Managing RPA Import Customization Files

Deploying a robotic process between environments is an essential piece of the development lifecycle. During testing, the robotic process might access other testing environments so it doesn't manipulate production data or interact with live systems. Developers use environmental variables and other values in the code to configure the robotic process. Appian RPA uses a customization file to help you update these values quickly and easily when deploying to another environment.

This page describes how to create, manage, and maintain an Appian RPA customization file. The file is closely related to Import Customization files you might be used to work with during standard Appian application deployment. You might see some of the guidance repeated here.

Import customization

You can change the values of certain variables or components of a robotic process during deployment with an Import Customization file. Use the import customization file for values that vary between environments or that are not exported for security reasons, such as credentials.

An import customization file is generated only for robotic processes that use environmental variables or credentials.

The import customization .properties file is generated when you export the robotic process in the Appian RPA Console. This file lists all the values that can be configured for the applicable variable or settings (they are commented out by default). You'll edit the file with the values needed in the target environment, then upload the file during import.

An example customization file contains the following:

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## Instructions
##
## All of the properties in this file are commented out; they have a pound
## symbol at the start of each line that renders them inert.
##
## Instructions and headings are marked with two preceding pound
## symbols (##).
##
## On import, all commented-out properties are ignored, and the
## corresponding values in the destination environment remain
## unchanged.
##
## To set or change a property on import using this file,
## uncomment the property by removing the pound symbol from the start
## of its line. Then enter a value for the property after the equals
## sign (=) at the end of that import customization file.
##
## If you uncomment a property, but provide no value, the value of
## that property will be set to null in the destination environment.
## Properties that correspond to admin console settings and require a value
## will be set to their default value instead of being set to null. Default
## values of settings may be different between versions of Appian.
##
## Note: Never remove the double pound symbols (##) in front of instructions
## and headings.

## RPA Robotic Process: My-Bot
##
## The robotic process contains environment variables that will be
## imported. These values will be displayed in Appian exactly as they are
## specified here. No spaces are trimmed. Values do not need to be
## encased in quotation marks.
#roboticProcess.5e57d945e4b0a9e8b0d53802.envVar.devurl=https://www.appiandev.com

## Credential Application: Outlook
##
## Text values will be displayed in Appian exactly as they are
## specified here. No spaces are trimmed. Values do not need to be
## encased in quotation marks.
#credential.9r73io234blj23jb5bhli3670.username=outlookuser
#credential.9r73io234blj23jb5bhli3670.password=

The example above uses the following formats:

Environment variables:

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roboticProcess.<robot-uuid>.envVar.<variable name>

Credentials:

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credential.<credential-uuid>.username
credential.<credential-uuid>.password

The following rules apply to how an import customization file is read and values are set:

  • Lines with a # are ignored.
  • Lines that reference a setting or object that cannot use import customization or is not in the import package will be ignored.
  • The value will be set to whatever is specified between the = character and the next line break, including any whitespace.
  • If you uncomment a line in the import customization file for a valid property but do not put anything on that line, the value will be set to null.

Managing multiple files

Since robotic processes are exported separately, they will generate separate import customization files. Appian recommends that you have a single import customization file for each environment in your deployment pipeline. This way, all the environment-specific values for environmental variables and credentials can be managed in one place. These main files should be named according to the environment they are intended for and should be version controlled in your system. The deployment manager will need to keep the values and files in sync when values are changed or new environment specific values are introduced.

When you import a robotic process to the target environment, you can upload the main customization file with it. Variables that don't apply to the robotic process are ignored.

Importing values for the first time

As mentioned above, all environment-specific values for a single environment should be stored in their own main import customization file for that particular environment. Whenever introducing new values that will require import customization, add the generated lines for these into the single main file for each environment with the applicable values.

During import, only the values that reference a setting or environment-specific variable that are in the current import package will be used. This allows you to continue to use the same main import customization file for every import (new robotic processes or updates to existing ones) on that environment since the non-applicable values will be ignored.

The basic steps for importing values set by import customization are:

  1. Export your robotic process from Appian RPA and download the generated import customization file.
  2. Uncomment the lines in the file and fill out the values for the current environment.
    • For environmental variables, the default values from the source environment are already populated, and can be modified for the current environment.
    • For credentials, you'll need to add the password to the file manually.
  3. Save the changes in the main import customization file.
    • If you already have a main import customization file for each environment, then you only need to add the new lines and values to the existing files.
    • If this is the first time you're using the import customization file in this Appian RPA environment, save this file and store it as the main import customization file for your current environment.
  4. Make a copy of this file for every environment in your deployment pipeline and update each of those files to have the corresponding values for that environment. It's likely that some of these values will need to be provided to you by the developers.
  5. Import your robotic process package and the environment's import customization file together from the Import Robotic Process dialog in the Appian RPA Console.
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