Participating for MS Ignite 2019 at Orlando as a first timer?

Ignite 2019 is almost here. It will take place on 4-8.11.2019 at Orlando on Orange County Convention Center (OCCC).

First of all the event is huge – a real heavy weighter… If you have participated previously to some European conferences (ESPC, Collaboration Summit etc.) they are “nice and tiny” events compared to Ignite itself. Ignite is definitely one of the main events for Microsoft’s fiscal year. There will be around 25000-30000+ participants, speakers, Microsoft people, different organizing parties etc. so really lot of people with “Microsoft spirit” is packed to Orlando during Ignite takes place and it’s simply great.

As a first timer the most common error as a participant is to get all possible important and “must go” sessions in your calendar, try to actually participate all of them and basically do nothing else. This is a path to get frustrated and completely overwhelmed with the amount of information. It will be exhausting even physically since it’s normal changing room inside event venue from wing to another may easily take 30min to walk in a crowd. Through this approach you will make sure not to get benefits out from event itself. Also remember this year all the sessions will be live-streamed and recorded so it’s easy to get back them if and when needed.

I tried to list some hints in how to conquer Ignite:

Make sure you are well prepared

Even I just said it doesn’t make sense to book your schedule full of different sessions, it still good to check session scheduler beforehand to get idea what is happening and when – Select a real must haves for you and also download the Ignite mobile app to have sessions in your pocket. There are also a lot of different events, official and unofficial ones during Ignite during evenings so it would be good to check those also. There is probably some kind of WhatsApp, Teams or Kaizala group to organize within participants from your company or country (in case of smaller country like Finland 🙂 Make sure you are part of it. Also when arriving Orlando from Europe or even further you gonna need at least one day to survive from jetlag so be in place at saturday evening at the latest local time. And since you are in the United States it’s good time to download Uber App and also check is your hotel one of the official Ignite hotels where shuttle rides to OCCC are available. Don’t count you can walk to venue at all even you are staying “pretty close” to OCCC.

Book only “real must have” sessions for you calendar

It may sound a bit strange after paying many thousand dollars/euros from flights, hotels and tickets and I say make sure to not participate too many sessions. Think about it – 5 days in a row, from 9 AM to 6PM full of sessions with a lot of other events, discussions, blogging and maybe some parties. Simply not gonna happen. All sessions will be recorded or streamed, walking venue end to end will easily take 30min and amount of information will be overwhelming. I would say book max couple of must have sessions for each day and then use rest of the time for next bullets 🙂

Social aspect is what makes Ignite

As a finns we never speak. We simply are not extroverts and even introvert may be a bit too much to describe us in this aspect 🙂 However Ignite is all about good discussions with same minded people! Seeing each others, discussing about the upcoming or published features, sharing knowledge, being with the friends, participating different evening events, connecting to new people etc. so make sure you take every chance you have to make this aspect happen.

Expo (now called The Hub) – The heart of Ignite

Hub area is a heart of Ignite. The is always people walking around and you can take interesting discussions with different company presenters, Microsoft people, with random people or sometimes even with Microsoft product group people. Make sure you have gathered questions which are important to you and take a chance to ask questions. You can also agree some discussions with people you want to meet. So instead of sitting in sessions the hub will be a good area to hang around. Oh and there are plenty of SWAG here 😉

Take a time for yourself

5 days in a row with jetlag, endless sessions, evening parties etc. is just too much for everyone to handle. Just admit that for yourself. So take your private time when it feels even a bit you need it and dont be sorry! Maybe an afternoon off, enjoy the summer, heat, sun and give your head time to reflect thoughts and information you have received. You know what works best for you in this area.

You are in Florida!

You really are in sunny Florida! There is bunch of things to do in Orlando itself and Miami, Tampa or Kennedy Space Center for example are mostly within driving distance. So make sure you book some “outdoor” time also to make sure you catch your vitamin D dose. And not forget the huge Ignite 2019 official attendee celebration will happen on Thursday evening in Universal Studios Orlando.

As a summary and really interesting and busy week is waiting for us just behind the corner… Be prepared!


Get your classic SharePoint Online based Intranet news directly to Teams interface by using MS Flow

Lets assume you are a fanatic Microsoft Teams user and Teams is your number one interface for your daily tasks. However your organization is still partly using a classic SharePoint Online approach for Intranet and “official” organizational news are still created as a classic blog posts which was a really common approach before modern SharePoint Online and modern news model few years ago. As a Teams user you don’t want to order email based notifications / alerts about news or use some other ways to access them.

This is a quite simple way to get notified about new news items directly to your MS Teams interface by using MS Flow, MS Flow Bot, Adaptive Cards and SharePoint connector.

The Flow requires actually only four steps:

We will use ‘when an item is created’ event as trigger in case of blog site template based news. What you have to know in this example is the blog site address (News site) and the blog list name which is always ‘posts’ in this scenario.

Then we are reading users’ own profile to get user email for Teams Flow bot. Just select ‘Get my profile (V2)’ action and there are no additional properties for this action.

News converting action ‘Html to text’ is required when reading rich text content from SharePoint blog post body since adaptive cards can’t be used with html content directly. Also this step is really simple:

Finally we are forming and posting adaptive card to Teams through Flow Bot.

Adaptive Cards is a fairly new concept which can be used in many different occasions and platforms. In this case we are using it with Microsoft Teams and you can access adaptive card designer in Url . This makes planning of your adaptive card fairly easy. Just make sure you have select ‘Microsoft Teams’ as a host app (Yes, dark mode is also included) and after you are ready with formatting, adding actions and other components you want just use ‘Copy card JSON’ button to get your ready made JSON to clipboard.

Now you can paste your adaptive card JSON to Teams Flow Bot action message field which is used to create actual adaptive card. This action is still preview but works quite nicely. As recipient use email retrieved from ‘Get my profile (V2)’ action. Please notice there is also action available to post adaptive card directly to Teams channel with Flow Bot if you need more general approach. To form adaptive card content you can and you should now use dynamic content from SharePoint trigger. Also be careful when modifying JSON – The editor itself is still not so intuitive to use…

The only trickier part is to form news abstract since probably you don’t want to view whole news content in adaptive card. In this case I’m using Flow expression to get first 300 character from news body and after that I’m adding ‘…’ through concat function. Also notice I’m using blog post body ‘Html to Text’ conversion result instead of actual html so full expression here is concat(substring(body(‘Html_to_text’),0,300), ‘…’). This step is only needed when we are using rich text or html formats within adaptive cards.

As a result whenever a new organizational news is published as a blog item in classic SharePoint Online I can get a direct message from Flow bot to my MS Teams client. Also I added action button to open actual news item if needed.

Through this approach you can actually get notification to Teams client from any of the SharePoint list based actions if needed to support your own or your teams work. With little bit different SharePoint trigger you can get the same result out either from classic publishing pages (in case your organizational news are based for them) or even from modern SharePoint news if your organization is already using them.

Let’s hope this post will give you ideas how to use flow and adaptive cards in real world scenarios. Now take advantage of your licenses and start using Flow 😉