Category Archive Azure

By365KAdmin

Fun with Microsoft Flow, What3Words and Flic Button

There’s some really cool IOT stuff going on, and its getting easier to get involved and have a go.

I thought in this blog I would have a play with a couple of tools and see what we could do. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to have a go and improve!

For this article I am going to use:

  • Microsoft Flow
  • What3Words 
  • Flic

Before I go any further, lets just have a quick overview of these tools.

Microsoft Flow

Microsoft Flow is a tool that can integrate cloud-based apps and services so they interact with each other seamlessly. According to Microsoft, this cloud-based tool improves efficiency and productivity by enabling virtually anyone in an organization to automate many tedious and time-consuming business tasks and processes without developer intervention.

What3Words

what3words provides a precise and incredibly simple way to talk about location. We have divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and assigned each one a unique 3 word address.

Flic

Flic Buttons are a Smart Button that can be linked to a number of services. The button can be programmed to perform actions via an app or a hub, and can even trigger Microsoft Flows

I know with the Flic button a message with your coordinates can be sent, so I was interested to see if we could Parse that message through Microsoft Flow, run it through the What3Words API then action something with the results.

The resulting flow takes looks like this:

So lets run through it.

Theres a couple of things you need to do with the Flic button to set this up. 

In the Flic App on your phone or other device, you need to setup your connection to Microsoft Flow, and its really important that you choose to send location data:

Once this is done, log in to Microsoft Flow and create a new flow from Blank. You will then be able to add a Flic button as a trigger – the first time you do this, you’ll need to add your Flic account as a connection. You’ll then get to choose which button and which action

Next add an HTTP action. If your connection to Flic is successful, then you’ll have the output from the button press as options to feed in to your HTTP (in this case it is to access the What3Words API ( this is assuming you have already signed up to the What3Words API here and have an API key.

So here we have added the What3Words URI, and as you’ll see added the output from the Flic button as the coordinates. You’ll also need to add your API key as shown in the URI after &Key= and in the Value field.

Once this is completed, the returning JSON needs to be Parsed, so add the Parse JSON action. 

For the Schema, I used the “Use Sample Payload” option and the example on the What3Words Documentation here but just in case, here it is:

{
    "country": "GB",
    "square": {
        "southwest": {
            "lng": -0.195543,
            "lat": 51.520833
        },
        "northeast": {
            "lng": -0.195499,
            "lat": 51.52086
        }
    },
    "nearestPlace": "Bayswater, London",
    "coordinates": {
        "lng": -0.195521,
        "lat": 51.520847
    },
    "words": "filled.count.soap",
    "language": "en",
    "map": "https://w3w.co/filled.count.soap"
}                           

Finally, for this example I took the Parsed data, and added it to an email, but you could just as easily create a record in Dynamics 365 etc

And that should be it! If all works you’ll get lots of lovely ticks on your flow, and an email with your 3 word location, and a link to the map:

The possibilities are endless with these sort of tools. The whole process took less than an hour, and the only “Code” was the JSON payload that I copied and pasted!

Have a go.

By365KAdmin

Microsoft AZ-900 Certification

I’m pleased to say I have just passed the AZ-900 exam.

Although my main area of expertise is and always has been Dynamics 365 (CRM), I find myself getting more and more involved with the wider Microsoft Business Solutions Ecosystem, and that includes Azure. 

Whether its Logic Apps for workflow, or Service Bus for integration, I find most weeks I’m delving in to Azure.

For those thinking of taking the exam, I have to say I didn’t find it too difficult, and there are so many resources available to make sure you’re up to speed.

As a starting point, it’s always worth checking out the  details of what you’ll be examined on. for AZ-900, the details can be found here 

If you want some great training, and have a limited budget, I cannot recommend Microsoft Learn highly enough – Partly because it’s free, but mostly because it’s awesome! and getting better almost daily.

By365KAdmin

You Say Flow, I Say Logic Apps

I’ve been using Flow for quite a while, but recently started utilising Azure Logic Apps for some pieces of work. On one of the forums I frequent, someone asked the question “What’s the difference between Flow and Logic Apps”.

Well the quick and simple answer is that in a lot of ways, they’re the same thing……

However, that’s not the real answer or the complete picture. There are a few differences that might help you decide which to use in specific circumstances.

There’s a really good overview of the similarities and differences here, but it’s summed up nicely by this:


Microsoft Flow and Logic Apps are both designer-first integration services that can create workflows. Both services integrate with various SaaS and enterprise applications.
Microsoft Flow is built on top of Logic Apps. They share the same workflow designer and the same connectors.
Microsoft Flow empowers any office worker to perform simple integrations (for example, an approval process on a SharePoint Document Library) without going through developers or IT. Logic Apps can also enable advanced integrations (for example, B2B processes) where enterprise-level Azure DevOps and security practices are required. It’s typical for a business workflow to grow in complexity over time. Accordingly, you can start with a flow at first, and then convert it to a logic app as needed.

There’s loads of resources available to help get started, and decide which way to go. Here’s a couple of quick summaries

As I have mentioned before, Microsoft Learn has some great resources, and there is a really good Flow Learning Path to get you started. Nothing as yet on Learn for Logic Apps, but I’m sure there will be soon.

For me, when I looked at an integration with an external API, to be used across the whole enterprise, I decided to base it on Logic Apps. Whereas when I wanted a small solution to move attachments from Dynamics 365 to OneDrive (on my own companies Dynamics 365 instance) Flow was fine.

As we move to a more Serverless architecture, SaaS and PaaS solutions like Flow and Logic Apps are giving the power of integration and communication back in to the hands of the Power User, and not just the remit of the coder. The turn around and potential for Tech Debt is reduced (in my opinion), and is a very exciting step forward.