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Introduction to Microsoft Flow

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In this module, we’re going to be covering Microsoft Flow. And in this topic I want to introduce Microsoft Flow to you. We’re going to start out by talking about what is Microsoft Flow. Microsoft Flow is a cloud scale automation engine that allows you to orchestrate work across one or more different systems. It’s built on top of Azure Logic Apps. Azure Logic Apps is used by IT pros and developers for building integrations. Microsoft Flow builds on top of that, bringing it, not only to personal productivity, but allowing it to integrate with Power Platform projects.
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Microsoft Flow is a modern workflow engine and increasingly you’re going to find that it provides more flexibility over the classic CDS workflow engine that we also have covered in this course. You’re going to oftentimes find that building background workflows is preferrable IN Microsoft Flow over the classic CDS workflow engine. Now, all the flows that you build can also be packaged up along with other CDS solution components, such as the entities and other customizations that the flow is automating. And all of these can be deployed as part of a project that you’re delivering to a client. Let’s talk a little bit about what a flow looks like.
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So flows always have a trigger, and the trigger is what kicks off that flow. There are a number of different triggers, and I’ll go through those in a minute. But once that trigger starts to flow, then you have one or more different actions that take place to perform the actual work in the flow. Those are steps or actions that perform the heavy lifting for the different things. So in this particular example I have, I have a manual trigger, a delay, and then a send a push notification to the mobile device. The actions that you put in your flow to do the work can be conditions, things like branching that you’ll use.
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We’ll talk more about those as we get further in. But they also, a lot of times, can be connectors. Connectors is how you work with other external systems or even Microsoft systems, such as SharePoint, Exchange, CDS, and orchestrate work across those as you’re doing your effort. There’s over 200 of those pre-built. Now, if you don’t find one pre-built for the API that you want to work with, doesn’t mean that you have to get a developer to go build your own custom API. You simply build a custom connector, which is a way of describing that API that already exists, making it so it can easily be used as part of Microsoft Flow.
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Now, we said that it all starts with the trigger. Let’s talk about the different types of triggers that exist and how you might use those to orchestrate work in your projects. Let’s start with talking about the instant flows. Instant flows are a category of flows that start with some type of user interaction or run on demand when an action takes place, such as when the flow button is pressed in the mobile application. When you’re in Excel, you can make a flow run for a selected record, giving the context of that record. From CDS, when you’re in a model-driven app, when a record is selected, you can trigger a flow to run, passing in the context of the record, another input.
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Or from a Power Apps Canvas app, you can also have it kick off a flow, do some work, and give a response back. We’ll be talking about several of these patterns as we get further in the content on flow. Now, we also have the concept of scheduled flows. This is something that, if you’re familiar with the CDS workflow engine, has been asked for a long time, the ability to trigger a flow on a reoccurring schedule, such as run once a day, once a week, to perform some operation. We also have automated flows.
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These are flows that trigger based on events that occur, such as a record being updated, a file being put in Dropbox, or even a location trigger when a user moves into a particular location. Now, before I let you go, let’s cover some of the use cases for each of these types of triggers. The first one will cover is instant flows. You could use an instant flow to run on demand workflows to trigger it from the mobile app. You can also use these to run from the Power Apps Canvas app. So, for example, I might want to, in a model-driven app, copy the record that I’m on and copy all the child records from it.
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I might use the instant flow or the on selected record to trigger a flow that would run, copy the primary record, all its child records– something that you can’t easily do with CDS classic workflow. I might schedule a flow to run for my monthly reports, expire inactive records. Oftentimes, when you’re building an overall system, we forget about these cleanup-type tasks or we need to do things like notify customers of an upcoming renewal. We could easily do that with a scheduled flow, sending it out to all the ones that are scheduled for that month, letting them know that we’re going to have an agent contact them to work on their renewal efforts. And, finally, automated.
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Automated allow you to trigger based on created or updated records and kick off a process that does the automation in the background without the user having to do anything. Oftentimes, these are the staple of a project doing the work that a user doesn’t want to do to automate and keep things on track in a very consistent way. Now, let’s go ahead and get started diving in deeper on how flow works and how we can work with CDS data from our flows.
In this activity, we’re going to be covering Microsoft Flow. We’re going to start out by asking what is Microsoft Flow?
Microsoft Flow is a cloud-scale automation engine that allows you to orchestrate work across one or more different systems. It’s built on top of Azure Logic Apps.
Azure Logic Apps is used by IT pros and developers for building integrations. Microsoft Flow builds on top of that, bringing it not only to personal productivity but allowing it to integrate with Power Platform projects.
Flows always have a trigger and the trigger is what kicks off that flow. There are a number of different triggers, but once that trigger starts the flow, then you have one or more different actions that take place to perform the actual work in the flow.

Instant Flows

Instant flows are a category of flows that start with some type of user interaction or run on-demand when an action takes place, such as when the flow button is pressed in the mobile application.
When you’re in Excel, you can make a flow run for a selected record giving the context of that record, from CDS when you’re in a model-driven app when a record selected, you can trigger a flow to run passing in the content of the record and other input, or from a PowerApps Canvas app, you can also have it kick off a flow, do some work, and give a response back.

Scheduled Flows

This is something that if you’re familiar with the CDS workflow engine has been asked for a long time. The ability to trigger a flow on a re-occurring schedule, such as run once a day or once a week to perform some operation.

Automated Flows

These are flows that trigger based on events that occur, such as a record being updated, a file being put in Dropbox or even a location trigger when a user moves into a particular location.
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Dynamics 365: Working with Power Platform Automation

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