[Azure] Using an Azure Function to create custom Flow actions

If you’re working with Microsoft Flow, chances are that on some point in time you’ll run into a situation where the action you need simply doesn’t exist. If you’re a developer with skills to write C#, PowerShell, Node or even batch code, you’re in luck! Cause why not create that action yourself in the form of an Azure Function? Here’s how to do it.  Read More

[O365] Using SharePoint boolean fields with Microsoft Flow

My previous post just now was on the topic of Microsoft Flow, the workflow-style application that allows you to perform “if this, than that” type logic linking different applications together. Basically, Flow provides you a way of automating actions by having a set of triggers, some logic and using API’s to perform actions. It wraps all of this in a nice and easy to use user interface, making this functionality that pretty much everyone can leverage. Power to the business!

In this post I want to show how I created a real-life flow to automate a process for expense declarations. The process is a really simple one:

  • We’ve created an Expense Declarations library on SharePoint.
  • We added a new Expense Declaration content type which has an Excel template for the declaration.
  • We also added a boolean field “Ready” which signals the expense form is ready for processing.
  • The form should now be sent to the person handling the declarations. Of course it would be even better to send it directly into an API, but unfortunately that’s not available for us.

As said, the basic elements of a flow are a trigger, some logic (conditions) and actions. Let’s go!

 

Defining the trigger

To create the flow, we head over to flow.microsoft.com and after signing in (or up), we begin with a blank flow. The first action we add is “When an existing item is modified”. This is because:

  1. The “created” action will fire off immediately after the form was created and is probably still empty.
  2. The action for a modified document will not contain the correct information, our Ready field will not be present. This is supposed to be changed in the future though.

So we set up the existing item modified trigger:

flow_itemmodified

Note: because your library is a library, it might not show up in the suggestions. That doesn’t mean you cannot use it though, just type in the name and you should be good to go.

 

Creating a condition

Next, we need to set-up the condition. We want the declaration to be sent only when the Ready field is set to Yes. Because the value is stored as a boolean, the field value sent to flow will be “true”. You can check that by running your flow (trigger it from SharePoint after saving) and clicking the trigger to inspect the values coming in:

flow_trigger

Check out the value for Ready:

flow_trigger2

So now the most straightforward thing to do would be to set up the condition like this:

flow_condition

But this does not work. I suspect the engine will handle “true” as a string which would give a comparison of “true == ‘true'” which is false. To fix this, put the editor in advanced mode and use the following expression: @equals(triggerBody()?[‘Ready’], bool(1)).

flow_condition2

bool(1) will convert to ‘true’ so our comparison should now be “true == true” whenever the Ready field is set to Yes in SharePoint.

 

Setting up the action

Lastly, I created a simple e-mail action to send out a notification to the correct user. Ideally I wanted to add the file contents to that e-mail but that isn’t possible (yet) due to the “item modified” trigger which is not aware of a file. I tried several ways to get around this but didn’t succeed. You can probably get there with something customized like an Azure Function, but for now the plain old e-mail will do. Simply set-up an Office365 e-mail action to send out a mail to inform the correct user a new declaration has been added, paste in the link to the library and you’re set.

 

When I find a way to attach the file to the e-mail or send a direct link to the file, I’ll update this post!

[O365] Changing the language of Microsoft Flow

Here’s a very short post for you. I’ve been playing around with Microsoft Flow a bit, a new workflow-type tool that allows you to connect services to each other. For users of If This Then That (ITFF.com) or Zapier (zapier.com) the idea should be familiar. One little annoying issue I had is that Flow kept presenting its interface to me in Dutch, even though the documentation says it’s just in English for now.

flow_nederlands

Note how the UI is in Dutch even though some actions only display an English text. Guess that’s the “preview” part.

So I went looking where to change this as I always prefer English for these types of things, especially for blog posts 🙂 I couldn’t find any setting nor seems there to be any kind of ” my account” screen in the product. So how the heck do I get it to display in English then? Finally I found that it’s actually paying respect to the language setting your browser is sending out. And for some reason (new laptop I guess) this setting had Dutch as my preferred language.

For Chrome, you can find the setting here:

Settings > Show advanced settings > Language and input settings

chrome_languagesettings

 

After ensuring English is the first item in this list the UI changed to displaying English all around. Hurray!

flow_english

So now I can go on with creating the blog post I was meaning to write 🙂

Update: this actually does not only change the display language, it also seems to improve functionality. I’m getting more options now and things like conditions seem to better show the available fields and stuff like that.