So a few weeks back I did a piece on the Teams Keyword trigger in Power Automate and how it can be used to build a command list for repetitive communications which could be used to cut down on workload. I've started using this myself. But also, I have started using keywords to pull info I need within the flow of my work. This includes RSS Feeds and Videos off YouTube. There are, of course, other ways you can get these things. One example for RSS Feeds is connectors. However, I don't want to necessarily have an RSS Feed repeatedly pull into a channel. I only want it when I need it as in ad-hoc, on demand. Whether we want the latest updates to the Microsoft 365 Roadmap, or the latest video on a YouTube channel, keywords pull that information and we can get it as we need
Most recently - mainly the last six months or so since Covid - I feel that I like I have kinda pinballed around in the Teams ecosystem having no real sense of focus. Life is busy. Work is busy. I have been up to my eyeballs in Azure Plan, the New Commerce Experience (NCE), CloudBlue Connect, Catalogues, Packaging, JTA's, writing new courses. Teams Nation. The latest project - or should I say the latest shipped in an ever spinning batch of projects - has been expanding operations and edu out into the MENA region. All fun. All for the greater good! Yet I'll be the first to admit that I've taken a bit of a hit on the community end. I haven't talked so much this year. I haven't blogged or done social as consistently. I've sloped off a few things like the Microsoft Tech Community. I'm well aware of it - and as a marathon compared to a sprint it'll no doubt self adjust and correct given time. But also I find I am in one of those periods when I am genuinely in a quandary about what to focus on given there is just so much exciting stuff out there at the moment. I am really interested in learning more on KQL and doing more in Azure. I am doing loads and want to do more with Power Automate. Same with Compliance. Same with Azure AD and Identity. With Teams? I've always been one for the little things. Sure, I may get around to the fanfare and hoopla that is Shared Channels, but whilst I could say that twenty MVP's have already done this, it's the little vital things that delight me. And so after discussing a range of, I guess, niche subjects the last few weeks, like hiding file sync, and disabling shortcut to OneDrive, and the ability to trigger flows with keywords, and audio conferencing, and app setup for messaging extensions, I am going to talk about enforcing comments in the approvals app. Yes, I wanted this. I wanted this bad. Because generally speaking I have never really liked blind approvals. I like context. I like to give context. This will be a short one because really it's an awareness piece as much as being a technical blog.
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
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.
The TV is on. The Euro 2020 finals between England and Italy has just kicked off. But Sunday nights are blog nights: and so trying to get the best of both worlds I will be writing a short blog about a granular but useful addition to functionality which came along for the approvals app this week. This is the ability to use generic links. Up until this point, we've had the ability to upload documents from a local machine; we've had the ability to add a document from OneDrive. But nothing regarding SharePoint; nothing about something other than a document. Now, we know that support for SharePoint - here meaning a dedicated option within the approvals app along with a site and file picker, is on its way. This is within the item on the Microsoft 365 roadmap - RID 70787. However, being able to use a generic link we don't have to wait for that. Indeed, generic links are really flexible insofar that we can start to review and approve anything which has a URL. This opens up some interesting scenarios