Getting Started With Microsoft Flow

Introduction

Microsoft embedded a couple of new services to Office 365 service club on May 4, 2016. From that day onwards, most people may have noticed two new app tiles are visible in the suite bar.



One is Microsoft PowerApps and another one is Microsoft Flow (this is similar to the workflow designer). This article covers the introduction to Microsoft Flow, its users and a  simple example to connect Outlook and SharePoint. I will cover PoewrApps later.

In our world, we are using most of the services separately and enjoying their benefits alone. There is no easier way to connect each service. For example, there is no easier method available to connect between the Dropbox and SharePoint, SharePoint and Twitter, Salesforce and Dropbox, etc… 

To achieve this connectivity, we have to spend a lot of our time and money to establishing the connectivity between each service. To avoid those cons, Microsoft introduces the Flow service, that bridges the gap between each service / application in the form of automated workflow.

At present, Microsoft Flow is in preview state and this enables us to setup (configure / create) automated workflows among our favorite apps and services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data and more.



Below screenshot shows the apps / cloud services available for connectivity in flow. We have to setup a connection between each service to start creating a flow.



Before jumping in to sample, Microsoft Flow ships with around 50 pre-defined templates. The templates can save our time and simplify our work life by connecting the services in a flow instead of starting from scratch.

I have listed some available templates below,
  • Save my email attachments to SharePoint Library.
  • Get daily remainders in email.
  • Send me an email when a new file is added to SharePoint online.
  • Save email attachments to Dropbox.
  • Translate non-english emails.

I’ll cover details about each template in upcoming articles.

Example:

In this example, we are going to use a pre-defined template called “Save my email attachments to SharePoint Library” to create a flow.
This template is used to copy the email attachments to the SharePoint Library, whenever a new emails reaches with attachments to the Inbox.

Prerequisites:

  • User should have access to SharePoint site
  • User should have office 365 outlook account.
  • SharePoint site should have some library to copy attachments. (In example, we are using document library named “Email Attachments”).

Create a new Flow:

  1. Signup and sign in to a Flow site https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/ with an office 365 account

  2. Click Browse from the suite bar / enter “Save my email attachments to SharePoint Library” in search box to view the flow template, which is used for our example.



  3. Select / click “Save my email attachments to a SharePoint document library” box.

  4. In the template page, click “Use this template” button to start create a flow,



  5. Now the system is redirected to the page,where you can create new connections to establish the permissions to access Outlook API and SharePoint Online API services.



  6. To add a connection, click on Select a connection dropdown under Office 365 Outlook and then select “+ Add new connection”, which redirects the user to signin page for selected product.



  7. Click “Sign in to Office 365 Outlook”, which opens an another window to enter credentials to add the connection to the flow.



  8. Once the connection is established, Manage Permissions page looks like below, (for ex., I have used the same account to connect the Office 365 Outlook and SharePoint online). Click “Continue” start creating a new flow.



  9. You can set name for the flow in “Flow name” textbox. I have changed from “Save my email attachments to a SharePoint document library” to “My First flow application”.



  10. Expand “On new email” by clicking on that, then select “Inbox” folder from outlook email box.



  11. Then expand, “Create File” to provide SharePoint site and Library details. And Flow application provides some predefined termsets for setting file name and content for new file.

  12. Enter SharePoint Online url in Site URL,

  13. Select or enter web relative url of library folder name in Folder Path.

  14. Select “Name” term for File Name and “Content” term for File Content.

  15. Click “Create Flow” button available next to the Flow Name textbox. 
  16. We will get success message after creation of flow.



  17. Click Done to open “My Flows” page.


  18. Click button to view the history of runs for the selected flow.



  19. If the outlook receives the emails in Inbox, our “My First flow application” flow runs and check for email attachments. If attachments available in email, the workflow will automatically copy the attachments to SharePoint Library “Email Attachments”
Conclusion:

Microsoft flow provides a nice feature to integrate different services and we can control all of it by creating a workflow.