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Custom Connector with MS Flow

May 11, 2020

Overview

Microsoft has introduced workflows in SharePoint from SharePoint (MOSS) 2007 and apparently with SharePoint 2013, we have 2 different templates to achieve process-based functionalities: SharePoint 2010 workflow templates and SharePoint 2013 workflow templates. These templates are very useful to develop automated processes like document approval workflows, send notification emails, etc. We are using workflows to achieve these functionalities in On-premise as well as Online versions. But these are very much limited to SharePoint.

Over the decade, Microsoft has come up with many services in cloud which were previously available only in On-premise versions i.e. Dynamic 365, MS Access, Office products, etc. With all these services, there was a requirement of one service that can inter-connect all these services, communicate and transfers data easily between these services and thus, Microsoft Flow came into existence.

Table of Content

  1. What is Microsoft Flow?
  2. Connectors
  3. Life-cycle of Custom Connectors
  4. Create a Custom Connector to access GitHub Repositories
  5. Conclusion

What is Microsoft Flow?

Microsoft Flow is very easy to integrate, reliable and durable. As the tagline suggests “Work less, do more”, you can easily integrate it without any coding language knowledge. Microsoft has provided easier UI to create Flows that one can learn to create it very quickly. Also, documents and training modules are available here to learn it quickly. MS Flows are a better replacement of the SharePoint Designer Workflows in SharePoint Online because it’s faster, much easier to develop and maintain compared to Designer workflows. Hundreds of templates and many connectors are provided for users to create Microsoft Flows.

With Microsoft Flow, you can perform the recursive tasks which don’t require manual monitoring. Refer this link to have more idea. Microsoft has introduced AI services (called as Cognitive Services) and integrated them in MS Flow to make it a more powerful tool. Go through this link to know about MS Flow with Cognitive services.

Microsoft has introduced several pricing models for MS Flows. You can check them here.

Connectors

A wrapper around an API that permits the underlying service to converse with the Microsoft Flow, PowerApps and Logic Apps is called as a Connector. It provides a way for different applications that contain Triggers and Actions to create Flows.

Components of Connectors
The set of operations is provisioned by each connector and it is in form of Actions and Triggers.


Actions:

  1. This component is used to perform actions added by users in the process i.e.: Create a new item in list, update an item in list, send an email, get document from document library, etc.
  2. The operations are defined inside the Swagger and all actions are mapped to these operations.

Triggers:

  1. This component is used to get notification when specific event occur in the application i.e.: When item is created or updated in list, when document is updated in library, when new email is received, etc.
  2. With the use of MS Flow or Logic App which listens to a trigger, you can perform an action whenever the trigger is fired.
  3. Two types of triggers are there to perform an action based on various scenarios:
    • Polling Triggers: To check for the new data at a specified frequency, you can consume this trigger by calling your service. This trigger initiates a new run of the workflow instance with the data as input when a new data is available.
    • Push Triggers: These triggers listen for data on an endpoint i.e. they wait for an event to occur. This event’s occurrence initiates a new run of your workflow instance.

Note: In PowerApps, the triggers are not supported.

However, Microsoft has a vast range of connectors which are divided under 3 categories for different applications:

  • Standard Connectors
  • Premium Connectors
  • Custom Connectors

Azure Logic Apps, MS Flows and PowerApps provides 180+ connectors in Standard and Premium Connectors categories to connect Microsoft and non-Microsoft services. The communication can be established with the services which are not available in the prebuilt connections by developing a Custom Connector. Here, we consume a custom connector from scratch so let’s dive into it.

Lifecycle of Custom Connectors

Lifecycle of custom connectors

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