M365 Developer Bootcamp and M365 Saturday Sydney

There are two events coming up soon in Sydney regarding the SharePoint, Office 365 and Microsoft 365 community and ecosystem.

M365 Developer Bootcamp Sydney

The M365 Developer Bootcamp is the return of the popular Global Office 365 Developer Bootcamp. This is when the Office 365 MVPs and community experts help everyone and anyone that wants to have a crack at solving any Office 365 (and M365) related coding challenges.

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Whether it is to build a SPFx webpart, extend Microsoft Teams, explore Microsoft Graph. The format this year will be lighter on talks, and more focused on helping you pick a challenge you want to do, and help you complete that project.

Friday, October 18 at the Microsoft Reactor in Level 10, 11 York Street, Sydney (above Wynyard Station in the Sydney Startup Hub).

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/global-microsoft-365-developer-bootcamp-sydney-2019-tickets-71607805875

M365 Saturday

The SharePoint Saturday / O365 Saturday Sydney returns this year as M365 Saturday.

Administrators, end users, architects, developers, and other professionals that work with Microsoft 365 Technologies will meet for the 11th SPS Events Sydney event!

This event is aimed to cover best practices, product/feature usage, and getting the most from the platform and discovering what is possible rather than deep diving into "how to" development topics. Developer topics will be covered more in the M365 Developer Bootcamp above.

Saturday, October 26 at the Microsoft Reactor

http://www.spsevents.org/city/Sydney

Call for speakers is still open for M365 Saturday

https://sessionize.com/m365-saturday-sydney-2019


Help us spread the word, and let us know if you would like to present something!

How do you bring your content to your readers?

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Hi, today’s post isn’t a technical post, this is probably more of a “I need your help post”. So this is something I find really difficult to write about, because I really don't see myself doing well at this.  But it's something that I have given quite a bit of thought, and perhaps, by writing and seeing it all written down, I can streamline my thoughts and enlist You to tell me better ideas of your perspectives and how you managed to do all these things.


My Problem (May be also Your Problem?)

I am a curious person, and I’m a community person. I explore and share what I find. As a result - I create useful content with Microsoft Flow, Power Platform, Office 365, SharePoint, JavaScript, Angular and more.

The content is created on different platforms.

Not all my users are on that one platform - so I need a way to bring the content to them.

From Blog, Twitter, LinkedIn to newsletters and YouTube channels.  The simple goal is to make use of the content as much as I can - so how do we amplify that goal and bring our content to more channels, and thus, a wider reach?

Blog

I started blogging a while ago, first blogs I wrote were basically for myself.  I love blogging, because blogging gives me a place to write down the complex solution we ended up with, the journey and justifications to get here, and ultimately, like every blogger could testify - we end up searching online for a solution, and arrive back on our own blogs.  This is a sign of success.  The past me, invested in knowledge management, for the future me. Thank you so so much, past me.

In the dawn of the Internet - owning a blog was a way everyone could express ourselves.  Highly searchable, and not blocked by paywalls, registration, or even a subscription or promotion model (looking at you Medium) that required everyone to pay before you could get your content promoted, or others can get access to your content.

Microsoft's many community forums, other bloggers and Stack Overflow continues to be a direct source of incoming traffic sending new readers to your blog. In conversations, people will say John, I saw that in your blog. Sometimes years later, someone sends you an email out of nowhere - I saw something in your blog about this problem I have today, and I thought, thanks John, and I send you this email to check on how you are doing these days.

Wonderful wonderful fuzzy feelings. Blogs are the best. 

My scorecard: 8
(This is a score card of realistically how much effort I should put into this content platform)

Blogging works - as the backbone of your content distribution.  Keep blogging.  Blog more regularly.  Perhaps, even write a blog for everything you do elsewhere.

If you have not started a blog, or blogs infrequently, then blog but focus on more timeless content.  Content that makes sense today in 2019 just as it did last year or 2009.  And configure your blog URL and title not to show dates.

Blog syndication?  I think they should have access to a summary, but ultimately, the extended value of the blog is the conversations with you.  If the conversations were happening outside of your view, then they are talking about you, not with you. Try avoid that. 

Twitter

I started Twitter as a way to reach more people, have that conversation - and some of the best conversations (and some of the not so great ones) were had on Twitter.

In the era of Microsoft Flow, as a low code and very visual platform - I started doing essentially micro-blogging of Flow lifehacks on Twitter - these are highly shared and easily promoted by Microsoft community managers, product accounts and even key Microsoft engineers working on that product.

My scorecard: 7

Micro-blogging is fun, but Twitter has one of the worst search experiences, and practically no guarantee of content delivery - you are at the whim of Twitter's relevant content algorithm which artificially decides what should appear or disappear on your follower's timeline.

When I crossed 100 Flow lifehacks, I decided that I need to re-invest those content into proper blog posts - some have pretty serious expressions and formulas behind them.  Others needs a further introduction to why this was a problem in the first place and why this formula solves that problem.

Ultimately, Twitter remains one of the best places to meet and have conversations and see what others are sharing.  Very easy to ask a question and be directed to an answer (hopefully a good answer!)

Use a automated content distribution scheduler - Buffer, Tweetdeck, or something else.  Schedule retweets of your own content in an opposite timezone.

LinkedIn

I come to LinkedIn quite late in the game - there is a specific reason why - see, for the longest time I thought people visit LinkedIn when they are about to change jobs - they go and update their CV. 

I've come to realize this is not the case.  LinkedIn has a mini-community of its own, similar to Twitter, but in which everyone is operating on their own personal accounts and brands.  That means conversations are generally more civilized, and the motive of each person in the community is apparent in the profile they present.  Are they a product vendor?  Are they a consultant?  Are they an outsource company?

Conversations are also generally work related - so even though it feels like social banter - it’s targetted banter related to work topics. Social like Twitter, but without all the random noise related to everything “not work”.

People tend to put on a more polite face when they use that face to sell their services.

My scorecard: 7

Use an automated content distribution tool like Buffer - but make sure you engage and connect with people to extend your circle, and answer messages.

Live Coding / Live Stream

Live coding is something I REALLY wanted to do - because of the Flow lifehacks that I do are basically hour-ish quick hacks with Flow and we can see some immediate results.  I always wanted to record that and turn that into a stream-able content. 

I actually tried live coding / live streaming Flow lifehacks several times, each time with very few attendees. 

If you do this well, I want to know! 

My thoughts on this - to build a following for live streaming, you must advertise, advertise, advertise that you are going to do this at a specific time, so people can plan and join you in that time.  Make it regular is good, but it must be advertised.  Have a set plan of how long you will go on air, what problem you want to solve, and what outcome you want to have.  This may be easy or hard, really depends on what you do.

My personal scorecard: 4

Podcasts

Podcasts are an interesting thing - see in Sydney, we have a problem.  The rest of the world likes to run livestreams and community calls during our sleep time - the optimal time that these live events run is a time that covers America and Europe, this is basically between 1am and 4am Sydney time.

So many Sydney based MVPs face the same problem - we can't join product community calls, as that will destroy our next day and we'd be completely hopeless in our day jobs the day after. 

And if you stay up to present at these community calls, we salute you and think you are a machine.  In reality, your hair is white from lack of sleep, and you require the assistance of a barber that knows how to dye your hair back to black so you look like you went back through a time machine and lost 20 years. True story.

So instead, we often say well, we should start our own podcasts - Office Devs Down Under.  Do you know what happens when your Office Dev MVPs have a lot of time because Support is asleep during your work hours and you have to fix something for your customers because Vendor is unavailable?

We became extremely good at trouble shooting Vendor's problems, and have an extremely versatile perspective. Get stuff fixed with or without support

May be that's still going to be a thing.  Gosh, I want this to be a thing.  I really do.

My personal scorecard: 2

YouTube channel

As I progress in my thoughts - I wondered, OK, perhaps rather than making a scheduled effort to produce a regular live stream or podcast, I should make a series of videos and post them to YouTube but release them over time. 

Subscribe to John Liu, Flow Ninja channel

The tricky part here is not so much the recording, but the editing.  Producing content gets easier the more we record and practice, but it always takes extra time, sometimes a lot more time, to edit the video content to be consumable.

Sometimes, it might be easier to work with another MVP that's got a big following in this area and record something with them, and perhaps cross post that to your own channel. 

Dedicate your own channel, or partner with existing publishers? Hard questions - may be both, and add the shared videos to your play list so they appear on your own channel too.

My personal scorecard:

Newsletters

Ultimately, this is not something I realized until much later, as I'm expanding my reach to people that follow my work - an regular email newsletter is still the best way to reach your entire potential community, everywhere.

Whether you introduce them to your new YouTube channel.  Draw their attention to the latest Microsoft update and what that means for them.  A super new technique that they can use to really get the best outcome from their PowerApps or Flow investments on your blog post. 

An upcoming free event or paid conference.
A newsletter is the most basic form of content, and still the best way to reach your audience.

Make it genuine.  Make it you.  Be authentic.  Don't put a bunch of random advertising in it.  Especially don't let Meetup own your mailing list so now you can't reach your own audience that you sweated so hard to earn their trust to come to your user groups every month. 

My scorecard: 9

Subscribe to Flow Studio Newsletter! (sorry I can’t resist)

Summary

This, and more is what I really think about each of these platforms and what I really want to do with every one of them, (if I have all the time in the world).  But I think if there's anything you should take as the one thing from me, it is this - build up a mailing list for newsletters.  That's always useful.  Publish a digest of your own blog posts or YouTube and mail it out to your followers once a month. Add a subscribe to your newsletter link somewhere on your blog, and YouTube channel. 

Make it genuine, and make it you.

There's a few things I want you to help me:  first - fill in this survey to let me know how you consume content, and how you'd like to produce content. 

 

Second, please leave any comments below - especially if you really disagree with my assessment of how certain platform should be utilized.  I really want to know your perspective.  Because this is something that I think is bigger than all of us.

Thank You

Several people directly and indirectly helped me to write and review this blog post

  • Shiva Ford asked me to write something two months ago and I basically have this blog post in mind for two month, brooding how to write this. Some parts are really hard. But once you brooded over an article for two months, you can’t let it go to waste, all that brain cells given to this writing.

  • Marc Anderson - read Sympraxis Blogs - I asked Marc to review the blog post and you will not believe how fast Marc was able to correctly identify my “real” problem. He suggested that I look for a part time product / marketing manager to handle Flow Studio app. Marc is an ultra Gandalf-Yoda.

  • George Doubinski - we have a lot of chats over content platforms and extending our content several months back, and then again last week. Read CRM Tip of the Day and thinking about how do we bring that amount of content to our readers.

  • Reza and Leila - similar discussions for Power BI and AI related content over last week, which went into my thinking and writing.

Flow Studio 1K users - time for a roadmap update

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In the past week - total number of Flow Studio users crossed over 1000.

We have 1000 users!

We want to thank you, Flow makers, for your support. When you share a feature you loved, or suggest a feature that was missing or tell me a bug that we’ve never seen before.

We really enjoyed the journey, there is much we didn’t know when we started, but your support made sure we keep going on.

If you don’t know what John does - check out

https://flowstudio.app


What’s next in Flow Studio?

It’s perhaps a good time to talk about what’s coming next on the Flow Studio roadmap.

We have been very busy.




Flow Studio

Flow Studio’s key feature today is a better way to manage a maker’s own inventory of Flows, with a suite of tools to help a maker with making more successful flows.

Along the way, makers relied on:

  • #hashtag grouping

  • Sort by failed runs and last modified runs

  • Run sparklines

  • Edit JSON

  • Runs with Context

  • Bulk run resubmit

  • Flow version history

  • Full definition text search

  • … just to list some of our favourite features.

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Our next big roadmap milestone is a Flow deployment wizard

  • Create a deployment plan to copy a template Flow, with variable, URL or connection replacements, to a set of destinations.
    Ideally, the target scenario is for 1 Flow to be copied to 50 SharePoint sites.

  • Keep the deployment plan to perform future updates. Because deployment is never a one-off process.

  • We will be able to copy between 1 to many sites

  • Between multiple Flow environments

  • And eventually, between different accounts - for user migration (and even tenants)

This work is progressing, you can support us right now by trying Flow Studio - and reach out and tell us what scenarios you need.

Get started with Flow Studio for free: https://flowstudio.app/

Flow Studio for IT

Flow Studio is designed for an individual maker, or even a consulting company creating Flows under a single account. It helps us manage the Flows in that one account.

It turns out, an inventory management tool for an individual maker and a fast way to see the runs immediately, is actually a scaled down version of what an IT management and governance portal needs.

IT wants to know what’s in every maker’s toolbox. What is running across the enterprise. What’s successful and keep them that way, and what’s not successful and needs to be mitigated.

Picture ourselves across the fog of war that is today’s IT - how many Flows are we able to see? Are they successful? If they aren’t successful, do we know? Are they business critical? If they are business critical but not successful… Is that a risk?

To begin to answer all these questions, we think we need to understand the landscape - let’s produce a Map. Is there a way we can get a bird’s eye view of the entire map of Flows across the entire company.

This is a picture of London underground. The FLOWS IN YOUR ORG LOOKS LIKE THIS.

This is a picture of London underground.
The FLOWS IN YOUR ORG LOOKS LIKE THIS.

Our second roadmap milestone - is to create a governance dashboard.

We want to know

  • All the Flows and the runs, are they successful, are they failing, when have they been last modified?

  • All the Users - who are our Makers, what Flows do they do?

  • All the Systems - what systems do they touch - not just SharePoint, which Site? Not just Exchange - which email account?

    • You can use SharePoint connectors. But you can’t use it on any site URL

    • You can use Exchange connectors. But you can’t use it on certain email addresses

  • All the solutions - we understand

    • Flow solutions (managed and unmanaged)

    • Teams Flows

    • Personal Flows

    • Resource Owner Flows

    • We also understand if a maker is using Flow Studio tags.

  • All the connectors

  • Monitor, Alert Agents, Reports

  • Bring the bulk editing tooling from Flow Studio and scale it to IT

We want to ensure

  • All your business critical processes are automated and monitored

  • Maintain Flow success - we want green ticks across the map

We are in the process of building this out with several partners that has expressed interest. Please do reach out if you think your IT needs this. We are looking out for early pilot companies that wants to see and be on top of the Flows that are being created across their business. We think we have the perfect product you might want to try and build it with us.

Contact us: support @ flowstudio.app

Business

I leave this one at the end - Flow Studio is supported by a separate business entity Flow Studio Solutions, which is also John’s first company. So, aside from writing all that wonderful code (code is so wonderful), I’m also learning everything that I loved about learning. From the next Australian financial year forward, Flow Studio invoices will come out of a company entity.

There is much uncertainty of what I just don’t know. Sales, tax, marketing, support. My problems have their own problems. Like IT needs a MAP to see their Flows, John also needs a mental map to see his business.

If you feel hey John’s cadence has slowed down - I’m sorry. My efforts are split between several major roadmap milestone features. These are bigger pieces that needs more work to get right before I can push them out the door. Hope you understand.

Reminding myself to be more kind. Scary is the unknown path I have chosen, but I need to remind myself to be more kind, there’s enough stress in the world, I shall not add more.

We hope to bring you the latest in Flow Studio very very soon! Drop us a comment or note about anything!



Difinity Conference 2019 Auckland - Hackathon Workshop, Flow and PowerApps

I’ll be presenting at Difinity Conference 2019 Auckland on several presentations.

Difinity is the largest Microsoft Data Platform conference in New Zealand. I’ll be presenting two talks - one on Microsoft Flow and one on PowerApps.

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Pre-Conf Hackathon/Workshop: Master your inner Flow and PowerApps

This is a whole day workshop covering PowerApps and Microsoft Flow at a beginner to intermediate level, for the Difinity conference - the exercises are tuned for PowerBI integration.

http://difinity.co.nz/pre-conference-workshops-difinity-2019/#CustomConnector

Introduction to PowerApps and Power BI

This session is about two things – it is firstly a thorough introduction about PowerApps, where it came from and where is it going.

And it is also about how the sum is more than the individual parts – when we combine PowerApps and Power BI we can build some truly amazing more interactive reports & dashboards.

How to make everything with Microsoft Flow (advanced)

This is a intermediate-advance level Microsoft Flow session that looks at the very different types of Flow automations that we can do. Whether it is personal automation, enterprise workflows, or developer webservices. Flow is that flexible tool.

Chat!

Those that have met me will know I’m a very chatty person!

I’ll be hanging out at the community booths, so come find me, or tweet me and ask your Flow, PowerApps (or SharePoint) questions!

MS Ignite the Tour 2019 Sydney - MS Flow x2

I’ll be presenting at Microsoft Ignite the Tour 2019, Sydney on two Microsoft Flow presentations.

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Advancing the Flow - understand expressions in Microsoft Flow

Is a short 15 minute theatre session on expressions. In a short 15 minutes I’d like to cover why you might want to use expressions, and how it opens the entire Flow engine to your command.

Flow for Developers - insane low-code Serverless automation

This is a full hour breakout session where I wanted to talk about what we can do with Flow, at the intermediate to advanced end and the power it opens up to every platform it touches. Whether it is SharePoint Online, Dynamics CRM, PowerApps or Power BI, from Microsoft 365 to Dynamics 365 to Azure. We have 250+ connectors and it is completely bananas for developer productivity.

Chat!

Those that have met me will know I’m a very chatty person!

I’ll be hanging out at the community booths or at the SharePoint Gurus + Valo booth, so come find me, or tweet me and ask your Flow (or SharePoint) questions!