Automation with RoboTask Lite & Automation Workshop

I have seen the RoboTask automation programme and it is a paid programme , for personal use its 119$US so I ignored it in my exploration for task automation tools. I found there is a free RoboTask Lite that is a cut-down version of the main product that deals with files and PC activities but has the Internet & Email functions (and possibly remote connection tools) disabled. Fair enough, the free version is supposed to be a taster for encouraging people to purchase the main product.

It is very similar the Fabooti Automation Workshop that has a free version for personal use with the paid version priced at 499$US. The personal version has the email function operable so that you can send an email when a task or action occurs (or does not occur- ie on errors).

I have been using the Automation Workshop for quite a while now, with a few simple events. I initially had a few notifications but they got a bit irritating after a while and I turned them off, but the best one that I developed was having a folder for screenshots and moving the screenshots to another folder (for the next day) and then deleting the next day folder files. It works great. I have been enhancing it gradually over time, instead of moving *.jpg files across, I now move all files, so I use the folders to store any short term files that I’ll be wanting to delete. This saves my Download folder getting too messy.

comparison of RoboTaskLite & Automation Workshop running a similar task

On testing RoboTask Lite, on one of their samples, I found that they had pop-up dialogue boxes to give you some information about the task that was running.

I had not included pop-up dialogue boxes with my process on moving files between folders, and it has led me to go into those folders to confirm that those files have moved across, or been deleted. After exploring this feature in RoboTask Lite I saw that there is a similar option in Automation Workshop and I have assigned some variables to list file numbers, file size and action status so now, after running the macro it gives me an action status and number of files that moved (also the list of file names if I want that too, which I don’t).

RoboTask samples

RoboTask has a few samples that I will be exploring. There is quite a list of them on the website

Samples of RoboTask macros on website

Unfortunately, the ones that I downloaded seem to have logic functions in them and they are not available in the lite version so I cannot run them.

Will not run as Logic functions are not in Lite version

That is not a problem as in Automation Workshop (AW) the logic functions are working, so I can use the RoboTask macros and replicate them in AW.

This is where I came to a bit of a grinding halt with AW in that I needed some samples to see what useful automation processes I could develop.

RoboTask says: There is a wide range of actions for working with files, internet, ftp, email, datasets, windows, and much more!

The extensive support for conditional actions allows you to not only create automated task, but they can also be executed automatically if certain conditions apply (e.g if a file is moved, if your internet connection goes down, if there is new email etc.).

RoboTask can run as a service, allowing you to
have automated tasks take place, even if you are not logged on.

Here are many examples of what RoboTask can do for you:

  1. Runs applications and open documents.
  2. Manages automatic backups.
  3. Alerts you of any changes in your folders.
  4. Shuts down Windows and powers off your computer triggered by any event you choose.
  5. Processes files and folders (copies, moves, renames, deletes).
  6. Works with FTP and Web servers (downloads, uploads, etc).
  7. Sends letters and files by e-mail.
  8. Starts and stops Windows NT services.
  9. Sends network messages as WinPopup’s.
  10. Acts as an alarm clock.
  11. and much more!

Actually only 1,5 & 7 are of interest to me, most of the other items I do not do frequently enough to automate.

I’m not sure if RoboTask can run batch scripts or Power Shell batch files as AW can, but it seems to have added tools to manage the FTP and some remote processing.

Zip, msi & exe download files

One automation I created is based on me downloading lots of programmes to test. They end up filling up my download folder. So I move them to a sub-directory ZIP where I cam manage them better. One of the issues with these files is that on download the files are sometimes blocked, so you cannot run them. You think they may be dud files but in fact it is just windows blocking them.

To change this I found a powershell script that unblocks any files in a directory:

get-childitem “C:\Users\drake\Downloads” | unblock-file

So I can run this then UNZIP the files to a sub-directory of the Zip drive then run the programme.

It gets the executable type files out of my download folder to a place I can manage them, also unzipped folders are easy to finds and use (and delete if not needed) and I have another directory where I can store some of the useful programmes. For the others I just delete after moving the useful ones. This keeps this testing of software with executables process nicely compartmentalized and easy to manage.

End comment

I haven’t really done anything in this post apart from reviewing some of the features of RobTask lite and taking ideas across to enhance AW for processes that I already have. So not that educational. Although, the idea of the Logical functions in the processes have given me some ideas, plus the processing (I found a Parsing of a CSV file macro in AW) gives me some ideas on how I can explore these automation tools further. Hopefully I can build some more productive macros.

Of the two programmes in their retail form, I think RoboTask would be better value than AW, but AW allows for running batch files, so has that extra extendability. Although the one PowerShell batch process I did was pretty crude and was disappointing (logging onto a website in firefox- the powershell tools seemed to be designed to work with IE only).

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