Introducing Flow Designer

The information in this article is the intellectual property of xMatters and is intended only for use with xMatters products by xMatters customers and their employees. Further, this intellectual property is proprietary and must not be reused or resold.

xMatters is proud to introduce a game-changer for incident management: Flow Designer! A stunningly simple, visual workflow builder that’s as easy as drag, drop, and done.

Modern IT teams need to manage the complexity of synchronizing data, tools, and people at the speed of customer demand. From minor issues to the largest of customer-facing incidents, problems need to be addressed efficiently. With Flow Designer, any authorized user can automate resolution with the simplicity of an elegant drag-and-drop experience.

Join us on a tour through the key features in Flow Designer and see the latest innovation from xMatters – one that promises to revolutionize the way you integrate, synchronize, and automate toolchains.

First, a little history…

The last major addition to our integration platform, the Integration Builder, introduced the ability for integrators to create automated, closed-loop, cloud-to-cloud integrations between xMatters and other products or systems. It allowed integrations to be created, customized, and deployed from within the xMatters user interface – creating one-stop shopping for building your communication processes and toolchains.

Next we added the xMatters Agent, which allowed users to process Integration Builder scripts behind their company’s firewall, letting them trigger events in xMatters with enriched information from local network resources.

Then we made it easier for clients to install integrations with our Integration Directory, a new mechanism for pre-configuring many of our most popular integrations to help get events into xMatters.

So, why Flow Designer?

The greatest power of xMatters is its ability to chain your tools together. Sure, being able to reply to a push message and automatically assign yourself a help desk ticket is pretty cool, but we've long been proponents of having that response do so much more.

To truly drive incident resolution and reach the pinnacle of digital service availability, you need to consider the next steps: what happens after someone receives an initial event? What do they do during the first triage steps? How do they perform their incident management activities?

We've always known that xMatters can streamline, enhance, and automate those processes. Clients with the necessary resources and expertise have been able to harness the power of the Integration Builder to design and implement toolchains linking their processes and applications.

But, it hasn't been something we've seen across our client base. The Integration Builder requires a certain level of coding acumen – the integrations rely on scripts to process requests, and scripts often need to be modified or tweaked to meet different customer requirements. We want to make sure that it's easy to design and create these workflows and that any client can do it (including our xMatters Free customers).

Flow Designer offers:

  • Codeless design with built-in steps for the most requested apps to flatten the learning curve for integrated toolchains.
  • A visual designer for at-a-glance analysis of workflows that lets you focus on incident response orchestration.
  • Enhancement of your existing communication plans to extend your current process.
  • A toolkit for building custom steps to support any business process.

With Flow Designer, simply drag the steps you need to create a toolchain into place, connect them together, and let it rip!

Let’s see it in action!

Less talk, more action, right? With Flow Designer it's all about action!


Flow Designer has three main components (highlighted above):

  1. Canvas - a large central area to build your flows.
  2. Palette - a sidebar that holds steps you can use in your flows.
  3. Activity - a panel you can expand to check on the runtime state of your flows.

To build a toolchain, simply drag the system activity that will start your flow (the "trigger") and the steps for applications that you're targeting from the palette to the canvas (click images to embigify):


Connect your steps in the order you want information to flow:


Specify the information that's passed between each step and any authentication details required to communicate with your other systems:


And, you don't have to set each and every input: any information in the flow is available to all of your downstream steps, including any of the outputs from steps in your flow. Don't need the detailed event summary when creating the chat channel? No problem – just grab it when you're ready to post it to the ticket. Want to name your chat channel with the new incident ticket you just created? Take the incident ID from your "Create Incident" step and feed it into your "Create Channel" step.

Finally, test your flow! With Flow Designer's visual representation of your toolchain and the Activity panel, it's fast and easy to identify where and how to fix configuration issues with your flow:


In the example above, we created a toolchain to help resolve a major incident by turning a user's response into a ServiceNow ticket, then creating a Slack channel and posting relevant details about the event to the channel to help our incident resolution team. We did that in just a matter of minutes – and without a single line of code!

Let's get fancy

If, then... say what? You don't need to know how to code conditional statements to create complex workflows that branch based on incident details. Want to post a notice to a status page, but only if the incident is customer-facing? Flow Designer includes a built-in Switch step that you can use to easily branch your flow based on the value of a property:


What about my existing integrations?

The introduction of Flow Designer doesn't affect the functionality of your existing integrations, and you'll find them all in the same place as they were before. You'll also now see your outbound integrations as triggers on the canvas when you open Flow Designer for one of your existing communication plans:


What's really cool about this is that you can then use Flow Designer to extend these integrations – just connect additional steps to your outbound triggers:


Something for everyone, novice to ninja

The initial release of Flow Designer, with its codeless drag-and-drop functionality, makes it easy for anyone to set up a toolchain that performs common actions in the most-requested incident management applications. And this is just the beginning: over time we'll be adding more apps, more tools, and more ways for you to enhance your toolchains with ease.

If you've got some technical chops and want to use Flow Designer to take your toolchains to the next level right now, you certainly can. We've included the ability for you to create your own Custom steps, where you can use your coding abilities to connect with any tool or perform any action that you can dream up.

Custom steps are easy to build – simply define the inputs and outputs for your step and the logic you'd like to run. Once you're done, anybody can use your step with the same drag-and-drop ease as built-in steps:



Alright, alright! Now for the answer to the most important question – when can you get your hands on Flow Designer?

Come to the launch!

We'll be officially launching Flow Designer at Google Cloud Next in San Francisco on April 9. If you're at the conference or in the area, we'd love for you to come by and say hi!

Here are the dates you need to know:

  • Non-production environment access: April 2
  • Production environment access: April 9 - and we're live!

Flow Designer is now available in all production environments!

We're excited to see what you make with it! Join us in the community and share your experience.
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