Hands up! There was a time when I was dead against automation. Early in my IT career I was a provisioner and back then all the setups and the migrations were done manually. Can you believe there was a time when we used to move mailboxes by Exmerge and via SFTP servers? That's right, 5 hops of live data. Or when we used to login manually into DNS servers to manually add DNS records to zones? A record by A record CNAME by CNAME. Yeah I remember it. But why was I dead against automating that? Because I am human. I thought that automation wasn't having faith in people. I thought it would ultimately lead to us all being done out of the job. So here I am. 14 years in. It never gets any less busier. It is, by all accounts, the myth of Sisyphus. But I get automation now. I got it when I went through a period a few years back where I was so busy that I practically couldn't cope anymore with the volume so needed to learn Power Automate to save minutes, minutes which turned into hours. Now? I use it extensively. I've blogged previously on some of the ways that I use it in my job. How I use it with Lists, and Forms, and Approvals. I use it with Dynamics. So I was excited to see, having been away a while, that Power Automate released a trigger for Teams which uses keywords
You know, I have this good mate online. His name is Phil Worrell, and the thing about Phil is he is quite possibly the greatest ever community member who has yet to win a ring. He's like the Charles Barkley of the Microsoft Community. He should be an MVP. I think so. They should give it to him on merit because it would be the right thing to do. Because he's great technically but also I know for sure he's supported many MVP's over the years. He's supported me well before I was one over social. Now I first met Phil back at SharePoint Saturday London in 2019 before the pandemic when things were still in person. That was the one where I sat in Karoliina Kettukari's session and asked questions - and she didn't know who I was even though I knew one day she'd speak at my conference. I had a full on conversation with Daniel Laskewitz and Rick Van Rousselt and Dan had absolutely no clue who I was (Rick did he wanted to go drinking :D). And Chirag, my good friend Chirag! I didn't know him then, nor Edyta nor Marijn, nor Liz Sundet or Hans Brender. If only I went there now, right? But Phil? Phil literally shouted 'Hey Chris' across the hall and we had a catch up - presumably on Teams but it could have been very much along the lines of 'what the hell you doing back in the UK Phil, you live in Switzerland'. Phil is a community guy through and through. He's one of the good ones. He'll champion your cause and then some. He's like John Wynne. So this one is for Phil. I promised it for him today on Twitter in a moment of weakness 😀
I'm back. It's been two months. And maybe one day I'll tell you all about it. But today isn't that day and I have about two hours to write this from start to finish given I like to be in and out on a Sunday night. So today I am going to return to files: and two requests I had last week which were reminiscent of my time on the Microsoft Tech Community. These are the ability to block the creation of folders in a Teams Files Tab and the ability to block the option to sync - and to be fair these both legit asks from one admin to another. First, the org admin asked to block folder creation as they only wanted to have one layer of files and didn't want the folder structure becoming too complex, with too many click throughs for their users. Secondly, they asked to block offline sync as they didn't want users to sync the files to their local machines. So, all in all, very reasonable. Of course, like many things I have written about previously on this blog this isn't a socratic exposition of why, or because we can doesn't mean we should. Here I am simply concerned with can we do it? and if so then then the ethics are for you to decide. So as I return to blogging, this isn't going to be the biggest blog you've ever seen, but I kinda need something to get going again after having a long break. Ok?
I got back on the circuit this week: aMS Germany and Power Platform French Summit bookending a delivery of Microsoft 365 Fundamentals: so all in all I've had little time to really sit down and think about what to write - but then every once in a while a good turn of fortune occurs, and this week I found out that Lists now supports tel: which is something I have wanted to see ever since I wrote about hyperlinked email addresses. You see, launching a PSTN call from a list makes a lot of sense: namely because people and lists go hand in hand. A list of staff members. A list of potential recruits. A list of vendors. And the thing is, Teams as we know it has never really had a proper communal phone book has it? One that all members of staff can share. You know, I am not talking about some all singing, all dancing, aesthetically mind-blowing app. I am talking about basic no frills does what it says on the tin. I want a list of people, to be able to be searched by a team, and then can call on the spot. One or two clicks then go. Well, now we can all because Lists supports tel://.
It's been such a crazy week! But with a slither of room to breathe I took time to look at Vesa Nopanen's blog on loop components this morning and decided I wanted to have a bit of a play. You see, Vesa is one of my best mates in IT and we practically talk every day. We organize Teams Nation together. We speak on the circuit together. We have a lot of the same thoughts and interests in the same kind of areas. So this blog really is a follow up to his. I am not going to retrace his steps in this piece, but I am going to start out from where loop components are stored, which is OneDrive. Now, the fact that it is stored in OneDrive makes sense because the loop components in Teams are only available on private chats. This makes me think that when loop components emerge for channels, the .fluid file will be housed in SharePoint. This would be consistent with Teams Meeting Recordings. Yet the fact that they are housed in OneDrive means that we can start using flows and automation with them. That's right. Let's create some flows with loop components, or to coin a portmanteau, let's go 'flooping'. This is a completely experimental blog and there's probably going to be loads of roadblocks. But let's see a few things we can come up with. Just for fun. I'll bet you by the time I have got to the end of this I would have built a flow right to the very end and it didn't work on the very last action.