Flow Studio features in April that will help us mitigate a disaster

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In the best scenario, nothing ever fails. Your code and logic doesn’t fail, flows don’t fail, SharePoint doesn’t fail, Azure doesn’t fail.

Some days like yesterday aren’t as wonderful. I’m sure everyone “went home” on Thursday, but there’s a daunting task on Friday - how do we know business continuity has been maintained? Where do we even start?

I hope you are reading this while coming into your work on a Friday morning. Because I’m offering a great solution with Flow Studio, and I think you will have a wonderful Friday.

We can’t perform miracles every day, but today, the Flow Studio team thinks we have a good shot at give you back a “great Friday”

Flow Studio free feature update for March ~ April

This blog post is about several new features that were added to Flow Studio during March to April. Flow Studio is a power tool we’ve built for Power Users to work with their Microsoft Flows. We believe in Flow automations, and we want your Flows to be successful. It is an coincidence that many of the features we paid attention to during March and April forms a complete set of tools when it comes to disaster mitigation. Let us explain how these work together.

Sparklines

We introduced Flow Run Sparklines in March, and improved the performance over April. In Flow Studio - your runs are not second tier citizens - they are top tier. We want you to see immediately on Friday morning, which ones of your Flows have failed.

This is important. Because this was my task this morning. I reviewed all the Flows in my environment, and at a glance - I could identify which ones have failed and needs immediate migitation.

Flow Runs, with Context

Clicking on Sparklines takes me right into the latest set of Flow runs - many of them have failed. Flow Studio understands the trigger data (SharePoint, Dynamics or CDS) and brings the context of each trigger to the front. We don’t see just random Run IDs - instead we see the trigger item id, title or filename. These to help makers select the correct runs to re-submit.


Bulk re-submit

When we are sure the Flow is ready to be re-submitted, Flow Studio gives us the ability to bulk select our failed runs and re-submit them.

Flow Run deletion (future)

Deleting Runs is a feature we are expecting to appear (since it has been announced for Logic Apps) - so we have already added support for this feature. As far as we are aware - this API has not been available on any environment.

In the future, when Flows have been successfully re-submitted, we expect the Maker may choose to delete the old failed run and keep the successful, resubmitted run.

Deleting failed runs so we only have successful runs is sort of cheating, but we LOVE SUCCESS! 100% allowed!

Flow Studio subscription feature update

Sparklines for admins

Flow Subscription allows a maker (with Flow P2 license) to see all the Flows made within that environment.

The new Sparklines is also available here - this allows us to observe all the Flows are successful in the entire environment.

There are Flows that may belong to a solution, belong to a team (that excludes you), or even belong to a Resource owner like SharePoint (so they don’t have an actual Flow user owner). To see those Flows - you’ll need to get Flow Studio subscription, because we can only see them via the P2 admin API.

Approvals (v2) cancellation

In the latest Approvals V2 update - Approvals can now be cancelled. Flow Studio provides bulk Approval cancellation.

We feel this is a situational feature - it may be useful if a lot of Flows have been accidentally ran and created a lot of duplicate Approvals that we might want to cancel in bulk.

But it is very possible that during the disaster of May 2019 - we have a lot of approvals created and then the Flow failed. So in re-submitting these Flows again, we wouldn’t want to have a lot of duplicated approvals. Bulk approval cancellation would be very useful in this scenario.


Thank You

Thank you for your support of Flow Studio App - we hope your business processes have not been impacted, and we hope you were able to use Flow Studio to restart your Flows.

We think the combination of Sparklines, Runs with Context and Bulk Resubmit is a timely reminder of the Flow Studio mission.

Flow to Success!

https://flowstudio.app

Upload Image from PowerApps to Flow to SharePoint via an Unused Outlook connector

This is the simplest no code approach to the PowerApps image upload problem so far. Far simpler than with Azure Function, with custom connector, with hacked Flow button via Flow Studio, even simpler than Azure Blob Storage. All standard connectors so no premium required, and no risk of PowerApps trigger resetting and breaking the connection.

This is my simplest method to upload any image from PowerApps to SharePoint

  • No Swagger

  • No Edit JSON

  • No Azure Blob Storage

  • All Standard Connectors

  • No HTTP

  • Can easily add more arguments


Original

This blog post is a cleaned up version of the #Flow Ninja hack 87 thread which happened on Sunday night. https://twitter.com/johnnliu/status/1114863521525669888

Follow me on Twitter and catch the next live hack.


[Updated: 2019-04-27] Video version, PnP SharePoint Community Call from Chaks

From @chakkradeep


Steps - first a bit of study and exploration

I have a @MicrosoftFlow hack this evening to send files from @PowerApps to @SharePoint I have been thinking about this one for a while. So if you are still awake, follow along.

First - I check the Flow button trigger.
Then create a PowerApps trigger, use peek code to study

Double check SharePoint connector - I read this with FlowStudioApp - there's no method that takes format: byte. Everything wants format: binary.

I spent a while looking through various standard connectors looking for something that does format: byte - I found one. In the Outlook connector.
In send email with attachment. **cackle** **evil grin**

Evil twinkle in the eye acquired - we now execute the plan

So we hack the PowerApps trigger. by using a totally unrelated connector.
I can't hold back my dislike of the PowerApps trigger. Why can't it behave more like the Flow button trigger...

The argument sendanemail_attachmentscontent is ugly. Try using Flow Studio to rename them first before you go too far. This will also make the connection tidier when you take it over to PowerApps.

Finally

PowerApps time - this is probably my simplest method.
Don't need Azure blob storage
Don't need edit json
Don't need swagger
Can have multiple arguments

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Just need to conditionally build a strange Flow that doesn't use the outlook connector but use it to lock the PowerApps trigger

  • See the condition is always false - it doesn’t run

  • See also the Size of the create file is much larger than a broken blob string

  • We need to keep the unused Send an email action even if we don’t use it - because it locks the PowerApps trigger in place so the trigger doesn’t reset.


And there we have it - the absolutely simplest no-code solution to send a File from PowerApps to SharePoint with ease.

We lock the PowerApps trigger to format: byte by using an otherwise unused Outlook send mail connector.

Future

There are a few things Microsoft could do that will make this even easier. If they ever get around to it:

  • Allow us to define PowerApps trigger directly either by using Flow Button UI or Request schema

  • Allow SharePoint connector to accept format: byte

  • Allow PowerApps to send format: binary, right now PowerApps converts that to string, dropping the non-character bytes from the data it sends to Flow






Flow Studio subscription discount finishes very soon

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

This will very brief.

At the end of this weekend - Most of the Flow Studio customer’s accounts will flip from Trial to Free status. There is a current discount that will expire in less than two days.

Going forward, I intend to build out more and more features but they will all be behind the subscription. Aside from general UX changes the free tier is unlikely to receive additional features.

Subscriptions

As part of this initial roll over, I wanted to do a special discount to thank my current customers and encourage everyone to move to subscription. This discount is set at $70 / first year.

Future Discounts?

Since I believe Flow Studio to be excellent value at $10/month (or $100/year), I’m unlikely to offer any future discounts. I’m more interested in building compelling features that Makers, partners and businesses needs to be extra-successful.

I didn’t make this a big marketing fanfare, as I’m a learning startup founder and selling things is something I’m learning.

Currently status: I’m still better at making things than actually selling them.

Partnerships

Many of the current subscriptions are sold and tied to the Service User account that enterprise Flows are running under. Essentially this is a “prod” license.

We see a lot of conversations in the months ahead with Makers directly for their business, or with the consultancies that are implementing Microsoft Flow across tenants, to make sure the Flow Studio subscription is a great product both for creating better Flows as well as monitoring your running Flows.

Talk to us about these partnerships. Whether it is bulk licensing, or multiple tenant scenarios. We are very early in this stage so you get to get in the door first.

Some upcoming plans over the next two months:

  • Two major features still under development - if you are interested let me know we can talk privately about feature priorities.

  • A series of short YouTube videos that explains the hundreds of use cases that you need Flow Studio.

  • Probably a FlowStudio main site make over for users visiting and not logged in.

  • May be look for a co-founder?


Thank you

Thank you so much for your time, energy, support over the last 6 months since I pushed Flow Studio out the door. It’s a journey I’m very much enjoying, and I loved talking to you all about how to use it and why you would need it.

P.S sorry I said brief and then posted a wall of text again!

Flow Studio trial ends soon, what's next?

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This is a Flow Studio startup post. A few weeks back I locked myself in a room and added subscriptions to Flow Studio. In less than two weeks, the initial wave of free monthly trial will end. I’m writing this to be clear what we would be expecting.

Plan

  • Inspirations

  • Explain what will happen

  • Different Tiers of membership

  • v0.1.53

  • Where are we going next

  • Feedback


Inspirations

I have been listening to MS Cloud Show episode 276 where JD Trask from Raygun talks about startup with CJ and AC.

I have listened to it 5 times now.

  • (yes!) Add Subscription

  • (yes!) Do it via Strip

  • What do you mean paying is optional for your customers

  • It is a fear of rejection, it isn’t good enough and people won’t use it if it’s not free

OK. Wow. Startups are hard. Business is hard. Selling is hard. Development is actually easy, comparatively.

What will happen next?

Flow Studio subscription tiers were added on October 18 - so on November 18 - Trial status currently granted to all existing customers will flip over to Free status. Customers that joined after October 18 will have a full month of trial, so may flip after November 18.

This means these features will require a subscription

  • Edit JSON

  • Rename Actions

  • Admin

  • Get All Runs (slow) //better name pending**

  • (Bulk) trigger re-run


Different Tiers of Membership

These features will remain in a Free tier

  • Sort

  • Filter

  • Tag

  • Get Latest Runs // this pulls the latest page of 50 runs

The subscription tier is US$10 / month. There is a yearly discount at $100 / year.


New release Version 0.1.53

A lot of work has gone in to move Flow Runs into its own tab page, this gives us a lot of performance improvements to read lots of Flow Runs.

The expanding master-child grid is nice to look at but very difficult to keep the UI performance when there are a lot of Flows and Runs. There was also not a lot of space to do more work with the Flow Runs screen.


Where are we going next?

I’m hoping that customers will add weight to help me prioritize future features. Flow makers comes from all kinds of backgrounds and have very different use cases and needs.

I am adding more analytics - both for error trapping as well as feature detection, to work out what customers are using Flow Studio for. For example I know customers use sort a lot, but I don’t actually know which column they are all sorting by…

I also know customers click on /admin but I don’t know if customers actually have access to their tenant admin environment. So whether that is just exploration, or is that something that’s critical to their workload - and this affect what features I can add to admin.

Feedback

I’m always here - comment here, on Flow Studio issues or support @ flowstudio.app

These next two weeks will be a lot of thinking and planning for the next feature. Customers have the power to influence what that is.

Summary

  • Flow Studio trial wraps up on Sunday November 18 - customers will revert to Free status

  • Get All Runs and Bulk re-trigger becomes subscription feature

  • Email if you want to talk about bulk discounts for your company


/Back to work

Resolving Google DNS problems with hosting *.app from Hover on Azure

This is a quick blog post - special thanks to Simon Waight who looked into this with me and gave me some nudges towards the right direction. The solution was his suggestion too. That guy, he knows his Azure.

Problem

Okay, checklist of my problems:

  • Bought flowstudio.app domain name with Hover

  • Mapped custom domain on Azure

  • Set CNAME/A record from Hover nameserver to Azure

  • .app needs secure cert - which was bought through Azure (Go-Daddy)

  • DNS lookup is good for almost everyone

  • DNS lookup from Google DNS 8.8.8.8 fails

  • So anyone that uses Google DNS can’t see flowstudio :-(

Notes

Please understand John is a developer and not an infrastructure guru. But this was pretty interesting.

  1. .app is a secured domain

  2. Google DNS fails, because Google owns .app

  3. While most DNS servers are happy to talk to ns.hover.com to resolve my domain name to Azure, Google wants to verify the DNSSEC

  4. This fails, so Google DNS treats the DNS record as invalid, refusing to resolve FlowStudio.app

  5. This was really confusing, until I finally come across a note on Hover’s FAQ:
    https://help.hover.com/hc/en-us/articles/217281647-Understanding-and-managing-DNSSEC

Please note: Hover does not offer hosted DNSSEC DNS services using ns1/2/3.hover.com. If you require DNSSEC, you’ll need to use a third-party DNS provider that offers DNS that supports DNSSEC fully.

Solution

The fix is to create a new Azure DNS Zone, and then change the nameserver records on Hover to point to Azure DNS Servers. A/CNAME records are created on Azure DNS. This seems to have resolved the issue for everyone, especially Google DNS.

Please let me know if you have problems accessing https://FlowStudio.app