Task Recorder

Automation has the potential to speed up routine processes in your business, but getting started comes with its own learning curve. Appian RPA's task recorder tool makes the most of your development time. The tool observes and captures your interactions with the web browser 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 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 Appian RPA's native tool that records your interactions in a web browser 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 from a webpage and save it to a robotic process variable.

The task recorder is currently only available for Chrome and Edge browsers on Windows and Mac operating systems. Other browsers aren't yet available for the task recorder.

You must add the appropriate driver as a support file in your robotic process before you can begin recording.

When you use the task recorder to capture interactions in the robotic process workflow, a new section is created. You can then use the section within your overall workflow. The new section is automatically associated with the action where you launched the task recorder.

If you only record a single action, the action replaces the initial action without creating a section.

When to use the task recorder

The following Browser methods are available in the task recorder:

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

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

The task recorder saves captured information and extracted data in the Appian RPA console. As with other robotic process configurations, this information is associated with the user who created it. Be mindful when working with sensitive information in the task recorder, as this information isn't subject to additional protection such as encryption or audit.

Start the task recorder

You'll start the task recorder in the robotic process workflow. Instead of manually configuring the browser actions, the task recorder creates them automatically based on your interactions with the browser window.

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 workflow toolbar, click the generic action rpa-task-icon.png icon.
  7. Click the new action to select it.
  8. Click the Record icon to launch the Task Recorder for this action.

    rpa-launch-recorder.png

  9. Before you can begin recording, choose an available Resource and Browser.
  10. Enter the webpage to visit in the Navigate to URL field.
  11. Click OK.

The task recorder opens on the resource, where it will record your interactions with the web browser. Switch over to your resource, whether it's a virtual machine or separate computer, to get started.

The task recorder launches a browser window and navigates to the URL you specified. Hover over an element on the page to see what will be captured when you interact with it.

rpa-tr-capture

Recording actions

When you interact with the web browser, such as clicking a link, 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:

Action Options
Close browser None
Get attribute Selector, Attribute, Target (save into)
Interact with element Interaction
Navigate to URL URL
Open browser Browser type, URL
Select frame Switch to, Selector (when applicable)
Switch tab or browser Title
Wait for attribute Selector, Attribute, Attribute value

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

  • Selector: Lets you identify an element on the web page. 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 page.
  • Attribute Value: Specify the value that you're waiting for the element to have before proceeding.
  • Save Data To: 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 Type: Specify the browser to launch.

Interacting with elements

Many browser actions will involve interaction with the webpage in some way. The task recorder captures these interactions automatically. The available options include:

  • 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
  • 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 record actions, 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. Click the list icon 951644.png. The action configuration window displays.
  3. The action is already configured to use Interact with element. 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 in Appian RPA.

Save extracted data

The Get attribute, Wait for an attribute, and Is element present? 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, with your new variable in the Save Into field.

When you finish recording and return to the Appian RPA console, 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 as a new section in the workflow. Click CLOSE RECORDER to exit.

rpa-tr-save-recording

In the RPA console, you'll see the new section available in the workflow area. Each action you recorded corresponds to an action within this new section, including a start and end action. 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

This new section is automatically associated with the action you used to initiate recording.

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 X icon to remove unnecessary actions, such as mistaken clicks, to clean up your recording before generating the workflow actions.

Open in Github Built: Mon, Nov 29, 2021 (03:22:32 PM)

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