Appian Release Notes

Automation

Low-code RPA

Build more robots without a single line of code. Appian RPA's low-code designer now allows you to quickly automate Windows and Citrix applications using computer vision, and we've added additional capabilities for web apps, passwords, and more. All these new low-code automation capabilities come from our recent 7.5 and 7.6 RPA releases.

Automate Windows, Citrix, and more using computer vision

Appian developers can use our new Image Recognition module to identify areas of the screen to interact with, no matter what kind of application is being automated. Our simple image capture tool integrates directly with your low-code action, and you can configure tolerances to ensure the robot is reliable even when resolutions change for automations using Citrix. Combining low-code image recognition with existing actions like text entry creates a general purpose automation capability that can be used in a wide range of scenarios.

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Securely enter credentials

Application credentials can now be referenced in any of our low-code actions that enter data. Developers can securely enter usernames and passwords to sign in to any application, providing more ease and security for your organization.

Handle web apps that use iframes

Use our new Select frame action to more easily automate your web applications containing iframes! With our new action you can easily switch into and out of iframes, making it possible to reach even more web apps with low-code.

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Make robots clean up after themselves

When a robot completes its work or runs into an exception, the new Clean up section runs to make sure the desktop is ready for the next task. Developers can use the same low-code actions found in the main workflow to summarize results, log out of applications, close windows, or do anything else needed to reset the desktop for the next execution.

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Share more information between robots and humans

Starting a process model from a robotic process is a powerful way to have humans and bots work together. Now you can use custom data types and expressions when passing inputs to the process model, allowing you to provide more detailed information to users or other systems.

Report results for individual items

Using the new Items module, developers can configure robots to report results as individual items are processed. Whether entering multiple invoices or processing a list of complex steps, developers can add these new actions to report progress and status back to operation managers.

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Move files between the desktop and Appian's document repository

We're opening up whole new possibilities for using documents in your robots with four new low-code features!

  • Documents stored in Appian's document management repository can be downloaded by a robot and then processed locally on the desktop
  • Robots can manage the local file system, easily creating a new folder or moving files between folders
  • Desktop files can be uploaded to Appian's document management repository for further processing, secure storage, and access by other users
  • Robots can directly upload Appian documents to a browser file upload field

Example: An employee uploads a photo from their phone using a mobile task. A robot downloads that photo and copies it into a document on the desktop. The robot uploads the finished document to a folder in Appian and deletes the file from the desktop. Once in Appian, the document can be viewed by other users and stored as part of an audit trail.

Control mouse movement and clicks

Have more control over your desktops with our new mouse action module. Robots can perform mouse movements, clicks, and drags with simple low-code configurations. Users can find coordinates using our element inspector to ensure robots make exact movements.

Simplify common browser actions

We're continuing to improve our low-code browser module by enhancing actions that every web automation needs: opening a browser, navigating to a URL, and switching between browser windows. These actions now contain common configurations such as the wait time and whether or not to take a screenshot, making it easy to build and easy to debug using our low-code actions. You'll also get these configurations automatically when importing from a Selenium script, making it even faster to configure these common actions.

See your RPA version in About Appian

You can now see your site's RPA version in the About Appian dialog. Both designers and system administrators can access this dialog at any time from the navigation menu.

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Robotic Workforce Manager

View ROI projections for automation requests

Estimate the future value of automation requests before you invest time and money to implement them. The projected ROI details provide you with deeper knowledge of the cost and savings, as well as the expected payoff period of your automation requests. Your Automation COE can now easily understand the value of an automation request and determine whether to go forward.

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Make informed decisions with ROI reporting

Appian now calculates actual ROI metrics automatically based on your running automations. Gain new insight into the value of your production automations with KPIs and filterable reports. See which automations are saving you the most, compare actual ROI to earlier projections to see if you're meeting expectations, and identify opportunities for further improvement.

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Take more control of your Blue Prism robots

We've added new session control and scheduling features for managing Blue Prism robots from Appian. You can now restart the Blue Prism session when viewing a session alert, start sessions on one or multiple resources at once instead of a resource pool, and immediately terminate an active Blue Prism session. You can also schedule recurring terminations of Blue Prism processes on specific resources on certain days and times, and cancel scheduled Blue Prism processes.

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Document processing

Built-in form key-value pair extraction (Preview)

We are happy to announce an early look at Appian's latest built-in document extraction features.

With this preview release for Appian Cloud customers, you can now extract key-value pairs from digitized, searchable PDFs using Appian's native machine learning services. We've enjoyed using it ourselves to support document processing internally at Appian, and look forward to hearing how you use it. Let us know at idp_preview@appian.com.

As always, we continue to support automated extraction from a wide range of documents, whether you choose Google's Document AI service or the built-in convenience of Appian.

Deactivate document channels to lower Google costs

To help you lower your IDP costs when using Google AutoML for document classification, you can now deactivate a document channel, and easily reactivate the channel when it's needed again.

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Administrators can also permanently delete AutoML models associated with document channels using IDP utilities.

Build with low code

Appian Records

Improved reporting with advanced charts

Great reports include great visualizations that illustrate complex information in a clear and concise manner, and allow users to explore data interactively.

In this release, we've included two new chart enhancements that make building these types of powerful visualizations fast and easy when you use records as the data source.

Multiple measures

The first enhancement is the ability to add multiple calculations on a chart that uses records as the source. You can easily configure multiple measurements to allow users to compare and gather information from a single visualization.

Interactive charts

The second enhancement is the ability to add dynamic links to charts that use records as the source. This allows you to create those rich and interactive experiences that support great reports, all with a simple, easy to configure experience.

Aggregations in record queries

Using Appian Records, you can create a comprehensive view of your data and then query it throughout your application. To easily summarize your record data, we've enhanced the a!queryRecordType() function so you can apply aggregations directly to your record queries.

Within a!queryRecordType(), you can reference a new function, a!aggregationFields(), to group record fields or perform calculations to return the count, minimum, maximum, average, or sum.

With this enhancement, you can use aggregated record data seamlessly throughout your application. For example, in a process model that assigns cases to support engineers, you could apply an aggregation to a record query to see which support engineer has the lowest number of assigned cases, and automatically assign them the new case.

Sync data from larger data sets in Appian

Data sync allows Appian Records to operate with the benefit of onsite data by caching your source data in Appian. Now, we're allowing you to sync data from larger data sets in two big ways: (1) increasing the number of rows you can sync in Appian, and (2) allowing you to filter the data you sync into Appian.

Sync more data in Appian

In this release, we've more than doubled the number of rows you can sync from a source: from 100,000 to 250,000 rows.

Choose what you sync

When configuring a data source, you can now add source filters for record types that use a database table or Salesforce object as their source. You can use source filters to exclude extraneous data from entering the Appian system, so that you are only working with the data you need. Not only does this allow you to use data from a source that would otherwise be too large for data sync, but it also allows you to work with a more precise subset of data.

Inspect and resolve immediate sync errors

Developers can now easily identify issues when an immediate sync fails. This means that anytime a sync fails after Appian uses a smart service, like Write to Data Store Entity, or a Salesforce integration to update the source data of a record type, we will generate an alert in the Monitoring View.

These new alerts provide developers with a link to the process instance that updated the source data for the record type. These alerts also provide the primary keys of the source rows that were updated by the write operation, but not synced in Appian.

Record type design improvements

We are always looking for ways to speed up application development and improve efficiency. So this release, we've added more ways to customize the record type, and made direct record type references even more seamless. To query and view records faster, we've also enhanced some key record functions and components.

Apply date range user filters to all record types

You can now create date range filters for the record list when the source is a webservice. Date range filters allow for precise filtering using two dates or an open-ended date range. With this new enhancement, all record types can now use date range user filters, regardless of their source or sync status.

Each record type has a News and Related Actions record view configured out-of-the-box to display any news related to a record and any related actions associated with the record type. However, not every record type requires a News and Related Actions record view, so we've introduced the ability to hide these two default views from your records.

We recommend hiding these record views if your application doesn't utilize the News feed, or you've used the record action component to display related actions elsewhere.

Reference records faster

In this release, we've made it faster for you to make direct record type references without using the recordType! domain. Simply begin typing the name of your record type and select it from the auto-suggested list to insert a record type reference.

Once you select the record type, you can search for different record type properties without specifying the type of property. For example, typing recordType!Case.sta will return all record fields, actions, or user filters from the record type that start with sta. Select the desired property from the auto-suggested list to insert the full record type property reference, such as recordType!Case.fields.status.

In addition to referencing a record type faster, you'll also be able to view the references more easily. All record type references in a record type or interface object will display with the property name instead of the UUID.

Improved record function and component performance

In addition to the new aggregation capabilities available in the a!queryRecordType function, we've also made this function faster—about 20ms faster. For small queries, like retrieving a single record, this is a significant performance improvement. You can leverage this improved performance without any additional configuration or update to your function.

We've also enhanced the record link component so that it's 10% faster. This means that your users can now navigate to linked record views faster to more quickly gather important record insights. Look for further performance improvements to the record link component in future releases.

As with all performance measurements, the results depend on use case, hardware, and system load. The reported numbers here reflect a common use case under a moderate system load.

UI power

We're giving you more power and flexibility to create UIs that your users will love. This release introduces a new site navigation bar style, a card style on radio buttons and checkboxes, link opening configurability, autofill, character limit, and more.

New site navigation bar style

When designing your site, you now have two navigation bar styles to choose from. We've renamed the existing style to Helium and added a new Mercury style. We recommend using Mercury if your site has only one page configured for a simple and sleek look. To learn more about the navigation bar styling options, see Site Branding.

You can also take advantage of the new Branding Preview. This new display makes it easier than ever to determine the right look for your sites by allowing you to preview your branding configurations during design. Check out the UX Design Guide to get started.

Built-in character limit on text & paragraph fields

Say goodbye to the days of spending valuable design time building custom character validations. You can now define an Appian-handled character limit on your text and paragraph fields. Users will see their character count update as they are typing and be informed when they exceed the limit. Use this feature for easy, out-of-the-box character limit validations that ensure your users are aware of limits as they fill out fields.

Improve the experience of launching navigation links by configuring them to open in the same tab or a new tab. This is especially useful for situations like opening record links in a new tab to preserve the state of a user's current tab. Alternatively, you might want safe links to open in the same tab so that users don't end up with multiple tabs open. Choose the best way to open navigation links for your use cases.

Cards style for radio buttons & checkboxes

You now have a new Cards styling option for radio button and checkbox components. Not only is the Cards style useful in creating visually appealing interfaces, it also provides users of mobile applications with large click and tap targets.

Improved auto-fill support

Make it easier for your users to fill out forms by setting an input purpose on common fields. Setting an input purpose on fields like Name or Address can autofill a user's entry if the data is stored in their browser. This makes it simpler, faster, and more efficient for users to enter information, as well as helps you better meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 accessibility requirements.

You can now add links to stamps for more navigation flexibility in your UI. Linking is useful for designs like sidebar navigation panels, or when you need to redirect stamp steps to different sections on a page. Use stamps with links for navigation in place of custom images or icons for more visually appealing interfaces.

Additional card & billboard layout heights

This release, we've added four new heights to Card Layout and Billboard Layout for greater UI flexibility. Use the new heights to easily bring together your content and design, and have more control when determining the layout of your interface.

Prevent rich text from wrapping on narrow screens

Improve the responsive behavior of rich text by preventing rich text from wrapping to multiple lines. The new preventWrapping parameter on rich text will truncate content to a single line to improve the look of your interfaces on narrow screens.

More interface patterns

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

Design recommendations

With our real-time design guidance, low-code developers receive live, actionable feedback on best practices so they can build even more quickly and confidently. Team leads will also love the visibility provided by the Health Dashboard, which surfaces all of the recommendations from your application or the environment.

Real-time feedback with expression recommendations

With this release, Appian helps you by highlighting risky expression patterns before they become problems. As you build your applications, our live recommendations will guide you to create maintainable expressions and discover potential issues with existing objects.

Our new expression recommendations check for unrecognized rule parameters, unused rule inputs, and more. You can find them in interfaces, expression rules, web APIs, and Appian RPA. While building, a light bulb icon in the object header or expression editor will direct your attention to the relevant lines. As is the case with Appian's other recommendations, expression recommendations are also available on the Health Dashboard.

More recommendations for process models

The process modeler supports even more design-time recommendations to help developers follow best practices. To make managing processes easier when you have multiple models, Appian now checks that process model display names and user input task display names are dynamic, and that process alert settings are provided. The modeler will also flag subprocesses whose configuration might cause performance problems at runtime. See process model recommendations for more information.

Streamlining development

Quickly identify browser tabs for design objects

Do you have a hard time differentiating between your Appian browser tabs during development? Now your Appian Designer tabs will default to show the corresponding object type icon so that you can easily distinguish between your tabs at-a-glance. To learn more about controlling your settings, see user settings.

Streamlined constant duplication

Duplicate constants with ease. You can now select a constant from any view within an application and use the Duplicate option to quickly create a new copy of your constant.

Improved decision grid icons

Same function, new fashion. We've updated the look of the grid buttons in decisions to match those you're familiar with in our other objects. Plus, we've added more button captions for improved accessibility and usability.

Improved language support in the Process Modeler

In 20.4, we added better language support for all process node configurations, as well as menus and toolbars in the process modeler. In this release, we now show the smart service search bar and process model validation messages 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.

Easy integration with Selenium-based functional testing tools

Appian now officially supports the Appian Selenium API plug-in, available on the AppMarket. You already have great low-code options for automating functional tests with the FitNesse for Appian and Cucumber for Appian plug-ins. Appian Selenium APIs adds another powerful and flexible test automation option, which allows you to write your own business-specific classes and integrate with Selenium or Java-based testing tools.

New versioning option for Update Constant smart service

We've added a new parameter to the Update Constant smart service to specify whether a new version of the constant is created for each update. By default, new versions are not created. For constants that are frequently updated via the smart service, not creating a version minimizes noise in the version history and conserves memory for better performance.

Support for SQL Server 2019 database

You can now build applications with Microsoft SQL Server 2019 as the data source. SQL Server 2019 database is now a supported RDBMS for use with Appian.

Deploy & monitor applications

Improved developer productivity with collaborative packages

It takes teamwork to build great applications. With this release, it's easier than ever to coordinate and review changes with other people on your team. Developers can create multiple packages in an application to track their planned and in-progress work.

Each package has a name, a description, and a link to a ticket for improved traceability between Appian and your project management tool. Packages will be visible to all developers with the required privileges. These new capabilities enable development teams to seamlessly collaborate, streamline their workflows, and be more productive during development, peer-reviews, and deployments.

Merge expressions when comparing across environments

As your applications grow, we've made it easier for you to keep your changes in sync across environments. When comparing the expressions of interfaces and expression rules, you can now pick and choose the differing sections to merge between the two environments. This helps developers save time and effort when resolving conflicts, smoothing the way for future deployments.

Improved package inspection

When inspecting packages manually or across environments, you'll receive visual feedback that the inspection is in-progress. This improves the user experience for larger packages that may take longer to return results. While your package is being scanned, you can resolve security warnings and review your test cases, leading to a more efficient deployment process.

Smarter conflict detection for applications

We've improved the comparison of applications across environments. If the only difference in your application is the number of objects it contains or its version history, you will now get a Not Changed status, providing you with a clearer picture of your deployment.

Easy access to process history

We have made it easier for developers to view the history of a process for debugging and troubleshooting. A new option is available on the Process Activity tab in the Monitoring view that allows you to directly access the process history without opening the Process Modeler.

Archived processes in the Monitoring view

Archived processes are now available in the Monitoring view. Developers can view the history of all processes archived post-upgrade without having to run the unarchiving script or raise a support case for auditing and troubleshooting. This feature will be enabled by default for all new Appian Cloud sites as part of this release and will be enabled for all customers in future releases.

Mobile

Modern UI for offline-enabled forms

Going offline doesn't mean you have to compromise on beautiful, rich UIs. Offline-enabled interfaces will now have access to today's interface designer toolkit, and can use recently released components like gauges and tags. Developers for offline interfaces can also leverage features like stackWhen and a!localVariables.

Existing offline interfaces will be automatically updated with modern styling and will retain all existing functionality.

Improved onboarding for mobile users

This feature allows you to drive the usage of mobile applications while simplifying the setup process for your users and giving them more immediate access to relevant information. Once you configure application download links in the Administration Console, any Appian link accessed by mobile users will seamlessly carry through to the mobile app, even if the user has to first go through the app installation process.

Administration

MyAppian

Insights has been rebranded and expanded into MyAppian, a centralized location for all of the information on your Appian experiences. With our information-rich design and streamlined navigation, MyAppian improves the user experience and puts everything you need right at your fingertips.

We’ve added a new Home dashboard that brings together key details from across your organization into a single, unified view. The dashboard allows you to keep an eye on risks, dive into cloud metrics, check out your Appian subscription information, and quickly view support case details. This makes it easier than ever for you to monitor your Appian applications, with shortcuts to the tasks and information you need to quickly and efficiently manage your organizations and environments.

Greek language support

Appian now supports Greek as a system language. Administrators have the option of enabling Greek on the Internationalization page of the Administration Console. Once enabled, users can choose Greek as their language in user settings.

Platform improvements

Improved resiliency in High Availability

Appian infrastructure is constantly evolving and striving to be faster, leaner, and recoverable in any scenario. We've improved the Internal Messaging Service and its associated services to be even more resilient in the event of network, OS process, or machine hardware failures.

Cloud customers with a High Availability configuration included with Advanced or Enterprise Support will have an even better experience in the rare case of a system failover event in Appian 21.1. Now, users who are in the middle of completing or submitting a form will not experience any disruption during the failover event. Their work in progress will be preserved and they will be able to submit the form without error.

Appian Cloud

Additional DoS protections

New Denial of Service (DoS) protections help protect Appian Cloud instances from DoS attacks. If an environment experiences an unusually high level of traffic, the DoS protections may be triggered. In the event that DoS protections are triggered, new requests to the affected environment may be blocked until the in-flight requests are completed or the high load subsides.

Cloud Environment Visualization

The Cloud Environment Visualization has been updated to show VPN tunnel status. Customers no longer need to create a support case to check the status of their VPN tunnels.

DNS-based routing on Dynamic VPNs

You can now configure Dynamic VPNs to connect to resources in your private network by hostname rather than by IP using your own DNS server, similar to what you can do with Static VPNs.

Appian Cloud now supports routing inbound web traffic to an Appian Cloud instance over AWS PrivateLink. By default, Appian Cloud instances receive all web inbound traffic over the public Internet. Customers can now choose to access their Appian Cloud instance via VPN, AWS PrivateLink, or over the public internet.

Using AWS PrivateLink allows customers to simplify the configuration and management of accessing their Appian instance from their own AWS VPC.

This feature is available to Appian Cloud customers that have configured a custom domain.

You can now use our Log Streaming feature with a syslog receiver hosted in AWS over AWS PrivateLink instead of a traditional IPsec VPN tunnel.

New Metrics dashboards in MyAppian

Application server garbage collection and email metrics dashboards have been added to the Metrics report in MyAppian. These include metrics such as Daily Emails Sent and Application Server Young Collection Count.

Removal of CBC mode ciphers from TLS 1.2 with Forward Secrecy Only Policy

To enhance security, Appian Cloud's TLS 1.2 with Forward Secrecy Only policy now excludes all cipher suites with Cipher Block Chaining (CBC). Customers that wish to exclude CBC from the cipher suites by which their environments can be accessed can open a support case requesting to switch from the default TLS 1.2 policy to the TLS 1.2 with Forward Secrecy Only policy. For a detailed comparison between TLS policies, refer to KB-2091.

Self service VPN tunnel management

Customers can now modify their static VPN configurations, with IP-based routing, through the Connectivity section of MyAppian. Customers new to our VPN capabilities can create their first static VPN tunnel to connect their Appian Cloud environments with resources in their private network. For more details, see Self Service VPN Integration.

Resolved issues

Web accessibility enhancements

Appian is committed to meeting accessibility standards. With this release, we have made significant improvements with our Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 (AA) compliancy. For more information, check out our conformance report.

User setting for increased contrast

This release includes an increased contrast setting for users with visual impairments to meet the WCAG 1.4.11 Non-text Contrast (AA) requirement. The setting can be found in the Accessibility tab in the User Settings dialog and will increase the contrast of interactable component outlines like input fields, buttons, grid lines, and more.

Improved VoiceOver support

We've made a number of updates to improve support for VoiceOver for Safari on Mac OS.

  • AN-171708 - Low
    VoiceOver now announces the correct keyboard shortcut to open the dropdown and multiple dropdown components.
  • AN-171698 - Low
    VoiceOver now announces when a link is configured on a card and announces the correct keyboard shortcut to activate the link.
  • AN-171886 - Low
    Screen readers now announce help tooltip text along with other descriptive text.
  • AN-161815 - Low
    VoiceOver now announces the updated sort direction for sortable column headers.
  • AN-171810 - Low
    VoiceOver now announces the correct row number for selectable grids and announces the column headers only once for grids with a frozen header.

Evolutions

The function below has a newer, improved version in this release. Existing, old versions in your applications will continue to function normally, but will be renamed on upgrade to indicate that they are older versions. As always, make sure you are using the right version of the docs for your version of Appian. See Function and Component Versions for more information.

a!queryRecordType()

A new version of a!queryRecordType() supports aggregating record data. Use the new supporting function a!aggregationFields() to define which fields to use in calculations or to group by within each query.

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 each deprecation.

Support for SQL Server 2008 database

Customers who use SQL Server 2008 are strongly encouraged to upgrade to the newer versions of SQL Server database. Support for Microsoft SQL Server 2008 database with Appian has been deprecated, since SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 are not supported by Microsoft anymore. With the addition of support for SQL Server 2019 with Appian, a new SQL Server JDBC driver is now provided with Appian Cloud. The new driver is not compatible with SQL Server 2008.

If you are identified as one of the customers who use SQL Server 2008, an Appian Support Case will be opened to configure your Appian Cloud site to use the old driver if you wish to continue using SQL Server 2008.

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