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Microsoft has quietly rolled out a new service called Microsoft Flow that people can use to create workflows that automatically take action in response to certain events.
The service, which would seem to directly compete with existing tools like IFTTT and Zapier, is currently in preview and able to support free sign-ups, according to its website, but the flow.microsoft.com homepage doesn’t actually work.
“Microsoft Flow makes it easy to mash-up two or more different services,” Stephen Siciliano, Microsoft senior program manager from the “Microsoft Flow Team” wrote in a blog post dated April 27. “… We have connections to 35+ different services, including both Microsoft services like SharePoint, and public software services like Salesforce and Twitter, with more being added every week.” (Hat tip to MSPoweruser for reporting on the news earlier.)
Documentation for the service gives some insight into what’s possible with the new service. There are several flows that involve team communication app Slack:
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- Post to Slack if I like a tweet
- Get Slack notifications when a new file is uploaded to Dropbox folder
- Send a message on Slack when my manager emails me
- Get Slack notifications when a file in a Dropbox folder is created or modified
- Get Office 365 email notifications forwarded to Slack channel
- Get Slack notifications when a member subscribes to a MailChimp list
And there are also several actions that Flow can take when you receive a new email in Outlook:
- Get rows in Excel
- Insert row in Excel
- Get feed from my timeline on Facebook
- Post to my timeline on Facebook
- Create FTP file
- List files in FTP folder
- Create a GitHub issue
- Create a Google Drive file
Notice how much emphasis the early documentation for this service is placing on what you can do with services that aren’t owned by Microsoft. That’s in line with the company’s recent support of other operating systems and its partnerships with competitors like Red Hat and Canonical.
But there are no apparent integrations with Zapier or IFTTT.
The tool can set up very fine-grained rules. To use email as an example, Flow can take actions based on criteria like subject line, the recipient, who is who is CC’d, who is BCC’d, importance, whether the email has been read, whether it has attachments, and whether it’s HTML, according to a blog post.
And it will be possible for developers to expose a custom workflow as an application programming interface (API) that others can use, according to one page of documentation. This is not unlike the Azure Machine Learning cloud service.
But it’s not clear how much the tool will cost after it launches out of preview.
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