The Flow team at Microsoft isn’t losing its momentum; Flow has received an update almost every week for the past few months, and today it’s a big one.
Focusing on the enterprise market, today’s update adds yet another feature that makes Flow an even more compelling product for the enterprise. Flows can now be created, managed, and deleted by teams.
An organization isn’t one; it’s a group of people making decisions in unison. What happens when a team member leaves? The work must go on; while previously Flows were created and managed by individuals, Team Flows brings the control to a group of individuals.
If a team member leaves an organization – no problem; the Flow continues to execute, and can be managed by any other member of the team.
It’s a feature that is required in a professional environment – that’s perhaps why it’s one of the most voted-on ideas at the Flow Idea Forum.
After today’s update, all owners of Team Flows will be able to read, update, and delete Flows; view the history and debug information for Flows; add or remove the connections a Flow can access, and add or remove other owners who can manage Flows.
It’s also possible to convert a regular Flow into a Team Flow; if the Flow connects to a personal OneDrive or email account, other team members will be able to manage the Flow still, but those account connections will only be accessible in the context of that particular Flow.
Since the feature is built for organizations – it’s not free. Team Flows requires a paid Microsoft Flow plan, starting at $5 per user per month.
However, a paid plan also comes with other benefits like increased flow frequency, a higher number of runs per month, access to premium services, and even a service level agreement.
You can read about Team Flows in detail over at the official blog post.
Shared Custom APIs
As if Team Flows wasn’t enough, the Flow team has also made it possible to create and share custom APIs.
This is a unique feature that might be just what an organization needs. Custom APIs will allow users to connect to a web API – this could be anything; you can configure how to authenticate with the web API, and build the triggers and actions that it supports.
It’s like a modding tool, for custom services.
Just like Team Flows, custom APIs can also be shared among the team, which is handy.
The New Services
Finally, the Flow update also adds two new services: Gmail, and Azure Cognitive Services’ Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS). The latter is complicated, so let’s discuss the former first.
The Gmail service is yet another feature on the top-requested list; today’s update adds full Gmail support.
Users can now trigger a Flow whenever a new email arrives in Gmail, or even use filters like certain Labels or if the email was marked as important by Gmail.
For actions, the Gmail service supports sending an email and deleting emails from the inbox.
Azure Cognitive Services LUIS
This one tickles the geek within us; The Azure Cognitive Services Language Understanding Intelligent Service is an ironic name for a service that lets you build Flows that can understand the human language.
The LUIS service is capable of understanding language contextually, allowing apps to speak in the same way as their users do.
It’s complicated, and it’s certainly not simple to implement.
The LUIS service joins the two existing Azure Cognitive Services on Flow: Text Analytics and Face API.
These features show exactly where Microsoft is going with Flow; it’s a service that lets the enterprise automate some of its tasks. Flow must be reliable and easy to use, and these updates make it so.
You can read more about the update over at Flow’s official blog – there’s plenty of more details to go through; these are some advanced features.