SharePoint Saturday London (24/6/2017) – Microsoft Flow

On Saturday the 24th of June, Daniel Laskewitz and myself presented at the SharePoint Saturday London event. SharePoint Saterday (or SPS for short: http://www.spsevents.org) is a free worldwide event aimed at sharing knowledge, experience and fun about Office 365, Azure and of course SharePoint, with anyone who is interested.

The event in London is special because, well it’s London!

But kidding aside, the SPS London is a very nice venue and one of the more prominent ones. So a lot of SharePoint and Office 365 gurus were present. To name but a few:

  • Bill Ayers
  • Stefan Bauer
  • Christian Buckley
  • Maarten Eekels
  • Matthias Einig
  • Chris McNulty
  • Marijn Somers
  • Elio Struyf
  • And, of course, Albert Hoitingh and Daniel Laskewitz

SPS London offered a lot of content. Ranging from business value (adoption, governance) to development (SharePoint Framework, PnP, etc). Our session was a “beginners course” on Microsoft Flow entitled “Microsoft Flow Happy Hour”.

During this session Daniel and myself explained the role of Microsoft Flow and the different possibilities. We ended with data governance and security and the Microsoft Flow roadmap.

Flow in essence is easy

During the session we showed the basic and more complex functions of Microsoft Flow. In essence, Flow is easy. Let’s be real. It starts with a trigger and ends with an action. Sure, you can use (multiple) conditions and actions or even buttons. But the premise is easy to comprehend.

Easy

So I started to demo, using Twitter and SharePoint Online for this.

In our demo I created two connections. One was using my Twitter account and the other was my company account, connected to SharePoint Online. Using a Flow out-of-the-box template, I was able to show how easy it is to save Tweets directly into a SharePoint list.

But this is simple. Even I could do this. So it was time for something special. Our Flow environment also contained a connection to Azure Cognitive Services – Text Analysis. And we basically wanted to know what people were Tweeting and their sentiment. So we were going to save the Tweets again, using a different SharePoint list. This list also included the column “Sentiment”. And we were using the text analysis function.

Text analysis allows you detect the language and sentiment of a text. It uses a scale of 0 to 1, where the 0 is very bad and the 1 is very good. Using this connection, I started work on a Flow from scratch.

First of all, I needed to get the Tweets. Again, I used the #spslondon tag for this.

Then I used the Tweet text as input for the text analysis. The resulting score was used to add the sentiment to the SharePoint list.

For the sentiment, I used three options:

  • Greater then 0.7 = Great!
  • Less then 0.3 = Bad
  • The rest = Oke

And using these as conditions, I created the Flow.

And you know what? It worked! No big surprise there of course. But nice all the same.

It was nice to show people how such a Flow can be created in just a couple of minutes. At the end of our presentation I used the same Flow to show the data loss prevention options. But that was after Daniel explained our audience how Flow can be used from any mobile device or even be triggered by using a physical button. Daniel had brought such a button with him, but time restrains didn’t allow us to show it.

Microsoft Flow – Mobile & devices

Daniel explained the differences between the mobile Flow options and the web-based options. He then created a very simple flow using his mobile. The flow was triggered using a button on the device and notified Daniel of his current location. On a mobile device, a flow can be enabled to read this information from the mobile device.

A very nice demo indeed and one showing the real power of Microsoft Flow. We also wanted to show the new approval center and approval flows, but that’s something for a next time.

Keeping Flow secure

Our last part of the section was on how to secure Flow. I explained the concepts of the Flow Admin center, environments, Admins vs. Makers and data policies. And these are very important. Data policies decide which content can flow between which services.

In our earlier demo’s we did not have a policy in-place. Twitter was able to connect to SharePoint Online and data could flow. In my last demo of the day, I created a data policy in which SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business were in the business data area and all other environments (including Twitter) in the non-business data area. When my previous flow was saved, the data policy prevented the flow from running.

More information

If you would like to see the presentation, it is available from Slideshare.

If you want more information on Microsoft Flow (or PowerApps), don’t hesitate to contact me or Daniel.

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