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Working with Power Automate

The power of no-code, low-code programming.

Have you ever heard of low code or no-code environments? It’s where you can create an application or a process visually without having to know a programming language. If you are familiar with IFTTT, then you will understand. Power Automate from Microsoft is one of those tools that we use at work.

Power Automate (formally known as Flow) is an exciting tool in that it is flexible and has a ton of connectors that integrate to a lot of services. Most connectors are free, but some are premium services (cost money). See for yourself; I’m sure you can find something to connect to.

Creating a flow visually is very similar to creating a flow chart, except that each element has actual code behind it. You have all (or most) of the features of a programming language. Factors include input, output, case statement, variables, if-then conditions, loops, etc.

Simple Approval Workflow

I use it primarily for managing approval workflows for my applications. I would instead create a flow visually than wire one up in code. It is easier to see what is going on and make changes. The process runs in the cloud, and I can communicate to and from with it via HTTP service calls.

I can send notifications to email or Microsoft Teams within the flow, or both. I have my flows send me alerts to our Teams channel if something went wrong or emails to the application owner with updates to the workflow. It’s pretty nice.

Besides workflows, I use Power Automate to run various things on a schedule. It’s easy to do scheduled tasks like hitting an API endpoint every Monday morning at 7 am so that a report is run and results sent out. Or to check to see if specific Flows are still active and, if not, turn them back on (Microsoft has a habit of turning off Flows due to inactivity). My favorite is the “I got an email from the Boss Alerts” type of Flow that I created for myself.

There are a few downsides that, like everything else, I don’t like l. There is no CI/CD pipeline to push changes to a Production environment. I have to make the changes manually.

There is no code repository either, so there is no version history. If you want a version history, you have to manually create an export and save that somewhere. It’s a manual process in need of automating.

Overall, Power Automate has been a positive experience for me. There have been issues that I have gotten stuck on, but the community forum is a good source of knowledge to search for or to post a question. I like it and want to find more uses cases for it.

Drop me a comment if you tried Power Automate and tell me what you think.

Happy Coding!