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The 5 worst things about Power Automate
Part three of a six-part series of blogs
To try to show what developing Power Automate flows is like, we've created two blogs: one listing out its 5 best features, and one listing its 5 worst ones. This is the pessimistic one!
This is a bit of a rant, but I think it's deserved. See what you think!
So I'm going to illustrate this with a single example, but it's symptomatic of the entirety of Power Automate. Suppose you've got an integer variable, and you want to add 12 to it:
The meaning of life should, of course, be 6 x 9 = 54 (if you haven't read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, don't worry about the science behind this ...).
For the purposes of explaining a point, you decide to ignore the Increment variable action and use a Set variable action instead:
You now need to type in an expression.
You use the add function (you can't use any of the standard arithmetic symbols in expressions):
The intellisense is helping - so far.
You then refer to one of the variables you've created:
You can't just type in the variable name, even though Power Automate knows it exists.
You could have used something called dynamic content to put the variable reference in for you:
Dynamic content is just a way to try to make complicated expressions easier to insert into formulae.
If you make a mistake in your expression you might think that a syntax-checker would help you:
This formula is complete but for the missing closing bracket.
However, what you actually get is this helpful message:
The message doesn't even appear on screen next to the expression. You're now left trying to decipher which punctuation character you got wrong!
You can't now read your full expression unless you hover over it or click on it:
The general advice seems to be to add a note to your action giving the full text of your expression, which is a terrible solution to have to adopt.
But wait, I hear you cry! What about turning on experimental features, including the whizzy new expressions editor? My experience of these is that they don't make much difference.
You can go into Power Automate settings to turn these on, but I always revert back to normal view.
OK, I'm deliberately picking particularly bad examples, but here's what seems to be the recommended way to find the number of days between two dates in Power Automate:
Microsoft clearly want to make it possible to create flows in Power Automate without any programming, but the sad truth is that eventually you're going to end up writing formulae in Notepad, checking your punctuation meticulously and then copying the results into the tiny expression box.
|Parts of this blog|
Some other pages relevant to the above blogs include:
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