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Helper II
Helper II

I want to keep the ordering of my array when appending to a variable from sharepoint

Hello, I have a flow that uses encodian to extract data from a PDF layer, removes a bunch of garbage in the text, and then creates an array to simply have product number and quantity. 


Once the array is created, I am then running it into sharepoint to retrieve the "location" code of the product so that I can build that into a mail merge document and print some labels. 


The reason for using the get pdf layer is that I was hoping to keep the ordering of the document I am retrieving the info from as this is how our order is packed to the cage. However, when I get the final mail merge output to deliver into the inbox, it doesn't appear in the same order as the PDF document. 


Does anyone have any suggestions..? I wondered if I might be able to "order by" in the sharepoint get items but that didn't work. 


Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. 


One idea I had was to insert a number for each line item within the variable and then try and sort by that number sequentially, though I wouldn't know where to start. 


My flow looks like:


Step 1.pngStep2.png

Here ^^ I followed a tutorial to try and remove the excess information out of the PDF layer so that my output looked like:


{ Product no; 294506

Quantity; 4}


The apply to each 13^ here was to see if I could create a list of array items to then get sharepoint to reference to sort the order of my products by the packing sheet (didn't work)



A series of filter quantities to get the array item to duplicate based on the product quantity so that i could populate my word document for using labels. 


A get items reference that searches for the location in my warehouse, and then appends that to each product number. So if I have two products with code 294506, I would have two labels to stick to two boxes. 


As the products arrive on pallets (and the data i retrieve is from those pallet packing sheets), I was hoping to maintain the packing order of the pallet so that it's easy to identify where the products are on the pallet (and which pallet if I have more than 1 - which we quite often do). 


Step 6.png

The reason for the two different word documents is to reference an even or odd week to change the colour to help with stock rotation. (the week of the year variables disaplayed above). 


The actual flow works, but as i mentioned, there doesn't seem to be any specific reason why it's ordering the products the way it is. I'd like to sort them back to the way the original PDF document has them sorted so that I can maintain the order of the products for my labels :). 


Thanks for any help in advance

Helper II
Helper II

In an update to appears that the output vaiable right at the end is ordering the items in the correct way. It seems to be when I've imported the variable into "populate a word document" that the ordering of the array seems to be disjointed. Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated

Super User
Super User

Could it be that in the very first apply to each you are using *Set* variable with the PDF information, @craigmk1987?


There are 3 runs there, that data is going to get lost, no? I'm going to assume that you're intending to pool that PDF data into a string variable. So, if that *is* the case, in order to do that you should use an append to string variable.


Otherwise, and I don't say this harshly, I think you might be doing a lot of work here, for what your end goal is.


Either way, take a look at John Liu's array sorting, and it should ... ahem ... oh I'm really sorry ... so sorry ...


... it should ... ok. wow. ... so sorry ...


it should ... sort you out. 😩


Anyway ... yeah, I've utilised it recently, I'll dig it out and edit this with images.


Sure, it'll add a couple more actions to your flow, but I think you're probably beyond worrying about that by now. 😅


EDIT - OK, here's my flow, and boy the irony of me talking about overcomplicating things. Heh.

over complicated but gets the job done.jpg


Those expressions aren't as bad as they look, the main issues were that this was before I found proper integer testing expressions, so it's long. Then, I am (like you) interpreting data from another source and forcing it into a proper date format ... so it's even longer. But essentially I'm sorting the two arrays into each other.


You can do it with just one array (duplicate it) as the union will remove the duplicate entries.




If you would like to get a bit more specific with how the data looks like coming out of that PDF (make up some example data) we might (collectively, it doesn't need to be me) find a way to get this all done with a few less actions, too! 🙂

Hi @eliotcole , thank you for taking the time to reply. 

I think you might be right about the variables...I'm guessing it's because I have 10 "do untils" in there that are all appending to the variable. 

I don't suppose you have a solution to doing that without the 10 do until steps? I was thinking I should be able to loop through do untils all in one process rather than filtering, then doing the do until, and setting the variable. That would probably also achieve my aim of keeping everything in order with quantities greater than one. 

I will have a go and let you know in the meantime, thanks again


Super User
Super User

I do have a solution, hehehe ... and it's the above one! 😜


Sorry, just poking a bit of fun ... can you send me some sample data? It doesn't need to be the actual data if it's sensitive, but it does need to at least either be a sample PDF, or a sample of what you have at the end of reading the PDF.


Essentially, though, I will reduce your entire flow to something like my above example, with one more step to retrieve the location code, and insert that into the array.


You can send it to me via DM if you like.


Also, can you address:

  1. What order is the data from the PDF in?
  2. The slight concern I made about your gathering of the data from the PDF? I think you might be eliminating data there by using 'Set' rather than 'Append to string'.

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