Saturday, September 1, 2018

Build a Zero Code Web Service in Minutes With Microsoft Flow

The phone rings and you answer the call.  The caller is a manager from a medium sized business who uses the Microsoft Dynamics GP ERP system.  He explains that his company has a new contract with a distributor, and they need to have their product shipped by a 3PL warehouse.  That's the good news.

The challenge is that the 3PL warehouse needs to send the company shipment information.  Items shipped, quantities shipped, and shipment tracking numbers.  The company needs to update their orders in Dynamics GP so that they can generate invoices.

The 3PL uses a SaaS service that can provide this shipment information, but that SaaS service can only call a web service.

And this small business doesn't have a web service.  Or internal developers.  Or an internal IT staff.

What can we do to help this company?

Do we try to help them used the outdated and problematic native Dynamics GP Web Services, and see if we run into problems with authentication, SOAP, limited endpoints, and fixed functionality? Risky, with an uncertain outcome, and difficult to estimate the effort and cost.

Do we propose that they develop a custom modern web service that will be highly flexible and fast?  We can create a pretty accurate estimate of the effort for this project, but it is expensive for the customer, feels like overkill for a single endpoint, and will require a developer to maintain the code going forward.

Do we consider something like Azure Functions, which eliminates the need for infrastructure and developing a full web service, but still requires a developer?

Or is there another option?

What about Microsoft Flow?

No, really.  Not joking.

Can Microsoft Flow address the challenge of building a custom, modern, web service that will allow the customer to receive the shipment data from the 3PL's SaaS service?

Let's find out.

Here's a video presentation discussing Flow web services and walking through the creation of the sample Flow:





If we break down the project, there are a few general requirements that we need to address:

1. Web service - We need a web service endpoint that the 3PL can call

2. Data storage - We need to store the incoming data, at least temporarily or for archiving or logging

3. ERP import - We need to eventually get the shipment data into the ERP system

I created my first PowerApp! It's a Conference Badge Scanner!

By Steve Endow I love attending conferences.  They are a rare opportunity to meet the faces behind the emails and voices and spend time wi...