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Azure Logic Apps Preview Refresh Released

by Kent Weare on Mar 08, 2016 |

The Microsoft Integration Product team recently provided their first update since the Integration Roadmap, which was released back on December 24th. On February 24th, 2016 Microsoft has announced the public preview of Logic Apps Preview Refresh.

In the Integration Roadmap, it calls for the general availability (GA) of Logic Apps in Q2 of 2016.  Azure Logic Apps is Microsoft’s Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS) offering available in a subscription model within Azure. It complements Microsoft’s on-premises Integration Platform BizTalk Server, which is scheduled for its tenth major release later this year.

This Logic Apps Preview Refresh includes some key customer asks, improvements to the designer, deployment and management experiences which puts Microsoft one step closer to its GA milestone.

Improved Designer Experience

In the new release, customers can expect a brand new designer experience.  A similar design canvas was first unveiled as part of the Microsoft PowerApps preview which allows for the execution of lightweight workflows, called Logic Flows, from mobile devices. The new designer uses a top-down approach instead of a left-right approach that existed in the previous version of Logic Apps.  It also includes improved logic and flow control support that is more declarative through the use of condition branches.

Wagner Silveria, principal integration architect at theta, describes the new designer as “a cleaner interface and a more intuitive visual flow.” Silveria predicts the improvements will be received positively by others as “the changes in the designer experience that came with this refresh greatly improves the development experience for creation and maintenance of Logic Apps and will definitely increase the adoption of the technology.”

Image Source: https://www.theta.co.nz/news-blogs/tech-blog/logic-apps-preview-refresh-designer-improvements

One common capability amongst IPaaS vendors, is the ever growing list of connectors they provide. A usability constraint may come in the form of long lists of connectors that reside on the side of a design canvas.  Microsoft has chosen to address this problem through the use of a search bar that allows a developer to start typing in the name of the connector they would like to use and auto-complete results will appear.

Image Source: https://www.theta.co.nz/news-blogs/tech-blog/logic-apps-preview-refresh-designer-improvements

Managed API Connections

In the previous iteration of Logic Apps, a developer would need to provision an instance of a connector within their own Azure Resource Group prior to using it.  This resulted in a multi-minute delay before they could actually use the connector.  In the latest version, Microsoft has pre-deployed a list of connectors that allow developers to use them without additional delays.  Some of the connectors available as Managed API Connections include:

  • Dynamics CRM Online
  • Box
  • Salesforce
  • Google Drive
  • Slack
  • Office 365
  • Twilio

 

Native Webhook support

Logic Apps now allow you to subscribe to external events via Webhooks.  Webhooks can be used as a trigger that will instantiate a workflow or may be used in the middle of a workflow and wait for an extended period time for an event to be received.

Swagger support

Microsoft leverages Swagger, now known as Open API, as a way to bind its connectors to the Logic Apps design surface. Microsoft also exposes Swagger metadata for the operations that are available within a connector.  With this release of Logic Apps there is now an HTTP connector that supports Swagger.  What this allows developers to do is plug in any HTTP endpoint that exposes Swagger.  This immediately enhances Microsoft’s ability to consume 3rd party APIs from companies like Getty Images, Intuit, Living Social, McKesson, Morningstar and PayPal.

What’s Next?

As part of a regular community webinar, Microsoft has disclosed some of the features they are currently working on including:

  • Designer support for parallel actions
  • Auto discovery of custom APIs
  • Auto discovery of workflows
  • Flow monitoring
  • Support for connecting to Salesforce sandboxes

 

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