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Bob_dvb
Advocate I
Advocate I

Why is Power Automate so difficult?

I must be missing something here, because on the face of it Power Automate looks like it should be very powerful. But each time I come to try and use it I fail. Now, I'm not what I would call a good developer, but after 30 years in tech, I hope I'm not an idiot. This afternoon I spent another unproductive two hours failing to compose a simple workflow. Something I could knock up in code but because I want it to be owned by non-developers and behind SSO, Automate makes sense.

 

I try to create a flow, except every time there's something wrong when trying to pass values between blocks or actually do anything useful with them. When I think I have it, I press save and get errors which prevent me from saving, and yet the errors can't be fixed because they make no sense. I ask Copilot what's wrong and it says there's nothing wrong, I give it the error message and it tells me nothing's wrong, then suddenly things that were apparently okay in the flow are now not okay, but unrelated to the things that were erroring before. Now I have new errors. Except these errors are for things that were automatically filled out when I created the flow, so how can they be bad parameters in the block?

 

For example, a Conditional block that errors, saying there's a problem with the input to the block, but Copilot disagrees. All the Conditional is doing is checking message body starts with a word.

 

I'm tired, I hate it when tools want to appear useful but because they can't explain themselves properly you have to know everything before you can know what's wrong.

19 REPLIES 19
ScottShearer
Most Valuable Professional
Most Valuable Professional

@Bob_dvb 

I'm sorry that you have had some bad experiences.  A quick check tells me that over 350,000 organizations and over 93% of all Fortune 500 companies use Power Automate.

That said, while I understand that you have over 30 years in tech (as do I), these forums are here to help.  Next time, just post your issues and there is a global community here to assist.

If I have answered your question, please mark your post as Solved.
If you like my response, please give it a Thumbs Up.

Scott

To add on to what @ScottShearer said, I would add that I would not rely on Copilot to diagnose your problems. It often seems to make things up, gives you the wrong information, or based on how you phrase your question, just tries to agree with you. It is good at some things but use it with caution.

 

For example, earlier today I asked Copilot: Write a power automate trigger condition to check if the author is the same person who modified an item in SharePoint. It gave me the wrong answer. I just asked again, and it gave me a mostly correct answer. The correct expression is:

@equals(triggerOutputs()?['body/Author/Email'], triggerOutputs()?['body/Editor/Email'])

The mostly correct answer that Copilot just provided did not include @ at the beginning of the expression, which is needed with a trigger condition. It is little things like this that can be so frustrating when you are trying to learn Power Automate.

 

Your best bet is to post a screen shot of your flow with a description of what you want to accomplish. And provide any error information that is returned from the flow.

 

To get your feet wet so you gain more experience with what Power Automate, explore some of the self-paced training options at Browse all courses, learning paths, and modules - Training | Microsoft Learn. This will give you better insights into how Power Automate works with real examples.

 

Good luck and keep at it. With time and practice you'll be a super user, too.

It's not extremely user-friendly.

I guess the beginners need more practice and hands-on. I am facing difficulties in the beginning too, and slowly trying to get the flow out of it.

just hope that there would be more experts answering our questions. I posted a few questions, but still waiting for the answers.

You may want to consider joining the Microsoft Power Up program where Microsoft will provide you with training to learn the Power Platform. They recently started accepting applications again, and in the first week alone had over 80,000 people apply. You can learn more at Microsoft Power Up Program for career switchers

@CD00131 it's  unfortunate you are not getting on with Power Automate but it is definitely worth sticking with, and posting your questions here will get you quick and accurate responses, unlike asking Copilot! I started with Power Automate in the summer of 2018 and "got it" very quickly and it changed the whole course of my career at - as I was then - 58 years of age, from a humble UK-based intranet manager to the global product owner and Principal Power Platform Consultant for a massive Canada-based global company.

 

My advice would be to use the classic designer. I still find it more user-friendly and easier to understand  than the modern designer which still has occasional bugs and I don't find the interface as friendly as the classic.

 

So welcome to the forum and don't hesitate to post here with whatever questions you have.

 

Rob
Los Gallardos
Principal Consultant, SharePoint, Forms and Power Platform, WSP Global (and classic 1967 Morris Traveller driver)

Thanks Rob Elliott for your encouraging notes, sure, I will post more questions here, and I am learning every bits of Power Automate here and there. I hope one day I will reach halfway of where you are now.

The practical consequence of using LLMs to generate code is that many developers will find they have unwittingly moved themselves into a role they were probably trying to avoid: they have automated the creation of legacy code and have redefined their job role as debugging and fixing such code.

Kevlin Henney

Hi @Bob_dvb ,

Learning Power Automate (or any new skill) is a journey with ups and downs. It's not a smooth, linear path.

2024-06-03_19-24-05.PNG

You will experience periods of progress followed by plateaus or even temporary setbacks. This can be frustrating, but it's a normal part of learning.

 

A plateau is a period where you don't seem to be making progress, even though you're still putting in effort.

 

But keep going through the challenges and setbacks. Celebrate small wins and recognise your incremental progress to stay motivated. Understand that the learning curve is bumpy, and see obstacles as temporary, not permanent failures. With consistent practice and persistence, Power Automate may well eventually become "second nature".

 

Like others here, I have 30+ years in experience in tech but started my real learning journey with Power Automate only in 2021.

 

The Bumpy Learning Curve | LeanProductivity (sascha-kasper.com)


Ellis
____________________________________
My Blog Site

 

I am having an absolutely terrible time with this too. The error messages are nonsensical and Power Automate does not seem intended to work with CRUD operations of any complexity. A simple delete query based on a trigger in SQL could be written by a beginner with no SQL knowledge than the equivalent in Power Automate. 

 

The error codes/error messages are basically worthless and the uneditable "code view" mocks the user. 

BBean
New Member

I am certainly having lots of issues, but I'm also very new to Power Automate. My issue is, as mentioned in this post, this is supposed to be a no/low code solution to help people who aren't developers automate tasks. However, the finicky nature of creating a tree is so terrible it would frustrate all the users I have, also the debugging is difficult because the error messages make no sense and I can't find any help documentation to decipher what the heck the error messages are trying to state. 

As a side note, I'm very frustrated that when I try to automate creating a Planner task in a Teams channel based off a trigger, I cannot update the Notes section. I THINK it's possible with an update ticket action, but why not on the creation action? That just seems silly. As I was writing this another thing bothered me, the only text input field I could find in the task creator was the Title field, which has a limit of 255 characters. This application knows that, why wouldn't it by default only grab the first 255 characters of whatever you fill into the title field as the input? While trying to fix JUST that piece, my whole flow broke and I couldn't figure out how it happened. An apply to each action showed up out of nowhere and it's so high up in my flow that if I try to delete it the majority of my flow goes with it...awesome

Hi @Bob_dvb ,

 

Adding to the comment here and for support.  As a super user and someone that was self-taught through trial and error, what I can tell you the most comment learning experience I typically see with Power Automate is when users have a specific automation in mind (that may or may not be complex) and that becomes their first automation and project in Power Automate.

 

Goes without saying, many of the "first projects" are advanced-to-extremely advanced experience level.

 

That said, my recommendation to really get into Power Automate is drop the "need" projects and learn the basics with common connections and triggers, such as when an email arrives, do actions with the attachments, subject, body, etc.  Build lots of flows that you don't specifically need in your current demand. Those basic flows are the best way to learn and that foundation will help you solve your current world problems.  There are a lot of common actions that will make you feel very comfortable with Power Automate.  There are lots of videos, templates, books, and more.  Don't give up.  

 

 

If this was helpful: Please mark as a solution Give me a thumbs up Always glad to help, Tom! Connect on LinkedIn
sammary
Resolver I
Resolver I

Wow, I thought I was the only one having issues. This is not my first rodeo, I have done some programming in Basic, C, a little VBA, a little Python and a lot of UNIX Shell. And as far as I'm concerned PA is a major time sync.

 

I finally get a flow to work and then it stops, and I get error messages. Nothing changed so why does it work infrequently.

 

My flow watches an Outlook mailbox and when it sees a new email it is supposed to send it to a SharePoint folder. The flows says it was successful but nothing get delivered????

Midas
Frequent Visitor

I find that it helps to just aiming at collecting success stories. Start creating a flow, and quickly end up in a place where you can run it and it works. I have a friend who just started on the same path - he chose the method of teaching his skills as a booster for his learning path, because he believes he learns faster if he can articulate what it is that is being done, rather than just copying template flows and such. You can check him out on the link below if you are interested, and develop your skills in parallel with him 🙂 

 

https://youtube.com/@matkjeldsen

sammary
Resolver I
Resolver I

If anyone is interested ChatGPT actually provides MUCH better answers that CoPilot. I've noticed this with questions I've asked about VBA scripts, Python and of course Power Automate.

This forum is by far the best place to get accurate answers from people who really know what they're talking about.

I've been able to make some useful automations with it, but it has been a head-bashing effort every step of the way.

I don't have a background in programming but I've build some SharePoint Designer Workflows in the past.

This is both a)much more powerful and b)much less beginner-friendly. We are very lucky that there is so much help out there for working around the challenges and limitations of the system.

In regards to the Power Platform broadly, I think Microsoft basically failed at "no-code." To do anything worth your time, you will have to create an expression, write some code, or perform some power query against data. The current environment leads people to create applications and automations using terrible practices and without the proper considerations in place.

I'd like to see them create some learning path that allows you to select your platforms and brings you through a real world set of examples using all of its platforms (BI, Apps, Automate, etc...).

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