vadim.tabakman@nintex.com

Collections in Office 365

Blog Post created by vadim.tabakman@nintex.com Employee on Jul 20, 2015

An exciting new feature is now available in Nintex Workflow for Office 365.  A Collection Variable!!!

 

Now although Nintex Workflow for Office 365 has a Dictionary variable and it is extremely powerful, a Collection variable makes things easier.  Remember - "Workflow for Everyone"!!. If you want to learn about the dictionary, take a look at these 3 posts:

Dictionary Part 1 - Manually Creating a Dictionary

Dictionary Part 2 - Query XML results into a Dictionary

Dictionary Part 3 - Call Web Service result into a Dictionary

 

Collection Variable.png

That is what you see when you go to create a new variable.  Existing on-premise Nintex customers will most likely be aware of the Collection variable and being able to use it in workflows. From a workflow designer standpoint, I've been using Collections in workflows for a long time and in most of my workflows.  Now, being able to do this in Office 365 is a game changer for me.  It's going to streamline my workflows in the cloud and it will speed up workflow design dramatically.

 

There's one big difference between using collections on-premise and in the cloud.  On-premise, there's a single action named the Collection Operation.  It contains a number of different operations that it can do.  In the cloud, we've broken it out into individual actions.  These are the actions that are available:

  • Add Item to Collection
  • Check if Item Exists in Collection
  • Clear Collection
  • Count Items in Collection
  • Get Item from Collection
  • Join Items in Collection
  • Remove Duplicates from Collection
  • Remove Item from Collection
  • Remove Last Item from Collection
  • Remove Value from Collection
  • Sort Items in Collections

 

I'm a big fan of doing it this way.  It makes reading your workflow so much easier, if you know exactly what the action is doing.  Now if you add labels to your action, it's to elaborate on what it's doing, other than the obvious.

 

For more information, see "Working with collection variables" in the Help.

 

Now, this isn't the end of it.  These actions are the ones that have been made available that are specific to Collection variables.  There are other actions that also support Collections.  The most obvious is the Query List, Query XML, For Each, Regular Expression actions and that is just to name a few.

 

I'll provide an example of how easy it is to use collections now.  Firstly, you can use the Regular Expression action to split some data to fill a Collection.

RegularExpression.png

Although it is rare that you will need to use the Regular expression action in the way I've displayed above, it does come in handy in some cases.  By this I mean, usually your string will contain dynamically generate data either an item property, or as a result of a query of some sort.  But this is the first example of how an action can fill a collection instead of a dictionary.  Where would you use this type of functionality?  Well, instead of building whacky Loop logic, you can now use a For Each action to make things easier.

 

This leads us to the For Each action.

ForEach.png

You will find that with this new addition to the list of variable types, workflow design is going to be much easier.

 

Now, add the new actions and the modification of the existing actions to support the collection variables and you're ability to build better workflows, more elaborate workflows and not to mention maintainable workflows will mean you can build better business processes using Nintex Workflow for Office 365.

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