As most of you know Microsoft Flow has recently announced a new product name, Power Automate. The UI flows feature brings Robotic Process Automation (RBA) capabilities into the platform. There are also several other updates I am going to share.
Call Child Flows
Users are building processes in Power Automate that need dozens, sometimes hundreds of steps. But, pulling these actions into a single flow, can make it difficult to navigate and maintain that flow. A recommendation would be to break apart the steps into several different flows that you can call back-and-forth between the flows. The smaller flows can accomplish a simple task, which makes it easier to read and identify a problem, if one occurs. This approach is rather important because you want to be able to reuse the task in multiple places in one single flow, or across several flows.
In October, Microsoft introduced a new built-in action called Run a Child Flow, which automatically handles HTTP trigger and action problems. To start with this action, you first select Solutions in the left navigation menu. Then pick an existing solution, or, create a new solution. After, you will create or edit two flows as follows.
1. The parent flow has any type of trigger and will call into the other flow.
2. The child flow is nested inside the other that will contain the smaller tasks you want to run
Build Child Flows
To build a child flow, you will first need to create the child flow. You can use three different triggers to do so.
1. Manually trigger the flow.
3. When an HTTP request if received.
Selecting the first trigger can help define inputs that you want the child flow to receive from the parent flow. If the child flow is going to be creating a contact, it will need the Contact Name and Contact email. Then, select Add an Input and provide the details
Next, you will want to build the logic you want to be inside of the child flow. You can use as many steps as you need. After this, return data back to the parent flow. You will be able to use one of two actions.
2. Respond to a PowerApp or flow
You can define however many outputs you want to be returned from the child flow. With this particular example, you can respond with the ID of the contact.
Name your flow a descriptive name and press save. Then, test your child flow. As a result of manually triggering this flow, it’s very easy to test right inside of the flow designer. Lastly, if your flow uses anything other than built-in actions or the Common Data Service (current environment) connector, you need to update the flow to use the connections embedded in the flow. To do so, select the back button to get the child flow’s properties page, then select Edit in the Run only users box.
Within the pane that appears for each connection used in the flow, you need to select Use this connection (<connection name>) instead of Provided by run-only user.
Then, select Save. Currently, you cannot pass connection from the parent flow to the child flow. If you do not do this, you will receive an error message that states, ‘The workflow with id ‘<flow id>’, name <flow name> cannot be used as a child workflow because child workflows only support embedded connections.’
Build Parent Flows
You can now build the parent flow from the same solution, create a new flow, or you can bring an existing flow into that solution. It can have any type of trigger you want.
Find where you want to call the child flow in your flow and add an action. You can find the Run a Child Flow action under the Flows connector on the Built-in tab.
Next, you will need to pick the child flow that was created above. As a reminder, you will only be able to see the flows you have access to that are in solutions and have one of the three above triggers.
After picking the child flow, you will then see the inputs that you defined. After the child flow action, you will be able to use any of the outputs from that child flow.
When it begins to run, the parent flow will wait for the child flow to complete for the lifetime of the flow. A flow that uses built-ins and CDS can last 1 year. All other flows last 30 days. The last and final step is to save and test your flow. When exporting the solution that contains these two flows, import it into another environment. The new parent and child flows will automatically be linked and there is no need to update URLs.
Trigger Flows From your Location
You can even trigger flows based on your location. It allows you to create a location range that will trigger a flow when your mobile device enters or leaves that area. With this feature you can zoom in, or out, to determine how close or far you are for the flow to be triggered. You don’t want to create too
small of a zone because your GPS may accidentally think you are entering or exiting the zone, even when you are stationary.
There are also twenty-eight new connectors and connector improvements, which most are submitted by the connector certification program. You can check the twenty-eight connectors on the Connector Overview. Several other updates include:
- Using AI Builder inside of the Power Automate portal allows you to create and edit models inline instead of in a separate tab.
- You can create flows within the France region and the Power Automate US Government – GCC High environment. This is compliant with US Government requirements for cloud services.
- New rules have been added to the Flow checker, which includes a recommendation on flows called from Power Apps canvas apps.
If you are looking to create these flows, I have provided you with a step-by-step guide to do so. However, if you are looking for a company to assist you with your needs, we have a team of developers and consultants that can assist you with projects as well. Contact us today!
Samantha is the Partner Marketing Manager at Dynamic Consultants Group. She has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree that are marketing communications related. She has been working in the Marketing field for 7 years now. Sam specializes in creating the content strategy for the marketing department, publishing blogs, planning and organizing all aspects of company events, conferences, and the overall marketing department’s day-to-day tasks. She is passionate about the tech community because of the constant innovation that occurs, especially in the Microsoft Partner Network.