Automation Academy

Top 5 beginners’ questions about codeless automation

16.07.2019
5 min read
Questions About Codeless Automation

Learning a new tool is always challenging. Learning an RPA tool can be extra challenging for someone who doesn’t already have hands-on coding experience — but it’s becoming necessary in a market that’s more eager than ever to embrace automation.

Luckily, with free RPA tools offering codeless robotic process automation solutions, it is becoming easier for non-technical employees to start automating their routine tasks.

Instead of manually writing script after script from scratch — which is very time-consuming and requires programming skills — a codeless automation approach allows you to quickly create automation workflows.

Codeless automation tools take much of the frustration out of traditional code-based automation with user-friendly graphical interfaces. Codeless automation involves recording user actions, which the bot will then repeat or creating automation scripts via intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces. Neither of these requires users to learn programming.

We have gathered the most popular questions that newbies ask our Support team or post on WorkFusion Forum. These lessons will help you learn the ropes of codeless automation with WorkFusion tools.

What’s better to use to build workflows: Recorder or Actions Library?

There is no one definite answer.

If you automate desktop applications such as Excel or Outlook, where you interact with UI elements (you click on buttons or type text) and use a lot of keystroke combinations, it is a good practice to use the Recorder to capture your actions first and then edit small details in the workflow if required. The bot will need to interact with the application’s UI just like a user does, and these interactions are faster to record than build manually. 

Other processes can be recorded, but are better implemented through native actions available in the Actions Library. Let’s imagine you need to copy a large amount of data from an Excel file, then fill in an online form using this data. You could record your actions: open the file on the screen, open the form, then switch between the two, repeatedly copying the data from the file and pasting it in the form.

However, it will be more efficient to use special Excel actions to copy the data and then fill in the form using special Web actions. The bot will perform the same task faster and be more stable.

There are some processes that should always be implemented manually, using the Actions Library. These include actions that define the “logic” of your bot and are impossible to record, such as repeating actions in a loop or choosing a certain course of action based on a condition. Other actions make no sense recording, such as copying files or folders across directories or parsing data. The bot executes these actions in the background instantly.

What codeless automation tools are there to automate web applications?

Web-ActionsThere is a special group of actions for web automation: Web actions. With these actions, you can open web pages, copy and paste data there and click on buttons, links and other web elements.

Unlike humans, bots don’t need to scroll the page to find the button to click, nor copy the information by selecting it and using key combinations. They can do all these actions almost instantly due to their ability to find and interact with elements on the screen using XPaths.

When should or shouldn’t I use OCR to extract text?

OCR or Optical Character Recognition is used to recognize text from images. Though it is an incredibly useful feature that allows you to extract non-digital data, you need to take certain points into consideration when choosing the right use case for it.

The ideal case for using the OCR action is when you need to work with documents that contain non-digital structured data, for example: images, scanned documents, or pdf files of the same format. In this case, an RPA bot will know where exactly in the document the required data is located and can extract it with no decision-making required.

Another case for appropriate use of OCR is automating mainframe and Citrix-based applications, where it can be used as a fallback option when extracting data using mouse actions and key combinations doesn’t work.

If your process uses data that is both non-digital and not structured, OCR action will not be enough. Such a case would require intelligent automation, so you will need to use Machine Learning.

If the data in your use case is digital, use other approaches to extract it. Avoid using OCR to recognize data from websites, when possible. Instead, use Web actions. In case of Excel or text files, it is more efficient to automate them using native actions from the Actions Library or using selectors of UI elements.

What codeless automation capabilities are there for desktop applications in WorkFusion?

There are several approaches to desktop automation in WorkFusion.

The most universal and applicable to the majority of desktop applications is the object-based approach that uses window control selectors to locate and interact with an application’s UI elements. Window control selectors rarely change, which makes this approach very stable. Apart from such widespread applications as Outlook or Excel, it can be used to automate more specialized tools like SAP.

If the object-based approach doesn’t work in your case, you can use surface-based automation. One of the methods is automating desktop applications through special key combinations or shortcuts. Another is using screenshots of the application’s UI, which the bot will look for and interact with.

How can I make sure my scripts don’t break if the bot is running unattended?

There is a built-in “try-catch” functionality to make sure your automations don’t fail if something unexpected happens. You can program your bot to perform certain actions if it cannot complete a task, for example: send an email or write some text in a log file.

Finally, to make it easy for you to learn codeless robotic process automation, we have created free online RPA courses in Automation Academy, which allow you to learn at your own pace, whenever you want.