Design a flow

Creating flows with the visual, drag-and-drop Flow Designer is so simple it might disguise how powerful flows can be. With a palette of included steps and the ability to add custom ones, you can connect rich, complex processes into a single, automated toolchain.

You could easily learn by doing, but if you want to learn first then do, this page walks you through the steps of creating a flow, using triggers, how to add and connect other steps, how to use the available tools, and how to configure steps once they're connected.

As we go through the steps below, we'll build out a major incident management (MIM) flow triggered when xMatters gets a signal from a monitoring tool. Along the way, we'll figure out what steps we need, what information needs to flow through the steps, and if the flow needs to split at some point.

How to get to Flow Designer

Access to Flow Designer is controlled by the workflow — whoever has permission to edit the workflow can access its flows.

Step 1: Decide what triggers the flow

Triggers are steps that kick off each flow on the canvas. Triggers can be signals injected via an HTTP request or an email sent to xMatters, or different alert lifecycle activities (such as status changes, escalations, or responses).

In our example, we're using an HTTP trigger — when Monitoring Tool X detects an issue in our service, it sends a signal to xMatters, which starts the flow. For another flow, you might need a different trigger type; for example, you could allow someone to trigger the flow by responding to an alert notification.

If you already know which trigger you want to start your flow, drag it onto the canvas. Then you can skip ahead, though you might want to disable the flow until you have it laid out. If not, check out our detailed information on the triggers, including examples of when you might want use each one and what information is included in their outputs.

Triggers only fire if there are steps connected to them, so the next step is to figure out what steps you want connected to the trigger. The exception is legacy Integration Builder triggers, which continue to execute whatever script is associated with them.

Step 2: Decide what information needs to go where

The next step in designing a flow is to figure out what applications you want to connect, as well as what information needs to flow between xMatters and those applications and when. This determines the steps you need to add, the order you need to connect them in, and the inputs you need to configure.

In our MIM scenario, the flow is triggered when xMatters receives a signal from Monitoring Tool X. The signal includes information about the issue summary, details, importance, issue_id, and customer_impacting, which will be available as outputs of the trigger.

We know we need use details from the signal to initiate an incident in xMatters and that we'll need to use the Map Incident Severity step to map the importance levels from Monitoring Tool X to match xMatters incident severity levels. We also want to create a chat collaboration channel for the incident and post details about the incident, including the incident number, to the channel. We'll get into the steps that come next when we talk about the switch step.

Step 3: Decide if your flow needs to take a detour

Tools are steps that evaluate the information coming through the flow and use it to decide what action to take next.

Adding a tool step is the same as adding any of the other steps — locate the step in the palette, drag it onto the canvas, and connect it to the preceding step. The configuration varies depending on the type of tool you're adding.

Step 4: Test your flow

It's always a good idea test your flow before putting it into active use. This lets you check if there are any mismatched output-to-input mappings, issues in the underlying setup of any custom steps, or problems with endpoints.

  1. Make sure your flow is enabled.
  2. Perform whatever action triggers your flow. For example:
    • Send an HTTP POST request targeting an HTTP trigger.
    • Send an email targeting an email trigger.
    • If using an activity trigger on a Create Alert step, trigger the flow that includes this step to initiate its activity triggers.
    • If using an activity trigger for a Messaging form, initiate an alert that targets your form, either through the Messaging tab, an inbound integration or the xMatters REST API, and then perform the appropriate action for your trigger (for example, select the response for the Responses trigger or add a comment for the Alert Comments trigger).
  3. Use the Activity panel to track down any issues.

What's Next?

Now that you're familiar with creating a basic flow, check out the other available triggers and tools, the growing number of ready-made apps for tools you use everyday, or try creating a custom step and sharing it with others in your team.