Microsoft leaks Flow, its IFTTT-like tool for automating actions across apps

Microsoft accidentally announces Flow, a new tool for business users to automate messaging and data-sharing between Microsoft and third-party business apps.

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Microsoft wants people to create flows that mash up its own apps with third-party services.

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft appears to be close to launching Flow, a tool that allows users to automate actions from various web accounts such as Salesforce, Twitter and OneDrive.

Microsoft has accidentally revealed what could be a nifty tool for non-programmers who want to automate actions between online accounts. The Flow tool's announcement appeared briefly on the Microsoft.com site before being taken down.

As MSPoweruser noted, Flow is similar to IFTTT, a popular tool that lets users create simple If-Then commands called recipes for various smart devices.

Google has just announced that its OnHub router now supports IFTTT, which will, for example, let parents create a recipe for OnHub to email them when their child arrives home, an event detected by the child's device connecting to the router.

Instead of IFTTT's recipes, Microsoft calls the commands 'flows', and its tool is aimed more at business teams rather than consumers.

Microsoft explained in blogpost announcing a free public preview of Flow that the tool connects with more than 35 services, such as Office 365, SharePoint and OneDrive, but also Google Drive, Twitter, Salesforce, Slack, GitHub and MailChimp, with more being added each week.

Stephen Siciliano, a group program manager for Microsoft Flow, said Flow made it "easy to mash up two or more different services" and overcome the challenge of getting data from one service to another.

Flow can be used, for example, to send you an SMS automatically when your boss emails you. Another would be automatically copying certain files from OneDrive over to a team's SharePoint site. There are a number of actions for Slack, such as notifications in Slack when a file is uploaded, modified or created in Dropbox.

The concept for flows was first revealed last November as a feature for PowerApps users called Logic flows, but the only third-party integration was with Twitter and primarily for commands related to Microsoft products.

"Microsoft Flow is useful for any business users to try, whether or not they want to build a PowerApp," Siciliano noted.

ZDNet has asked Microsoft for more details about Flow and will update the story if it receives a response.

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