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Using Microsoft Flows to Automate RSS Feeds

Now everyone knows how I like to automate everything and for those that have known me since I started sharing content, I pretty much cried a thousand tears when the personalized news source, Prism disappeared.

I’ve been working with RSS feeds aggregators to send me content each day to read, but I get frustrated with having to go find them sent to my spam folder or not being able to get to the links, so I wanted to try something new.

Microsoft Flow

I automated a lot of tasks at my previous jobs with IFTTT, (If this, then that) recipes and after arriving at Microsoft, was thrilled when I saw my first demo of Microsoft Flow.  It’s a growing product that has connectors to a ton of applications, features and has a custom API to build out automated workflows for whatever your heart desires.  What I’m about to do isn’t going to require anything THAT custom, so no worries.

Change Flow

With my time in the Analytics and AI space, my content source is going to change, so I have a few new blogs that I want to keep up to date with.  For our example, we’ll use one of my recent favorites, Chris Webb’s BI blog.  As we eat our own dogfood here at Microsoft, I’m would like to have emails notify me via email of when he has a new blog post and provide it to “my personal team of one” in Microsoft Teams, (I found Teams excellent as a self-project management program, like Trello, Outlook Calendar and Slack all in one.) You’ll need a Microsoft Team account to do one of the steps I’ve added, but it’s not necessary if you want to just email the notification of a new post to yourself.

After logging into my Microsoft Flow account, I choose a new template and type in the Search bar, “RSS”.  I double click on the RSS Feed Notification and it displays the following page: 300w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 387px) 100vw, 387px" data-recalc-dims="1" />

Feed the URL

If you don’t know how to get the feed URL from a blog you like, Click on the browser settings and choose either “Developer Tools” or “Source Code”, (or it will be something similar, depending on the browser..)  Do a search in the code for “RSS” and you’ll quickly come across the URL for the RSS Feed.  By default, it’s commonly the URL/feed/, but it’s always better to check. 300w, 768w, 1400w, 2100w" sizes="(max-width: 501px) 100vw, 501px" data-recalc-dims="1" />

The rest of the information is just my Team name, which shows in the drop down list.  I could send this to any of the Teams I’m part of, but this is for me, so my own little team of one will do.  I dynamically populate the blog summary and the blog post URL to make it easy to go from Teams to the blog post. 300w, 768w, 1400w, 2100w" sizes="(max-width: 504px) 100vw, 504px" data-recalc-dims="1" />

Add Email

After filling out the fields, I can save, but instead I click Next Step to add the email to Outlook step.  If you don’t have Outlook, there are connectors for Gmail and event Mailchimp!  As I stated, I’m eating me own dogfood, so I have Outlook and just need to fill in the pertinent information as requested.  I dynamically populate some of the fields for the Blog Summary and URL link so I can easily connect to the site when the email arrives. 300w, 768w, 1400w, 2100w" sizes="(max-width: 503px) 100vw, 503px" data-recalc-dims="1" />

Test and Savor

Now I click on the Test up in the upper right hand corner.  It tests all the steps and the connections, just to verify all the steps have been filled out correctly and then once that’s completed, you can then exit, the workflow creation is complete. 300w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 203px) 100vw, 203px" data-recalc-dims="1" />

Now, when there’s a new blog post from Chris, I’ll know about it, both via email and Teams!  I may have lost Prism, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get the information that’s important to me without seeing all the rubbish that’s put out on most sites!  Yes, I’m adding a ton more workflows to automate more of my day, including adding contacts from coworker emails, automating refreshes on datasets, etc.  Don’t let the preview status scare you on the product-  this is how the product comes up to speed fast is with people working with it and using it to its full potential.


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