Tip #1094: It is Time to Go with the Flow

Microsoft is making lots of noise of late about the soon to be released Spring Release. One of the key takeaways from those announcements is that PowerApps and Flow are a key element of the future for app development in Dynamics (Canvas Apps, as they call them). If you still think PowerApps and Flow are the playthings of non-developers to do things poorly until a ‘real’ developer arrives, you are holding yourself back from a world of opportunity and it is time to embrace the new.

Of course, at TOTD we have encouraged you to embrace PowerApps and Flow before but here I will drill down into how Flow works, especially in regards to Dynamics 365.

First of all, you can go to flow.microsoft.com and sign up for a free trial account. Once you have done this you can look at the sample templates but there is not a huge amount for Dynamics 365 so I say jump straight in and build your own. You will need a Trigger (similar to the triggers used to run workflows in Dynamics 365) and, once triggered, you will need the Flow to do something via Actions (just like steps in a workflow).

The triggers we have are at the record level and are:

  • OnCreate
  • OnDelete
  • OnUpdate

While we can make all sorts of apps do something via an Action, for Dynamics 365, we can:

  • Create a record
  • Delete a record
  • Retrieve a record
  • Retrieve multiple records
  • Update a record

We can also run Flows on demand via the mobile Flow app and, unlike workflows, we can schedule Flows to run regularly at a specific time. There really is a lot of power here waiting to be unleashed.

If you are familiar with creating workflows, none of this should look too difficult and I assure you making the leap to Flows will not be a large one.

7 thoughts on “Tip #1094: It is Time to Go with the Flow

  1. Thanks very much, Leon!

    Do you have any idea if an ISV can ship Flows or PowerApps as part of a Solution? Or, do they have to be created in an Org individually?


    • Leon Tribe says:

      At this stage Flows and PowerApps CANNOT be added as part of a solution. Given Dialogs are deprecated with suggestions that Flow will take their place, one would hope that this will change in the future.

  2. Mary Cunningham says:

    Could this be used to trigger a VOC survey from an app outside of Dynamics?

    • Leon Tribe says:

      I am not overly familiar with VOC but if there is a Flow Connector for your app it could be triggered and then call an action in Dynamics. I recently wrote a blog article on how to use Flow to trigger a Workflow at https://thatcrmblog.wordpress.com which may help.

    • Joel Lindstrom says:

      If by “trigger a VOC survey” you mean display a survey and let someone complete it, the answer is yes, since surveys can be launched from URL’s. The problem you would have is it would be an anonymous survey–for a non anonymous survey you need to have a specific URL–this URL is created from a CRM email template. An enterprising developer could create a string that builds the URL to include a contact GUID, but that isn’t an OOTB thing.

  3. Andrew says:

    Flow is realy bad instrument if we are talking about lots and lots of records. For example, we have some entities with more than 20 millions records and we are getting 60 000 ne records per day per entity (there is 4 entities with such load). And we are running 5 workflows for each record. For now this doesn’t cost for us any money. But if we would move to Flow – we will need to pay a lot of money.

  4. Leon Tribe says:

    You are absolutely right that you have to be careful of the license implications of your specific scenario. Arguably this does not mean Flow is a bad tool to do it but rather the licensing model hinders it. While this is the case though it makes sense that using workflow for mass updates would be compelling.

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