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mmollet
Community Champion
Community Champion

Add Row to Excel Table issue

I have a flow that is working well... when it works. The issue is I have a step where I take a compose output in JSON format and add a step that adds it into an excel table. This all works but sometimes this step will take 10+ min while other times it takes 1 sec. When I check that same point in the run on other flow runs it completes in 1 sec. Any ideas on how to make this occur less or how to make it retry faster etc? This is killing the flows usability as 2 min is acceptable but 22 min is far from is. 

 

This is the issue I am getting.

Screenshot 2023-03-20 at 2.17.51 PM.png

 

And here is the same point in the flow the previous run where it had no issues. 

Screenshot 2023-03-20 at 2.25.49 PM.png

 

 

TYIA!


If this post solves your issue please mark it as a solution.
1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Accepted Solutions

I think I am understanding your flow much better now. I have not done anything exactly like this, but I think the concurrency in your Apply to each may be causing the issue.

 

I thought initially you had some process where you just needed to add rows to an existing spreadsheet. In reality, you are getting data from SharePoint, processing it, creating a separate spreadsheet for a number of people from a template file, and then sending this to them. You said you have concurrency set to 50. I would try lowering that until performance is acceptable. There is probably some throttling going on at this setting.

 

This lists some of the limits of concurrency: Limits and configuration - Power Automate | Microsoft Learn

 

One thing I have done when I have hit some throttling limits is to put the steps you have in your apply to each inside of a do Until. I then limit how many items can be returned from the Get items action (in situations where I have applied this, the throttling limit kicks in at 100, so I limit it to 99 items. I create a variable named Completed with the default value of Pending and set the Do until to run until it equals Completed.

 

Then after the get items action, I have a condition set to where the length of the items from the Get items action is greater than 0. The condition uses this expression:

int(length(outputs('Get_items')?['body/value']))

 If it is greater than 0, it runs down the Yes side and loops again. If it is zero, then it goes down the No side and sets the Completed variable to completed so it does not loop again.

 

In my SharePoint list where I am getting the items, there is a column with the default value of Pending. In my apply to each, it updates this to Processed. The Get items action has a filter query to get the pending items.

getitems.jpg

At the end of the yes, there is a delay of two minutes to allow the throttle limit to reset. The flow looks like this:

David_MA_1-1679498913628.png

 

View solution in original post

12 REPLIES 12
David_MA
Super User
Super User

Have you tried enabling concurrency in the apply to each action?

wskinnermctc
Super User
Super User

I've noticed those issues if the workbook is opened. Even more if the workbook is opened and a cell is selected like a value is about to be typed into the cell.

It is like PA is trying to call the workbook but getting denied because it is opened or being used.

 

You can do it to an open workbook, but there seems to be some delay or timeouts with power automate.

Most likely related to Excel getting locked as explained here: Excel file is locked for editing - Microsoft Support. This probably affects Power Automate, which is...

 

I have encountered this in some of my flows, but since it hasn't failed, I have not looked into it much further. I've tried to duplicate this in different ways and the flow has always added or updated the row. There has to be some certain behavior in Excel that triggers it to lock it from editing.

 

This may be key from the above Microsoft post:
Tip: Sometimes a file may get locked if everyone editing isn't using a version that supports co-authoring. To co-author together, make sure everyone is using the Microsoft 365 subscription version of Excel or Excel for the web.

 

I know in my company we still have a few users on Office 2016 for some legacy applications support.

wskinnermctc
Super User
Super User

@mmollet Are you using the Excel file as a source for something else? If there is an issue about time delays, you could use a SharePoint List instead of Excel.

mmollet
Community Champion
Community Champion

My flow gets a start date, an end date, the user's email, and a json array of users to get rows for from power apps. It creates a single excel file with a single table for each user passed in and is a table of their time entries between the two dates passed in. I will post Images of the flow below.

 

Flow Details

  • The outer loop is set to a concurrency of 50 as I have 20-30 users and why not run them all in parallel. (if i am misunderstanding how this works please let me know)
  • The inner loop has a concurrency of 1. (not sure if this is correct but seems to work fine)
  • Get items filter query makes sure to only pull rows for the current user and only rows that have a non-null end date.
  • Gets the template, creates a copy of that file with username+datetime as file name then loops through the output of above step and inserts rows with dates inside the valid range by using a compose statement to build the object.
  • Delay to allow row addition to finish
  • Get contents of the new excel file/table
  • Send as attachment
  • Once this all works the file will simply be deleted after the email is sent as it is no longer needed. 
  • No other users have access to the file that is created, the template, the SP list, or the folder any of the items are even in.

 

Also while I'm here I am getting a blank line at the top of each table for each user. Has 0 impact but my perfectionist brain is really not enjoying it all so any ideas on fixing that would be appreciated as well. Thank you so much for all the help and suggestions.

Screenshot 2023-03-22 at 8.53.54 AM.png

 

Screenshot 2023-03-22 at 8.54.15 AM.png

 

Screenshot 2023-03-22 at 8.54.23 AM.png

 

Screenshot 2023-03-22 at 8.53.36 AM.png

 


If this post solves your issue please mark it as a solution.

Grabbing data from a single SP list based on UserName column and EndTime column via get items call from flow. Output is an excel table/file that also has formulas for calculating line item totals as well as overall totals for two different types of entries, "Travel" entries and anything non-travel. This file is then attached to an email and sent to the accountant as that users time sheet for the week. The file is created using a template word doc like this: 

 

Screenshot 2023-03-22 at 9.42.30 AM.png

 


If this post solves your issue please mark it as a solution.

I think I am understanding your flow much better now. I have not done anything exactly like this, but I think the concurrency in your Apply to each may be causing the issue.

 

I thought initially you had some process where you just needed to add rows to an existing spreadsheet. In reality, you are getting data from SharePoint, processing it, creating a separate spreadsheet for a number of people from a template file, and then sending this to them. You said you have concurrency set to 50. I would try lowering that until performance is acceptable. There is probably some throttling going on at this setting.

 

This lists some of the limits of concurrency: Limits and configuration - Power Automate | Microsoft Learn

 

One thing I have done when I have hit some throttling limits is to put the steps you have in your apply to each inside of a do Until. I then limit how many items can be returned from the Get items action (in situations where I have applied this, the throttling limit kicks in at 100, so I limit it to 99 items. I create a variable named Completed with the default value of Pending and set the Do until to run until it equals Completed.

 

Then after the get items action, I have a condition set to where the length of the items from the Get items action is greater than 0. The condition uses this expression:

int(length(outputs('Get_items')?['body/value']))

 If it is greater than 0, it runs down the Yes side and loops again. If it is zero, then it goes down the No side and sets the Completed variable to completed so it does not loop again.

 

In my SharePoint list where I am getting the items, there is a column with the default value of Pending. In my apply to each, it updates this to Processed. The Get items action has a filter query to get the pending items.

getitems.jpg

At the end of the yes, there is a delay of two minutes to allow the throttle limit to reset. The flow looks like this:

David_MA_1-1679498913628.png

 

mmollet
Community Champion
Community Champion

I am going to check out the article you posted. Thank you btw! My thought was that if I have 20-30 employees that I would want my concurrency to be at least at that level so that each iteration of the loop could get assigned its own thread on the server side as the flow ran. This would mean that my 1 min delay would be a 1 min total rather than 1min X number of users total if they ran one after the other for example. I am going to try to lower this to 30 and see what happens. Ty again!


If this post solves your issue please mark it as a solution.
wskinnermctc
Super User
Super User

Half the time I see issues here is a result of trying to use Excel as form of middle calculator within the flow.

 

Users are familiar with Excel and set up formulas or lookups within a workbook. Then they try to plug in items from power automate and let Excel do the math/lookups.

This is not a good route to go for multiple reasons. Delays, Calculation Doesn't work on closed books, not transparent, rarely supports rapid flow runs. 

 

It is better to find a process or method that has Power Automate doing the calculations or lookups. This might require setting up tables differently or utilizing different lists. It might take some extra work to figure out how to put the correct expression or format in Power Automate to get the result you want, but it will be a much more transparent and consistent process.

The formulas in the excel sheet are:

=SUM(UserHoursTable[MinutesOnTask])-$L$5 to get total normal hours

=SUMIF(UserHoursTable[TaskCategory],"Travel",UserHoursTable[MinutesOnTask]) to get Travel hours 

=SUM(UserHoursTable[MinutesOnTask]) to get total of both types of hours combined

=($L$4*$L$3)+($L$6*$L$5) to get total pay owed (Normal hours * Normal Rate) + (Travel Hours * Travel Rate)

 

I am hoping that none of these are an issue. This being in the sheet saves the accountant from having to use paper and calculate by hand for each one of 20+ employees that are hourly. There are no lookups or anything beyond what is posted in red above. I am a strong advocate of the "Excel isn't a **bleep** database so stop using as such" argument! 😂


If this post solves your issue please mark it as a solution.
mmollet
Community Champion
Community Champion

Changed the value from 50 to 30 and this flow has now run with no issues at all and only took 1:54 to complete. Seems that this has done the trick. I assumed that it would only use the needed number of threads up to a maximum of 50 but it seems there is more going on than I thought. I am going to be testing more this week so I will post any updates here good or otherwise. Thank you again for the solution!


If this post solves your issue please mark it as a solution.

If I'm looking at this correctly, the Excel workbook is made so the accountant can manually input the Green boxes? All other values exist in SharePoint List, and the unknown value is the Normal Rate and Travel Rate?

 

If you could find a way to get the Normal Rate and Travel Rate, then the special Excel sheet isn't needed. Maybe you can't and that's why this exists in the first place.

 

However, I after reading the other post and Solution, I see that the separate Excel sheets being generated and sent is helping skip over a lot of issues. The problems usually come from like you said, using Excel as a database. This process isn't really using Excel as a middle calculator, it's more like the end output is an Excel calculator, so it works.

 

Glad you got it working,

 

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