Microsoft power automate is Microsoft's automation software that allows users to easily automate repetitive task's within Microsoft ecosystem. No coding required. I would put power automate as more modern reinvented shell scripting.
Shell scripting was developed to save systems administrators time by automating tasks that were repetitive. However shell scripting has its limitation. It only works in the terminal. Example in order to interact with the browser you have to rely on programs such as selenium,puppeteer etc.
Power automate on windows re -invents this by enabling you to automate tasks that interact with graphical user interface (GUI). You could instruct power automate to do a task such as...
- Open the browser
- Visit amazon.com
- Get the first product you find
- Open excel
- Save the data in excel on my desktop
- Close excel
You can imagine the amount of code you would need to accomplish this task. With power automate you just need to drag and drop your instructions. No coding skills needed. You should be done within 5 minutes.
Power automate use case is endless. You could track stocks, you could arrange files on your system, you could track the weather, save attachments sent to your email and more...
At my company we use power automate to manage printer toner levels.
Microsoft power automate is divided into two:
- Workflows that run on desktop: These workflows run locally on the desktop. They are free to run and not limited by price.
- Workflows that run on cloud: These workflows are triggered by an events. They integrate well with other cloud base Microsoft products such as office 365. Cloud workflows are limited by price since they run on Microsoft servers. Some functionality available on the desktop version are not available on cloud.
Power Automate limitations
- The cloud based workflows are too shallow unless you pay. It feels like a trial version.
- No in built REGEX support you have to rely on 3rd party or paid excel (excel business)
- Only works well in Microsoft ecosystem.
Despite its limitation kudos Microsoft. It's my hope with time the product would morph to something great. If this is possible, I can imagine a scenario where one can automate tasks using speech instead of drag n drop. That would be dope 😎.