Robotics

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Robotics Process Automation or RPA is an extension that enables FlexRule to provide RPA capabilities. RPA allows automation to occur within applications from a User Interface (UI) navigation and actions perspective (i.e. Mouse Clicks, Moves or Keyboard keystrokes).

For this version of RPA, applications can be web applications using a Chrome Browser.

Example

A simple example is a model that navigates to reddit.com and scrapes the search results for Hello World!

Below is an example of the reddit.com search scenario:

Modeling

When an RPA automation model is required:

  • Create a new document as a Generic Flow
  • Use toolbox to model your automation
  • Use Element Inspector to get a page’s element information to address mouse or keyboard for taking an action

Toolbox

When the RPA Extension is installed, the Toolbox will be updated for Flow and Workflow models.

Check Robotics Commands for the full list and descriptions.

There are two activities that open a new browser:

  • New Browser
  • Navigate to

Both can be used to open a new browser and navigate to a specific address (url).

New Browser

When this command is used, it only opens a new browser and references a name for it. It does not navigate to a specific address unless it is connected to the Navigate To step.

When a New Browser is used, Copy Result To specifies the value that can be later used to reference that instance of the browser.

This activity can be used to redirect an existing browser instance to a specific address, or open a new browser instance and navigate to an address. The navigation address can be set by a Url property.

If Navigate To is reusing an existing open instance of a browser, Target Browser must be set to that instance. Otherwise, the New Browser section under Navigate To allows you to open a new browser instance.

Element Inspector

Some of the commands from the RPA toolbox require page element information in order to take action:

  • Find Element
  • List Action
  • Set Text
  • Get Text
  • Set Attribute
  • Get Attribute

These actions can be Mouse or Keyboard actions. For example, typing a value in a Text, or clicking on a button.

Best Matching Attributes

Elements of a web page can be identified based on different matching methods (Lookup Key):

Best possible match is based on:

  1. Id
  2. Name
  3. CSS Selector
  4. XPath
  5. and the rest…

Entering Values

Some commands can accept string values on their own (e.g., Navigate – which accepts a URL as a string and will navigate to a specific URL). Sometimes it is necessary to read those values in rather than use static constant values. In such cases, those values (e.g., the URL of the Navigate command can be set to a parameter name or expression and then the type of value should be set to expression).

1. Select the (…) button to open the value editor.

2. Add the parameter name or expression value (e.g., siteAddress) and set the type or Expression

Merging Nodes

FlexRule RPA contains merged nodes to reduce the number of steps in a process flow and make it easier to understand.

Example

To navigate to a web page it is necessary to open a web browser first, and then navigate to the website. For instance, consider the scenario of navigating to Google using a Chrome web browser. The steps are as follows:

  1. Open Chrome web browser
  2. Navigate to Google

This process can be achieved in two ways:

Method 1: Using two tools for the two steps

  1. Open Chrome web browser using a New Browser tool: Create web1 browser instance.
  2. Navigate to Google using a Navigate To tool: Navigate to www.google.com using the created web1 browser instance

Properties for the two separate tools, New Browser and Navigate To

Method 2: Using one tool for the two steps

  1. Navigate to Google using a single Navigate To tool instance: Navigate to www.google.com by creating web1 browser instance

Properties for the merged single New Browser tool

Method 2 is the merged node that allows you to execute two steps with one tool.

How to Inspect

Google Chrome Dev Tool is the best tool to inspect the elements of a web page.

Navigate to the page and right click on the element you need to inspect

Development tool inspector appears and highlights the element HTML

Select the best matching attribute (i.e., name, id, etc.)

And choose it for Lookup Key property. In this example, we choose the Name attribute.

Add the Value of attribute to Search Value property. In this case is q

Download

This sample project (RPA.zip) can be downloaded using the attachment at the end of the page. It contains all examples explained under each tool including the tutorials.

Video Description

Updated on June 7, 2019

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