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How to never lose your car again in under 10 minutes using Microsoft Flow

 Have you ever wanted to drop a digital breadcrumb on a location for later access? I first thought of this for snow shoeing, where trails can be established using layers of 'pins' dropped by users, so fellow snow shoe'ers can find new or already established trails, or blaze new ones.

Recently, I was inspired to develop a mobile app for capturing homeless stats during the annual state count/sweep as a demonstration using PowerApps, Flow, SharePoint and potentially some PowerBI. By using a mobile app to capture homeless interview information, we can give back hundreds of volunteer hours, provide better data by reducing the number of times the information is captured, in hopes of better serving this demographic. Using Microsoft's Modern Application Platform, a lesson in humility, and a hackathon opportunity, I still came up short on functionality until just recently, which inspired THIS blog.
More on the homeless app in a future blog!

 

Don't loose your car, ever again Dude!DudeFlowButton.pngThe Dude Flow button

 

With the click of a 'Dude' Flow button, you will save your location information from your mobile device, to a SharePoint Online list. Lastly, you'll see a link in the mobile notification that launches your mobile app with step by step directions on getting you back to your car.

DudeSteps.pngSharePoint, Flow and the Dude Flow button

NOTE: This has only tested on iOS at this time. Please let me know your experiences so I can keep this post up to date.

 

Requirements

Short of a developer or community Office 365 account you will need:

  1. You will need an active Office 365 subscription to create a new Flow.
    o365Subscription.pngOffice 365 Subscription required
  2. You will need to install Microsoft Flow on your mobile device if you haven't already.
  3. While you aren't required to store the location information in SharePoint to obtain the end result, which is directions back to your car, it is required to be able to show the location maps using this awesome PowerBI visual. 

PinnedMap.pngPowerBI ESRI Mapped Location

I should note that you could have stored the location information generated when pressing the Dude Flow button, into an Excel file stored on your OneDrive for Business as an alternative location than using a SharePoint list. There are a few things you would need to do with the Excel file to work. Check out any of the Flow Tweet blogs or how to videos on the additional table formatting you need to do first if you want to go down this path.

 

To complete all the steps in this article,  an Office 365 E1 license, student or Small Business license should suffice. You will also need PowerBI if you want to view the locations or perform other BI wizardry on. 

 

Create a new SharePoint list 

  1. Create a new SharePoint (custom) List with the name CarLocation
  2. Add columns as illustrated below for Longitude, Latitude and TimeStamp:

SPList_CarLocation.pngCarLocation SPCustomList

Create a new Microsoft Flow 

  1. Log into flow.microsoft.com using your Organizational O365 account
  2. Create a new (blank) Flow
  3. Select Flow button for mobile
  4. Rename the new flow Dude

AddFlowButton.pngAdd the Dude Flow Button

Connect to your SharePoint list

  1. Click New Step
  2. Click Add an action
  3. Type or select SharePoint (SERVICES)

AddSPStep.pngFlow Add SharePoint Action

Map location to SharePoint list columns

  1. Click to select SharePoint Create Item
  2. Select or type Site address and List Name 
  3. Drag to add Longitude, Latitude and TimeStamp columns as illustrated:

CreateSPItem.pngFlow SharePoint Service Create Item

Create mobile notification after SharePoint list updated

  1. Below the Update SharePoint Flow step, click Add an action
  2. Click to select Notifications (SERVICES)
  3. Select Notifications - Send me a mobile notification

MobileNotification.pngFlow Send Mobile Notification service

Add link to notification to show map location

  1.  Add the notification text you would like to see appear on your mobile device when the button is clicked. I used Dude, I know where your car is! 
  2. In the Link field, add the following:
    https://www.google.com/maps/place/
  3. With NO SPACES, drag Longitude, followed by a comma, and then drag Latitude (as illustrated) into the Link field. 
  4. Provide some text which you will click to launch maps on your mobile device into the Link label field.

MobleLocationLink.pngFlow mobile location link

Save the Flow 

  1. Rename Flow: Dude
  2. Click the check mark to finish
  3. To exit the Flow editor page, click the Done arrow

 

SaveFlow.pngFlow Rename Dude and Save

Test the Flow 

  1. Launch Flow on your mobile device
    NOTE: You may need to log in using your Organizational account if it's your first time using.
  2. Click Buttons
    NOTE: You may be prompted to access your devices location information, accept and continue. 
  3. Click the Dude button
    TestMobileDude.pngFlow Test Mobile Dude button
    Spoiler
    Dude Flow button in action
    REF: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWtebXifEdE

You can stop here and happily never loose your car again, otherwise, continue to add in the PowerBI map visuals...

 

Add PowerBI to map visual data 

  1. Create new Power BI (desktop)
  2. Click the Get Data button, and select from SharePoint site from the list
  3. Enter your site address, select carlocation list, and click Load


AddPowerBI.pngPowerBI Connect to SharePoint

Add map visualizations in PowerBI

  1. Click and drag to add ArcGIS Visualization
  2. Drag Latitude, Longitude and Timestamp from carlocation fields to Visualizations fields as illustrated:

MapLocation.pngPowerBI map SharePoint columns to Map Visual

Limit location results to show only the last location stored

  1. Click the Edit Query button
  2. Filter the TimeStamp column by IsLatest
  3. Click the Close and Apply button
  4. Review results

FilteredLocation.pngPowerBI limit location to IsLatest

 

To summarize

We used a simple list in SharePoint to store our location information. We created a Flow button that we access on our mobile device to capture our location information. When the Dude Flow button is pressed, your location data was stored in SharePoint Online, then a notification message appeared on your mobile device indicating success, with a link to the map location which you clicked to launch Google maps, to route you back to your car. We also pulled the location data into Power BI, then showed that location information in a visual map. 

Give it a try on your own

It will be fun, I promise and I'll bet that you'll be dropping Dudes' all over town to see your map light up. You may even be thinking about that snow shoe app now... right? I'm looking forward to hearing if and how this article inspired you to come up with an idea based on these features.

Stay tuned as I continue to work out the homeless app. I'll be presenting these demos at upcoming SharePoint user group and SPSaturday events.

Please let me know what you'd like to see demonstrated or if you have any questions about these steps. 

 

Mahalo!

 

Author: Jennifer Pearcey

@pcmom03 

 

Got Questions?

 

linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-pearcey-09603617

Comments
This article is misleading! It should have been named "How to never lose your MOBILE again in under 10 minutes using Microsoft Flow if you keep pressing Dude Flow button at least 5000 times every day!" I mean I am already in love with Flow, PowerApps and Power BI, but this is not a good way to market Flow. There are many tracking devices available in the market, better for Microsoft Flow partner with one, or few, then such devices would give signals about location automatically! Frequently and On a Request!, and only then - after article is modified - title of the article would become true.

This is a great article which displays the different components (SharePoint, Flow, and PowerBI) working together. As far as the earlier comment.  I think the writer totally misses the point on the purpose of this article.  It is to give people a possible scenario that can be used.  But more importantly to show how the three components can be arranged to work together. This is a learning tool and for the unitiated it is a good starting point into the world of using Flow.

@spfrustratesme2 Thanks so much for writing this super cool blog post teaching us all how to combine some of the various tools with Flow. You rock! Cant wait for your next post! Smiley Happy

Well said, and thank you @exnav29! The intention of this post to illustrate that an everyday problem could be solved with a simple Flow and to show any O365 subscriber how to do the same, with relative ease.

 

Let's take the snowshoe case I mentioned above. If I'm snow shoeing a new trail, I could tap a Flow button on my mobile device to pin GPS location at intervals throughout the trail, as well as interesting points. I could share this location information with other fellow snow shoers' so they don't have to make new trails. 

 

Mahalo @JonL-MSFT! I'm brewing up some fresh content in my kitchen that I'm hoping is useful for anyone trying to get started, or just have some fun learning, while solving a few of lifes little problems. 

ArcGIS Error.PNG

Hi there guys. Great post. Having trouble with my Dude. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.

Cheezer looking at the picture i am guessing that the issue is your location is not appearing on the map. If so double check that in the URL you are passing it Latitude and then Longitude (in that order).
Anonymous

I'm struggling to find the ArcGIS PowerBI.

 

Any ideas?

Thanks,
Dan

Hi Dan,

  I don't have my PowerBI Desktop running now, but if I recall correctly, you will need to select the "Map" visualization instead.

 

Johnathan

Anonymous

Thanks Johnathan,

 

Will give that a go.

 

Regards,
Dan

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