type
Understand how to read each action’s output - knowing what the output looks like helps with understanding if we need to write expressions later.
Compose and Test - with previous run are our best friends. They tell us what’s going on in the values of our steps, and is our source of debugging if things has gone wrong.
Understand logic constructs - for each, conditions, variables
Understand how to chain beyond the basics - expressions
At this point we should start to go looking for advanced trouble:
peek code, static output, parallelism, fan-out / fan-in, timeout / retry policy, pagination, asynchronous webhook callback, run-after configurations, HTTP Request and Response.
Patterns emerge - approval timeout escalation, state machines, sending pictures from PowerApps to SharePoint, bulk copying data across CDS and Excel, anything-governance with Flow.
Built on the smaller pieces that we mastered along the way, but combined in an elegant way.
Wrap custom APIs for others to use:
schema, authentication schemes and custom connections
Anyone claiming to have the perfect roadmap can only show us the way for where this person has been.
If you know what’s next - let us know in the comments.
Remember each success brings us closer to the next milestone. These steps aren’t completely sequential - but knowing how to read an action’s output will help with writing expressions.
In the upcoming Digital Workplace Conference Australia, I’ll be giving an advanced introduction to Microsoft Flow - with a twist.
This session is an introduction to Microsoft Flow – but I will go far deeper – and will show the many different “kinds” of Flow apps that we can build. Each one hopefully a spark in our imagination.
We will cover some deeper technical sides of Flow. What does it look like under the hood. When do we need to learn advanced expressions and why are they necessary.
When we don’t have an action, we make our own actions. When we don’t have a trigger, we make our own triggers. From patterns, to expressions to insane tricks.
Me, you, we!
The 1 hour will never be enough to answer everything and go deep enough to satisfy everyone.
Please please please come talk to me and ask me your Flow questions directly - where you are, if you have an error with your Flow. I’m here to help.
Ultimately, we discover that the true joy of Flow is not merely creating a business workflow. It is a bit more low level. It is low-code execution, they run and do whenever and whatever we want them to do.
The joy I think is being able to imagine them, build them step by step, each step closer to our goals, and when our Flow finally succeeds, our wishes are fulfilled.