How to use your MS Teams as an email distribution list

When you create a Microsoft Team, a Microsoft 365 group is created to manage the team membership like Owners, members, guests. I would rather say the Microsoft 365 group is a backbone of a Team. Through the group you also get an email address for the MS team. Find the other Microsoft 365 services which gets created per this documentation whenever there is a Team provisioned

On this blogpost let us see how to enable a team which can also act as an email distribution list so that you can send an email to all the team members, by default this option is disabled. You will have to be an Owner of the team to set this up. There are couple of ways to do this

  • Graph Explorer
  • Outlook
  • Exchange Online Powershell
  • Exchange Online Administrator

Graph Explorer:

Graph explorer is a utility that will let you make requests and get responses against the different graph endpoints as a signed in user (Delegated User). To enable the email distribution functionality, we will have to get the group id of the team for setting a value to True for the property autoSubscribeNewMembers. To get the Group Id information go to the Team and click the Get link to team as shown below

Copy the content from the popup which should be in the below format

To get the group details like Email Address, Mail Nick Name, Display Name etc make a GET request to the following endpoint from the explorer

https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/groups/groupId

Make a PATCH request to the endpoint https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/groups/groupId with the payload

{
“autoSubscribeNewMembers”:true
}

Now make a GET request on the following endpoint with the group id of the team https://graph.microsoft.com/v1.0/groups/groupId?$select=autoSubscribeNewMembers

to get its status. It is all set now.

Outlook:

The Microsoft 365 group inbox for a Team is not available in Outlook but it can be accessed through the SharePoint site associated to the group. Open the SharePoint site from any of the Teams channel as shown below

Click Conversations on the left navigation

The URL of the Outlook will be in following format: https://outlook.office365.com/mail/group/domain/mailNickName/email

Access the settings of the group

Click Edit group from the Group Settings

On the Group Settings popup, enable the Subscription as shown below and then Save it. By default this setting is disabled for the Microsoft 365 group.

Exchange Online PowerShell:

The same setting can also be enabled from Exchange online PowerShell if you have Exchange online Administrator access on the tenant. Make sure the Exchange online PowerShell module is installed. Follow the steps below to turn on AutoSubscribeNewMembers which distributes emails to all users

  1. Load the module by the running the command Import-Module ExchangeOnlineManagement
  2. Connect to the Exchange online PowerShell in Microsoft 365
    1. Connect-ExchangeOnline -UserPrincipalName userId@domain.com -ShowProgress $true
  3. Set-UnifiedGroup -Identity 539818c4-XXXX-XXXX-b781-78dff1762b72 -AutoSubscribeNewMembers or Set-UnifiedGroup -Identity “Team Display Name” -AutoSubscribeNewMembers
  4. To disable the setting: Set-UnifiedGroup -Identity ” Team Display Name ” -AutoSubscribeNewMembers:$false

Refer to the documentation from Microsoft for more Exchange online commands related to the Microsoft 365 group.

Exchange Online Administrator

Login into the Exchange Online Admin center and click on Groups from the dashboard section. Execute the below steps

  1. Find the group associated to the team (Team Display Name) from the list and then select
  2. Click on Edit (Pencil Icon) from the ribbon
  3. On the General tab, Enable the property Subscribe new members and then Save

Summary: The same setting can also be applied to a Team created through a Microsoft 365 group. Hope you have found this informational. There were already lot of blogs talking about groups

Reference:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/learn-about-microsoft-365-groups-b565caa1-5c40-40ef-9915-60fdb2d97fa2

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/follow-a-group-in-outlook-e147fc19-f548-4cd2-834f-80c6235b7c36#ID0EAACAAA=Web

https://sharegate.com/blog/office-365-groups-explained

https://www.jumpto365.com/blog/everyday-guide-to-office-365-groups

Convert Outlook Email with embedded images to PDF using PowerAutomate

Recently I’ve came across a business case with need to automate the conversion of Outlook email messages with embedded images to PDF document. This could be done manually on Outlook client using Microsoft Print to PDF or browser Print if opened using Outlook on the Web. This process can be automated with the help of PowerAutomate trigger When a new email arrives and actions Export Email, Convert File, Create file but if an email has an embedded image or HTML content it will not work as of now. There are Third party connectors in Power Automate from Muhimbi, Plumsail which might have this functionality but I’ve not tested those yet. PowerAutomate action Export Email converts the email to .eml file.

An EML file is an email message containing the content of the message, along with the subject, sender, recipient(s), and date of the message in plain text format. Once you have the .eml file change the file extension from .eml to .txt where you can see the content. If there is any embedded image it will stored in the Base64 format. You can also change the .eml file extension to .mht and open it directly in Internet Explorer

For this blogpost I’ve used third party API service from ConvertAPI to convert Email message to PDF, they have REST API endpoints to convert Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML, PDF and Image formats. There is also a Free Plan with ConvertAPI where you get 1500 seconds API execution time if you sign up.

You can also create your own API service hosted in Azure for conversion with the .NET libraries like iTextSharp, GroupDocs, PDFSharp etc. Let’s go ahead & create flow to

  1. Convert Email to PDF – Without Embedded image
  2. Convert Email to PDF – With Embedded image

The above two flows packages can be downloaded from Github repo.

Convert Email to PDF – Without Embedded image:

Power Automate connector OneDrive for Business has an action Convert file (preview) converts files to different formats such as PDF, HTML, JPG etc. This connector can be used to convert a simple email with out an embedded image.

Step 1: Create a flow with Automated trigger When a new email arrives & configure the trigger parameters by clicking Show advanced options.

Step 2: Add the action Export email with Message Id from the output of the previous action. This action creates the .eml file

Step 3: Add the action Create file from the connector OneDrive for Business. Select the Folder path from your One drive, Enter the File Name for the .eml file & the File Content should be Body from the output of the action Export email (Previous). Find the screenshot below

Step 4: Add the action Convert file from the connector OneDrive for Business with Id from the output of the previous action Create File.

Step 5: Add the action Create file from the connector OneDrive for Business. This step is for storing the PDF file back to the OneDrive. Select the Folder path from your One drive to store the PDF file, Enter the File Name for the PDF file & the File Content should be File content from the output of the action Convert file. Find screenshot below

Note: The storage location I’ve chosen is Onedrive, you can choose SharePoint, Azure blob etc. Based on the need you can choose to delete the .eml files after the file conversion is done.

Convert Email to PDF – With Embedded image:

As already said the previous flow will not convert an email with embedded image as expected. Be ready with the API endpoint from ConvertAPI to convert email to PDF. The endpoint will have the secret as a query string shown as below

https://v2.convertapi.com/convert/eml/to/pdf?Secret=yoursecretkeyfromconvertapi

Note: On this flow I will be using the .eml file generated from the previous flow.

Step 1: Create a flow with Instant trigger Manually trigger a flow.

Step 2: Add the action Get file content from the connector OneDrive for Business. Select the .eml file which has the embedded image from the storage location i.e the file from OneDrive.

Step 3: Add the action Compose from the connector Data Operation. This step is to convert in to base64 representation a requirement for the convert API to work. On the Inputs file go to the expression editor and add the function base64(file content from the previous action get file) for converting .eml to base64.

Step 4: Add the action HTTP (Premium) from the connector HTTP to make a POST request to the API convert API endpoint.

Method: POST

URI: https://v2.convertapi.com/convert/eml/to/pdf?Secret=yoursecretkeyfromconvertapi

Headers:

Key: Content-Type

Value: application/json

Body: You can generate this from the ConvertAPI site by uploading a .eml file on the site. Once this data is added to the HTTP action Body parameter change the Data parameter should be the Output of the previous action Compose – Convert to Base64

{
  "Parameters": [
    {
      "Name": "File",
      "FileValue": {
        "Name": "myemailfile.eml",
        "Data": "@{outputs('Compose_-_Convert_to_Base64')}"
      }
    }
  ]
}

Step 5: Add the action Parse JSON from the connector Data Operation. This step is to parse the response of the HTTP POST action to the ConverAPI endpoint. You can generate the scheme by copying from the Flow run history for the HTTP action output. The schema will be look like

{
    "type": "object",
    "properties": {
        "ConversionCost": {
            "type": "integer"
        },
        "Files": {
            "type": "array",
            "items": {
                "type": "object",
                "properties": {
                    "FileName": {
                        "type": "string"
                    },
                    "FileExt": {
                        "type": "string"
                    },
                    "FileSize": {
                        "type": "integer"
                    },
                    "FileData": {
                        "type": "string"
                    }
                },
                "required": [
                    "FileName",
                    "FileExt",
                    "FileSize",
                    "FileData"
                ]
            }
        }
    }
}

Step 6: Add the Compose action to convert the base64 data to binary to create the PDF from the HTTP request response. Select the filedata from the Output of the Parse JSON action which will automatically create a Apply to each since the Files is an array. Then add the following to the inputs of the of the compose action

base64toBinary(items(‘Apply_to_each’)?[‘FileData’]).

Now add the Create file action from the connector OneDrive for Business as shown below. The parameter File content should be output of the Compose action. PFB the screenshot of the flow actions

Now its time to test the flow, run the flow & check your OneDrive for the PDF file. PFB the screenshot of the PDF file with embedded image

Summary: I am not vouching to use the ConvertAPI service for converting the email to PDF. Just a sample for a use case where you get some knowledge on different actions usage & some information on the .eml file which Microsoft has used for storing email content. If its going to be heavily used or if the data is secure, then I advise you to create a REST API endpoint of your own hosted in Azure for the conversion. Hope you find this post useful & informational. Let me know if there is any comments or feedback by posting a comment below.

Actionable Outlook Message using Adaptive Card connected to SharePoint using Power Automate

Adaptive Cards a new way for developers to display & exchange content in a common and consistent way across different applications. It can be hosted on

  • Bot Framework Webchat
  • Cortona Skills
  • Outlook Actionable Messages
  • Windows Timeline
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Windows Notifications

SDKs (.NET, JavaScript, Android, React, iOS etc) are available for authoring & rendering cards inside your own apps. Microsoft has got a very great documentation on this. The schema explorer has got information about all the list of available Card elements, containers & actions sets to use. Adaptive card templating features which is now available in preview mode to help create, reuse & share the cards you develop & enable you to separate the data from the layout in an Adaptive card. There is also a plugin available called as Adaptive Card Viewer in Visual studio code for visualizing the card & a Team app called as App Studio.

Develop a card using the Adaptive Card Designer from the scratch or you can start with some available samples. Card Authors describe their content as a simple JSON object with the help of the designer which could then be rendered natively inside a Host Application as shown above, automatically adapting to the look and feel of the Host.

On this blog post, I am going to show you how to create an Outlook actionable message using a sample (Input Form) available in Adaptive card designer, this collects information (Name, Email) from the user & storing it in a SharePoint list using two flows. On submission of the form, a simple response message will be shown using a response Adaptive card. For the outlook version requirements for actionable message, click on this link. Find the flows to be created below

  1. Instant flow with the manual trigger for sending the adaptive card in an email
  2. Instant Flow using trigger When a Request is received for sending information to SharePoint list

Actionable messages can be via Email which I am focusing on this blog post or using connectors. Check here the supported scenarios via an Email.

Steps Involved to create actionable message via an Email:

  • Creating the Adaptive card for the host application (Outlook)
  • Creating the Flows

Let’s start with creating the card using the Adaptive Card designer

Adaptive Card Creation:

There is going to be two adaptive cards

  • First one is the initial form to be sent on email using the sample Input form
  • Second one is a response card which will be shown after the input form is submitted

First Adaptive Card:

Go the designer & click on Open Sample, select Input Form as shown below

Adaptive Card Designer

Then change the host app from the default Bot Framework Webchat to Outlook Actionable Messages. Remove the Phone number Text Block [Element] & the corresponding Text.Input [Inputs] field to keep it simple. Remove the Submit action set, add the action set of type Action.Http for us call the flow with method POST for us to interact with SharePoint

Update the following attributes of the just added element action set

  1. Rename the Title of the element to Submit from Action.Http
  2. Add the Id submit
  3. Change the Style to Positive from Default
  4. Select the Method to POST
  5. Url to be set to our second FLOW (When a Http request is received) HTTP POST url later once we have it ready with us
  6. Add the following to the Body
{
"inputName":"{{myName.value}}",
"inputEmail":"{{myEmail.value}}"
}
  1. Set the HTTP Headers
    • Click the Add New header, enter “Authorization” to Name and leave the Value blank. If this is not done, you will receive an HTTP 401 unauthorized message while clicking the button on the email. The HTTP request is received flow does not have any authentication its anonymous so be careful with the URL and have some steps to validate on the flow so check if its triggered from valid source
    • Add one more header, enter “Content-type” to Name and Value should be “application/json”. This is required to make the POST request from the email

The first card is ready, lets us go ahead and create the second one which is the response card. This will be shown once the response is submitted

Second Adaptive Card:

This is going to be a very simple card, lets start from the scratch. Go to the designer and select New Card

  1. Add a Container
  2. Add a TextBlock with text “Your Response has been submitted successfully” on the container

Click Copy Card JSON from ribbon for this card to be used on the flow. We now have the adaptive cards ready with us, let’s go ahead and the create the flows using Power Automate. Find the generated JSON below

{
  "type": "AdaptiveCard",
  "version": "1.0",
  "body": [
    {
      "type": "Container",
      "items": [
        {
          "type": "TextBlock",
          "text": "Your response has been submitted successfully",
          "id": "response text"
        }
      ]
    }
  ],
  "$schema": "http://adaptivecards.io/schemas/adaptive-card.json"
}

Instant Flow using trigger When a Request is received:

This flow is an Instant flow with trigger “When a HTTP request is received”, this is going to be called from email for submitting the Input form to a SharePoint list. Create a SharePoint list with two columns for us to store the Name and Email submitted from the adaptive card on email.Create the flow with the trigger as said above. The POST url will be generated after the flow is saved with an action. Click Generate from sample on the trigger and copy and paste below information which would automatically generate the schema for you. If you have more advanced JSON schema with, try using this tool.

{
	"inputName": "",
	"inputEmail": ""
}

Click Advanced options to select the method POST. Add the action create item to store the user form response to SharePoint list created above with the request body information mapped to Title (Name – inputName) & Email (inputEmail) using the dynamic content

Add the Compose action, paste the JSON of the second adaptive card to the Inputs.

Compose action

Add the Response action, a premium one with the header key CARD-UPDATE-IN-BODY and the value as true. The body parameter should be the outputs of the compose action JSON

Response Action – Premium Action

Save the flow, the POST url will now be generated copy it and go to the first adaptive card and paste it on the url attribute for the Submit action set. After this copy the JSON from ribbon, we are now ready for creating the next flow

Instant flow with the manual trigger for sending the Adaptive Card

This flow is an instant flow with trigger Manually Trigger a flow for sending the adaptive card an outlook actionable message in an Email. You can have a different type of trigger based on the requirement. Add the compose & send an email (v2) action, paste the JSON for the first adaptive card to the inputs field of compose action. Make sure JSON also has the POST Url of the first flow on the Action set. On the compose action, also include the script tags as given below

<script type=”application/adaptivecard+json”>

— JSON of First Adaptive Card—

</script>

<script type="application/adaptivecard+json">
{
    "$schema": "http://adaptivecards.io/schemas/adaptive-card.json",
    "type": "AdaptiveCard",
     "version": "1.0",
    "body": [
        {
            "type": "ColumnSet",
            "columns": [
                {
                    "type": "Column",
                    "width": 2,
                    "items": [
                        {
                            "type": "TextBlock",
                            "text": "Tell us about yourself",
                            "weight": "Bolder",
                            "size": "Medium"
                        },
                        {
                            "type": "TextBlock",
                            "text": "We just need a few more details to get you booked for the trip of a lifetime!",
                            "isSubtle": true,
                            "wrap": true
                        },
                        {
                            "type": "TextBlock",
                            "text": "Don't worry, we'll never share or sell your information.",
                            "isSubtle": true,
                            "wrap": true,
                            "size": "Small"
                        },
                        {
                            "type": "TextBlock",
                            "text": "Your name",
                            "wrap": true
                        },
                        {
                            "type": "Input.Text",
                            "id": "myName",
                            "placeholder": "Last, First"
                        },
                        {
                            "type": "TextBlock",
                            "text": "Your email",
                            "wrap": true
                        },
                        {
                            "type": "Input.Text",
                            "id": "myEmail",
                            "placeholder": "youremail@example.com",
                            "style": "Email"
                        }
                    ]
                },
                {
                    "type": "Column",
                    "width": 1,
                    "items": [
                        {
                            "type": "Image",
                            "url": "https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b2/Diver_Silhouette%2C_Great_Barrier_Reef.jpg",
                            "size": "auto"
                        }
                    ]
                }
            ]
        }
    ],
    "actions": [
        {
            "type": "Action.Http",
            "title": "Submit",
            "url": "HTTP POST FLOW URL",
            "id": "submit",
            "style": "positive",
            "method": "POST",
            "body": "{\"inputName\":\"{{myName.value}}\",\"inputEmail\":\"{{myEmail.value}}\"}",
            "headers": [
                {
                    "name": "Authorization",
                    "value": ""
                },
                {
                    "name": "Content-type",
                    "value": "application/json"
                }
            ]
        }
    ]
}
</script>
Instant Flow for sending the actionable message

On the Send an email (V2) action, click the html view and select the outputs of the compose JSON which has the first adaptive card JSON. The flow is ready, click the Test link on the right corner of your flow to trigger it. The email will be received to the sender as below

Email – Input for collection information (Name & Email)

Once the information is Submitted, you would see the response as below

Email response after the form is submitted

If you would like to test with the tenant or global users, then register your adaptive card actionable message on the Actionable Email Developer Dashboard to enable this service. Enter the Flow URL (HTTP Request response), scope & sender email address. For more information on the developer dashboard refer here. Regarding security of the actionable message, refer here.

New Provider Registration

Once your provider is approved. Add the Provider Id (originator) field to the originator attribute in your JSON of the adaptive cards next to the type key, as follows:

“originator”: “ProviderId”,

Summary: You now have an actionable message adaptive card on outlook for collecting information from users on email. It provides you more functionality than the available Out of the box actions Approvals or Emails with options. To know the future road map, click here to know. Hope you have enjoyed reading this post and find it useful. If you have any comments or feedback, please provide it on the comments section below.