UiPath robot interactions & CE review

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I’m really trying to get my head around this programme. Its not as flexible as it first seems. Also, there is only so much that you can do with the community version. The costs of robots, from “googling” the web seem high too. So I’ll work through this exercise but may drop the programme later unless I can see a really useful case for it.

So in the community version you can only have 2 robots running at any one time. Good to be aware of this limit.

So if you want to build  Robots you need to activate them from your PC. I note, on the image above bottom line that it says activation only online for Community Edition. I have tested bots which I saved to local drive, unplugged from Internet & have run the bots so these do run off-line.

So, it looks like this needs to be a personal productivity tool. If you want to give to others to use then they need to load up UiPath too.

Also , you can only run one Robot at a time, so if one is running, you have to wait for it to finish before you can start another Robot. Someone noted in a forum post that you could run a couple of different instances to be able to run 2 Robots simultaneously.

Types of Robots

  1. Attended – operates on the same workstation as a human, to help the user accomplish daily tasks. It is usually triggered by user events. You cannot start a process from Orchestrator on this type of Robots, and they cannot run under a locked screen. They can be started only from the Robot tray or from the Command Prompt. Attended Robots should only run under human supervision.
  2. Unattended – run unattended in virtual environments and can automate any number of processes. On top of the Attended Robot capabilities, this Robot is responsible for remote execution, monitoring, scheduling and providing support for work queues. (from Orchestrator, I don’t think you can do this on your PC)
  3. NonProduction – retains all the features of the Unattended Robot, but it should be used only for development and testing purposes.
  4. Development – has the features of an Unattended Robot, but it should be used only to connect your Studio to Orchestrator, for development purposes.

You are able to run debugging in Studio with all types of Robots.

Connecting a Robot to Orchestrator offers the following benefits:

  1. a centralized location from which to deploy automation projects to Robots
  2. an easier and centralized point for the management and monitoring of multiple Robots
  3. the scheduled execution of automation processes on Robots
  4. the management of queues and transactions
  5. centralized Robot logging to SQL and/or ElasticSearch

So, from what I can see from searching around is that if you want to have a Robot that you want users to interact with you have two choices:

1/ Load Ui Robot and whatever associated programmes onto a local PC and run it from there  (item 1 – Attended, above).

This means that the actions are all taking place on that PC so you have to ensure that the Robot is configured for their resources and you also need to ensure that the person on the PC knows how to use the deployed Robot. If there is an update you’ll need to overwrite their .nupkg file so they have the latest version. (Note, you can rename the .nupkg to .zip to look inside the file)

2/ Create a process that works with a scheduled execution of automation processes on Robot so you use a 2. Unattended robot that can run, from the cloud on Orchestrator.

This would require a user interface such as a web form for the person to fill out. Then the Robot would grab the information at regular intervals, say hourly, and process that information, then send an email when it was done.

I’m thinking of an example where a user wanting to have data extracted from a 3D PDF file to a CSV, then maybe on to further processing. They would fill out a .CSV file somewhere online and load up the 3d pdf file that they want processed (or multiple files) and also put an email address for where the Robot can send a notification to if its completed. Google sheets or Forms would be good for this with a general account used for this. In fact, you could have the Robot check to see if there are any new lines added at say minute intervals, and if there were, then to action them using a flowchart with a yes/no for new lines added. You’d need to setup the automated Robot based on your VPS so that it is running all the time.

Aside:

I was going to do a process that would allow for user input & file  and process it and then return a csv but after finding out about limit of unattended robots I do not think this use case is strong enough for me to develop it further at this point.

Some tools to use with UiPath for Remote Scheduled Robots

 Setup Google Form and embed on web page.

This is to get responsive information from the user for working with the proposed Automated Robot that we will build

The 2nd process above is the more friendly for users, as it requires no extra programmes on their PC but requires them to go somewhere to fill out a form.

Google Forms will allow this ( there is also Cognito forms and other ones I’ve used for WordPress sites too.). In fact, Google forms allows file uploads, see this YouTube Vid. So you can embed a form on your website to allows others to do this.

I will set this up on my demonstration site Vast upload page. This creates the form on my Google Drive and a link is created to fill out form.

It will not let me embed the form into my website because it asks for an email address. So I have to send the visitor to a link to fill out the form and upload the file.

I have followed this video for form and file upload process for google forms:

So, here are these steps:

 

 

In image below, item 2 shows that the responses information is saved to a google sheet

The google sheet has timestamp and other data from the upload process to the form.

Web page with link to Google Form for upload

At the end of part 1 I have got file on my Google Drive in a folder and also a google sheet with some user information.

Uploading to UiPath Gsuite.nupkp package ( basically an add-in)

UiPath Gsuite.nupkp is a set of activities to interact with Google Drive, Sheets, and Gmail. Supercharge your productivity with a robot that can collaborate on spreadsheets, access stored files, and read emails all within Google Cloud.

I was initially thinking I’d need to get my data from Google Drive and bring it into my VPS , figuring out some form of copy/paste and also looking to export Google Sheets to Excel Online (free version as I don’t have it set-up on my VPS). In fact I can link, with the package directly to Google Drive Sheets and take the tabulated data into a DataTable inside UiPath.

You need to load these packages for each project you use them in, so they are only relevant to that Project.

Here is a pdf file showing how to connect UiPath Studio to Go!. This is a website that has UiPath add-in integration’s. Not a mass of them and a lot seem to be specific to certain business enterprise programmes.

The pdf setup seems to be for an older version of UiPath Studio, so buttons are in different places. I used the manual download process as the studio link to Go! didn’t show any packages.

I have now uploaded the GSuite package. Now I need to test to see if I can use it to simplify the Robot.

End thoughts

This is a bit of a haphazard post. I was initially going to do a remote Robot, a bit more elaborate than my previous “send email” and have it running from my VPS, but after researching the in limitations of the Community Version I am not sure that I want to put the effort into learning and debugging the programme because the use case I was going to try was not that strong.

I appreciate that the Community Version is for people to learn the programme so they can up skill to use the enterprise version to create Robots for an organization. But in my case, I’m exploring cheap solutions and this programme seems to be quite expensive from what I have gleaned on the web. It must be as there is no transparency about their pricing.I can also see, in an organization if it can save a proportion of an FTE  (full time equivalent) workload then there are  great savings to be made by the organization and UiPath should definitely get rewarded for that. Especially since their programme is so versatile and can span multiple programmes and web scraping.

Running a local Robot and doing some web scraping will be worth the effort to learn as I can use Windows Task Manager to schedule that activity. So that may be a motivation to learn the programme.

The other thing I have not explored with this programme is linking to a Database for extracting and updating data in tables and doing queries on a database. This could be quite useful. This could be quite a productivity tool for appending data to table from a csv file or other source.

I have found that their documentation is structured a bit strangely, but digging away you will eventually find the information that you need. There is a bit of a learning curve, but there needs to be a reward at the end to motivate you to learn the programme.

This programme is a bit more versatile and far more powerful than the other Macro programmes like AutoHotKey, Pulover’s Macro Creator, Phase Express & ShortKeeper, as it does the web scraping too.  You can build your Robots and break them down into lots of sequences and add if/then processes etc.Its a bit like FME by Safe, as its mainly an enterprise tool its only worth learning if the enterprise have bought the programme.

But its not that transportable.  I am wondering if something like AutoIT is maybe a better fit as you can create an .exe file. Its easy to share an .exe file with others and they can run when they want.

I like the idea of this programme, I also like the tools and its workflow. I just find its method of running a bit limited (Scheduled Cloud run & UiRobot on taskbar) as its not easy to share in the Community Version to others who want to use the Robots but do not want to know how they run. Its another “load” a specific programme for a “specific task”. A bit like loading Revit to use as a BIM viewer on a PC, unless you are using it continuously its just bloating your computer.

At this point, I will think about whether I have a suitable use for this tool. I think I will explore AutoIt, which requires a bit more programming, but may be a more useful tool for me to learn.

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