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tomh
Resolver I
Resolver I

Delay Until 2am

Hello All:

 

I have a simple Approval flow that triggers upon recurrence every 3 days. It gets file properties and if file approval=pending it sends email to approver for approval. Our biggest challenge is that users are often in the files needing to be approved. Therefor when the the approver approves and the flow tries to update the file properties to 'Approve' it cannot do so because the file is locked for editing. The flow continues and errors but the approver is not aware of the fact that the file properties have not been updated. Then again on the third day they receive an email for approval of the same file because the properties are still=pending becuase the file was locked for editing and the metadata could not be updated on previous attempt. I have worked with this flow for months now and have tried just about everything. The only thing I have left is to try to add some kind of delay function into the flow to update the file properties at a specific time when the least amount of users are potentially in the file, say 2am. 

 

I am open to options here. I have not been able to successfully implement a delay in such a way that would only update at 2am. The closest I have been able to get is to delay updating for a given amount of hours say 10 hours. This presents a problem as well as hours of business are roughly between 6am and 6pm. So even if an approver approves at 6am sharp the metadata would then be updated at 4pm, which still falls between our business hours thus potentially leaving the file locked for editing. 

 

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks all!

 

Tom

 

 

 

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tom_riha
Most Valuable Professional
Most Valuable Professional

Hello @tomh ,

to delay until 2am the next day you can use the following expression inside 'Delay until' action.

addHours(utcNow('yyyy-MM-dd'),26,'yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mmZ')

utcNow('yyyy-MM-dd') will give you today's date at 00:00, to which you use the addHours() expression to add 26 hours to get tomorrow 2am and format it as 'yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mmZ' to fit the requirements of the 'Delay until' action.

image.png

 



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22 REPLIES 22
Anonymous
Not applicable

@tomh ,

 

You could calculate how many hours are between utcNow() and 2am tomorrow and have the flow delay for that amount of time:

 

the flow in the below screenshot does the following:

 

1. Converts the current time in UTC (Universal Coordinated Time) to local timezone and returns only the Hours number (from a 24-hour format, so 1:00PM=13).

 

2. subtracts the current hour from 26 and returns that figure. 26 is the number of hours there are from 00:00 on day one to 0200 (2:00AM) the following day. this calculation determines how many hour there are from right now to 0200 tomorrow morning.

 

3. delays the flow for that many hours

DelayFlow.png

 

the expressions that you need are in the action block comments in the screenshot.

 

 

I hope this helps!

 

thanks,

Kyle

Paulie78
Super User
Super User

Is there a reason that I am not understand that you cannot just use the delay until action?

 

DelayUntil;.PNG

tom_riha
Most Valuable Professional
Most Valuable Professional

Hello @tomh ,

to delay until 2am the next day you can use the following expression inside 'Delay until' action.

addHours(utcNow('yyyy-MM-dd'),26,'yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mmZ')

utcNow('yyyy-MM-dd') will give you today's date at 00:00, to which you use the addHours() expression to add 26 hours to get tomorrow 2am and format it as 'yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mmZ' to fit the requirements of the 'Delay until' action.

image.png

 



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Anonymous
Not applicable

It looks like I like doing things the hard way... @Paulie78  and @tom_riha 's solutions are much more simple and elegant.

Paulie78
Super User
Super User

@Anonymous don't feel too bad about it. I came up with an elaborate solution also, which I think is quite neat! That is when I noticed delay until 😥

@tom_riha 

Thank you for this. Are you saying that utcNow always returns time of 00:00? So, adding any hours to that figure will always update at set time regardless of whether the approval occurs at 7am or 3pm?

 

tom_riha
Most Valuable Professional
Most Valuable Professional

@tomh 

Expression utcNow() without parameter returns date and time when the action was executed = now. But you if you add a format parameter where you ignore the time part utcNow('yyyy-MM-dd') it'll give you 00:00 time.



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Does this look correct?

Rhia.JPG

tom_riha
Most Valuable Professional
Most Valuable Professional

Yes, that looks just fine. 🙂



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@tom_riha 

Thank you again for this. I will test now and report back the success. 

 

Tom

tomh
Resolver I
Resolver I

@tom_riha 

Hello.

 

The flow did not work as expected.

The flow was manually triggered at 1:09pm on 11/6 as a test on four files added to SharePoint. The flow proceeded to update the file properties at 9:00pm on the same day. The intended result was to update file properties at precisely 2:00am. The delay until input value shown on the successful run shows 'Delay Until 2020-11-07T02:00:002.

 

Any thoughts on why the flow updated the file properties at 9:00pm instead of at 2:00am?

 

Thanks!


Tom

 

Anonymous
Not applicable

@tomh ,

 

my first thought would be to check the TimeZone.

 

In your screenshot above, you're adding the number of hours required to get from utcNow() (when the flow was triggered) to 2:00AM UTC.

 

If you're in Eastern Time, that means the flow is going to wait until 9:00PM EST.

 

You can either manually adjust your expression to account for the timezone difference (note that this will not account for DST next spring), or you can use the Convert TimeZone action block and pass in your addHours() expression.

 

thanks,

Kyle

@Anonymous 

Thank you for this. Yes we are on EST and want the flow to execute the 'Update File Properties' at precisely 2:00am the following day. Can you provide the formula for this by chance?

Thanks!


Tom

tom_riha
Most Valuable Professional
Most Valuable Professional

Hello @tomh ,

that could be a difference in a timezone. What account is running the flow? What timezone it has configured? I'm not sure but it could be user specific.

Edit: I just did a few tests and it expects time in UTC timezone, so you'll need to adjust the time as @Anonymous already suggested.



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Anonymous
Not applicable

@tomh ,

 

I would suggest attempting one of the solutions that I suggested, and then request assistance if you're unable to get either (or both) to work.

 

You've been given the expression that will get you want you want, you just need to adjust it to meet your specific needs.

 

thanks,

Kyle

Hello @Anonymous 

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what has been provided as the initial expression. I have control over when the flow is triggered but do not have control over when the approval is completed. The 'Update File Properties' action is the step that I believe I need to address here and that is dependent on when the actual approval is executed. I have no control over when the approval action is executed and so simply adding hours in the form of a delay will not achieve what I need if I apply it to when the approval is executed. I need a set value I believe irrelevant of when the approval is executed to update file properties at 2:00am EST only.

Does that make sense?

 

Or is it as simple as adding 6 hours to the 26 hour value to get to 2:00am? 

Anonymous
Not applicable

@tomh ,

 

Yes, that does make sense; and I understand where you're coming from and that it seems counter-intuitive to be adding a set number of hours when you don't know WHEN the approval will be executed (i.e. you don't know the value of "utcNow()" [ remember that utcNow() returns the current time in UTC timezone] ).

 

what @tom_riha's solution does is help you calculate how many hours are between:

 

1. The time that the flow runs AKA the "current" time AKA the value of the expression utcNow()

 

and 

 

2. the next occurence of 2:00AM (let's agree to call it 2:00AM tomorrow morning since we'll assume that the flow is executing "today")

 

To calculate that time gap we need to know both of those points in time.

 

The first one is easy: the expression utcNow() returns that exact value. If the flow executes today at 12 noon UTC, the value of utcNow() will be 2020-11-09T12:00:00Z (utcNow() is a datetime value, hence why it has the date in it also). Keep in mind that UTC is five hours ahead of EST so when the value of utcNow() is 12pm (noon), it's actually 7:00AM EST.

 

The second point in time is a little more tricky to figure out, but it involves finding a concrete reference point from which we can calculate when (in how many hours) 2:00AM tomorrow morning will occur. @tom_riha's expression above does just that by using a starting point of 00:00 this morning, the beginning of the day, by taking utcNow() and removing the time component; this effectively reduces the time component to 00:00 as he explained above. So, now, it doesn't matter when utcNow() is; the above expression will always return 00:00 (i.e. midnight) this morning.

 

Since 2:00AM tomorrow morning will always be 26 hours after 00:00 this morning, we can add 26 hours to 00:00 this morning to get the datetime of 2:00AM tomorrow morning.

 

HOWEVER!

 

Remember that all of the numbers we just crunched are based on utcNow() which returns the datetime in the UTC time zone. With no adjustments, the above calculations will return datetimes five hours EARLIER for each of the calculated values. So, if the flow was run at noon today UTC, you'd get the following values in for the respective time zones:

UTC (desired):

utcNow() = 2020-11-09T12:00:00Z

utcNow('yyyy-MM-dd') = 2020-11-09T00:00:00Z

addHours(utcNow('yyyy-MM-dd'),26,'yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mmZ') = 2020-11-10T02:00:00Z

 

EST (actual):

utcNow() = 2020-11-09T07:00:00Z

utcNow('yyyy-MM-dd') = 2020-11-08T19:00:00Z

addHours(utcNow('yyyy-MM-dd'),26,'yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mmZ') = 2020-11-09T21:00:00Z

 

 

If that makes sense, then it's clear now that an adjustment has to be made to the value that is being passed into the Delay Until action block.

 

Either you can add five hours to the "26" in the expression above, OR, you can pass that expression into a Convert Time Zone action block and pass the output of that into the Delay Until.

 

Does that makes sense?

 

thanks,
Kyle

@Anonymous , @tom_riha 

 

I'm still not sure we are on the right path...the GetUTCNow with the formatting applies to when the flow was triggered correct? I think I need to apply the Get UTCNow to when the approval occurs and set specific value vs setting in relation to when the flow was triggered. No? Because it could be 2 hour or two days before the approval step is completed and if the Get UTCNow applies to when the flow is triggered rather than when the approval occurs then the file update could happen prematurely, correct? If the GetUTCNow is nested below the Condition, would it pull the UTC of when the approval occurs or the UTC of when the flow initially triggers?

THx all!

 

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