Appian Release Notes

Automation

Appian workflows bring together humans, robots, and artificial intelligence to empower your organization to work faster, smarter, and better. In 20.4, we've made it even easier to get started on your automation journey with great enhancements to Appian RPA and our document extraction capabilities.

Appian RPA

Appian RPA features more than just the intersection of intelligence and automation; it also showcases Appian's characteristic, low-code design speed. This release features a host of improvements that will enable you to rapidly build powerful automations to help you orchestrate actions across users, robots, systems, and artificial intelligence.

Build powerful web automations using low-code

Many robotic processes need to interact with web applications: scraping read-only data, entering data into input fields, and clicking links or buttons. However, using the browser development tools to figure out the best way to interact with the web page can be hard. Many web developers turn to recording tools to make it easy to access the metadata of the components they need to interact with.

Appian RPA now makes it easy to automate all kinds of web applications by expanding our low-code capabilities to support a wider variety of components and more common functionality. This means that many web automations can be built without writing any Java code at all.

Import workflows from Selenium scripts

When creating a new section within your workflow, you now have the option to upload a Selenium script. Appian will generate the workflow for you, and all of the generated actions will be pre-configured with information from the script. All you have to do is hook it up to the data in your robotic process. It's that simple.

See here for more information about what Selenium commands are supported and how they get mapped to our low-code browser actions.

Interact with Element

This new action makes it easy to interact with many different kinds of basic components on your web page, including text, dropdowns, checkboxes, links, and more. After importing a script to pre-populate the selector that describes how to find the component, choose a configuration that lets you easily customize how long to wait for that component, what should be considered a failure, and whether or not to take a screenshot.

Get Attribute

This new action expands our scraping capabilities to allow you to get any kind of metadata from a component on the web page. In addition to the text value of a component, you can extract other types of data including a link URL, an image file source URL, and even the component's class name. This makes it easy to get whatever kind of data you need from the web page, regardless of how it's built.

Wait for Attribute

This action replaces the Wait for value action, expanding the capabilities to cover any number of attributes rather than limiting it to just the value attribute. By checking to see if a particular component is in the expected state, you can use this feature to ensure that the web page is in the state you expect before continuing in your robotic process. If that component doesn't exist or doesn't have the expected attribute after the waiting period, your process will fail since the necessary data isn't available.

Simplified variable management

Building robotic workflows is simpler and faster with enhanced variable management in the RPA console. Your applications can take full advantage of these new capabilities by seamlessly passing data to and from your robots. Developers can declare variables of any Appian type, set them as parameters to accept data from a process model, and reference these variables in robotic actions. You now have the ability to save information returned from actions into a variable, which allows you to configure complex automations without needing to write any code.

Create powerful expressions in RPA

Complex automations require decisions and flexibility. In 20.4, your robots can execute Appian expressions using the same decisions, expression, and integration rules already present in your applications. Whether writing an expression as an action input or using an expression to make a decision, designers will utilize the Appian expression editor, giving them full access to styling and autosuggest, in order to quickly build an automation.

Document extraction

Appian's intelligent document extraction capabilities use the power of artificial intelligence and computer vision to pull actionable details from your documents that can save time and improve business outcomes. This release introduces more capabilities, including more options to process certain types of documents natively in Appian.

Pull data directly from documents

You can now easily pull data from your documents without ever sending them to third-party cloud services. If your business requires you to keep data within Appian, you have the option to choose Appian to process the documents. Compare Appian's built-in extraction capabilities and Google's to decide when to use each.

Natively extract text from searchable PDFs

Appian can quickly and easily extract information present in PDFs without having to send it to Google's Document AI service. Appian can extract text from PDFs with an existing digital data layer, from previous processing, or when saved from a word processor. After extraction, you can programmatically highlight, copy, search, and access the content. Using positional logic, you can automatically extract information. When you need to perform manual extractions, simply use the snipping tool in the Reconcile interface.

Extract more data from PDFs with fillable forms

Appian's built-in capabilities can now extract more information from PDFs with fillable forms. Previously, the Reconcile interface could only map information in fillable text fields. Now, you can map fillable checkboxes too, as well as use the selection tool to extract text that is outside of the fillable fields.

Higher document throughput with Google

Document extraction with Google can now handle even more documents! We've upgraded to Google's latest batch APIs, which provide better throughput even when you're handling a large influx of documents. There's nothing new for your users to learn because Appian manages it all for you behind the scenes.

Build with low code

Appian Records

Improved data sync for Appian Records

In 20.3, we introduced data sync for Appian Records–a new capability that allows you to cache external data in Appian for improved performance. In this release, we've expanded this capability in both scope and power.

Easily sync data from integrations

We understand that the data landscape for a business is spread across a variety of different systems and technologies, and they are not equal in speed-of-access. So we've expanded the available sources for data sync to include integrations. This means you can now cache data from other systems/web services to enjoy the performance benefits of local data.

And, more than just performance, you'll appreciate a simpler design experience as well; once you enable sync for your integration source, you can enjoy all the benefits of working with record data in Appian, like populating new chart or grid components, without any additional configurations needed to support paging, sorting, or filtering.

Immediate sync for tables and Salesforce

In addition to the daily sync, in this release we've added an automatic, immediate sync for anytime Appian writes to your record type source (when that source is a database table or Salesforce). This means that if Appian writes to the source using the Write to Data Store Entity Smart Service, or to Salesforce via an Integration, Appian will immediately sync those changes, and only those changes. While we won't immediately sync changes to the source that are made by other systems, if Appian is the only system writing to that source, you'll get the performance benefits of data sync while still working with fresh data.

Sync 100,000 rows of source data in Appian

In 20.3, the data sync supported syncing data from sources with 50,000 rows or fewer. In 20.4, that limit has been doubled to support 100,000 rows.

Simple chart design using records

Chart design is now much easier and faster using a record type as the source! Developers can directly reference entity-backed or synced record data on all chart types without creating a query. This new design experience allows you to quickly select which fields to group by or which calculations to perform. It's also much easier to update the data labels displayed on a chart. You can trim or filter text, define a format to display dates or numbers, and pull in reference data to provide a more detailed label if necessary.

Improved monitoring for synced records

The Record Sync Status tab in the Monitoring View now provides users with all the information they need to easily identify and troubleshoot issues when updating synced records through Appian

In addition, developers now have the ability to monitor synced records on a remote environment.

Easily resolve schema mismatches

If you have a record that uses a database table or Salesforce object as the source, you will occasionally need to make a change to the schema of that table or object. Appian makes it easy to keep your record fields mapped to the right source fields so that you can continue to seamlessly use the record type in your application.

Whenever there is a schema mismatch between the record type and its source, the record design experience will alert you of the mismatch and prompt you to re-map the affected record fields.

You can also use this mapping feature if you need to change the database table or Salesforce object that is used as the source of your record. As long as the new data source contains the same tables, you can keep your record fields without needing to update other design objects.

UI power

We're giving you more power and flexibility to create UIs that your users will love. This release introduces adaptive UI capabilities, new record action component styles, a signature field component, text on stamps, configurable button widths, and more!

Responsive UIs optimized for all devices

Appian now makes it even easier to design responsive interfaces with the new isPageWidth() function. This function can be used like the isNativePhone/Tablet() functions to adjust your components and layouts based on the page width. Use this function to create UIs optimized for different page widths across web browser, mobile browser, and the mobile app. This function, along with the existing stack when parameter, will allow you to design responsive interfaces for screens from small phones to large desktops. Check out the Responsive Design guidelines to get started.

Configure behavior for Appian for mobile service users

The new a!isNativeMobile() function provides a simple way to determine if an interface is being viewed on the Appian for Mobile Devices application. This function returns true for the mobile app and false for mobile/web browsers so it's perfect for cases where you need to define component behavior based on whether or not users are on the mobile app. For example, you might use a!isNativeMobile() to check for users who are not using the Appian for Mobile Devices app and show them a link to download and install the application.

The new a!isPageWidth() function in conjunction with a!isNativeMobile() should be used in place of the deprecated a!isNativePhone/Tablet() functions. The a!isPageWidth() function lets you create responsive UIs optimized for different page widths on any device, providing a simplified experience to define behavior such as component resizing or visibility. The a!isNativeMobile() function is a more efficient way to configure mobile app specific behavior with a single function.

New record action component menu styles

We added two new dropdown styles to the record action component. These styles will allow you to show many actions in a small amount of space and are perfect for using in grids or dense interfaces.

Signature component

In this release, there is a new out-of-the-box component to capture signatures on web and mobile. If your process requires a signature, now it is easier than ever to add this capability and have a consistent experience across both web and mobile devices.

Button width

This feature lets you configure button widths on your interface for web and mobile. For example, now button widths can take up 100% of their container. Alternatively, buttons widths on mobile can be dependent on the text inside rather than always filling the screen width.

Stamp text

We've enhanced the Stamp component to take text, icons on a circular background, or both. This feature can be used to supplement design on pages where you have numerical steps, section headers, milestones, activity history, forms, and much more. Rather than making custom images, try out the stamp!

Card shadow

To create a more modern look for visually enhanced UIs, you can now add an outer shadow to cards. Use this feature to create cards that subtly stand out.

More interface patterns

We're committed to providing interface examples for you to work with every release. Check out the new patterns in Interface Designer to get inspiration for your next interface.

Charts show with transparent background

Charts will now inherit the background color of cards to match the styling of your interface. Micro-sized charts display well in colored KPI style cards, and full page dashboards look great with subtle colors. No configuration is required!

Show percentages on stacked bar and column charts

We've added a new stacking style that automatically calculates the percentage of all data points within each series. Use the percent to total stacking to easily demonstrate the contribution of each category to the whole.

Integration

Use OpenAPI to easily share web API documentation

The OpenAPI specification defines a standard which allows both humans and computers to discover and understand the web APIs available to them. These files can even be consumed in order to automatically configure the client being used to call Appian.

Now, you can export an OpenAPI definition file to describe the web APIs in an Appian application. This makes it easier than ever to share web API documentation with the teams that integrate with them!

Process modeler enhancements

Modern expression editing in the Process Modeler

The process modeler expression editor is getting an upgrade! Now enjoy the same capabilities you know and love from working with expressions in expression rules in the process modeler. Use keyboard shortcuts to quickly edit and navigate your expressions. As you type, the editor suggests functions, rules, constants, keywords, data types, or variables that match what you've entered.

Improved language support in the Process Modeler

In 20.3, we added better language support for process node labels and instructions. In this release, we now show the menu bar, process model toolbar, context menus, process model properties, and all node configurations in the developer's preferred language, as selected in User Settings. This improvement continues Appian's investments in supporting our global community of application developers.

Easier handling of custom data in process models

In 20.3, the map data type is Appian's new and convenient way to represent data in your application. In this release, we're allowing it to be used as a process variable, which will allow you to pass ad hoc data between process nodes without the need for a CDT.

Streamlining development

New design recommendations for data types and process models

In 20.2, we introduced the first design-time recommendations for data types to provide developers with live feedback about risky design patterns. In this release, we've added new Appian recommendations for both data types and process models. Now, Appian will alert you during development about designs that might cause issues further down the line. For example, you'll receive an alert if a data type linked to a data store is missing a primary key or if subprocess variables in a process model pass custom data types by reference. See the full list of possible recommendations here.

In data types, look out for the lightbulb icon near the Save Changes button and click it to get instant feedback about your design decisions. In the process modeler, find our new recommendations in the validation pane.

Create constants from expression editor

Have you ever been working on an interface or expression rule and suddenly realized you need a new constant? Now you can easily create constants without losing your flow. We've added a new Create Constant button and shortcut to the expression editor toolbar, so that you can quickly create constants in-line while writing your expressions. If you prefer to keep typing, you can also enter the name of your new constant and Ctrl+Click/⌘+Click on the name to create it.

Simplified object duplication

You can now duplicate interfaces, expression rules, integrations, and decisions as you develop. While viewing any of these objects, simply select Duplicate from the Settings menu and specify the name and the description of your new object.

Do you already know which object you want to duplicate without opening it? In the Application Contents view, you can now select any supported object and click Duplicate in the toolbar.

View local variable values in expression rules

In 20.1, we introduced the ability to view local variable values while building interfaces, which allowed you to debug issues faster and build interfaces more efficiently. Now we are bringing the same insights into your local variables while writing expression rules, which will make it much easier to utilize the power of local variables in your expressions.

Deploy & monitor applications

Centralized monitoring with the Health Dashboard

We're excited to introduce the Health Dashboard, a new tab available under the Monitoring view. This dashboard displays KPIs on runtime metrics, such as process activity and record response times, and shows them side-by-side with object design recommendations in a single, centralized view. At the application level, it also highlights security warnings, rule test health, and unreferenced objects, so you can more easily maintain your applications.

As the central home for object recommendations, the Health Dashboard is a great starting point for a team lead or architect review. Now you can easily filter to find objects with active recommendations and address them as part of code reviews or a pre-deployment checklist.

Impact analysis for plug-ins

In 20.3, we released a preview version of impact analysis for plug-ins. We're happy to announce the feature is now out of preview, and you can trace plug-in dependents to make informed decisions about plug-in changes in your environments!

In the compare and deploy wizard, we've made it easier for you to review and select plug-ins by defaulting to show the plug-ins referenced by your package. In addition, system administrators can gauge the impact on related design objects before choosing to delete a plug-in.

Track direct deployment progress across environments

The deployment details view now has more auditing information as well as a sleeker layout. The lifecycle of a deployment spans across multiple environments, making it key to have visibility and insight along the way. As you deploy your existing package to higher environments, we'll track its status on each connected environment within the deployment details. We've centralized the critical information and actions relevant to your deployment, so it's easier to find what you need.

Smarter conflict detection

We've improved the comparison of objects across environments. In addition to version histories for expression rules, interfaces, and decisions, now Appian will compare object definitions. Completely identical object definitions will now result in a Not Changed status even if their version histories are different, providing you with a clearer picture of your deployment.

Platform improvements

Optimized process execution

When a process executes, it leaves an audit trail of who executed each node, when changes are made as part of the process, and what data values have changed. Now, that process history no longer takes up memory in the process execution engines! Additionally, we've removed the limit of the number of values in a list that will be recorded in process history.

Restrict photo upload

You can now prevent users from uploading a profile or cover photo through a setting in the administration console. This is useful for mitigating security concerns like users uploading personally identifiable photos.

Support for Windows Server 2019

We want to make sure everyone is able to leverage the latest technologies, so for customers interested in using Windows Server 2019, we've certified our platform for use on this operating system

Appian Cloud

High Availability is now supported in the Sao Paulo region

Appian Cloud now supports High Availability (HA) configuration in sites hosted in the Sao Paulo region. The Appian Cloud HA configuration is designed for mission critical applications and incorporates fault-tolerance in every layer of the architecture with guaranteed Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO).

For more information on this feature, please see High Availability for Appian Cloud. Customers who wish to enable HA in their Cloud site should contact their Account Executive for pricing details.

Read-only VPN configurations on Insights

The Cloud team is excited to announce that all Appian Cloud customers can now view VPN configuration details, from their Appian Cloud environments to their external resources, through the Appian Insights site on Forum. Not only does this increase transparency for our customers, it also serves as the first step towards giving customers the power to set-up and update their VPN configurations directly in the future.

VPN configuration details can be accessed under the "Health" tab -> "Cloud Resources" -> "Connectivity" -> "VPN Configuration Details" or by clicking this link https://forum.appian.com/suite/sites/insights/page/health/report/me-Yww.

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Additional log file in Log Streaming

Appian Cloud Log Streaming now supports an additional log: Sites Usage Metrics. Premier Support Customers will start receiving the additional logs upon upgrade. For more detail, please view the Log Streaming documentation.

Appian Cloud now supports access to Enhanced Data Pipeline using AWS PrivateLink. Enhanced Data Pipeline allows customers to connect directly to their Cloud business datasource to utilize their own data management tools. In the past, this required configuring a VPN. However, customers can now choose to connect using AWS PrivateLink.

Using AWS PrivateLink allows customers to simplify the configuration and management of the Enhanced Data Pipeline integration with their own AWS VPC.

This feature is available to Appian Cloud customers enrolled in Appian Premier Support.

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Data loss prevention

To improve insider threat security monitoring, Appian Cloud added Data Loss Prevention. This feature is available exclusively to Premier Plus Support customers.

Data-at-rest encryption with Appian Cloud database

Appian Cloud Premier and Premier Plus customers now have a new option, which provides enhanced security when using Appian's Bring-Your-Own-Key functionality with AWS Key Management Service. Customers can now choose to enable data-at-rest encryption on specific tables or their entire database in Appian Cloud. This data can be accessed only through authenticated SQL queries. Thus, customers will receive an additional layer of protection on top of disk encryption provided by Appian Cloud. To learn more, visit Appian Cloud Database Encryption page.

Seamless user experience during system failover

The Cloud High Availability configuration included with Premier and Premier Plus Support is now even more resilient to failures. When a failure event occurs on the application server of a site operating in a High Availability configuration, users on the affected node will remain signed in and will be able to continue their work with minimal interruption. Previously, they would be forced to sign back in and navigate back to where they were to continue working.

Resolved issues

  • AN-167763 - Medium
    Improved the performance of Health Check for sites with thousands of active process instances.
  • AN-167558 - Low
    When creating a new process model via duplication, the process display name is now populated based on the new model's name.

Web accessibility enhancements

Appian is committed to meeting accessibility standards. With this release, we have made a number of updates to improve our WCAG 2.1 compliance.

  • AN-164487 - Low
    Tempo is now responsive to meet the new 1.4.10 Reflow criteria.
  • AN-165195 - Low
    Radio buttons and checkboxes now have a more prominent focus style to meet the 1.4.11 Non-Text Contrast criteria.
  • AN-155917 - Low
    Icons in Tempo now use darker colors to meet the 1.4.11 Non-Text Contrast criteria.
  • AN-165067 - Low
    Tooltips now meet the new 1.4.13 Content on Hover or Focus criteria.
  • AN-164494 - Low
    Record search now meets the new 4.1.3 Status Messages criteria

Deprecations

The feature below is deprecated and will be removed in a future release of Appian. Do not begin using deprecated features, and transition away from any prior usage of now deprecated features. Where applicable, supported alternatives are described for the deprecation.

Native phone and tablet functions

The isNativePhone() and isNativeTablet() functions have been deprecated. To style UI for phone or tablet widths, we recommend using the new isPageWidth() function. To specify native Appian for Mobile application behavior such as mobile push notifications or barcode scanners, use the new isNativeMobile() function.

Removals

Hot-reloaded search server topology changes

Changes to the search server section in appian-topology.xml are not hot-reloaded anymore. Any changes to that section of the topology file will require you to stop the application server and the search server, make the necessary changes, start the search server and then start the application server.

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