Sunday, October 13, 2019

Introducing 10 Advanced Tips for Building Effective Flows Course on Udemy

In late August 2019, Jon Levesque and I released a course called 10 Tips for Building Effective Microsoft Flows. The target audience for that course was people who are new to Microsoft Flow. When we designed that course, we already had intentions to also publish a more advanced course. Well, that day has come! We are happy to announce that our 10 Advanced Tips for Building Effective Flows is now live on Udemy.
In this course, we will discuss more complex tips than we did in our previous course including:
  • Custom Approvals
  • Concurrency Control
  • Item() Expression
  • Condition Builder
  • If() Expression
  • Equals() Expression
  • Length() Expression
  • Pagination
  • Trigger Conditions
  • Retry Actions
  • Coalesce Expression (Bonus Tip)
Why Take This Course?
Flow is a great tool that is constantly changing. As a result, you may not always be aware of changes that have been quietly introduced into the product. In this video, we will share what these features are and how they work.

How about a Discount Code?
Sure, why not. Here is a discount code that will get you the course for $14.99 USD, a $20 savings off of the retail price.

What are other students saying about the course?



Sunday, September 15, 2019

Announcing Middleware In The Cloud -Teachable Online School

As you may be aware, I have recently started building online courses. To date, these course have been posted on While hosting courses on Udemy has some advantages, it also creates some level of lock-in. As a result, I have decided to make my Microsoft Flow vs Azure Logic Apps course available on is a trusted Learning Management System (LMS) where authors have more control over their work. Authors can create their own online schools and create a community for their students. I thought I would stick with the "Middleware In The Cloud" brand and as a result you will find my school at

I will try to keep my courses priced similarly so that people don't feel that they are getting a better prices by going to one site over another. Really, it comes down to what is best for students and I am trying to meet students where they want to learn.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

New Udemy Course: 10 Tips for Building Effective Flows

**Discount Code Available at end of Post**
Back in early August, I created my first Udemy course called Microsoft Flow vs Azure Logic Apps, which tool is right for me? So far the course has been well-received and I appreciate all of you who have taken the course and provided feedback. I enjoyed the process so much that I decided to build another course. This time, I teamed up with Jon Levesque to bring you 10 Tips for Building Effective Flows.
Jon and I have co-presented at several events in the past including Ignite, Business Application Summit, Ready and Microsoft Build in addition to recording several YouTube videos like Hot Dog/Not Hot Dog, Automating Your Customer Service and Dude Where’s My Car to name a few. Jon was recently visiting Calgary so we took an opportunity to record some segments for the course.
The outcome is we have a course that helps beginners learn some essential tips that will make them more productive, their flows will become more maintainable and more reliable. The tips that we are including are:
  1. Copy to my Clipboard
  2. Scopes
  3. Configure Run After
  4. Test Flows
  5. Flow Checker
  6. Name and Rename
  7. Sharing with Security Groups
  8. Send a Copy
  10. Switch Statements
Within each lecture we will show you how you can uses these tips, but more importantly we will share WHY you should be using them.
For those of you who may be further along on your flow journey, this course may not be for you. But, stay tuned! We are actively working on an Advanced Tips course which should be a better fit.
To show our appreciation for checking out this blogpost, we have a 30% discount code for you that will get you this course for $13.99 USD


Monday, August 19, 2019

Speaking at the Power Platform World Tour (Calgary)

Now that the agenda has been posted, I wanted to share that I will be speaking at the upcoming Power Platform World Tour, in Calgary on October 3rd and 4th. My session is called Intelligent Automation using Microsoft Flow. This is a topic that I am deeply passionate about as I feel it has the ability to transform organizations. This transformation occurs, by scaling efforts through the use of intelligent processes….processes that we can automate using flow and Artificial Intelligence!!!

I started talking about this topic back when I was at Microsoft including a session at Ignite 2018. The difference between that time and now is Microsoft has introduced a new intelligent capability called AI Builder. AI Builder is a service that brings Artificial Intelligence to ‘citizen developers’ without the need to have a deep background in the subject.

My session is scheduled for Thursday, October 3rd at 1:30 PM and in this session I will demonstrate how we can use Microsoft Flow to intelligently parse forms, automatically derive insights and perform object recognition without the need to wire up external services.

I hope to see you there!!!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Serverless Tips - Exception Handling and Scopes

In late 2018 I started contributing to the #ServerlessTips on, a community knowledge base hosted by Serverless360. I have written more than 30 tips, mostly on Azure Logic Apps, on that site and I wanted to highlight some of my favorites. Now, I won’t go ahead and cross-post these entire topics, but I wanted to elevate their visibility as I think they are important.

In a world of connected services running across data centers and public clouds world-wide, errors are bound to happen. These errors can be related to underlying technical infrastructure issues or related to missing or unexpected data.

Regardless of the reasons, Logic Apps developers need to plan and react when these exception events occur.

Java and .NET developers are very comfortable using try-catch-finally semantics when it comes to error handling. However, in Azure Logic Apps, developers use a different approach, to achieve similar behaviors. Read More

Configure Run After Settings allow you to decide what a subsequent action should do in the event of a previous action succeeding or failing. But, what happens when you have a more complex logic app and you have logically related actions that must succeed or fail as a group? Within Azure Logic Apps, we don’t have the luxury of using distributed transaction coordinators, but we do have other capabilities that manage this type of scenario. Read More

Friday, August 9, 2019

Udemy Course: Microsoft Flow vs Azure Logic Apps...which tool should I use?

Introducing my new course on Udemy on Microsoft Flow and Azure Logic Apps, two of my favorite cloud services.
**Discount Code available at end of blog**

Why did I write this course?

I wrote this course out of frustration! You can’t go to a Microsoft conference these days when the question of which tool should I use doesn’t come up. I have no problem with people asking the question, but I grew tired of the same watered-down answers coming from the respective Product Groups about why their tool is better. Now, I have friends on both the Flow and Logic Apps teams, so I can’t blame them. After all, if you work for Coke, are you going to recommend Pepsi? Not likely.
I thought with my experience as a Program Manager on the Flow team and having been an Azure Integration MVP (and BizTalk MVP before that), I was in a good position to build a course on this subject that provides objective guidance on each tool’s strengths and opportunities that come with that tool.

What will I learn in this course?
This course contains over 5.5 hours of content. I never intended it to be this long but I wanted to get deep into details and really demonstrate some of the unique capabilities of each tool. More specifically, the agenda looks like this:
  • Course Introduction
  • Microsoft Flow Features
    • PowerApps and CDS Integration
    • Flow Maker Portal (Templates, Connectors)
    • Microsoft Flow Approvals
    • Microsoft Flow Maker Analytics
    • Microsoft Flow Buttons
    • Sharing
    • Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)
    • Admin and Governance
  • Azure Logic Apps Features
    • Azure Portal (Templates, Connectors)
    • Editing Experiences
    • Enterprise Integration Pack
    • Inline Code
    • Integration Service Environment
    • Azure Integration Services
    • API Management
    • Azure Monitoring
    • Governance
  • Organizational Fit and how does the design of your organization impacts which tool(s) you use
  • Microsoft Flow Solution Demos (2 deep dives)
  • Azure Logic Apps Solution Demos (2 deep dives)
  • Declaring the Winner
  • Course Wrap-up and Additional resources
One area that I feel is really important in this course is the Governance models that exist for each tool. This becomes a very important consideration when levering one tool over another, in part due to the significant differences in approaches.
I spent a lot of time in demos providing you with deep exposure to the features. I will also compare and contrast the different approaches used by each team as they try to solve that specific problem.
So whether your are in the Microsoft Flow camp or the Azure Logic Apps camp, I am confident that you will learn something new.
In appreciation of checking out my blog, I have a special code for the first 15 5 people to buy my course at a discounted price of $19.99 by using this link.
Thanks for checking this out and if you have taken the course, I would love to hear from you.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 – Year in Review


Feels like I was writing my 2014 Year in Review just last week. Astonishing how time flies when you are busy having fun.


In the technology industry, if you are not learning you are dying. Having spent a lot of time in the Architecture space there is not much that frustrates more than Ivory Tower Architects.  For me, I need to touch a technology to really understand it.  Reading about it doesn’t give me enough insight to set direction for its usage in a company. 

In 2015, one of my goals was to really dive into API Management platforms and more specifically Azure API Management.  I started hearing about API Management platforms when I was working at Mulesoft.  While I never had any engagements that required their APIM platform, I knew enough about it to know that API Management, as a domain, will be big.

When trying to balance work and speaking opportunities/obligations, I try to ‘kill two birds with one stone’.  As you will find in the next section of this blog, I had the opportunity to speak about Azure API Management on several occasions.  It was signing up for these sessions that motivated me to do a good job researching the technology.

Probably one of the most rewarding moments was taking all of this research and speaking and turning it into a tangible solution at work. We had a requirement come up in a project where we needed to do some trading partner integration using a RESTful API.  As a result of all the ‘homework’ I was doing, I was able to spin up and API Management and supporting APIs all within two weeks that addressed a project requirement and gave the organization flexibility.  We have had approximately 15 million calls to this API in the last 6 months which has been very rewarding.

Another area of learning for me was around SaaS connectivity and more specifically ServiceNow.  ServiceNow is an IT Service Management tool.  This was a tool that our organization was implementing and was given some warning that some integration with this tool was bound to happen.

Since there was no Azure API App (connector) available for ServiceNow, this allowed me to create my own.  This provided me with another learning opportunity where I got to dive into all of the recent investments that Microsoft was making in Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS)


Being in the MVP program has created many opportunities for me to speak all over the world.  For that I am grateful to fellow MVPs, BizTalk360 and Microsoft for creating those opportunities.

This year was another busy year speaking.  I spent more time speaking in my home town (Calgary) than ever before which is encouraging to see as it shows there is more appetite for cloud integration.

.Net Usergroup I was a last minute addition to the MVPs putting on an Azure Cloud day.  In this session I was able to talk about Azure Service BUs messaging.  For many in attendance they were familiar with MSMQ but never heard of Azure Service Bus.  It is always fun to demo ServiceBus as people feel there is a little bit of magic whenever you start showing the Relay Service.

#IntegrationMonday – The brainchild of Michael Stephenson and Saravana Kumar has brought together a world-wide Microsoft Integration community on a weekly basis.  I had the opportunity to speak twice (link, link).  Thanks Mike and Saravana for giving me the opportunity.

BizTalk Summit (London) – This was my second time speaking in London and have to thank Saravana and his team for the opportunity.  This was probably the largest audiences that I have spoken in front of with more than 350 people in attendance.  In my session I talked about an Introduction to Azure API Management.  I think this is an untapped discipline amongst BizTalk resources so it was a good opportunity to introduce many people to the subject. 

Following this event my wife and I went to Portugal to visit Sandro and SteefJan.  Sandro took great care of us and showed us all around his hometown of Porto.  It was an amazing trip so thanks Sandro! 

BizTalk Booktcamp (Charlotte) – Mandi Ohlinger, from Microsoft, was hosting another edition of the BizTalk Bootcamp.  I had the opportunity to speak at this event in 2013 and was happy to return.  I had two sessions at this event.  The first was a replay of my BizTalk Summit API Management session and my next session was a live Lab walkthrough.  I had some tremendous feedback after this event.  I had people who had never heard of API Management, provision their own API Management instance, manage a set of APIs, call it from Postman all within an hour. They could not believe how far they were able to go within 1 hour. While I appreciated the feedback, it is also a testament to that Azure API Management platform as well as it is a simple but powerful tool.

MVPDays – I was approached by a local MVP Dave Kawula to speak at his upcoming MVPDays event in Calgary.  It was more of a Cloud Infrastructure event, but I appreciated the opportunity to introduce API Management and SaaS connectivity to a new audiance.

Azure Hybrid Integration Day – This time it was my turn to host some of my European MVP buddies and put on an event in Calgary.  With the help and support of my Canadian MVP Lead Sim Chaudhry, support from Microsoft Canada employees such as Darren King and BizTalk360 we were able to pull of an entire day focused on Microsoft Integration.  My session focused on Azure App Service and SaaS Connectivity using Microsoft’s latest bits.

After the event was over we had the opportunity to take in a football game (with tailgate) and cheer for the Saskatchewan Roughriders (event though they lost).

MVP Summit Videos – For the second straight year Microsoft arranged for Integration MVPs to enter the Channel 9 studios to record some short sessions. I want to thank Jon Fancey and Mark Mortimore for co-ordinating this.  My session focused on some of my demos from the Azure Hybrid Integration Day.


Around the August timeframe I had the opportunity to start writing for InfoQ.  For those of you who are not familiar with InfoQ, it is an online media outlet that focuses on Technology News and also hosts many conferences called QCon.  The organization is pretty impressive.  They have assembled a distributed team of technologists who also have a passion for writing.  Their goal is not necessarily to break news but to provide some technical substance to the happenings in the industry.

I am part of Richard Seroter’s Cloud Editorial team.  Richard and I co-authored a book several years ago and we continue to be good friends.  Richard is also one of those people that I regularly say “how does he do it” as he always has a million things on the go and the quality never suffers.  The opportunity to work along side him in this domain was too good to pass up and appreciate the opportunity he gave me.

The best part about writing for InfoQ is all of the ‘forced learning’ that occurs. While I pride myself on staying up to date it can become difficult especially when you consider all of the platforms out there.  As you probably know, I spend a lot of time in the Microsoft eco-system which is obviously one I enjoy.  Previously I was not very focused on what some of the big cloud players like Amazon, Salesforce and Google were up to.  As a result of covering these companies I now have a new perspective about what these companies are doing right and where Microsoft may have room for improvement.  Ultimately, I think this helps me do my day job better as I have a good appreciation of where the industry is headed.

Since September, I have had the opportunity to write approximately 17 articles. I figured it would be fun to list my 5 favourite articles (in no particular order).

  • Salesforce Enters IOT Platform-  This provided me with one of those ‘ah ha’ moments.  I think Salesforce is onto something with this platform.  If you think about tying customer events into a customer engagement platform, I think Salesforce will have a lot of opportunities in this space.
  • PowerAppsI was sitting beside Richard at the MVP Summit where the team is talking about PowerApps.  Richard gave me a nudge and said – “hey you should break this story when it is no longer NDA”.  After the session I reached out to Wade Wagner from the product group who put me in touch with some marketing folks at Microsoft who ensured I had all of the information I required in order to launch a detailed article as soon as the embargo was lifted. It was neat to be part of launching a story like this.
  • Microsoft’s Integration Roadmap – While I did write about this on my blog, I was deliberate to provide my personal opinions on the matter.  The goal of the InfoQ article was to remain objective and speak to the facts.  Regardless, It was fun to write about this topic from that perspective and in that outlet.
  • Amazon IOT Beta– Once again, having not been familiar with what Amazon was doing with IOT, this gave me the opportunity to compare and contrast Amazon’s vision against Salesforce and Microsoft.
  • Event Hubs surpasses 1 Trillion messages in a month – This was my very first article and also gave me an opporunity to interview Dan Rosanova.  You can always get a good sound bite out of Dan.  It was really neat to see where Dan, Clemens and ther rest of the team have been able to take this service.

Looking ahead…

2016 should be another very interesting year in the area of Microsoft Integration.  We will see a new version of BizTalk Server, Logic Apps Updates, PowerApps Updates and also another Integrate event in Q2.

It is also off to a good start with my MVP being renewed.  All Integration MVPs have been moved into the Azure discipline. I believe this is my 9th year in the program.  I know someday it will end but until that time I am happy to continue to contribute to this excellent community.