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What is Microsoft Flow?



  Microsoft Flow Logo

In the wake of Microsoft's move toward cloud and mobile apps, they've invested in several cloud additions to the legacy, well-known office apps. One of them is Flow, a trigger-based system for creating automated workflows.

What does flow do?

If you're the type of person who reads How-To-Geek on a regular basis, you're probably aware of personal productivity that rages pretty much the whole millennium. Flow is an attempt by Microsoft to provide you with a kind of automation for notifications, alerts, data collection, and communications that will allow you to spend less time on boring but necessary administrative work and more time on interesting (and productive) things.

Think Flow as an IFTTT, but with a propensity for the office instead of IoT or hardware.

 Flow home page

With Flow, you can create "flows" (short for "workflows") that are based on the system during trigger events. For example, you could create a flow that regularly downloads the answers to a Microsoft Forms questionnaire into Dropbox or provides a message on a Slack channel when a Visual Studio build fails.

RELATED: How to create a questionnaire in Microsoft Forms

Can anyone use it?

Anyone can use Flow when signing up for a free Microsoft account. Although users with an Office 365 subscription can also use Flow, they receive approximately the same functionality as users with a free Microsoft account.

Flow will also ship with business versions of Office 365 and Dynamics 365, but for different subscription levels, there will be different versions that match both paid and free accounts. This is a bit confusing, but you can check the details on the Microsoft price page.

You can also pay a Flow account if you intend to use more than the free account. There are three price plans:

  • Flow Free: With the free plan, you can create unlimited flows, but you only get 750 runs a month and reviews are done every 15 minutes.
  • Flow Plan 1: This plan costs $ 5 a month. You get 4500 runs a month and every three minutes reviews are done. You'll also get world-class connectors for services like MailChimp and Salesforce.
  • Schedule 2: This plan costs $ 15 per month. You get 15,000 runs a month, and checks are made every minute. You get the same premium connectors that are provided in Flow Plan 1, as well as access to the organization's policy settings and various business process flows.

You can sign up for one of the paid packages for a 90-day free trial, which should be the case Long enough to see if it's worth throwing out the money.

What can I do with Flow?

Flow is about eliminating the hassles of tasks a computer could do for you instead. This can be as simple as getting an email notification when someone changes a file in Dropbox, or as complex as a multi-level workflow with approvals, alerts, and notifications based on real-time data Power BI analysis.

You can create three main types of flows:

  • Automated: A flow that is triggered automatically by an event, such as an event. For example, the arrival of an e-mail or the modification of a file.
  • Button: A flow is triggered manually by pressing a button.
  • Scheduled: A river that runs at a specified time, either once or as a recurring action.

Enterprise users of a paid plan also have access to the business process

It is often difficult to think about how you would use this type of tool, therefore, Microsoft has provided a large number of data templates, from you can select some for specific situations (prod productivity, sales, software development, etc.) and the rest uses special connectors. A connector represents a connection between Flow and another application.

 Some sample flow templates

There are connectors for a variety of applications, including any Microsoft application with a SAAS interface (including GitHub). Along with connectors for Slack, Dropbox, Gmail, MailChimp, Jira, Twitter, BaseCamp and dozens more. Some of them are only available to premium customers (ie Paying Customers), but most of them are enterprise services like BitBucket and Salesforce, which you do not need as a personal user. There are also ports for protocols like FTP and RSS. Overall, there are connectors for 323 applications and protocols at the time of writing, and you can write your own if you need another one.

 Some examples of connectors

Is flux better than IFTTTT?

The answer depends on what you need from them. Flow is more focused on business and software. IFTTT is more user and IoT oriented. If you want your lights to be turned on in response to a Slack message, IFTTT is your best bet. If you want a SharePoint list to be updated each time someone responds to a poll you've created, Flow is the better option. They are both good at what they do, and for some tasks you can use both.


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