UiPath - An Overview
Updated: Mar 22, 2022
UiPath has caught the attention of many organizations in the recent times. The development of the tool has been moving at a pace good enough for consideration. With recent additions including Computer Vision, the possibilities of what can be automated is ever growing.
So, if you're among the category who doesn't know what I'm even talking about yet, UiPath is a tool for automating you task's workflow at a much easier and fast rate compared to traditional programming - though each have their own limitations and nothing can be deemed the best of the best. It falls under the RPA (Robotic Process Automation) category of which there are other tools like Automation Anywhere, BluePrism.
I'm good at working with UiPath and hence would just be talking about it. Let's get into a little bit of learning.
I'm going to take a very simple example here. The goal is to:
1. Open the 'Notepad' window.
2. Type something on it.
3. Save it.
Now, one thing that you've got to understand is that there are multiple ways of doing the same thing. I'll first show you what I mean by that.
Just to perform step 1, we could take multiple approaches. The ones that I could think of now:
a. Directly execute notepad.exe from C:\WINDOWS\system32 - how you ask? Let's leave that for now.
b. Go to start, type 'Notepad' in the start search and click:
c. Open the Run window (again there are multiple ways of opening the run window too) using the keyboard shortcut Win+R and type in 'notepad' and hit enter:
There isn't much of methods that would be direct enough as just clicking and typing as of step 2, so, let's say the best approach is directly available with UiPath's Type Into activity. More about that later.
And again, for the final step, i.e., to Save a file, we could:
a. Use the key combinations Ctrl+S
b. Click on Notepad's File menu and select the Save option.
The key here is to understand which of the steps is going to be more stable with our task at hand. And to understand that, you have to experiment.
Before we go into creating the workflow using UiPath, let's first see how to start it up and understand the sections under it.
Starting Up UiPath
1. UiPath is available for download at this link. Remember to download only the Community edition since its free. If you end up installing the Trial version first, it would expire in a few weeks and then you cannot install even the community edition.
2. Once installed, look for:
after searching for 'uipath' under Start.
3. On the first run, you'd be prompted to active UiPath. Click on Activate Community Edition. On the next screen, enter the Email Address that you used for registeration to UiPath's website and leave the Device ID as is (you cannot modify that even if you wanted to)
4. Once activation completes, you shall be on the Start-up screen which should look something like:
5. Click on Process under New Project on the right section.
6. Provide a Name, Location and Description and click on Create. You may leave the Location to default:
UiPath might take some time to start.
Understanding the UI
The only important sections we'd need for our example are:
1. Activities Panel
Do note that you might need to expand the Activities Panel first. You might find the option to bring up the same on the left side to where you can see the Panel highlighted in the image above. Or, if the panels are all expanded by default, you'll find the option to the bottom of the currently highlighted section.
Before moving on to the next item on the list, lets first create a new flowchart. Flowchart is where we'll be designing our flow - the tasks to be performed one after the other. To do so, click on the 'New' button on the 'Design' Toolbar and click on 'Flowchart' under that (image below). Type in
a name (or leave it as is) and click on 'Create' button.
You should now have a Start point on your flowchart. Now, lets click on the activities panel and search for 'Click'. You should just select the one with the exact same name, under 'Mouse'. Drag and drop the 'Click' activity to the flowchart. Connect this activity to the 'Start' point.
It should look something like this now:
Finally, just click on the 'Click' activity and let's check its properties.
2. Properties Panel
This should be a very close resemblance of what you must see on the right side - Properties panel. It contains different options that can be configured for any activity. For example, you may use 'Click' activity to perform a single or double-click. This can be configured using the ClickType property. Now, if you want to perform a right-click, you can change the value of MouseButton property accordingly from the drop down.
It's all very simple, just keep your head open to relating things instead of learning it as something new!
Building Our Workflow
I think it should be better if you just watch this video first. It contains the step to do the task as per the example we chose. Here, we'll be opening Notepad using the Run dialog as mentioned in one of the approaches that can be taken, earlier.
After having done this, i.e., opening the Run window using Win+R key combo, typing Notepad into it and pressing the Enter key along with it, we need to type something in the notepad window and Save it.
You can find the video below.
Hope you got what's happening here. Else, I'm just a single comment away.
Next, from here, all you need to understand is what are the activities available and which one to use under different situations. Go on, explore. If you've got a particular scenario that you're wondering how to automate, remember how far I am? A comment away.