Task Recorder
This content applies solely to Appian RPA, which must be purchased separately from the Appian base platform.

Automation has the potential to speed up routine processes in your business, but getting started comes with its own learning curve. The Appian RPA task recorder tool makes the most of your development time. The tool observes and captures your interactions onscreen and applies them in a robotic process workflow. Rather than manually creating each robotic process action, the workflow is automatically set up to match your actions. Just use the browser or application as you normally would, and the tool does the rest!

This page describes the task recorder tool, its capabilities, and how to use it to efficiently develop robotic processes.

About the task recorder

The task recorder is a built-in tool that records your interactions in a web browser or Windows application and translates them into actions in a robotic process workflow. You don't need to spend time finding the exact selector to identify the element on the screen to interact with. Simply click on that part of the screen, and the task recorder detects it for you. You can also use the task recorder to extract data and save it to a robotic process variable.

Availability

The task recorder is available for Windows applications as well as web browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 11, and Edge (including IE Mode). Other browsers aren't yet available for the task recorder.

The task recorder's Windows automation capabilities do not work with JavaSwing apps.

When used with a browser, the task recorder needs the appropriate web driver to launch properly. Appian can automatically update the web driver, or you can add it manually as a support file in your robotic process.

If you're using Internet Explorer or Edge (IE Mode) with the task recorder, you'll need to complete additional setup steps.

When you use the task recorder to capture interactions in a section of the robotic process workflow, a new action group is created. When you begin recording within an action group, the new actions are added to the end of that group.

When to use the task recorder

Use the task recorder to capture actions within Windows applications and web browsers.

The following Windows automation actions are available in the task recorder:

  • Interact with element
    • Click (menu items and buttons)
    • Set value (edit)

The following Browser actions are available in the task recorder:

  • Get attribute
  • Interact with element
  • Navigate to URL
  • Open browser
  • Select frame
  • Switch tab or browser
  • Wait for attribute

Other modules and actions aren't yet available in the task recorder. To take advantage of additional functionality, use the appropriate module when you build a workflow manually.

Start the task recorder

You'll start the task recorder in the robotic process workflow.

To start recording:

  1. Go to the Robotic processes tab.
  2. Find the robotic process you want to configure in the list.
  3. Click Configure 2236505.png in the Actions column.
  4. Go to the Task tab of the robotic process configuration page.
  5. Find the Workflow.
  6. In the empty section where you want to record, click START RECORDING. If you're recording actions in a section that contains actions, start the task recorder in the section toolbar.

    rpa-tr-icon

  7. Choose an available Resource.
  8. Click OK.

The task recorder opens on the resource, where you can choose the application to record. Switch over to your resource, whether it's a virtual machine or separate computer, to get started.

Choose an application

After you launch the task recorder, you'll choose where to begin recording actions.

  1. At the bottom of the task recorder window, click Select Application.
  2. Select an application where you want to record your interactions.

    Applications are categorized as CURRENTLY OPENED if they are running on the resource. Closed but available applications appear in the ALL list. Applications shortcuts must be in the Windows start menu for the application to appear in the list.

    launch-task-recorder

  3. Start interacting with your chosen application. The task recorder captures your actions and shows you the application where it's recording.
  4. To switch applications, click Select Application again.
  5. Select a different application in the list. The task recorder adds a Set search context action to specify when you switched the application in the workflow. As you continue interacting with the resource, the task recorder captures your actions in the newly active application, adding the actions to your current recording.

rpa-tr-capture

You can only record in one browser at a time. To open a different browser, you'll need to close the open browser first.

Recording actions

When you interact with the screen, such as clicking a link or button, typing in a text field, or selecting a value from a dropdown, a new action is recorded. The task recorder captures the information that the robotic process needs to replicate the action, such as selectors, interaction types, and attributes. The task recorder names each action based on the action type. Click on the action's name to edit it. Your change will be saved when you finish recording.

The following table shows the configuration options that appear with supported actions:

Context Action Options
Web browsers Get attribute Interact with, Attribute, Save into
Windows applications and web browsers Interact with element Interaction
Web browser Navigate to URL URL
Web browser Open browser Browser, URL
Web browser Select frame Switch to, Interact with (when applicable)
Web browser Switch tab or browser Title
Web browser Wait for attribute Interact with, Attribute, Attribute value

The options are automatically configured when you record. You can edit any of the options to manually configure them:

  • Interact with: Lets you identify an element on the screen. The task recorder shows a list of selectors to choose from, which have been automatically detected during the recording process. For a given element, there can be more than one way to identify it using selectors. You can also edit this value yourself.
  • Attribute: Specify the data to collect from the selected element on the screen.
  • Attribute value: Specify the value that you're waiting for the element to have before proceeding.
  • Save into: The variable to store the extracted data.
  • Interaction: Lets you determine how the robotic process should act on the element.
  • URL: Specify the website to load when opening a browser or navigating to a new page.
  • Browser: Specify the browser to launch.

Interacting with elements

Many actions will involve interacting with the screen in some way. The task recorder captures these interactions. The available options include:

  • Click on element
  • Double click on element
  • Right click on element
  • Select dropdown
  • Deselect dropdown
  • Select checkbox
  • Deselect checkbox
  • Toggle checkbox
  • Update value
  • Update value with username
  • Update value with password
  • Clear value
  • Is web element present?
  • Get attribute
  • Wait for attribute

For example, if you click into a text field and type something, the action uses Update value as the Interaction and uses your text input in the Value field. Similarly, if you click into a dropdown menu and select an item, the action uses Select dropdown and logs the item in the Select By field. Other interactions captured include clicking on a link or button, selecting or deselecting a checkbox, deselecting a dropdown option, and clearing a value.

rpa-tr-edit-action

For elements where the interaction doesn't require a click, you can hover on an element to reveal additional options. These interactions include Get Attribute and Wait for Attribute.

Recording usernames and passwords

Usually, when you input text on the screen while recording, the task recorder saves the value as plain text. This could present a security issue if this information is sensitive, like login credentials. To prevent security issues, task recorder detects when you're entering a username or password and guides you to use credentials instead.

If part of your process requires you to log in to a web site, the task recorder uses Update value with username or Update value with password for the Interaction type. The recording clears the values associated with these actions when you finish recording.

As you proceed, confirm that the right interaction type is selected. If the task recorder doesn't properly detect that you entered a username or password, you can update the interaction type.

Once you're done recording, you'll need to edit the applicable actions in the workflow to use credentials:

  1. In the workflow, click the action to select it.
  2. The action configuration pane appears, where it is already configured to use Interact with element.
  3. In the configuration window, locate the Interaction. It should be Update value with username or Update value with password.
  4. Choose the Selection method for the credential:
    • Any available credential (usernames only): Use any credential associated with the chosen application. The robotic process uses any available credential's username for the selected application.
    • Previously referenced credential (passwords only): Select the application associated with a credential referenced previously in the robot's workflow. The robotic process uses the password associated with the selected application and previously referenced credential. If no credential was previously referenced in the robotic process, the execution will fail when this method is selected.
    • Specific credential (usernames and passwords): Use a specific credential entry. Select a credential entry to use in the Select credential dropdown menu. Each entry shows the credential's application name and username. The robotic process will use the username or password associated with the credential.
  5. Configure additional options for the action and click OK.

Learn more about credentials.

Save extracted data

The Get attribute and Wait for attribute actions include the option to save data found within an element. To select a target for this data, choose from the list of robotic process variables or create a new one. The robotic process stores this data in the variable you choose.

To create a new robotic process variable in the task recorder:

  1. In the Task Recorder window, find the Save into field. This field appears for the actions listed above.

    rpa-tr-save-into

  2. Click the plus sign next to the field.
  3. Enter details for the new variable, such as the Name and Type.
  4. Select the Parameter, Required, or Multiple checkboxes to configure your new variable with these specifications.

    rpa-tr-new-variable

  5. Click CREATE. You're brought back to the action configuration screen.

When you finish recording and return to the workflow, the variable is available to use throughout the robotic process. To learn more about how variables pass data in a robotic process, see Using Robotic Process Variables.

Stop recording

To save your progress and finish recording:

  1. In the Task Recorder window, click DONE RECORDING.
  2. Type a Section name. This option won't appear if you only recorded one action.
  3. Click ADD SECTION.
  4. Alternatively, you can go BACK TO RECORDING if you want to add more actions.
  5. The task recorder saves your actions in the workflow. Click CLOSE RECORDER to exit.

rpa-tr-save-recording

In the RPA console, you'll see the actions available in the workflow area. Each action you recorded corresponds to a newly added action in the workflow. If you see something you want to change, you can manually edit these actions as you normally would.

rpa-tr-new-section

For example, you may want to edit the recorded actions to:

  • update configurations (such as value) to use variables or expressions.
  • update values to use credentials instead of plain text
  • add additional actions to the workflow that can't be captured in the recorder, such as conditional actions

To exit the task recorder without saving your actions, close the task recorder window.

Edit and delete actions

Edit an action in the task recorder to adjust any of the fields that were automatically configured. The options vary based on the action type. The task recorder names each action based on the action type. Click on the action's name to edit it. Your change will be saved when you finish recording.

rpa-tr-edit-name

You can delete actions as you record. Click the trash icon to remove unnecessary actions, such as mistaken clicks, to clean up your recording before generating the workflow actions.

Edit the selector

The task recorder automatically populates the element selector when you interact with that element on the screen. You can edit this value if you prefer to use a different selector.

To help you confirm your updated selector points to the correct element, the task recorder highlights the element. You don't have to leave the task recorder or go through additional steps to test if the edited selector is still pointing to the element you intend to.

To edit the selector:

  1. Click the action in the Task Recorder window.
  2. In the Interact with fields, change the selector type, value, or both.
  3. Observe the elements highlighted in the browser window. A message appears in the task recorder to show you the number of elements that match the selector (up to 50).
    • If it's correct, save your changes.
    • If the selector matches too many elements, revise the selector to be more specific and limit the number of matches to 50 or less.
    • If the edited selector doesn't match any element on the screen, you'll see a warning message.
  4. Continue recording actions, or stop recording to save the actions.

If you are recording in a browser other than Chrome or Edge, the element will be highlighted when you move your cursor to the Interact with field and edit the selector type or value.

rpa-tr-highlight.png

Viewing previously recorded actions

The task recorder highlights matching elements that are visible on the screen. As you interact with the screen, keep in mind that these visible elements may change.

At any point during your recording, you can return to previously recorded actions to review the action configuration, including selectors. Keep in mind that the task recorder checks the current browser window of the active application. If you are reviewing a previously recorded action, the task recorder may indicate that no matching element is found if the current window isn't the proper context for that action.

To verify the action's selector is correct, return to the browser window that matches the context for the configured action. The task recorder will highlight the visible elements that match the selector.

Example: Consider your interaction with a search engine. You visit the engine, type in a term, click a search button, view results, and click the top link. The web page changes between these actions, and so do the visible elements. When you record this interaction, the first action includes elements such as a search field and button, while later actions may only include text links and descriptions.

If you're viewing the search results page, but you're editing the action to input a search term, you may see an error message indicating that no elements match the selector. This is because the current page doesn't have an element (the search field) that matches the configured selector.

To confirm the selector is configured correctly, return to the page where the search field is present. The task recorder highlights that element now because it is visible on the current browser window.

Recording with Internet Explorer or Edge (IE Mode)

Internet Explorer 11 and Edge (IE mode) are supported when interacting with websites designed to support these browsers. Some websites may specify legacy document modes in their source code, which could make it incompatible to use with the task recorder. See Microsoft's documentation for more information.

You may see an unreliable connection warning message in the task recorder when using Internet Explorer or Edge (IE Mode). If you want to record your interactions in Internet Explorer or Edge, you'll need to complete some additional steps before you begin:

  1. For both browsers, download the proper web driver: IEDriverServer_Win32_3.150.0.zip. The 3.150 version of the web driver is required for reliable performance.
    • Add the web driver as a support file in your robotic process.
  2. Configure Internet Explorer
  3. Configure Edge
  4. Install the user certificate

There are some limitations to using the task recorder with Internet Explorer and Edge (IE Mode):

  • Manage multiple tabs/windows is not currently supported.
  • When you start recording interactions with Edge (IE Mode), all open instances of Edge will close. We recommend you close Edge windows before starting the Edge (IE Mode) recording session to avoid losing your work.
  • Internet Explorer or Edge (IE Mode) should be the first browser you open in a robotic process execution. If another browser type opens before Internet Explorer or Edge (IE Mode), the execution will fail.

See the Browser module documentation for additional details.

You'll need to repeat these steps on each resource where you plan to record using Internet Explorer or Edge (IE Mode).

Configure Internet Explorer

For the task recorder to properly extract attributes, selectors, and other data from the browser window, you need to configure some settings in Internet Explorer.

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Open the Tools menu.
  3. Confirm that Zoom is set to 100%.
  4. Under Internet Options, click Security.
  5. For each zone (Internet, Local intranet, Trusted sites, Restricted sites), ensure that the Enable Protected Mode option is selected.
  6. Click OK.

ie-config.gif

Configure Edge

To avoid Internet Explorer opening tabs in Edge, you need to configure some settings in Edge.

  1. Open Edge.
  2. Click Settings and more next to the address bar in the browser.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. In the Settings tab, go to the Default browser section.
  5. For the Let Internet Explorer open sites in Microsoft Edge option, select Never.

Install the user certificate

The first time you launch task recorder in Internet Explorer or Edge (IE Mode), you'll see a message prompting you to install a user certificate. The task recorder uses this user certificate to help establish a reliable connection with the browser, and ensure that your steps are recorded correctly.

To capture and extract the developer's interactions with the browser, task recorder establishes a WebSocket connection with the browser. Whereas all other browsers support the standard WebSocket protocol (WS), Internet Explorer only supports the secure WebSocket protocol (WSS).

If the connection is not established, actions can still be recorded. However, some specific steps, such a click that navigates to a different page, won't be recorded correctly.

In order to establish a WSS connection with Internet Explorer, you need to manually install a certificate on the resource. The Appian RPA agent generates the certificate to create the connection. The certificate is called appian-rpa-recorder-localhost.crt, and is stored in the Jidoka-workspace\Recorder\certificate directory.

After you complete the following steps, the certificate remains on this resource. As long as the resource remains as an entry in the RPA console, you won't need to install another certificate when you record your interactions in Internet Explorer or Edge (IE Mode) on the same resource. However, if you remove the resource and re-add it at a later time, you'll need to reinstall the certificate.

tr-cert-location

To install the certificate:

  1. Launch the task recorder using Internet Explorer or Edge (IE Mode) on the appropriate resource.
  2. In the Task Recorder window, click Install user certificate in the warning message.
  3. In the Certificate window, click Install Certificate.

    tr-cert-step-1

  4. On the first page of the Certificate Import Wizard, under Store Location, select Current User.
  5. Click Next.
  6. On the second page of the wizard, in Certificate Store, select Place all certificates in the following store.
  7. Click Browse…
  8. Select Trusted Root Certification Authorities.
  9. Click Next.
  10. Review your settings on the last page, Completing the Certificate Import Wizard.
  11. Click Finish.

    tr-cert-finish

  12. A Security Warning appears to show you that this certificate will only be used for localhost connections (127.0.0.1). Click Yes.

    tr-cert-warn

  13. Click OK to dismiss the success message.
  14. Go back to the browser window that the task recorder launched.
  15. Refresh the browser window. The message in the Task Recorder window should disappear.

To verify the certificate was installed properly:

  1. Open the Control Panel on the resource.
  2. Open Manage user certificates.
  3. Under Trusted Root Certificate Authorities, go to the Certificates folder.
  4. 127.0.0.1 should appear as a certificate in this folder.

tr-saved-cert

Troubleshooting

To help keep you on track, the task recorder may display messages to show you when it's unable to do something.

Message type Reason Guidance
Error opening browser This message appears if the task recorder was unable to open the browser you selected. Ensure no other browsers are open and try again.
Error opening application This message appears if the task recorder was unable to open the application you selected. Open the application on your desktop, return to the task recorder, and use the Select Application menu to try again.
Error connecting to application This message appears if the task recorder was unable to locate the application you selected, even if it is open. If the application is not yet open: open the application on your desktop, return to the task recorder, and use the Select Application menu to try again.

If the application is open: restart the application on your desktop, return to the task recorder, and use the Select Application menu to try again.
Unreliable connection This message appears if you navigate to a site that violates your network's content security policy. While actions can still be recorded on the page, some steps may not be recorded correctly. To reliably record actions in Internet Explorer or Edge (IE) mode browsers, install the user certificate. If issues persist, you may need to contact your network administrator.

To reliably record actions in other browsers, you may need to contact your network administrator to adapt security configurations.
Open in Github Built: Fri, Sep 23, 2022 (01:24:50 PM)

On This Page

FEEDBACK