Appian RPA contains low-code modules to put the power of robotic process automation in your hands, without having to use Java. You can configure these modules in the Appian RPA Console by adding values to parameters and storing returning values as robotic process variables.
On this page, you will learn how to create and configure a low-code robotic process in the Appian RPA Console. This page also describes how to integrate the robotic process in your application using a process model.
For guided walk-throughs on how to create robotic processes using Java, see the RPA tutorials. These tutorials describe specific steps to create robotic processes with defined purposes. This page talks about the same process, but more generally and at a high level.
Robotic processes are created in the Appian RPA Console.
Each robotic process is created from a template. Templates provide you with a zip file containing your robotic process's source code and a pre-built workflow in the Robotic process configuration page.
To create a new robotic process:
When you create your robotic process, the source code is downloaded to your machine. If you're developing a robotic process using purely low-code functionality, you can disregard this code. However, if you plan to use low-code and Java modules, you'll want to save this file.
The source code contains the IRobot interface and the @Robot annotation, which allow the Appian RPA API to identify a robotic process. Every Appian RPA robotic process must implement the Client module interface IRobot. You can use the source code to add more complex Java methods and module dependencies.
After creating a robotic process, you are taken to the Robotic process configuration page. This page allows you to add general and technical information about your process, create the process workflow, add support files, and modify your security.
This section explains how to configure two key aspects of your robotic process: creating process variables and defining your workflow. To learn about the other configuration options available, see Robotic process configuration.
Robotic process variables are placeholders for data that can be accessed throughout the lifecycle of a robotic process. These variables can be called from low-code modules in your workflow to pass data between workflow actions, and even between the Appian RPA Console and your Appian application. See Using Robotic Process Variables for an example of how variables pass data between workflow actions, and even between your robotic process and other design objects.
To create robotic process variables:
You may want to configure your robotic process so it waits to execute until you provide it with some necessary data. For example, before the process executes, you want to provide a path to a file that needs to be processed, or a username that the process should enter in a browser.
These inputs are created from robotic process variables marked as parameters. These values become input fields in the robotic process's Execution options.
You can only pass one value per parameter to the robotic process when executing the robotic process from the console. You won't be able to pass an array, for example. To pass multiple list values in the input field, you need to use the runWithParams endpoint in your integration object to execute the robotic process.
Robotic processes follow the steps defined in the Workflow section of the configuration. It guides the robotic process's operations and determines the starting point and which actions to accomplish.
Depending on the template you selected, you will have some preexisting actions appear in your workflow. Similar to an Appian process model, each robotic process will always have a start and end action.
If you click the list icon on any of the existing actions, you'll see they are each associated with a method. These methods are configured within the source code that was generated by the template. To learn about the individual methods, review the template's source code.
In addition to Java methods, you can use the methods available in the low-code modules to easily configure workflow actions using a user interface. This is where you can call the robotic process variables you created earlier in the configuration to pass data as parameters or store returning method values.
Generic actions require the robotic process to perform a specific task before continuing with the next action. Generic actions can use any of the methods available from a low-code module.
To add associate a method from a low-code module with a generic action:
A robotic process may need to call a username and password to log in to a website. To pass this information securely, Appian RPA uses a credentials feature. You can add credentials in the Appian RPA console and refer to them in a robotic process without exposing the information.
During a robotic process execution, Appian RPA reserves the credential entries being referenced. If the same credential is being used by other robotic processes and reaches its maximum usage, Appian RPA waits and tries to reserve the credential again. If the credential is still unavailable, the robotic process fails and you'll see an error message in the execution log.
Next, add the credentials to your robotic process. In this example, the robotic process is logging in using a web-based portal:
When the robotic process reaches this part of the workflow, it will populate the chosen field with the username associated with the credential. If the credential has a maximum usage limit, the credential will be automatically reserved at this point as well. The credential is released when the robotic process execution ends.
Add another action directly after this one to populate the password. You'll choose Update value with password under Interaction.
Building a robotic process to log into an application? You'll use the Type text method in the Keyboard low-code module to input credentials. In the Text section of the method configuration, choose Type username and choose the credential to use. Remember you'll only see credentials that share permissions with you and the robotic process. Repeat this configuration in a second action and select Type password.
You can use a robotic process to retrieve documents from a legacy system and send them to Appian. Automating this process can be especially helpful if you're dealing with a large volume of files, or if you want to use Appian's document extraction features to process the information they contain.
First, create a robotic process and configure it to retrieve the files from another system. In this example, the robotic process downloads PDFs from a web portal:
After the robotic process completes this action, the file should be downloaded on the resource. Take note of where the downloads are saved; you'll use this path in the next action.
Next, configure the Upload Document method in the workflow:
Continue building and configuring other components of your workflow. When the robotic process executes, it will download the file to the resource and then send them to Appian.
Conditional actions represent a fork in the workflow. Based on the input, the workflow could proceed in different ways. Unlike generic actions, conditional actions can only use methods from low-code modules that return string or boolean values because the value must match the output label on the conditional workflow action.
For example, say your workflow is iterating over several items. Your workflow has a conditional action that will determine what the process should do if there are more items, or if all items have been processed. If the action has output labels of
no, then the method associated with the conditional action must return a string value.
To add associate a method from a low-code module with a conditional action:
If your conditional action is more complex than just
no values, considering using the Evaluate expression method from the Appian Services low-code module to create an
Once your method is configured, you need to add your action to the workflow so your process can perform the action. Similar to an Appian process model, actions are connected by arrows.
To connect your actions:
Select an action and click one of the four connector points.
If you want to insert a new action between two existing actions, first delete the connecting arrow by selecting the arrow and clicking delete on your keyboard. Move the action between the existing actions and connect the actions in a series.
Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save. Click OK to confirm your changes.
When your robotic process completes, it should reset the resource to its original state. Appian RPA includes a default Clean up section in the workflow where you can configure the clean up actions, such as closing any open applications or terminating any background processes.
You don't need to add the clean up section to the main workflow because these clean up actions are important to ensuring a stable and predictable resource. Appian RPA calls this section automatically during a robotic process execution.
To configure clean up actions:
Now that you've created the robotic process, you can integrate it with a new or existing process model in Appian. This way, you can choose how and when the robotic process starts in the context of a broader business process. Although there are multiple ways to execute a robotic process, this section will focus on how to use the Execute robotic process smart service in a process model.
Next, create the connected system to establish a connection with Appian RPA.
The Execute Robotic Process integration can be called from the smart service in the process model. Configure the integration after you create the connected system object:
Now that you've set up the connection to Appian RPA, it's time to put it to use:
variablesas an output. If a robotic process variable is a CDT, you can reference a specific field using dot notation.
Finally, you'll want to consider how to display or use the results of the robotic process. How you display the results is determined by your goal. If you're sharing a set of this information with others, an Appian record in your application could be a good option. Alternatively, if you're looking to troubleshoot or optimize your robotic process (notably in the development phases), you might want to take a look at the Execution Details in the Appian RPA console.
This section describes both approaches. Learn how to create a record type and populate it with details from a CDT, and how to create a record-powered grid.
Appian records aggregate and display your data to provide users with information they need, whether to act or be informed. When a robotic process execution concludes and sends information back to Appian, it's time to use it in your application.
See Create a record to learn how to display robotic process results alongside your other Appian data.
Sometimes it's more helpful to view all information about a robotic process, including metadata about the execution. All of these details are available in the Appian RPA console.
To view execution details:
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