New Robotic Process Designer (Preview)
This content applies solely to Appian RPA, which must be purchased separately from the Appian base platform.

Robotic processes are ideal for rote and repetitive tasks, but configuring the process workflow for straightforward tasks can still be complex and time-consuming. The new robotic process designer brings speed and simplicity to the design side of robotic process automation. Build a robotic process rapidly using drag-and-drop actions, action groups, and inline configuration panes. The new designer also shows you the robotic process workflow at a high-level, including what's happening in the Setup and Clean up sections.

This page describes the interface and functionality of the new robotic process designer. The new designer is currently available to preview in Appian RPA. Many of the most common types of interactions are supported. See Unavailable actions for a list of the actions still in development.

Not all actions are supported in the new designer preview. If an action is unavailable, it appears in the Actions Palette but you won't be able to add it to the workflow. Additionally, you won't be able to use workflow libraries or custom inputs in the preview.

If you need to use one of the unavailable actions, exit the preview by clicking Use Previous Designer in the banner at the top of the screen.

The new robotic process designer preview is active by default for each new robotic process you create using the Blank template. If you would rather use the previous version of the workflow designer, click Use Previous Designer in the banner at the top of the workflow designer to exit the preview. Once you exit the preview, you won't be able to access it again for that robotic process.

To start exploring the new designer, go to the Task tab in the robotic process configuration.

rpa-new-designer.png

Robotic process variables

You can use robotic process variables to pass data between workflow actions and other design objects like process models and interfaces. The new robotic process designer includes an improved variable grid that should look familiar if you've worked with rule inputs in the Expression Editor or Interface Designer. All of your process variables are neatly located in the VARIABLES section of the designer.

rpa-variable-grid.png

To create a process variable:

  1. Click New Process Variable rpa-add-variable in the VARIABLES section.
  2. Configure the process variable details:
    • Name: The name you will use to reference the variable. Only letters, numbers, and underscores are supported.
    • Type: The data type of the variable. The Credential type is used to reserve credentials for use in robotic subprocesses.
      • Note: The following system types cannot be selected for a robotic process variable type: Encrypted Text, Time, complex system data types, and hidden CDTs. See the Data Types page for a complete list of system data types.
    • Array (multiple value): Optional. Indicates if the variable can contain multiple values.
    • Initial Value: Optional except for variables of type Dropdown. The default value of the variable at the start of the process.
    • Parameter: Optional except for variables of type Password and Dropdown. Indicates if the process variable can pass values to the robotic process before it executes. Before the process executes, the user will be prompted to provide an input.
    • Required: Optional. Requires a parameterized process variable to have a value before a process starts.
  3. Click Create.

It is now easier to reference your robotic process variables. Text fields that are found in the configuration options for robotic process actions now allow you to select from a variable picker. Use the variable picker to choose a process variable as a value for your process. What's more, when you rename variables, we'll now automatically update their names throughout your entire process!

rpa-variables.png

See Robotic process variables for more information.

Actions Palette

Similar to the Interface Designer, the Actions Palette shows you the actions that are available to add to the robotic process. Use the search bar to quickly find an action by name, or browse the list of actions within each low-code module.

rpa-new-designer-palette.png

To add an action to the workflow:

  1. Click and hold an action in the Actions Palette.
  2. Drag and drop it to the section or action group where you want to add the action.
  3. Click and drag the action to reorder it relative to the other actions in the section or action group.

That's it! You can configure the action in the Configuration Pane.

Task Recorder

The robotic process designer supports the task recorder tool. The task recorder can automatically record your browser interactions and translate them into robotic process actions. You can start a recording from a section, action group, or conditional flow path.

To start a recording:

  1. Hover over a section or an action group heading to reveal the Start Recording task-recorder-icon.png icon.
  2. Click Start Recording task-recorder-icon.png.
  3. Before you can begin recording, choose an available Resource and Browser.
  4. Enter the webpage to visit in the Navigate to URL field.
  5. Click OK.

Unavailable actions

The following actions aren't yet available in the new designer preview:

  • File System
    • List the contents of a folder

The new designer now supports the Execute robotic subprocess action; however, this release does not support passing Credential type variables to subprocesses. To use credentials in a robotic subprocess, you must first click Use Previous Designer in the banner at the top of the screen.

Action groups

Action groups help you organize actions that work together to achieve a desired outcome. For example, you may want to organize your workflow so that login actions are contained in an action group.

To add an action group to the workflow, click and drag Action Group from the Actions Palette to a section.

Loops

Loops repeat actions until a condition is satisfied. Use the Loop action to process items in a list such as files in a directory or line items on an invoice. RPA supports the following loop types:

  • While: Executes the loop until the loop expression returns false.
  • Repeat: Executes the loop a fixed number of times, equal to the integer in the Iterations field.
  • For Each: Executes the loop for each item in a list.

Loops can't repeat more than 1000 times.

In the following example, the loop will execute the Create a folder and Copy a file or folder actions until the Loop Expression returns false.

Screenshot of the loop action in the system

To add and configure a Loop action:

  1. Click and hold the Loop action in the Actions Palette.
  2. Drag and drop the action to a section or action group.
  3. Select a loop type from the Configuration Pane.
  4. Configure additional properties from the Configuration Pane depending on the loop type.
    • While loops must have a loop expression.
    • Repeat loops must have a number specified in the Iterations field.
  5. Drag and drop additional actions from the Actions Palette into the loop action. Actions will only repeat when inside the Loop action.

Action expressions in loops can reference function variables. Supported function variables in loops include:

Function Variable Description While Repeat For Each
fv!index The current iteration of the loop, starting at 1. Yes Yes Yes
fv!isFirst true for the first iteration of a loop, otherwise false. No Yes Yes
fv!isLast true for the last iteration of a loop, otherwise false. No Yes Yes
fv!itemCount The total number of loop iterations. No Yes Yes
fv!item The current item. No No Yes

Sections

The robotic process designer includes three default sections: Setup, Main, and Clean up. Drag and drop actions to any section to get started. To learn more about how the Setup and Clean up sections behave at runtime, see Sections.

Click the arrow in the section's toolbar to expand or collapse that section.

Conditional flows

The robotic process designer allows you to quickly configure conditional flows. Conditional flows are decision points for a robotic process's execution, where the path of the flow adjusts based on specified conditions. The results of conditional actions determine the path the process will follow. Use conditional actions to make your robotic processes more dynamic. For example, if a web element is present, copy the value; otherwise, add an error message to the log.

Conditional actions only return true or false and include:

When you place conditional actions in the workflow, they automatically generate Yes or No flows to configure. Actions that return true map to Yes flows; actions that return false map to No flows. Add actions to the resulting flows just as you would for the main workflow.

Conditional action screenshot

Configuration Pane

When you add an action to the workflow, the configuration options appear in the Configuration Pane within the designer. The configuration options vary based on the action you're adding.

rpa-new-designer-config.png

See the RPA module documentation for details on each action's configuration options:

Robotic Process Execution

The robotic process execution page has been redesigned to match the new robotic process designer layout. Your execution flow will display vertically, the same as it appears in the designer. Read-only views of the robotic process variables display beside the execution.

To execute your robotic process:

  1. Navigate to your robotic process.
  2. Click Execute rpa-execute-icon.png.
    • Note: Do not select the Debugging? option on the Execution options menu. The redesigned robotic execution page doesn't support debugging yet.
  3. The execution flow automatically displays on the Workflow tab.

As the process executes, actions, loops, and action groups clearly show the flow of execution via icons:

  • rpa-executing-icon.png : Animates while the action is executing. Action groups and loops that contain the executing action also display this icon.
  • rpa-completed-icon.png : The action is complete.
  • rpa-loop-icon.png : The current iteration of the loop. In this example, the loop executed five times. The count continues to update as the loop executes, and when you re-execute the robotic process, the loop counter resets.

rpa-execution.png

In the preceding example, you can see that the main execution flow executed successfully. We know that the No flow for the Does browser window title match? action did not execute because there is no green checkmark rpa-completed-icon.png beside it.

Open in Github Built: Fri, Jun 24, 2022 (02:11:14 PM)

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