Debugging Tools & Techniques

This article covers the following subjects:

Debugging Techniques Overview

Examining Debug Pane Data

Stepping and other Run Options

Setting Breakpoints

Setting a Watch

Minimizing Task Builder on Run


AutoMate furnishes an intuitive drag-and-drop Task Builder interface that allows users to easily construct the steps that a task should perform during runtime. While this solution may eliminate construction time, maintenance, effort and common errors, it does not make tasks immune from inevitable "bugs" which may still occur, causing them to behave in unintended manners or produce incorrect or unexpected results.  That is why the Task Builder encompasses a wide variety of troubleshooting and debugging features as well, to aid users in properly examining tasks, detecting anomalies and determining discrepancies. This article discusses a number of Task Builder debugging tools and common techniques that can facilitate in troubleshooting and resolving problematic tasks.

Examining Debug Pane Data

The Task Builder's Debug Pane generates an assortment of real time information about a running task, allowing you to easily monitor and examine many aspects of your project as it is being constructed. For example, the Output Pane displays verbose, real-time information about the task during its execution. For more information, see Task Builder Debug Window.

Stepping & other Run Options

When clicking the Run button, task execution may happen so quickly that it may be too difficult to pin-point exactly which task step is causing the problem and why. The main Run button’s default behavior is to run all steps of the task sequentially, from start to finish. Alternatively, clicking the down arrow located below the Run button supplies other run options (as illustrated below). The Run Selected button runs only selected steps, the Run From Here button runs the task from a specified step and the Step button runs the task one step at a time. For more information, see Testing Tasks Using Run Options

Setting Breakpoints

Breakpoints are very useful for larger tasks where stepping from the beginning of the task to a point of interest may be tedious and time consuming. Instead, you can tell the task to pause at a specific step by creating a breakpoint at that step. When the breakpoint is encountered, AutoMate will pause task execution. From here, you can follow the recommendations above, including stepping from this point forward by clicking the Step button, or continuing normal task execution by clicking the Run button. See Breakpoints for more information.

Setting a Watch

Watches provide a powerful means for watching the state of variables and expressions in your task. In larger tasks, where AutoMate Script steps, multiple Set Variable steps, or other more complex task steps are involved, watches are invaluable for seeing where and how variable values change. A watch can be simply a variable name to be examined, or it can be a complex expression that is reevaluated as the step executes. See Watches for more information.

The Watches Debug Pane displays a list of all watches and updates the value of each watch as the task runs. Watches can be added, removed, or modified using the Watches Tool. Watches are primarily used for debugging, thus, they are ignored when a task is executed as a result of a trigger or executed manually from the Task Administrator.

Minimizing Task Builder on run

For tasks that make use of Interactivity Actions, or otherwise interact with various windows, set an option to minimize Task Builder as the task runs. Task Builder is minimized as the task runs, and restored when the task ends or encounters a breakpoint. This allows Interactivity and Window actions to work unobstructed.

To minimize Task Builder on run:

  1. On the Task Builder Tools menu, click Editor Options.

  2. Click the Debugger tab, select Minimize on run and click OK.

See Also

About the Debug Window

Task Builder Debugger Preferences