Keeping Up with the Cloud Services Using Logic Apps

By Nick Hauenstein

We’re living in exciting times, where releases of new functionality of all of our favorite software (e.g., Logic Apps, Visual Studio Team Services, and BizTalk Server) isn’t happening every 2 years, it’s happening every 2 weeks. With all of the benefits that such a release cadence brings, it also introduces the dilemma of how to both be productive with the technology, and keep up to date with all of the new features.

For example, while I was at the Integrate conference this year in London, many asked how it’s possible to keep our live 5-day Logic Apps class up-to-date. “Certainly it must be out-of-date if it’s not small recorded videos, right?” Actually, we update the class before each run to incorporate the latest product updates.

In this post, I want to share a strategy that we at QuickLearn have found works to stay on top of the latest technology changes, and give you the tools to implement it yourself.

Enabling Continuous Education

The first step in working towards staying up-to-date with the latest and greatest a technology offers will be locating the ever-evolving list of what’s new. Microsoft maintains a feed of new features for Logic Apps, and even a feed of new features for Visual Studio Team Services (another technology that we teach here). The feed for Logic Apps will be updated less frequently than the listing of features in the Azure Portal, however.

Let’s use one of those feeds, and build a Logic App that notifies us when there is a change by using the RSS trigger to queue up an instance of that Logic App whenever a new item is published to the RSS feed.

RSS Trigger Configuration

Creating a Learning Backlog

At QuickLearn, we add research items for continuous education as Product Backlog Items in VSTS. They sit alongside the core work of building products (in our case, courseware), but serve to carve out some capacity to build up the team itself. Each item carries with it the responsibility to quickly research and/or build a proof of concept using the new feature, or features, whilst also taking extensive notes to share with the team. I made all of my notes public for the release of BizTalk Server 2013 and BizTalk Server 2013 R2, and I wrote them directly in Live Writer to facilitate this. These days, I use OneNote for the same purpose.

Your organization might not want to allocate company time for such efforts. If so, you can always setup a personal VSTS account and do such research and experimentation on your own time.

Thankfully, Logic Apps has a connector for VSTS, which makes the task of building up a learning backlog an easy task to accomplish. The work items themselves will serve as our notifications of new product features:

VSTS Create Work Item Action

Working from the Continuous Learning Backlog

Once the Logic App runs (just the single trigger and single action), it produces backlog items to learn about new features in Logic Apps. In the way that I’ve configured it, it runs every 7 days and will automatically populate your backlog with any new features it finds. Your team can decide to investigate and/or not investigate these features further depending on what they are, and/or if they will help in future efforts on your projects.

Continuous Education Backlog Item

If any features in the release sound helpful and warrant further investigation, you can break out as many tasks as are required to investigate applicable features to see what value you can derive from them. I like taking the approach of building a 30-60 minute proof of concept for each feature, rather than just reading about it. Each team member can take a relevant feature for a test drive, and present it during sprint review.

Decomposing Learning Item Into Tasks

For QuickLearn, backlog items like this are a common occurrence. We update our Logic Apps class before each delivery to incorporate all of the latest and greatest features that we can fit. I always love the week of class, being able to share all of the fun and fresh goodies that the product team has cooked up.

I Need to Get Up to Speed Now

If you want a leg up, and a way to get up-to-speed quickly, there are some good opportunities coming up to do just that:

I’ll be speaking at each of those, and hope to see you there! Good luck on your continuously expanding cloud integration journey!

Global Integration Bootcamp 2017

By Nick Hauenstein

The Global Integration Bootcamp was held for the first time this last week, events spanning 12 countries, 16 locations, with over 650 attendees. If you went to either the Seattle, WA location (here at QuickLearn Training’s headquarters), or the New York location, then you may have even ran into one of our instructors!

Global Integration Bootcamp 2017 Locations

Seattle Bootcamp Recap

In the weeks leading up to the day of the bootcamp, Tom Canter with Phidiax arranged a speaker line-up, refreshments, and got the word-out about the event; while over here at QuickLearn Training, we prepared to transform our classrooms into an event space. When the day arrived, all were in good spirits and ready to share knowledge, and get deep into real-world possibilities for hybrid cloud integrations using BizTalk Server and Logic Apps.

Tom Canter presenting at Global Integration Bootcamp

Tom kicked off the event with a keynote and introductions, and got everyone primed and excited for the day. Next up was Tord showing off some of the latest greatest features in BizTalk Server 2016 when used in concert with API Management along with a few surprises Winking smile. I’m not sure what I’m allowed to share and what I’m not, so I will just leave that short, sweet, and to the point.

Gyanendra Gautam teamed up with Ashish Bhambhani (co-authors of the freshly published Robust Cloud Integration with Azure) to show some really slick B2B scenarios with Logic Apps and the Enterprise Integration Pack. Trading Partner and Agreement configuration were shown, along with a special surprise that no one had ever seen before – the world’s smallest X12 834 interchange! It was both a fun and informative session, and if you haven’t at the very least experimented with EDI in Logic Apps – do it. You’ll find your BizTalk Server experience in the same will serve you quite well.

I was up next, wearing a contraption to be explained at a later date. The focus of my talk was to demystify machine learning – and to demonstrate that it’s not just for the sexy applications (e.g., self-driving cars, HoloLens, whatever it is that I’m wearing, etc…). I spent the bulk of my session walking through a simple Hello Azure ML world demo that showed how one could train, operationalize, and then call Azure ML models from within Azure Logic Apps. It is my intention to further refine the models used in this talk and share the full talk, sample code, hardware diagrams, etc. in the summer of 2017.


After I was carted away in a straight jacket, Richard Seroter gave a really cool talk on the intersection between microservices and messaging – and how when using both, one can realize seamless multi-cloud scenarios. It was a very well executed talk with fairly complex demos involving node.js services, java services (built using Spring Boot),  and Logic Apps.


Undeterred by a ruthless cold that had claimed his voice, Jeff Hollan gave an excellent talk on the concept of serverless applications. He opened with an analogy comparing owning/renting/hiring a car with the equivalent on the server-side. He then looked to where serverless would lead the development of applications (i.e., API composition).


Kevin Lam wrapped up the day by going through a list of Enterprise Integration Patterns and the implementation required to make it happen on the Logic Apps side. He also addressed how to increase throughput for Service Bus connections, how to control parallelism, advanced scheduling and other fun goodies that I will likely put to quick use (and maybe follow-up with some blog posts on later). One thing did come as quite the surprise though – Sequential Convoys!

It was a great time, and I hope to be able to share more when I can. Thanks to everyone who attended, and I really hope you all had as great of a time as we did.

Other Locations

QuickLearn Training’s offices were just one of many locations for the event. Below is a short gallery of photos gathered from Twitter of other venues.







New York

(I haven’t been able to find a picture with the camera pointed the other way, but I get it, @wearsy is a model now after all).

New Zealand