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New Flow feature: Saving Time with Copy & Paste

For me one of the most frustrating things within Microsoft Flow has been not being able to easily recreate an action. I would normally have to create and configure the action in the same way every single time, which if I need to do this multiple times within a Flow you can appreciate the time adds up.

So when I watched Jon Levesques recent MVP video where they were disucssing upcoming features, I got quite excited at the announcement that the ability to Copy and Paste actions was coming. That excitement grew even more when I just spotted that the functionality has rolled out! So I thought this is the opportune time to share my excitement and to share how to use it.

Copying to Clipboard

The first thing I need to do here, is to configure my action since the clipboard will hold both the action and the configuration associated with it. Once I've done that, I can click on the ellipsis in the top right of the action and select the shiny new option "Copy to my clipboard".

Copy.PNGThis will save this action so that I can reuse it. Before you use Copy to clipboard, I strongly recommend that you name your action something which is descriptive. As you can save multiple actions to the Clipboard, having to go and choose from Get Items, Get Items 2, Get Items 3 will soon start to get confusing.

Pasting from Clipboard

Once I have copied an action to the clip board, the experience to bring it back in is so easy, I'm really impressed. When I go to add an action, I have a new option available to me next to my connector filters called "My clipboard". This is an area which populates with actions each time you copy one to your clip board.

Past1.PNG

The clipboard can hold multiple items, so what you actually get presented with is a list of the actions which you can paste back into your Flow. The information icon on the right hand side no longer presents a description of the action, but presents the JSON definition. To me this is quite useful just to see what's going on within the action, and I'm sure if I don't rename my actions then it will be a way for me to identify what's going on without having to put it into my Flow, but for non-developers it might not add a lot of value.

When I select the action from my clip board, it will place the action into my Flow. The exact configuration which was applied within action at the point of copying is retained and is now replicated along with the action itself. If you are pasting in an action which has the same name as another, then it will behave in the same way that Flow always has done, it will append a numerical value to the action name.

The really nice thing is that the clipboard will persist between Flows, so I can now copy an action from one Flow and then paste it into another! Winner!!

Key Observations

At the moment, only copying actions is supported, although the option is there on triggers, so I'd expect to see that shortly.

If you copy your action multiple times, which is bound to happen when you copy your action only to then realise you've not quite got the configuration right and so do it again, the action will appear on the clip board multiple times. Each time it gets copied, it will have the same name, so you could see multiple "Get Items" on your clipboard if you've coped the same action more than once.

The clip board can hold a large number of actions, I got to 30 actions before my attention span gave way and I stopped clicking "Copy to clipboard". 

The other key thing to be aware is that at the moment there is no way to remove an action from the clip board. The only way to clear your clipboard is to log out of Flow and then back in again. Although I have found that by clicking the Home Link rather than going to My Flows will also achieve the same goal. 

From my initial testing, the copy and paste functionality works well, with only a couple of minor UX issues which I think need to be ironed out, and I'm sure that will happen. It is definitely functionality which I will be utilising going forward and will definitely help reduce the amount of time it takes me when producing my more complex Flows.

Well done the Flow Team!

Thansk for reading!

Comments

One more important feature (I think):

When you "copy to my clipboard" you can paste the code in notepad and save it for later, send it do a friend, share it in a blog or similar.

 

You, or the recipient can then copy the code and paste it when viewing "my clipboard", it will then show up as an action in the clipboard 🙂

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