Executing a Robotic Process

This page describes the ways you can execute a robotic process.

Methods to execute a robotic process across Appian

To extend automation, robotic processes can be triggered automatically when scheduled or integrated within a process. The method you use to execute a robotic process depends on its purpose and context. Choose one of the following options that describes your use case:

Method Description
Appian RPA Console This manual method is best for developers while testing
Robotic Workforce Manager (RWM) This manual method is best for business users to initiate ad-hoc executions
Appian RPA connected system This integrated method is best for developers to integrate robotic processes into a business process. After you set up the connected system, call an integration from your process model.
Another robotic process This integrated method is for developers to leverage modular, reusable robotic processes

Execute via another robotic process

In the Appian RPA Console, the robotic process's workflow is defined using a series of actions. You can trigger a robotic process as an action in the workflow.

  1. In the Appian RPA Console, locate the parent robotic process. This is the robotic process that will trigger the second robotic process.
  2. Click the Robotic Process Configuration icon to open the configuration settings.
  3. In the Workflow section, add the action and place it in the workflow where you want to trigger the second robotic process.
  4. Click the action to select it, then click the list icon to associate a method or module.

    951645.png

  5. Within the Execution module group, select the Launch robot module.
  6. Enter the ID of the robotic process to execute.

    rpa-execute-module.png

    You can find the robotic process ID by going to the configuration page. The ID is a read-only value generated when you create the robotic process and can't be changed.

    rpa-name-vs-id.png

  7. Click OK to save your changes.

Manual robot execution

You can manually execute a robotic process within the Appian RPA Console. Open the robotic process's configuration and click the Execute icon. The Execute robotic process page appears:

rpa-execution-options.png

Before clicking on the Execute button rpa-execute-icon.png, you must fill in all required fields, defined on the Robot configuration menu.

If the robot has any restrictions to keep it from executing (new executions disabled, maximum number of simultaneous executions, etc.), a warning message will appear.

The top of the Execution options window contains the required input, such as instructions. For example, in the picture above, the input of the process is a ZIP file containing the PDF files to process.

Aside from instructions, the available options for an execution appear in the Advanced options section:

  • Resource: Select a resource among those the robot has permissions to execute. By default, the first available resource option will be selected. The robot will run on the first available resource for which it has permissions to run.
  • Priority: If desired, change the execution priority defined in the robot setup.
  • Queue: If the robot works with a process queue, assign it manually using this field.
  • Trace level: Depending on the trace level selected, the log to write in the Execution information will be higher or lower.
  • Description: Add a short description of the process (optional).
  • Executions to launch: Specify how many executions must be launched, making it easier to queue multiple executions.
  • Color: If desired, change the default color for the execution, defined in the robot setup.
  • Testing?: Specify that the execution is a test. This option will highlight this execution on the lists where executions are displayed.
  • Capture screenshots?: If selected, the robot captures the resource screen at the beginning and the end of each action.
  • step-by-step execution?: If selected, the robot will pause it execution in each action, requiring a user to interact to resume the execution.
  • Enable video recording?: Choose to record a video of the execution, specifying if we want a full record, if it must start since an amount of time measured since the beginning of until the end, as well as the number of frames per second.
  • Deferred execution?: Defer execution, as explained below.

Record an execution

To capture the robotic process execution in a video, select Enable video recording? in the list of execution options. Choose whether to capture the full recording or choose the minutes when the recording should start and end during execution. You can also specify a frame rate if you want a higher quality recording.

rpa-execute-recording.png

After the robotic process executes, you can find the video recording in the toolbar on the Execution details page.

rpa-execute-recording-2.png

Deferred execution

Deferred Execution lets you set the parameters of a manual execution and delay until a chosen time. If selected, two drop-down fields appear, where you can choose the day and time of the start of the execution:

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Execution details

This screen contains all the information regarding the selected execution.

The information from the execution is presented in three tabs:

  • Workflow
  • Results
  • Executions log

From the Execution details screen, you can also select icons in the toolbar to perform actions:

Go to resource From an execution, it can be very useful to go directly to resource detail page where the execution was launched.

To do so, click the Go to resource icon 2232572.png in the toolbar.

Re-execute You can launch a specific execution again, keeping the instructions and other input configuration as in the original. This can be useful when a specific resource was selected and the same will be selected in the re-execution.

To re-execute a robot, click on the Re-execute icon (2232570.png) in the toolbar.

Go to robotic process configuration You can also access the robot configuration page from the execution page, since is a common situation when you want to modify or check certain characteristics of the robot while you are developing it.

To access the robotic process configuration, click the Go to robotic process configuration 2232573.png icon in the toolbar.

Workflow

On this tab, you can find the information regarding the workflow related to the robot for the selected execution. Though the workflow may have been changed later, you will always see the version of the workflow here as it was at the time the execution was performed.

rpa-workflow.png

The items shown here are:

  • Workflow: including the different steps or actions that make up the process. It graphically represents the business process flow related to the robot.
  • Zoom icons: The icons 2232601.png allow you to zoom in or out on the workflow, while 2232594.png allow you to reset its size to a 100% view or to 1:1.
  • Sections selector: This menu allows you to select the different sections that make up the workflow. By changing this value, you can view the specific workflow corresponding to each section.

During a robot execution, the workflow will show the action being executed at that moment highlighted. As the robot is continuing its job, the rest of the action will be highlighted accordingly.

Results

On this tab, you will find all the information related to the results of the selected execution.

2232648.png

The information available here is as follows:

  • Execution cycle by item: Divided into sections representing each processed item. The color of each section represents the result of each item (green for OK and yellow for Warnings). Bellow, you can see the execution time (Duration), the average time for each item (By items) and the estimated execution time for all items to be processed (ETC). When the robot is running, you will also see the identifier of the item being processed (for example, if payrolls are being processed, you could show an identifier for each employee).
  • Results by item: You can find here the result of the processed items using a color pattern, as shown below:
    • Green: successfully processed.
    • Yellow: some fault has been detected during the execution.
  • Summary: In this section, you can find a summary of all processed items during the execution. It uses the same color pattern as the results section, to identify the items that have been successfully processed or those that have defects. The information shown for each item is:
    • Result: Result and subresult separated by colon (:).
    • Duration: Time took to process it.
    • Index.
    • Item key.
    • Detail: Detail added to the result.
    • Poperties: Item properties.
  • Results: It shows global results from a functional point of view. This information is meant to be extracted easily from external systems. Besides the main result of an item (OK or WARN), it will appear, if exists, the result categorization. An example of this categorization would be to be able to differentiate two types of warnings: one because of a functional validation and another due to technical problems in a specific application.
  • Sub-results description: Categorized information about the items results previously defined in the robot configuration.
  • Instructions: The values of the entry parameters used for this execution can be checked here.

Execution log

The execution trace, or robot's debugging log, is shown here in detail. It is very useful information for both users and development teams.

With the execution log, it is possible to follow the robot's progress through its workflow. It also shows its activity log, informational messages, exceptions and errors. Within the robot's design, you can include information that will be displayed in the execution log. Bellow you can find some of the benefits provided by the execution log:

  • It allows you to know what the robot is doing at any given time. Some tasks may take hours and it is very helpful to easily check what your robot is doing.
  • It helps you with the debugging, development and maintenance. When you are developing your robot, you can include informational messages at different levels (trace, debug, info, warn, error, fatal) that will be displayed in the execution log. Appian RPA uses the interface log of Apache Commons Logging, package org.apache.commons.logging. These messages can be useful in the future to analyze the executions of a robot.
  • You can gather information about execution time for each workflow phase of the robot, thus enabling you to assess its performance to improve it. Apart from the global execution time, it also provides the average process time for each item, the estimated time left to complete the task, etc.
  • You can visualize the result of each item process. Though this guide goes deeper into the item concept in the Appian RPA platform further, for now you can see an item as an element to be processed by your robot, and whose process will end with a specific result. Its nature will depend on the task to be performed. When your robot processes an item, the result may be: Ok or Warn. At the end of the execution log, you will get a list of the items processed and their results. The list of items processed and its results will always be shown, even though the robot may have failed throwing an exception.

2236370.png

The results of processed items are highlighted in color in this log.

At the top of this tab, you can see several types of log, which can be enabled or disabled by clicking on each icon. This way, we can focus only on one of them. The available types are shown below, grouped by its nature:

  • Logs from the platform:
    • Statistics (2236395.png).
    • Dump contribution (2236396.png).
    • File (2236397.png).
    • Screenshots (2236398.png).
  • Log trace level:
    • OK (2236399.png).
    • Warnings (2236400.png).
    • Trace (2236401.png).
    • Debug (2236402.png).
    • Info (2236403.png).
    • Error (2236404.png).
    • Fatal (2236405.png).

Besides, in the right-hand side there are icons to:

  • See the full trace (2236367.png).
  • Go to the beginning of the log trace (2236366.png).
  • Download the full trace (2236368.png).
  • During the execution, we can make the scroll to pause or resume (2236373.png).

When the option for video recording has been enabled, you will find this icon 2232600.png in the upper right-hand corner that will allow you to access the video player and view the execution recording. You can also find the icon 2232598.png that will allow you to download the video. Both options are only available if the user has appropriate permissions.

When an execution log is very long, the final part of the log will be loaded, being able to load the full trace by clicking on View full trace.

Information about the agent status

At the beginning and the end of an execution, Appian RPA will show a summary with information about the agent, such us:

  • The version and the revision number of the agent.
  • The memory usage.
  • The available free disk space.
  • The resource permissions at the execution time.

In the following image we can see this information at the beginning of the execution:

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Here, we can see the same information at the end of the execution, where the platform shows also a calculation about the difference between the memory and disk usage after the robot ends:

2236494.png

In this example, we can see that, after the robot ends, there are about 34Mb more of free memory, 16Mb more of reserved memory and about 24Mb less of available disk space.

Execute an example robot

To run our robot, we have already seen that we need to deploy our Java code to the Maven repository specified for robot deployment. This way, it will be available for being managed from the console and the Appian RPA Agent that is running on the resource.

Remember that to deploy our robot we will execute this Maven command:

mvn clean deploy

Once this is done, we can check the robot setup on the console and that the workflow corresponds with the code. We can do this by checking if we have all the methods that we have developed for each action in the workflow (see Technical data).

By clicking on the button Start the Execution 951666.png from the menu Robots on the console, the agent will download the robot and its dependencies on the resource and start the execution.

There are different ways to launch a robot.

There are two groups of execution options:

  • Execution options that are common to all robots.
  • Executions options that are specific for each robot.

In the case of our example robot, it is not needed to fill any of the execution options, therefore it is enough to click on the execution button.

Common execution options

On the form that precedes the launching, we can specify several execution options:

  • Description: free text to provide additional information about the execution.
  • Color: to pick the color that will be used in the Schedule tab of the Console.
  • Screenshots?: checkbox to indicate that we want to take screen shots on the resource during the robot execution. Images will be taken each time:
    • An intelligent pause is performed.
    • An activity execution ends.
  • Step by step execution?: checkbox to make the execution stops before the beginning of each workflow action. This involves that the user must run the robot manually.
  • Video recording?: checkbox to record a video of the robot execution.

rpa-execution-options-2.png

If we enable the video recording, some specific data will be required:

  • Make a full execution recording?: checkbox to specify that we want the robot's full execution to be recorded.
  • Frame rate: number of frames per second.
  • Minutes from start: time in minutes from the beginning of the robot execution that we want to record, so that an initial segment of the execution will be recorded.
  • Minutes from end: time in minutes before the end of the robot execution from which we want to record, so that a final segment of the execution will be recorded.

rpa-execution-video-options.png

Specific execution options

Specific execution options are determined by the instructions included in the robot settings. Instructions require input data each time the robot is launched from the console. The are options Text, Password, Combo, Boolean, and File, and executions options appear differently for each one.

More on instructions.

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