Using Environment Variables as Parameters for Power Automate Deployments (ALM)

Deploying Power Automate Flows can be a headache if you have to manually change values inside the Flow for each environment. You also run the risk of missing a value.

Summary

Deploying Power Automate Flows can be a headache if you have to manually change values inside the Flow for each environment. You also run the risk of missing a value.

This post will go in depth on using Environment variables inside solutions to allow certain values to be used in different environments.
I will be using Two(2) environments for this demo:
Dev, and Test

This demo will utilize the data type ‘JSON’, this will save loads of time.

Terms / Glossary

Here are some familiar terms that will help in this post:
Default Value = The value that you’re expecting after you deploy the Flow.
This will be our Test environment values

Current Value = The value that overrides the Default Value.
This will be our Dev environment values

Parameters = These are just values. For example 2 + 2. Each 2 is a parameter of the addition expression (+)

ALM = Application Lifecycle Management
Documentation on ALM

Contents

Prerequisites
The Scenario
Getting Parameter Values
Creating Environment Variables
Creating The Flow
Using The Parameters
Export And Import Deployment
Conclusion

Prerequisites

  • Access to Common Data Service
  • Access to create, export, and import Solutions

** Note: I Have created this guide to be as simple as possible, If you name everything as I do, you will be able to copy and paste all my expressions directly into your Flow **

The Scenario

My Flow posts a message into Microsoft Teams group. When deploying the Flow into different environments, I want to change the Teams content like:

  • Team Name
  • Channel ID
  • Subject

Usually after deploying, we can go in to the Flow and manually change the values. This can cause errors, especially if we forget to change some values after deploying (I may have done this a few times).

Getting Parameter Values

It is important to note that not all Action values can be parameterized. Follow the steps below to see if the values can be parameterized:

Teams Example:
My Teams action, I want to parameterize the Team Name, Channel ID, and Subject. For this I add the Action, and select the values as needed.

Now with the information filled in, click the 3 dots ‘. . .’ on the action, and click ‘Peek Code’.

Dev Parameters

In the ‘Peek code’ view, we can see the different parameters and the values that this action uses in the background. Copy these values into notepad or code editor for use later. I have created a simple JSON to be placed in my Environment Variable later on.

I will be using the Env value for my Subject in the teams message

For example:
Team = 1861402b-5d49-4850-a54b-5eda568e7e8b
Channel = 19:be3759762df64d94a509938aa9962b29@thread.tacv2
Subject = Message From Dev Environment

To test that we can use custom values as parameters, we want to grab these values from above and insert them into the ‘Teams Post a message’ action as custom value, than run the Flow

Mine looks like this now:

Now run the Flow to make sure everything works as expected using the Custom values

Now that we know Custom values work for the inputs/parameters for the action. We now want to get the values for the other environment. Remove the custom values from the inputs and choose the correct value that we want to point to when this Flow is deployed to another environment. For example:

Again we do a ‘Peek code’ to get the parameter IDs that this action uses

Test Parameters

Copy these values into notepad or a code editor for use later. Now we have two sets of values, one for Dev, and one for Test. I have created a simple JSON to be placed in my Environment Variable later on.

I will be using the Env value for my Subject in the teams message

Make sure the Two(2) JSONs have the same structure. We will be using the data to populate the Environment Variables in the following steps

Creating Environment Variables

Environment variables can only be created inside a solution, there are multiple ways you or your organization may want this set up.

In this demo I have created a Publisher in CDS called ‘param’, this will better define the parameters that we create inside the solution. (this is optional) The default CDS publisher could also be used.

Create a solution inside Power Automate.
Click Solutions on the left navigation menu,
Than click ‘New Solution’ on the top on menu, and fill the information out

Once the solution is created,
Click ‘New’ > Environment variable

Now fill in the information like the screenshot below.

Note, I will be using the Data Type as JSON. I use this for simplicity, as I have more than one value I want to add. Also we can use the Parse JSON action in Flow to reference each value separately. You can use any Data Type you like

Now we populate the values we want to use per environment, the way we do this is fill in the Default Value, and the Current Value.


Default Value = The values we want for the other environment, in this case Test
Current Value = The values we want to use for this environment, in this case Dev

Once the values are pasted in click ‘Save’

Creating The Flow

I will be creating the Flow inside the solution that the Environment Variable is in from above.
Inside the solution click ‘New’ > Flow

For the demo I will use a Manual trigger, than add Two(2) ‘Initialize Variable’ actions

Initialize variable – Schema Name
Name: schemaName
Type: String
Value: Put the Name of the environment variable in the value (This can be found on the main screen of the solution under Name column)

Initialize variable – Parameters
Name: parameters
Type: String
Value: Leave blank for now, this variable will store either the Default Value or Current Value, based on which environment we are in

Next add a ‘Scope’ action to hold all the actions that will get the parameters

I renamed my ‘Scope’ to Load Parameters.

NOTE: You can copy and paste my filter query as long as you kept the same name as I did. When you see the @ in Power Automate, this allows you to call expressions without having to go into the expression tab. If you want to build the expression yourself, I will include the syntax under each picture of the List Records actions and on

Inside the Scope, add Two(2) ‘Common Data Service Current Environment – List Records’ actions.

1) List records – Parameter Definitions
Entity name: Environment Variable Definitions
Filter Query: schemaname eq ‘@{variables(‘schemaName’)}’

schemaname eq ‘YOUR ENVIRONMENT VARIABLE NAME’

2) List records – Parameter Current Values
Entity name: Environment Variable Values
Filter Query: environmentvariabledefinitionid_value eq ‘@{first(outputs(‘List_records-_Parameter_Definitions’)?[‘body/value’])?[‘environmentvariabledefinitionid’]}’

@{first(outputs('List_records-_Parameter_Definitions')?['body/value'])?['environmentvariabledefinitionid']}
first(outputs(‘List_records-_Parameter_Definitions’)?[‘body/value’])?[‘environmentvariabledefinitionid’]

Now we need to check which value to use, the Default Value, or the Current Value.

Add an ‘If Condition‘ Build the condition like this:

If Current Value is empty
Left Value: @first(outputs(‘List_records_-_Parameter_Current_Values’)?[‘body/value’])?[‘Value’]

@first(outputs('List_records_-_Parameter_Current_Values')?['body/value'])?['Value']

is equal to
Right Value: @null

@null
first(outputs(‘List_records_-_Parameter_Current_Values’)?[‘body/value’])?[‘Value’]

Next in the ‘If yes‘ block add a ‘Set Variable

Set variable – Parameter Default
Name: parameters
Value: @{outputs(‘List_records_-_Parameter_Definitions’)?[‘body/value’][0][‘defaultvalue’]}

@{outputs('List_records_-_Parameter_Definitions')?['body/value'][0]['defaultvalue']}
outputs(‘List_records_-_Parameter_Definitions’)?[‘body/value’][0][‘defaultvalue’]

In the ‘If no‘ block add a ‘Set variable

Set variable – Parameter Current
Name: parameters
Value: @{outputs(‘List_records_-_Parameter_Current_Values’)?[‘body/value’][0][‘Value’]}

@{outputs('List_records_-_Parameter_Current_Values')?['body/value'][0]['Value']}
outputs(‘List_records_-_Parameter_Current_Values’)?[‘body/value’][0][‘Value’]

Under the ‘If condition‘ add a ‘Parse JSON
Name: Parse JSON – Parameters
Content: @{variables(‘parameters’)}
Schema: To generate your schema, Click the ‘Generate from sample’ button, than paste in the JSON that you used for Default Value

We are done with the parameter scope now..

Using The Parameters

I will be adding a Teams Action ‘Post a message‘ I will use the dynamic content from my ‘Parse JSON‘ action.

Triggering the Flow, I expect the Dev values to be used (Current Value)

Here is the Teams message:


Next we will export and import into a different Environment which will use different parameters (Default Value)

Export And Import – Deployment

Overview of this sections steps:
1. Remove Current Value from Environment variable
2. Publish Solution
3. Export Solution
4. Import Solution
5. Authorize any Connections
6. Enable Flow
7. Trigger / Test

  1. Remove Current Value from Environment variable

Inside the Solution click on the Environment variable, under Current Value click the 3 dots ( . . . ) Select Remove from this solution

This will only remove the values from this solution. The Current Values will still be in CDS and can also be added back into this solution if needed by clicking Add existing under Current Value
  1. Publish Solution

Inside your solution, click ‘Publish all customization’

  1. Export Solution

Once published click ‘Export’

Export as ‘Managed’ or ‘Unmanaged’ Choose either or based on your needs.

  1. Import Solution

Switch to your other Environment, and click Solutions tab. Click ‘Import’

Choose your Zip file from your Export, and follow instructions by clicking ‘Next’

  1. Authorize any Connections

Once the solution is imported successfully, you may need to authorize any connections inside the Flow. This can be done by clicking on the Flow from inside your solution, and clicking ‘Sign in’ on all actions > Click ‘Save’

  1. Enable Flow

Now enable / turn on the Flow

  1. Trigger / Test

Trigger the Flow to confirm the values are coming over as correct (Default Value).

Test Env – Using Default Value as expected

Now in Teams our message has been posted in a different team chat, different channel, and with the ‘Test’ text in the subject line

Conclusion

After reading this post:
https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/environment-variables-available-in-preview/
I wanted to build a step by step guide, that is practical and also beneficial. Since this feature is in ‘Preview’ this could change without notification.

I hope this guide is able to help you get your ALM for your Power Automate Flows more sustainable.

I will be uploading a Template for this Flow on the Community forums in the Cook Book section. Follow me on Twitter for updates on that.

Thanks

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