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.
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.
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.
The following Browser methods are available in the task recorder:
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.
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:
Click the Record icon to launch the Task Recorder for this action.
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.
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:
|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:
Many browser actions will involve interaction with the webpage in some way. The task recorder captures these interactions automatically. The available options include:
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.
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.
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:
Learn more about credentials in Appian RPA.
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:
In the Task Recorder window, find the Save Into field. This field appears for the actions listed above.
Select the Parameter, Required, or Multiple checkboxes to configure your new variable with these specifications.
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.
To save your progress and finish 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.
For example, you may want to edit the recorded actions to:
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 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.
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.
The task recorder automatically populates the element selector when you interact with that element in the browser. You can edit this value if you prefer to use a different selector.
To help you confirm your updated selector points to the correct element, the task recorder highlights the element. You don't have to leave the task recorder or go through additional steps to test if the edited selector is still pointing to the element you intend to.
To edit the selector:
The task recorder highlights matching elements that are visible on the screen. As you interact with the browser, keep in mind that these visible elements may change.
At any point during your recording, you can return to previously recorded actions to review the action configuration, including selectors. Keep in mind that the task recorder checks the current browser window. If you are reviewing a previously recorded action, the task recorder may indicate that no matching element is found if the current browser window isn't the proper context for that action.
To verify the action's selector is correct, return to the browser window that matches the context for the configured action. The task recorder will highlight the visible elements that match the selector.
Example: Consider your interaction with a search engine. You visit the engine, type in a term, click a search button, view results, and click the top link. The web page changes between these actions, and so do the visible elements. When you record this interaction, the first action includes elements such as a search field and button, while later actions may only include text links and descriptions.
If you're viewing the search results page, but you're editing the action to input a search term, you may see an error message indicating that no elements match the selector. This is because the current page doesn't have an element (the search field) that matches the configured selector.
To confirm the selector is configured correctly, return to the page where the search field is present. The task recorder highlights that element now because it is visible on the current browser window.
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