Ways to Execute a Robotic Process

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

To extend automation, robotic processes can be triggered to execute automatically in multiple ways. 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:

Execute a robotic process in a process model

After you set up the connected system, call an RPA integration using the Execute Robotic Process smart service from your process model to execute synchronously. Synchronous execution is useful if you want to return data from the robotic process execution and use it in subsequent nodes in the same process model.

To execute a robotic process in Appian RPA asynchronously, you can call the integration using the Call Integration smart service. When the robotic process is executed asynchronously, the process model moves to the next node whether or not the robotic process is complete, and the results aren't automatically returned.

Execute a robotic process from an interface

You can adapt the Refresh Data After Executing a Smart Service recipe to execute a robotic process and retrieve results in an interface.

Note that this recipe needs some modification to work for this purpose. After you set up the connected system and integrations, you'll call the integration rules in this recipe. Specifically, for a robotic process to start when a user clicks a button, include that Execute Robotic Process integration rule in the saveInto property. Update the status local variable to reference the Retrieve Execution Results integration rule.

Execute a robotic process using a web API

While uncommon, Appian can operate in a "headless" state where an external user interface or website is used to collect or display data. In this scenario, you may find it useful to set up web APIs to communicate with Appian RPA.

To do this, you may need to create two web API objects to communicate with Appian RPA using integrations: to execute the robotic process and to retrieve the results.

The way you use these web APIs depends on the external system you're using to communicate with Appian RPA. In your external system, you'll need to add logic to periodically check whether the robotic process has completed to get the results. Alternatively, if your external system contains its own series of APIs that can be called directly from the robotic process, you may not need the second web API if you push results directly from the process itself.

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 separate 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.

Execute a robotic process manually in the Appian RPA Console

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 you click Execute 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, information written in the Execution log 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 with additional options.
  • 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:

2232569.png

Execution details

This screen contains all the information regarding an execution.

Information from the execution is presented in three tabs:

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 log tab shows the execution trace in detail. It is very useful information for both users and development teams when debugging a robotic process.

With the execution log, you can follow the robotic process's progress through its workflow. The log shows its activity, informational messages, exceptions, and errors. Developers can code robotic processes so they display information in the execution log at certain points in the execution.

Logging custom messages can be helpful, but be mindful of including potentially sensitive information. Appian RPA users with access to the robotic process will also be able to see execution logs. Never log personally identifiable information (PII), decrypted values, or passwords as plain text. More on securing data in Appian RPA.

Execution log benefits include:

  • Know what the robotic process is doing at a given time: Some tasks may take hours, so it is very helpful to easily check what the robotic process is working on.
  • Debugging, development, and maintenance: When you are developing your robotic process, you can include informational messages at different levels (trace, debug, info, warn, error, fatal) to 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.
  • Gather information about execution time for each workflow phase of the robot: The execution time logging enables 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.
  • Visualize the result of each item process: Though this guide goes deeper into the Appian RPA platform further, in just the Execution log, 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. At the end of the execution log, you will get a list of the items processed and their results (Ok or Warn). The list of items processed and its results will always be shown, even though the robot may have failed throwing an exception.

Results of processed items are color-coded in the execution log. At the top of this tab, you can see several types of log. Click an icon to toggle whether that log type is displayed.

2236370.png

Log types are shown below:

  • 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).

You'll also notice the following icons at the top of the execution log:

  • 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).
  • If video recording was enabled, access the video player and view the execution recording (2232600.png).
  • If video recording was enabled, download the video (2232598.png).

For longer execution logs, click View full trace to view more information.

Information about the agent status

At the beginning and the end of an execution, Appian RPA shows a summary with information about the agent, such as:

  • Version and the revision number of the agent.
  • Memory usage.
  • Available free disk space.
  • Resource permissions at the execution time.

Here's how this information is shown at the beginning of the execution:

2236636.png

The same information appears at the end of the execution, where the platform also shows the difference in the memory and disk usage after the robotic process ends:

2236494.png

In this example, after the robotic process ends, there is about 34MB more free memory, 16MB more reserved memory, and about 24MB less available disk space.

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