Robotic processes follow a workflow, or a sequence of tasks. The workflow is the guide that leads the robotic process's operation, determining its starting point and driving it through a series of tasks and actions.
The workflow of an Appian RPA robotic process can be compared to a sequence of tasks performed by a human. Visually, the workflow makes it easy to monitor a robotic process's operation from the console. It enables a global view of all execution phases and allows you to analyze what action the robot is on, when it began, its duration, and its result. The console draws the workflow as the corresponding robotic process operates.
For example, let's suppose one person should perform a task that involves gathering names and contact information from people who have sent their résumés through the company's website. This data then needs to be documented and saved on Notepad, using one line for each name.
Assuming that the data source will always contain at least one résumé, the workflow could look like:
The workflow mimics how a human would go through the process: The person would open Notepad first, then read a résumé, then write the candidate's name and contact information in Notepad. If there are more résumés, the cycle would go back and the person would read the next résumé. If there are no résumés left, the Notepad document would be be saved and closed, reaching the end of the whole process.
Defining the workflow is the first and one of the most important steps for building Appian RPA robotic processes. A good design will make the robot easier to develop.
Looking to speed up your low-code robotic process development? Use the task recorder to capture your interactions in a web browser and automatically create actions in the workflow.
An action represents a single task in the workflow. These actions fall into the following categories:
When you are developing a robotic process, typically, it's in the first action where variables are initialized and everything needed for the robotic process to accomplish its task is prepared. Then the process will go through each action in the workflow, until it reaches the last one, and the execution ends. The difference between an initial action and a final action lies in their transitions. An initial action has no input transition and one output transition. A final action has at least one input transition and no output transition.
The color of the action in the workflow depends on the method you associate with the action:
|Workflow Color||Action Type||Association|
|start, generic, end||No method|
|conditional||No method or any method from either the Methods or Workflow libraries groups|
|generic||A single method from either the Methods or Workflow libraries groups|
|any||A single method from the Modules group|
|start, generic, end||Multiple methods from any group|
|start, generic, end||A custom section of the workflow|
In the workflow, actions connect through arrows, representing the workflow's transitions.
Within your workflow, you must associate actions with the robotic process's code so that each action corresponds to a method in the class that implements it.
In the Appian RPA console, actions can be associated with methods from low-code modules, workflow libraries, or custom code you create.
In the console, low-code modules contain methods that you can easily configure without needing to go into your source code. These low-code modules provide a user interface where you can add values to parameters and store returning values in robotic process variables.
You can associate methods from low-code modules with generic and condition actions in a workflow.
Sections allow you to break down complex actions into a set of actions in their own workflow. You can then use sections as actions in the main workflow. Sections operate in a way that's similar to sub-processes in an Appian process model, except they can only be used within the robotic process where they're created. Sections help keep the main workflow organized and make it easier to understand what's happening at a high level.
Sections can be helpful when the robotic process is set up to repeat the same actions multiple times. For example, rather than building a loop with four actions in the workflow, you can instead create a section for those four actions. Then, you can add the section as one action in the main workflow.
By default, every workflow has a Setup, Main Section, and a Clean up section. You can define multiple additional sections inside the same workflow. There's no limit to the number of additional sections that can be incorporated into the workflow. You can create a section manually using the instruction below, or create a section automatically by importing a Selenium file or using the task recorder. When you save your recording in the task recorder, the tool creates a new section with the captured workflow actions.
Certain tasks may need to be completed to prepare the resource for an item execution. You can define those actions in the setup section of the workflow.
If you use credentials in a setup section, the credentials are reserved and won't be released until the clean up section successfully completes. This may impact credential availability if the setup and clean up sections are skipped for consecutive executions. See Execution Settings to learn more about how the robotic process behaves when the setup and clean up sections are skipped for consecutive executions.
Whether the robotic process ended successfully or not, the end of an execution is a good moment to close the applications that the robotic process has opened or send the files generated during execution to the server. It's important to reset the resource to its previous conditions so subsequent robotic processes can execute successfully. Without consistent starting conditions, other robotic processes may not be able to start or complete.
In the clean up section, you can configure the steps the robotic process should take when it's complete, such as closing programs it opened. Remember that the steps you configure in this section only apply to the robotic process you're currently configuring.
You don't need to add the clean up section to your main workflow. The robotic process will always execute the clean up actions. If you use Java methods in addition to the clean up section in the console, the Java methods execute after the low-code section.
If the same robotic process executes multiple times consecutively, you have the option to skip the setup and clean up sections for faster executions.
When saving a workflow, Appian RPA performs some checks. If the workflow fails these checks, Appian RPA saves the workflow, but displays a warning message.
Appian RPA checks that:
Required role: Developer or Administrator
You can undo the changes at any time by clicking on Undo in the workflow toolbar.
To configure a robotic process workflow:
While configuring a workflow, you can use the following icons in the workflow toolbar:
|Export the selected actions and relations of the workflow.|
|Import actions and relations into the workflow.|
|Import from file.|
To associate a workflow library with the workflow:
When you add an action to a workflow, no method is associated with the action until you configure the action.
To add an action to a workflow:
In the workflow toolbar, click the icon for the type of action you want to add:
|Create a start/end action.|
|Add a generic action (task).|
|Add a conditional action (decision).|
You can associate the action with any of the following:
To quickly configure many actions at once, you can record a series of interactions in the Task Recorder instead of configuring each manually.
To associate an action with one or more methods:
Click the list icon . The action configuration window displays.
In the Actions tree, methods display in the following groups:
If you selected a conditional action, only low-code modules that return boolean or string values appear in the Modules group.
Want to call specific methods of the API to execute arbitrary code? Use the Execute code or Execute code with result methods in the Robot low-code module. Only Groovy scripts are supported.
To associate a single method with the action, browse to and select a method in the Actions tree. The right-hand pane displays the method and any available parameters that can be added or values that can be stored.
Methods are executed in the order they appear in the Multiple Actions section. Drag and drop methods within the section to change the order.
To quickly duplicate a method in the Multiple Actions section, hover over the method, then click the Add action icon that displays. To remove a method from the Multiple Actions section, hover over the method, then click Delete that displays.
pv!and concatenate variables as needed.
is stored as) or add the value as a multiple-value variable (
is appended to).
To associate an action with a custom section:
When you use the task recorder, your recorded actions appear as a new section in the workflow editor.
In the workflow, actions connect through arrows, representing the workflow's transitions.
To add a transition arrow between actions:
In the workflow, click the action where you want the arrow to originate.
If you want to insert a new action between two existing actions, first delete the transition 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.
To remove a transition arrow:
To create a custom section in a workflow:
To edit a custom section in a workflow:
To delete a custom section in a workflow:
Appian RPA has a native task recorder that makes automatically developing a section even faster.
Robotic processes are designed to interact with interfaces in the same way as human beings. To emulate a human being's actions on the screen, a developer needs to consider every step in the process: every click, every pause, and every text input. It can be difficult to trace every single step you take when interacting with a website or program. Selenium IDE is a browser automation tool you can use to build a script that captures these actions. You can import the Selenium script to Appian RPA to automatically create workflow actions to match the ones you recorded.
Appian doesn't support the Selenium tool itself, only the ability to import Selenium files to auto-generate a section. This documentation describes the steps and best practices to create a file to import in Appian RPA. For help and support, consult the Selenium documentation.
You can add Selenium IDE as an extension to your preferred browser for quick access. To get started, download Selenium IDE.
Before you record a workflow, keep these tips in mind:
.side) with up to 10 tests and 50 commands per test. Plan your recordings with these limitations in mind.
Use the following table to see how Selenium actions will be configured as Appian RPA actions. If a Selenium action isn't listed, it's ignored during import. Learn more about Selenium Commands and Browser module methods.
|Selenium Action||Browser Action|
|Add selection||Interact with element|
|Assert checked||Wait for attribute|
|Assert editable||Wait for attribute|
|Assert not checked||Wait for attribute|
|Assert not editable||Wait for attribute|
|Assert not selected value||Get attribute|
|Assert not text||Get attribute|
|Assert selected label||Get attribute|
|Assert selected value||Get attribute|
|Assert text||Wait for attribute|
|Assert value||Wait for attribute|
|Check||Interact with element|
|Click||Interact with element|
|Double click||Interact with element|
|Edit content||Interact with element|
|Remove selection||Interact with element|
|Select frame||Select frame|
|Selection||Interact with element|
|Store attribute||Get attribute|
|Store text||Get attribute|
|Store value||Get attribute|
|Type||Interact with element|
|Uncheck||Interact with element|
|Verify checked||Wait for attribute|
|Verify editable||Wait for attribute|
|Verify not checked||Wait for attribute|
|Verify not editable||Wait for attribute|
|Verify not selected value||Get attribute|
|Verify not text||Get attribute|
|Verify selected label||Get attribute|
|Verify selected value||Get attribute|
|Verify text||Wait for attribute|
|Verify value||Wait for attribute|
Selenium lets you modify recorded commands and insert additional commands for actions that aren't easily captured during your recording. If you insert or modify commands, refer to the Supported Actions table to make sure the actions will be imported properly.
Before you import the workflow to Appian RPA, it's a good idea to use Selenium's playback tool to confirm the script acts as you expect. Make changes to the Selenium script before importing to Appian RPA to save time debugging.
Import the Selenium file to automatically create actions in a robotic process workflow in Appian RPA.
To import a Selenium file as a section in a workflow:
.sidefile, or drag and drop it in the Import section dialog. The import tool only accepts
.sidefiles with a maximum of 10 tests and 50 commands per test. Appian RPA alerts you to these errors if the file exceeds the limits, is the incorrect type, or contains invalid content.
In the main workflow, you can associate the section with an action.
To adjust the order or visual presentation of a workflow, you can use the following icons in the workflow toolbar:
|Add an informative note to the workflow. The note does not affect the workflow itself. You can configure the display aspects of the note.|
|Select all actions of the workflow and their relations.|
|Reset the workflow's size.|
|Set the workflow's zoom level at 100%.|
|Zoom out of the workflow.|
|Zoom in on the workflow.|
|Aligns to the left all the selected elements in the workflow.|
|Centers horizontally all the selected elements in the workflow.|
|Aligns to the right all the selected elements in the workflow.|
|Aligns to the top all the selected elements in the workflow.|
|Centers vertically all the selected elements in the workflow.|
|Aligns to the bottom all the selected elements in the workflow.|
You can resize an individual action by selecting the action, then clicking and dragging on the double-arrow icon .
For example, a modified workflow could look like the following:
When you import actions into a workflow, their original position in the editor is kept. Therefore, some actions could overlap with others, even hiding those previously in the editor. In these cases, you should select them and move them apart to check if the import was successful.
To move a single action within a workflow section, drag and drop the action to a new position. After moving an action, you might need to adjust the transition arrows for that action.
You can also select multiple actions, then drag and drop the actions as a group.
You can select two or more actions at the same time, which can be useful when moving, deleting, or exporting actions in a workflow.
To select more than one action simultaneously, hold the Ctrl key (Windows) or Command key (Mac) and click each action to select. To select all actions, click Select all in the workflow toolbar.
When you export multiple actions, Appian RPA makes the selected actions serialized, producing a string that can be stored in a file or shared by any means that allows plain text communications. You can use this string to import multiple actions at a later time. A text field will ask you to enter the values serialized by the export option.
You can change the background color and text color for an informative note action.
To configure an informative note:
You can also import a workflow from a BPMN file. When processing the BPMN file, the console reads the BPMN tags defined in the file and map them to the appropriate workflow components:
To import a workflow from a BPMN file:
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