Power Automate: Start a Flow from a column change

With Microsoft Power Automate we can now create flows that start based on specific columns being updated in SharePoint!  This is a feature I have been waiting on for years! The action is called Get changes for an item or a file. The action returns a boolean for each field, whether it was just changed or not. Based on this boolean you know if a field was changed.

Creating the flow

  • Create a SharePoint list, I created the following project list.
  • Enable versioning on the list.
  • Create a flow and use the trigger When an item or a file is modified.
  • Select your site and list.
  • Add the action Get changes for an item or a file (properties only).
  • Fill in the site address, library name and the ID of the item that was triggered.
  • The field Since is used to get the changes we need to make a comparison. If you use 1.0 you will compare the current item version with version 1.0. But we want the latest changes so we use the following expression.
sub(int(triggerOutputs()?['body/{VersionNumber}']),1)
  • I want to send an email when the end date of a project changes.
  • Add the action Conditions to check if the end date was changed.
  • Add the dynamic content Has Column Changed: End date.
    This returns a boolean value.
  • Put the required actions in the If yes section after the condition.
    In my example I am sending an email.
  • Add the action Send an email (V2) and fill in as follows.

Power Automate: Creating and updating a document set in SharePoint

Many colleagues have asked me how to create or update document sets with Power Automate. I had never done this before so I told them to use a web service. From now on, I can point them to this blog post. The flow is created with the help of my colleague Jasper Voskuilen, because this web service is a bit more complicated to setup.

Creating the flow

  • Open Power Automate and create a new flow (automation).
  • I created a flow with the trigger, for a selected item.
  • In my situation I get all items from a list and then create a document set for each result.
  • Create the following variables with the related values.
  • This will make the flow more dynamic for later changes.
  • SiteURL as a string, fill in the Site URL.
  • ContentType as a string, fill in the content type id.
  • URLLibrary as a string, fill in the library name part of the ULR.
    For this example it is: Library
https://domein.sharepoint.com/sites/ExampleSite/Library/Forms/allitems.aspx
  • TitleLibrary as a string, fill in the title (name) of the library.
  • WebServiceURLBibliotheek as a string, fill in the Library URL used by the web service.
  • You can find the web service url by using the following URL
https://domein.sharepoint.com/sites/ExampleSite/_vti_bin/listdata.svc/
  • Add the action Send an HTTP request to SharePoint
  • Use the varibles to configure the web service.
  • The name of the document set needs to be unique. I used a value from my list item, your situation might be different.
  • If required you can update the newly created document set.
  • Add the action Parse JSON and parse the Body of the Create Document set HTTP request.
  • Add the action Send an HTTP request to SharePoint
  • Use the variables to configure the web service.
  • The properties you need to set might be different than mine. I used values from my list item but your situation might be different.

Flow: Button to launch a Flow/Automate from a view

You can use column formatting (JSON) to create buttons that start a Flow on the corresponding list item in SharePoint. The button will be shown in the view for easy and fast access. After clicking the button the Flow Launch Panel will be displayed and you can start the Flow. This button is faster then clicking on the … then Flows followed by clicking the correct Flow.

Creating the button

  • Open the settings of the document library.
  • Create a new single line of text column with the name Start a Automate.
  • Go to a view where the new column is visible.
  • Open the menu of the column, click on Columns settings followed by Format this column.
  • If required click on the advanced mode option.
  • Copy and change the code below.
  • Change the txtContent to the name that needs to displayed as the value of the column. Currently it is Start the Automate.
  • Change the actionParams id to the Power Automate ID, see the steps below.
{
  "$schema": "https://developer.microsoft.com/json-schemas/sp/v2/column-formatting.schema.json",
  "elmType": "button",
  "customRowAction": {
    "action": "executeFlow",
    "actionParams": "{\"id\": \"788b1689-e999-99d9-9f37-fc539d5ba36b\"}"
  },
  "attributes": {
    "class": "ms-fontColor-themePrimary ms-fontColor-themeDarker--hover"
  },
  "style": {
    "border": "none",
    "background-color": "transparent",
    "cursor": "pointer"
  },
  "children": [
    {
      "elmType": "span",
      "attributes": {
        "iconName": "Flow"
      },
      "style": {
        "padding-right": "6px"
      }
    },
    {
      "elmType": "span",
      "txtContent": "Start the Automate"
    }
  ]
}
  • Add the JSON code and save the changes.
  • The button can only start Power Automate from the default environment.

Finding the Automate ID

  • Open Power Automate.
  • Click on the name of the Automate.
  • In the ID is located in the URL after shared.
  • For the following Flow URL the ID is 788b1689-e999-99d9-9f37-fc539d5ba36b
  • The button can only start Automates form the default environment.
https://emea.flow.microsoft.com/manage/environments/Default-40ce6286-0e4a-4500-8bb1-bf46447c5f7f/flows/shared/788b1689-e999-99d9-9f37-fc539d5ba36b/details

Flow and Twitter

The default Twitter web part it great and easy to use. You can follow a Twitter user (@), a URL of a user account, tweet or collection. These options where not enough for a communications department who wanted to show the #, @Company, the company name and from:[Company] on a SharePoint page. We were able to do this with a PowerAutomate Flow and a custom content query web part. In this post I will explain how you can do this.

SharePoint: Create a list

  • Create a SharePoint list to store the twitter information.
  • We created the following columns to store the information, your requirements might be different.
Column nameType
Favorite countsNumber
Followers countsNumber
LocationSingle line of text
Media urlsMultiple lines of text
Original tweetMultiple lines of text
Original tweet tweeted bySingle line of text
TweetMultiple lines of text
Tweeted bySingle line of text
Created atDate and time
TweetIdSingle line of text
Original tweet idSingle line of text
TypeChoice
RetweetsSingle line of text
ProfileImageUrlNumber
NameUserSingle line of text

Flow: Getting the information

  • Open PowerAutomate and create a new Flow.
  • Add the trigger When a new tweet appears.
  • Enter the required search term, see the example below.
  • We wanted to be able to filter on the different types of results, for example on # or @. This information is added to the item that will be created in the SharePoint list.
  • A tweet can be multiple types so we need an array and append all the types to it.
  • Initialize a variable called TypeTweet as an array.
  • Add a scope called Append to array – TypeTweet.
  • Add a condition that filters the #Office365 out of the TweetText.
  • If the result is yes then append the value #Office365 to the array.
  • Repeat the steps for all types of tweets.
  • Add a scope called Create list item.
  • Add the SharePoint Create item action.
  • Connect all the columns to the correct information.

Custom Content Query Web part

We used a variation of the React Content Query Web Part from Github. This is a modern version of the CQWP where you have all the freedom to grab and style items from a list or library.

Flow: Tips and tricks

Microsoft Flow is a very powerful tool and can be used to do many different things. I think it has become my favorite tool in Office 365. Therefor I want to spread the Flow love and tell you a couple of tips and tricks when developing Flows.

Copy actions

A very useful and time saving capability within Micorosft Flow is that we can copy and paste actions. You can copy configured actions and reuse them! The best thing about this capability is that you can copy an action from one flow and past it into another. I often use this to copy the more complex HTTP request actions. This feature is currently in preview, but so far I have not encountered any issues with it.

  • Click on the … on an action.
  • Click on Copy to my clipboard (preview).
  • Click on + New step.
  • Open the tab My clipboard.
  • Select the copied action.

Continue flow after a failed action

By default a flow will stop working if an action fails. If you know that an actions might fail occasionally you can setup a situation where only that action fails but not the whole flow. You can do with the Configure run after setting.

  • Click on the … of the action after the action that might fail.
  • Click on Configure run after.
  • Here you can configure if the action will be run even if the previous failed, skipped or timed out.
  • In this example I selected both is successfull and has failed to.
  • The flow will now continue if the previous action failed or succeeded.

Scope try and catch

We can use the action scope to group actions to make the flow easier to read. There is however another great use for them. The scope action encapsulate a block of actions and inherit the last terminal status (Succeeded, Failed, Cancelled) of actions inside. This in combination with the Configure run after setting we can create a try and catch logic in our flows. In this example the second scope (catch) only runs if the first scope (Try) failed.

  • Create a scope with some actions
  • Create a second scope after the first scope
  • Set the Configure run after setting of the second scope to has failed, is skipped and has timed out.
  • In this scenario the catch scope will only run if the Try scoped faild.
  • The flow will look like this.

Flow: Approval reminders

For a complicated review process a customer required that users receive reminders on their approval tasks. In most cases you will need a reminder for tasks, but flow approval tasks (at the writing of this blog) don’t have a default reminder setting.

Microsoft has stated that this will become a default feature, but it is unknown when it will be released. So for now you can use the Following solution.

The solution consist of two flows, a flow that is responsible for the overall process and one flow for the reminders.

Reminder flow being started

First we will need to create the reminder flow. This is required because we will need the HTTP POST URL of the reminder flow in the process flow to be able to starts the reminder Flow.

  • Create a flow with the trigger: When a HTTP request is received.
  • Open the trigger action, the generated HTTP POST URL will be used in the other flow.
  • Set the Request Body JSON Schema to be able to receive an id value.
    {     "Type": "object",     "properties": {         "id": {             "type": "string"         }     },     "required": [         "id"     ] } 
  • Add the action Parse JSON.
  • Set the output of the trigger called body as the content (input) for the Parse JSON action.
  • Set the following schema.
    {     "type": "object",     "properties": {         "id": {             "type": "string"         }     } } 
  • Add the delay action and set the timer.
  • Add the Get Item (by ID).
  • Set the action Get Item (by ID) to use the ID generated in the parse JSON action.
  • Now you can add all the required actions and manipulations you need to do on the item.
  • In my flow I check if the SP Document status, if the status is not reviewed a reminder is send, if reviewed nothing happens.

Process flow – starts reminder flow

When you start a flow on an item you will need to tell the flow on which item to start. In my example I am using a fixed id. In most cases you will need to create a more dynamic solution.

  • Create a flow that starts with your preferred trigger.
  • Add a parallel action.
  • Add the HTTP action to the flow to branch.
  • Set the method to POST.
  • Set the URI, copy it from the trigger of the flow that is being started.
  • Set the Body.
    {   "id": "60" } 
  • Add the start and wait for approval to the other branch.
  • If the approval is done I set the property SP Document status to reviewed, this way no reminder will be send.