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Trigger a Flow using a physical button

Single physical button as a user interface is ingenious in its simplicity. A button that can be pressed. That's it. One example of these products is the bttn. But there is one thing that makes the bttn very interesting. Flow have triggers and actions for it!

 

Everything is ready for building solutions having a physical button as a user interface. You just have to figure out how you could utilize this simple gadget in your business.

 

new bttn flow.png

 

Let's think what button could do in an office environment. I ended up with these examples for our office:

  • Message to all when people are going to lunch
  • Message to all when we have visitors in the office
  • The coffee pot is empty! Whose turn is it to make fresh coffee?

Let's go through each of these examples in more detail.

 

Let's go to lunch!

 

 img_0350-e1512744719651.jpg

 

At the work, we like to go to lunch together. But not all at the office have clear visibility to the outdoor. Sometimes you can miss the lunch party just because you haven't noticed that the group is leaving. What if there would be a button which is pressed when a group of people is going to lunch? Pressing the button would send a message to the whole office that we are going to the lunch and everyone can join.

 

The Flow is simple. Pressing the button sends a message to the Teams lunch channel. The same channel has an active discussion about lunch locations.

 

bttn lunchtime flow.png

 

After pressing the button we have the message in Teams.

 

lunchtime - teams.png

 

Warning - Visitors inside the facilities

 

 img_0346-e1512744756686.jpg

We have often visitors in the office. It might be convenient to silently inform colleagues about visitors. For that, we place the button beside the outdoor.

 

  • When pressing the button Flow sends information to everyone that visitors have entered the premises
  • When long pressing the button Flow sends information to everyone that visitors have left the building

In this case, we use Yammer as a communication channel. Actually, we make Yammer announcement.

 

 

bttn - visitors.png

 

The coffee pot is empty

 

img_0351-e1512744798187.jpg

 

Coffee is the most important thing in the office (my personal opinion). There has to be coffee for everyone. Next, we place the button next to the coffee maker. When an employee notices that the coffee pot is empty she/he just press the button. Flow figures out whose turn it is to make fresh coffee and sends a polite message to she/he.

 

For that, we need a SharePoint list containing all employees. Besides the employee name, there is a counter telling how many times the employee has made coffee.

 

nc3a4yttc3b6kuva-2017-11-29-kello-19-10-50.png

 

Then the actual workflow. It starts when someone presses the button. After that, we find out who should make coffee. It will be the employee who's coffee making counter has the smallest value. This employee can be found from SharePoint list by using Get items action having items sorted by count (Order by = count asc). We need only one coffee maker so we get only one item (Top count = 1).

 

bttn - coffee 1.png

 

We will update the counter later on Flow. For that purpose, we initialize new variable (CoffeeCounter).

 

bttn - coffee 2.png

 

In some cases, you just don't have the time to make coffee. For that reason, we use (super handy) approval action. It informs an employee that he/she should go and make coffee. Employee clicks Approve when she/he have made new coffee. If she/he cannot make new coffee he clicks Reject.

 

bttn - coffee flow approval2.png

 

If the person accepts the request our Flow does the following.

 

  • Set CoffeeCounter variable value to selected Employee's current counter value
  • Send a message to the Teams for the whole office.
  • Update the employee coffee making counter value stored in SharePoint list. This is done with expression: add(variables('CoffeeCounter'),1)

Next time it will be someone else's turn.

 

Also in case, the employee rejects the request the Flow sends a message to Teams.

 

bttn - coffee flow rest.png

 

For the employee the coffee making request looks like this (mobile)

 

bttn coffee approval 2.jpgbttn coffee approval 3.jpg

 

In an email the request looks like this.

 

bttn - coffee approval.png

 

Messages in Teams looks like this.

 

coffee teams ok.png

 

Or this.

 

coffee teams not ok.png

 

Ready-made Flow looks like this.

 

bttn - coffee flow big picture.png

 

Button as a user interface is very fascinating. With Flow you can use a button easily in your solutions.

Comments

Nice article. 😁
Thank you for your article.
and I hope more and more button support by Microsoft Flow.

This is awesome and so much fun!

Thank you for sharing

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  • 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)
  • Solution Architect with Slalom, and organizer of the Boston Office 365 User Group, and long term SharePoint/Office 365 veteren. Find more at http://www.davidlozzi.com. Follow @DavidLozzi
  • 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)
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