Flow Builder – Spring 19 Preview

I’ve always thought myself as an early adopter. As as soon as the Windows 7 public beta came out, I installed it. A year later, I found myself in a queue on the launch day of the first iPad and the same can be said for the Apple Watch. I like to get my gadgets and software when they’re fresh out of the oven, even if that does mean they’re not quite ready for mass consumption.

And with that mentality, as soon as I heard it was available, I found myself logging into my Spring 19 preview and firing up the brand new Flash-less Flow Builder.

First impressions:

  • It’s clean
  • It’s colourful
  • It feels modern and quick (no doubt thanks to the lack of Flash)
  • Wait, wait. Hold up. Where have all the elements gone!? There were more than that before, I’m sure. *logs into Winter 19 org to check*. Yep, there were way more before.

Only on the surface though… Take the Data section for example. In the Flash Flow Designer, there were eight elements and now in the Flash-less Flow Builder, there are only four. What gives? Why is this?

One of the biggest blocks for technology adoption is usability. I personally avoided Flow for well over a year because I didn’t really understand the difference between Record Lookup and Fast Lookup. Is one faster than the other? Great! I need to find a value from a single record really quickly, so I’ll use Fast Lookup. Queue annoyance and frustration when I don’t understand what’s happening and then keyboard being thrown to the wall.

But now it’s a bit more friendlier with a single element to look up records. If you want to bring back a single record, it has you covered. But that’s not all dear reader. Did I hear you say you needed to bring back several records all in the same operation? Well fear not. It can do that too!

There’s been a clear effort in this builder to cut the interface down into easy to learn, manageable chunks. For example, all of the quick actions were previously all laid out for newbies to see and get intimidated by. Now they are all neatly kept within a series of Action icons and dragging one onto the canvas will reveal what’s available.

Some of the power users may see this as going backwards, as it does legitimately add a few extra steps to the process. But on the other hand, it’s making Flow easier to jump into, to learn, to build and to master. I must admit, I struggled for the first few hours of playing around with the new interface. But after a while, everything started to click into place and building became easier and (once again) thanks to no Flash, quicker.

Once I got the hang of things, it took me all of five minutes to cook up a Flow that would read a value on a record, display that number as a slider and let the user change it.

And here’s what the Flow really looks like.

I’m genuinely excited for the this Builder to hit GA next year, but not for the reasons you may be expecting. I don’t think my personal use of Flow is going to change next year. I do hope however, that many more people start to pick up this really powerful “visual programming” tool and do amazing things with it.