Demo of building a simple flow
Here's an 8-minute video where we build a simple flow from start to finish.
The flow is for order management and tracking where we pull in orders from Shopify, our ecommerce platform, and send the new orders to Francesca who designs the customized beer glasses that we sell on our store. It fully automates a daily task that was previously handled manually.
Parabola allows anyone to build amazing automations easily. Just how easily? Let's find out by building a flow together.
We're going to tackle the four main parts to building a flow:
- Thinking about what the problem is,
- Getting the right tables of data into Parabola,
- Transforming those tables of data, and
- Taking action at the end of the flow.
Let's start by thinking about the problem.
Parabola flows start off as a blank canvas, so it's up to you to build your flow. Here's a problem that I have that we can solve in Parabola: I run an online store where I sell personalized beer glasses. Every day, I get orders coming through my e-commerce platform and I need to get these orders lined up so that my glass artist, Francesca, can add the customization to each glass that was ordered. This is a tedious task that requires me to copy and paste across spreadsheets and remember formulas. More specifically, this is what I do: I remove columns that I don't need in the final table, I use a VLOOKUP with another table with my fonts listed out to get the font name, I remove the old orders and just keep the rows that are today's orders, finally I add a column called complete so that Franchesca contract which glasses she has completed. That's my process. Now that I've outlined it, I'm ready to build it in Parabola.
Parabola flows all start out by importing all of the data that they need. Thinking back to my problem, I need my orders data and I need my font list. Well my font list is just an excel file that I have on my desktop and my orders are all in a big Google Sheet. I can click here to see my importing options and then pull in an Excel import and I can do the same for Google Sheets import. Let's adjust their positions a little. First the excel file: I just need to click to upload the file. Great, there it is! Now the Google Sheet. After authorizing, I can use a quick search to find the file that I need. And here we have the data. I'm all set with my two starting tables, so now we can start doing things to these tables by adding transforms.
Thinking back to how I do this normally, I want to get rid of a bunch of these order columns. That is, I want to filter the columns. Looking to the right I see an option to filter and sort data and there I find a column filter step. I can position it exactly where I want it. This step needs data to filter. I want to filter the data from my Google Sheet, so I grab an arrow from it and drop it on the middle of the column filter step. Great. Now when I open up the step I see my data. On the left, I see columns to remove. Actually, I want to keep a few columns so I click and change to keep. I want to keep the Order ID, Order Date, the Custom Text, the Glass Type, and the Font ID and that's done.
Now, I usually do a VLOOKUP at this point to match ID for my font Excel file with Font ID on my Google Sheet. Looking back at the sidebar, I'm going to try searching for VLOOKUP. Ooh, I get some results. Hmm it says list contains finds matching and non-matching rows. The join step joins two tables based on a set of rules. The join will do what VLOOKUP did. I drag it onto the canvas and I send arrows from both the filtered Google table and the Excel table to the join. My primary table is my orders data which is coming from the column filter. The default setting at the top looks fine to me. I just need to tell this join step which columns can be used to match the data up, I select Font ID from my Google Sheet and Font ID from my Excel file. Clicking to "Show Updated Results" and I see my font names are appended next to each order. That was quick and easy. Now back to the flow.
This is pretty great! No more VLOOKUPs in Excel or Google Sheets, but I just realized this list is all my orders. Franchesca only needs today's orders. Well, I have a column of dates and I just need the dates that are the same as today's. I need to compare the dates in my table to today's date. Clicking back, I see date and time is an option for steps. In there, I find the date comparison step. Let's pull that out after giving it some data. I open it up. This step will create a column containing the results of the comparison, so I will call it "Days Since." I'm interested in days between order date and the current time. Looks like it does have a time zone on it, which is great. Now I click "Show Updated Results." This makes sense. All of the orders that happen today have a value between 0 and 1. Those are what I want to keep.
I want to filter down to just the rows that are less than 1. Okay, going back I can go to the filter section again and grab a row filter. Placing it down, giving it data, I can open it up. Here we go. Keep rows from "Days Since" if they are less than 1. Update the results and we're in business.
Finally, let's get that complete column in here. Back out, click on create data, add column is right there. Let's set that up to add a column called "Complete" that is blank. And, we're done! That's a great-looking table. Francesca is going to love it.
Time to take action and figure out the best way to get this data to Francesca. Click on "Export Data and Trigger Actions." Google Sheets will work for this as I'd like to check in on how the orders are coming along. I placed a step down and send an arrow into it. I can easily find my file called "Francesca Daily Orders." Overwrite works for me. Now, we can select the tab where this table should go. We're all set.
I'll publish the flow so I can schedule it. I want every day at 11PM. Just to test it out, I can run it now and go view the Google Sheet. Perfect!
So, this is all done every day at 11PM. It will pull in the most recent orders table, process it, and send it over to the sheet that Francesco uses. This task that I used to do every single day is fully automated. I'm going to love getting this time back in my day.
I wonder if I could create a flow to notify me if any orders were not completed by Francesca from the prior day.
As I keep automating, I encourage you to go build a flow for yourself!