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First Impressions: 2018 Spring Virtual Launch - Flow

My name is Daniel Laskewitz and this is my first blog on the Microsoft Flow Community! Since last august, I'm a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional in the Business Solutions category. I work as a Business Productivity Consultant at Sogeti and I love to do sessions, write blogs and share my knowledge about Microsoft Flow and Microsoft PowerApps. Next to my work, I love to travel and visit music festivals. If you have some great artists I should know, please send me an DM, because I would love to get to know new bands/artists!

 

James Phillips, Corporate Vice President (CVP) and leader of the Business Applications Group at Microsoft, talked about all the different parts of the Business Applications Group. In this blog, I will zoom in on Microsoft Flow and a little bit of Microsoft PowerApps. There is so much to tell about the new functionality that Microsoft announced during the Spring 2018 release, so let's start!

 

Business-Platform-Hero_1778x1000.pngThe Business Application Platform

What's new for Microsoft Flow?
What I'm very excited about is the integration of Microsoft Flow in Excel. This integration makes it way easier for people to do data entry into a wide variety of systems. Countless companies worldwide still have incredibly valuable data lying around in Excel worksheets. This addition will make it much easier for companies to transition to other systems. There is also a new Excel connector available, based on the Microsoft Graph, which has much more capabilities than the old one!

 excel.PNGFlow add-in in Excel

SharePoint & Flow is a great combination, but with this release, it's an even better combination! Why? It's because Flows can be owned by SharePoint lists and libraries now! What does that mean? It means you don't have to share your Flows with a lot of individuals or an Azure Active Directory Security Group anymore. You can add a SharePoint list or library as an owner or a run-only user, and it will add everyone with access to that list or library to the Flow!

 

Next, there will be an out-of-the-box sign-off Flow built into SharePoint lists and libraries. When triggering this Flow from the Flow menu in the SharePoint list or library, you can add one or more approvers and a message for them. When you click the "run flow" button the Flow will automatically create a column called "sign-off status", and it will update the status to pending. When an approver responds to the approval request, the column will be updated again.

 

Creating Flows is easy, but sometimes Flows fail after a while. The Microsoft Flow team has come up with emails that you get when one of your Flows is failing. These emails will also show recommendations on how to fix these Flows.

 

Testing your Flows is always a time-consuming activity: when you're done creating your Flow, you have to trigger the Flow by adding an action that will start your Flow. The Flow team made this way less time-consuming. You will get a test button in the banner when you save the Flow, and you will have a choice of options how to test your Flow: with sample data, by manually triggering the test or by using the previous run to trigger the test.

 

testflows.PNGTest your Flows with the new testing experienceThe addition of Business Process Flows is another big area of change for Microsoft Flow. Business Process Flows are available in Dynamics 365 and can be used to make sure you go through a group of steps before going to a next stage. These steps could be a data step, to gather data, or an action step, to perform actions like creating task records and assigning them to a reviewer.

What's also very cool, is that you can access modern approvals in the Common Data Service (CDS). You can now create a Flow that will automatically remind you when you receive an approval request, or that will create a task in one of your favorite task apps when you receive an approval request.

 

During the spring launch event, Charles Lamanna demoed how easy it is to create a great app within minutes. I love the Inter Cars app. It shows how you can quickly make a lot of field engineers more productive! And what's interesting is that almost everyone could do this. No need to hire expensive developers. You can just let the people in the business, who know where the pain in the process is, create apps.

 

And there are even more great updates coming for PowerApps. For instance, the ability to return data to PowerApps from a Flow. This ability is convenient when you want to let a Flow do something when you click a button in Flow, and you want to get the output back into PowerApps.

 

During the virtual launch, there wasn't that much focus on Microsoft Flow. I hope next virtual launch Microsoft Flow will get a more prominent role!

 

I can't wait for the Autumn release because if the teams keep up this pace, it would mean they would come up with a lot more cool stuff like this! Make sure to take a look at the Virtual Spring Launch yourself by going here and if you want to view an hour-long video about PowerApps, make sure to go here.

 

Special thanks to the Flownaut Super User program for inviting me to share my first impressions through this unique blogging opportunity. If you are interested in future Flow community blogging opportunities like this, contact Flow Community Admin Anh-Thu Chang (username: anhthuch4ng) via direct message (DM) for details on how to publish your first community blog.

Comments

When will this update be release?

@Emilio: this release will be released gradually over the next weeks. Some bits are already out there, and some will arrive later. 

Meet Our Blog Authors
  • Working daily with Microsoft Cloud to deliver the needs of my company, my customers and various Microsoft communities and forums. | Office 365 | Flow | PowerShell | PowerApps | SharePoint |
  • Co-founder of https://plumsail.com, Office 365 and SharePoint expert. Passionate about design and development of easy to use, convenient and flexible products.
  • Microsoft Business Apps MVP. Owner of ThriveFast, an Office 365 consulting company.
  • 7x Microsoft Business Solutions MVP (CRM)
  • I'm keen in MS technologies, SharePoint, Office 365 and development for them
  • Daniel is a Business Productivity Consultant & Microsoft Business Solutions MVP who is very enthusiastic about all things Office 365, Microsoft Flow, PowerApps, Azure & SharePoint (Online). Since the preview, Daniel has been working with Microsoft Flow and later on with Microsoft PowerApps. That led to him being awarded an MVP Award for Business Solutions. He loves to blog, present and evangelize about improving productivity in the modern workspace with these amazing tools!
  • Michelle is an Office 365 solution architect in Twin Cities, MN. She has been delivering business collaboration solutions for years with her focus on SharePoint and Office 365. Michelle is a recent board member of the Minnesota Office 365 User Group and has been a member of the SharePoint community since 2009. She is a frequent speaker at MNSPUG and SharePoint Saturday and co-chaired the Legal SharePoint User Group for 4 years. Her most frequent projects have involved rolling out a large deployment of Office 365, SharePoint Online intranet, build of a "CHAMPS" Office 365 user adoption program and most recently, SharePoint On-Premise to Online Migration. Michelle is very excited about cloud technology as it is shifting her IT Pro focus to collaboration strategy and technical adoption.
  • I'm a Microsoft Office Servers and Services MVP with a special interest in SharePoint, Office 365, Microsoft Flow, Microsoft Teams and PowerApps. I work at Triad Group Plc ( https://triad.co.uk)
  • Passionate #Programmer #SharePoint #SPFx #Office365 #MSFlow | C-sharpCorner MVP | SharePoint StackOverflow, Github, PnP contributor