Microsoft Flow

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10 comments

  • Hey Keith! I'm going to try to get some info for you on this. It's possible we've done a custom integration with Flow in the past. It's also possible it's something we're looking into for the future, but I don't know off the top of my head. I'll report back!

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  • It turns out we haven't done a custom integration with Flow at this point, as it requires some development time (as opposed to our Professional Services being able to handle it independently). It's not on our roadmap at this point, but that can always change. 

    I'd love to set up some time for you to talk to the Product Manager who is working on these type of things so she can hear about the roadblocks you're encountering, so look for an email from me :) 

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  • Avatar
    Dave .

    Users are already able to integrate your existing API's in to Microsoft Flow.

    It wouldn't take much for GoCanvas to put out tutorials how to do this specifically with Flow even if you stop short of providing the Flow templates.

    Would benefit a lot of your customers that seam to face the similar challenges including around automated downloading of images associated with submissions.

     

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  • Hi Dave,

    I understand how a tutorial would be helpful in this scenario, but we don't typically make tutorials that involve "the product on the other side", mainly because when something changes on their end, it's hard for us to keep up with updates since we're not getting the kind of direct communication we get from our Product Team ahead of our own updates. This is especially difficult given the number of softwares out there we'd have to subscribe to and keep up with, since we're finding that new things are popping up each day. I hope that makes sense!

    I'm hoping that others who have questions about Microsoft Flow use this post as a forum for discussion, in case we can help one another out with specific situations. Please feel free to circle back here to pick our brains anytime for things related to GoCanvas and Flow.

    Thanks,
    Siobhan

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  • Avatar
    Keith McQuait

    Technically, Zapier falls into the category of "being on the other side". Most people have never even heard of Zapier. Love it or hate it, I'm sure just about everyone has heard of Microsoft. They have a much larger sandbox. So not supporting Flow I think would be a mistake.

    By no means am I being a proponent of Microsoft here but it is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. 

    I'm a Gen X/Y inspector who works with mechanical engineers, maintenance people, etc.. Construction type stuff. I'm not an IT guy, application developer, or lawyer. I know just enough about computers to be dangerous, mostly to myself.

    Zapier, Google Sheets, G-Mail, Airtable, Etc. all provide wonderful functionality from a layman's perspective.

    JQ said at Transform back in 2017, GoCanvas is a way for companies to build customized solutions without the big dollar price tag of customized software (that eventually gets outdated anyway). These third party applications like Zapier really put GoCanvas over the top and make it exactly what JQ had envisioned; or they at least bridge the gap until GC develops the capabilities in house. 

    Before I had a meeting with our IT/Infrastructure folks, I was only considering issues with these third party applications related to data security. I was fairly dismissive of the security implications because I didn't think the type of information we were collecting/transferring/storing on these other services really presented any security risks. Quite frankly, 99% of people on the planet wouldn't even understand what they were looking at and even if they did, the information is pretty much useless to them. The means/methods of continuous fractional distillation really isn't anything new (our refinery has been doing it since 1870) and there really isn't much out there that could be construed as proprietary information. 

    Turns out, the security risk really doesn't come from the reasons I was thinking, at all. The major concerns are more from government regulations regarding financial transactions/banking/trading. Our company is heavily involved in oil purchasing/trading/futures markets. Despite the relatively harmless nature of what I'm doing, under the wrong microscope it could be construed that the (company's) use of these third party cloud services (like google) could be an attempt to circumvent network systems or hide data. Additionally, how we run our business and some of our business decisions (like planned or unplanned shutdowns) can have a major impact on market volatility and substantially drive market prices up or down. There are some very unscrupulous people out there who are always trying to obtain this type of information by nefarious means. These market swings could substantially hurt our bottom line. One cent per gallon at the pump is nothing to most people but when you deal in the quantities we do, every cent up or down on the ticker = $1 million dollars per year.

    And yes, they still act like a box of pencils is going bankrupt them.  

    Since we have agreements in place and use Microsoft as our network infrastructure, anything and everything on it is available and subject to auditing.

    All that being said, I have hundreds, if not thousands of hours wrapped up in building apps, zaps, google sheets, and writing (G-Mail) HTML email bodies, etc. only to find out that I might have to scrap most of what I've done and start over again. Really can't say I am happy about it, but it is what it is.

    Take away from the meeting. Google for personal use on the company's network, knock your socks off. Google "anything" for business purposes is pretty much a "No Go" due to privacy concerns. However, the company did not absolutely squash everything. They basically said, if there are third party applications (like Zapier) out there that are useful and superior to something that is already available (in our system) it can be evaluated for possible inclusion, subject to legal agreements yada yada yada..  Translation: not getting done anytime soon. They also said that there's not a snow balls chance in July that the GoCanvas Windows Application is going to be approved as a safe application that anyone can download and install (without helpdesk admin support) any time soon due to revision control..  which totally sucks.

    So, if I want to continue down this path, I am going to have to find ways to use GoCanvas within our existing infrastructure until I can get these other applications approved. GoCanvas being an available application in Microsoft Flow would be a great start.

    If this affects us, I am sure there are lots of other potential GC customers out there that this also affects whether they realize it yet or not.

    I have a meeting scheduled with GC Product Development this week. Potentially, more to follow.  

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  • Thanks for that background, Keith. It makes sense from a high-level perspective that not using the approved, standard tech solution would lead to questions, no matter how innocent the use case and intent. I also think Flow has come a long way since the last time we seriously looked at it (from what I can tell, the interface is geared towards those of us who aren't programmers, similar to Zapier) so hopefully that's a good push for doing it that aligns with, as you said, one of GoCanvas's core goals. 

    I'm curious about the Windows client concerns - is that because it has to be updated manually on each machine (as opposed to managed centrally)? 

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    Keith McQuait

    Hi Sara,
    I really don't understand their issue with the Windows client either. They made a statement something like"We don't run the latest version or allow the installation of updates until they are tested for potential conflicts with other applications".

    Personally, I think it's just easier to say no when something doesn't affect you day to day. If they had to deal with the consequences of not having the latest updates (like I do) it would move way up on the priority list.

    Also, they had a hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that the Web UI is the primary application and the Windows Client being the slave/subordinate to the Web UI.

    I think if they had a better understanding of how GoCanvas works it would probably help.

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  • I wonder if it's a) because it doesn't come through the Windows Store or b) because you have to acknowledge/approve the installation, which a lot of folks won't have permission to do (it was actually something we struggled with internally - we had to have an admin come over every time we updated the Windows client). If it's the second one, I'd love to know so we can make a case for doing whatever it is we need to do to get rid of that requirement. 

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    Keith McQuait

    I think it's b). Our PC's are locked down. You cannot install anything except certain Microsoft applications and Google Chrome without Admin rights. Every time you put in a helpdesk ticket to get a new GC Windows Client version, someone eventually comes around weeks later (because GoCanvas has apparently been deemed low low priority) and installs it. It's not like there are people installing and vetting this thing making sure it's not going to corrupt other applications. 

    The update of the windows client has previously been discussed in the Community pages in these to topics.

    https://help.gocanvas.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/360012360234-MSI-Installer-for-Software-Version-Updates

    https://help.gocanvas.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/360000467367-Web-Version-of-Apps

    I would fight more for this but I have pretty much written of the GC Windows Client. Despite it being closed, my ticket has never been resolved   https://help.gocanvas.com/hc/en-us/requests/94192

     

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  • Avatar
    Nathan Holmes

    I'm not sure if this helps with any of this (because it is a little bit convoluted), but both Zapier and Microsoft Flow have SQL hooks... so... technically (and relatively easily) you could get GC and Flow talking to each other via SQL... if you had to.

    Native Flow hooks for GoCanvas would be much nicer though.

    Microsoft also has a feature request to build hooks for Flow and Zapier to talk directly to each other - but who knows if or when that will ever come to fruition.  It would be in both MS' and Zapier's best interests to do so, one would think.

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