Managing Task Agents

Each task agent contains a set of properties which allows you to view specific details, enter custom notes, assign permissions and enter specific settings for that agent. To access an agent's properties, from the SMC's Agents folder, select the desired agent and press the Properties button located on the header panel or double-click the icon representing the agent. The properties page of that agent appears as shown below. They are categorized into two sections, General Properties and Agent Properties.

General Properties


General Properties contain specific details about the task agent. It also allows user-defined notes and security permissions to be assigned for the agent.

Details

The Details section displays various attributes pertaining to the specified task agent. The following table describes such details.

Field or Checkbox

Description

Name

The assigned name of the agent.

Created By

The user who created the agent as indicated in the Users section of the SMC.

Created On

The date/time when the agent was initially created.

Modified On

The date/time when the agent properties were last modified.

Version Date

The version date/time.

Unique ID

The unique identifier for the agent.

Globally Enabled

Indicates whether or not the agent is globally enabled. This option is enabled by default.

Last Task Run

The last task that was executed on the agent.

Last Run On

The date/time when the last task was executed on the agent.

Result

The result of the last task that executed on the agent.

Last Trigger Fired

The last trigger that was fired on the agent.

Last Fired On

The date/time when the last trigger fired on the agent.

Workflows containing this Agent

A list of all workflows containing the agent.

Tasks assigned to this Agent

A list of all tasks assigned to the agent.

Conditions assigned to this Agent

A list of all conditions assigned to the agent.

Agent Groups containing this Agent

A list of all agent groups containing the agent.

Notes

The Notes section provides a location in which to enter descriptive information or custom notes in regards to the specified agent. Notes entered will appear in various reports and other sections of the SMC.

Security

The Security section (shown below) allows you to set permissions that existing users and user groups have on this agent.

To set permissions on this agent:

  1. Select the user or group from the Available Group/User Name box and click Add to it to the Selected Group/ User Name box.

  2. Perform the above instructions to add other users/groups to the Selected Group/User Name box.

  3. Set the available permissions for the selected user(s)/group(s) under the Permissions box.

  4. Click Apply to save changes.

Below are the set of permissions and the items that they correspond to:   

 

Workflow

Task

Condition

User

User Group

Agent

Agent Group

Folder

Create

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Read

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Edit

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Delete

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Move

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Enable/Disable

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

Manually Execute

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manually Stop

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modify Staging

X

X

X

 

 

X

X

 

Import

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

X

Export

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

X

Agent Properties


Agent Properties are specific settings and preferences that influence the behavior of agents that interpret and execute the tasks sent by the server. By default, all task agents inherit their properties from the server under the Default Agent Properties section. However, you can override the properties set from the server and the properties assigned in this section can be inherited instead. To override server assigned properties, select the property you wish to override. Click the link that states These properties are inherited from the server. Click here to override them. For more details, see Property Inheritance.

Default User

Specifies the user credentials that an agent should use when logging onto a workstation if no user is specified at the task level. Using a default user makes tasks more portable because each agent can have a default user set to an account appropriate for that system configuration. These properties also indicates the keystrokes to use in order for an agent to successfully log onto or unlock to a workstation when a user is not present. The keystrokes set by default are adequate for many systems and may never need to be changed. However, depending on your operating system, hardware, or other factors, you may need to make additions or changes to the default keystrokes.

Property

Description

Default user name

The default user name that agents should use when automatically logging onto or unlocking a workstation. A plain user name such as "sparky" or a user name/domain combination such as  "sparky@networkautomation.com" can be entered . When the latter form is used, the domain field is disabled.

Default user password

The default password to be used with the user name specified above. This can be blank if no password is associated with the user name.

Default user domain/machine name

The domain or machine name associated with the user. This parameter can be left blank if the user is not a member of a domain or if there is only one workgroup for the machine. This parameter is inactive  if a user name/domain combination is entered in the Default user name parameter.

Logon keystrokes

The keystrokes to use in order for an agent to successfully log onto the workstation when a user is not present. AutoMate will simulate a user entering these keystrokes onto the Windows Logon screen. The default logon key sequence is:

{ALT}u{USERNAME}{ALT}p{PASSWORD}{ENTER}

This tells AutoMate to press ALT+U to bring the cursor to the Username field. It then types out the user name. Next, it presses ALT+P to bring the cursor to the Password field, and types out the password. Thereafter, the ENTER key is pressed to complete the logon process.

NOTE: This parameter is only compatible with Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 operating systems.

Unlock keystrokes

The keystrokes to use in order for the agent to successfully unlock the workstation. AutoMate will simulate a user entering these keystrokes in order to successfully unlock a machine. The default unlock key sequence is:

{ALT}u{USERNAME}{ALT}p{PASSWORD}{ENTER}

This tells AutoMate to press ALT+U to bring the cursor to the Username field. It then types out the user name. Next, it presses ALT+P to bring the cursor to the Password field, and types out the password. Thereafter, the ENTER key is pressed to complete the unlock process.

NOTE: This parameter is only compatible with Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 operating systems.

Logon keystroke delay

The number of milliseconds to pause between each keystroke. By default, AutoMate will press each key of the key sequence every 200 milliseconds. Adjust this number if keystrokes appear to be missing during the logon or unlock process, which may indicate that they are being typed too quickly.

Enable software SAS (Vista or higher)

If enabled, allows automatic logon on Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 operating systems via SAS group policy setting. Software SAS (Secure Attention Sequence) allows applications on Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Server 2008 to send CTRL+ALT+DEL to the system to initiate a logon or unlock sequence. If this option is disabled, tasks set to unlock or logon a workstation may fail. This parameter is disabled by default.

NOTE: This parameter is only compatible with Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 operating systems

Indicators

Determines the level of visibility to be displayed on the agent machine. For instance, if a user is logged onto a machine where an agent resides, to limit the user's awareness of a running task, the administrator can disable specific settings that indicate task execution. These settings also determine the degree of interaction allowed during task execution and specify the hotkey combination to use in order to stop one or more running tasks.

Property

Description

Show AutoMate Agent icon in tray

Indicates whether the AutoMate "A" icon should be displayed in the system tray of the agent machine. The available options are:

  • Always (default): The "A" icon always appears in the system tray of the agent machine.

  • When task is running: The "A" icon appears in the system tray only during execution of a task and disappears upon completion.

  • Never: The "A" icon never appears in the system tray of the agent machine.

Enable right-click menu on tray icon

If enabled, right-clicking the "A" icon on the system tray opens a menu that contains the following items:

  • Open Server Management Console: Opens the SMC interface. If the SMC is already open, selecting this option opens another instance.

  • About: Displays a dialog box that reveals the agent's version and copyright information.

  • Exit: Closes the SMC and stops the AutoMate BPA Agent service, thus, disconnecting the agent from the server.

This parameter is enabled by default.

Display "Running Task" window when a task is running.

If enabled, the agent machine displays a small indicator window in the lower right-hand corner of the desktop during task execution. This window displays the name of the task that is currently running, completion percentage of the each step and the task's overall progress. When the task completes its execution, the indicator window disappears. If numerous tasks are running simultaneously, Running Task indicators are stacked one on top of the other, each one linked to a currently running task. This parameter is enabled by default.

Display title bar on "Running Task" window

If enabled, a title bar is displayed on the Running Task Indicator window. This is helpful to allow subsequent window dissection related actions to recognize the Indicator window by its title. This parameter is disabled by default.

Make "Running Task" window always on top

If enabled, puts the Running Task Indicator window on top of all other open windows on the desktop. If disabled, other windows can steal focus, thus, placing the Indicator window in the background. This option is enabled by default.

Use transparent window

If enabled, the Running Task Indicator window appears transparent. This allows users to see another open window in the background (i.e. while typing onto that window)without having to minimize the Running Task Indicator window. This parameter is disabled by default.

Enable the task interruption hotkey

If enabled, activates the Task interruption hotkey parameter which allows entry of a specific hotkey combination used to interrupt running tasks. This parameter is disabled by default.

Task interruption hotkey

Specifies the hotkey combination to enter in order to stop one or more running tasks. The default value is Ctrl+Alt+PageUp, which can be modified by simply entering a new hotkey combination.

SNMP

The SNMP settings affect the behavior of SNMP related actions that execute on an agent. These settings allow you to select the directory location of the MIB (Management Information Base) files which are used to translate object names and identifiers to their numeric counterparts. They also allow you to select the default port that the SNMP Trap Condition will use to listen for monitored traps.

Property

 Description

MIB files location

Indicates the directory location of the MIB (Management Information Base) files. The SNMP actions use these MIB files to translate object names and identifiers to their numeric counterparts. Click the browse icon to locate the directory or simply enter it manually. The default directory is C:\WINDOWS\system32.

NOTE: Only files with an extension of .mib are parsed.

Listen to traps on local port

The port that AutoMate BPA Server 9 will use to listen for traps using the SNMP Trap Condition (default is 162). Set this to some other than the default if you already have an SNMP manager installed on your system.

NOTE: If this port is changed, the SNMP agent must be notified of the proper port in order for BPA Server 9 to capture the trap event.

SMTP

The SMTP options indicate the default email server and account to use for sending emails that are generated by AutoMate BPA Server 9. This affects the 'Send Email' action and the 'Send Email on Error' option executed on an agent.

Property

Description

Default mail server

The name of the mail server that will send emails generated by AutoMate BPA Server 9 (Example: mail.mycompany.com).

Default mail server port

The default port that the mail server uses (this value is set to 25 by default).

Use Authentication

If enabled, specifies that the server requires a username / password to authenticate with.

Username

Specifies the username that the server authenticates with.

Password

Specifies the password matching the username entered above that the server authenticates with.

Proxy

The Proxy options specify the default proxy settings AutoMate BPA Server 9 should use when attempting any network communications. This includes using any Internet associated actions that are set to use the default proxy settings.

Property

Description

Proxy Type

The proxy type to use. When none is selected, AutoMate BPA Server 9 does not use a proxy for its TCP/IP communication (unless a specific task action/step is set otherwise). The available options are:

  • None (default)

  • Socks4

  • Socks4a

  • Socks5

Proxy Host

The host name or host address of the proxy to use (grayed-out until Proxy type is chosen).

Proxy Port

The port on the proxy server to use.

Use authentication

If enabled, AutoMate will attempt to use the user ID and password specified to authenticate a proxy request. If disabled (default), AutoMate attempts to contact the proxy server without authentication. The following options are available if this parameter is enabled:

  • User ID - The User ID (or username) to authenticate proxy requests.

  • Password - The password to authenticate proxy requests.

Staging

Specifies the stage level of a task or condition that this agent is allowed to execute.

Property

Description

Only run tasks or conditions with a completion state equal to or greater than

If enabled, tasks and conditions will execute on this agent only if the completion state is equal to or higher than the one specified. This parameter is disabled by default. Available stages (from lowest to highest) are as follows:

  1. In Development (default) - Tells the system to run all tasks and conditions currently in development stage (lowest stage) or higher, which basically indicates all tasks and conditions.

  2. Testing - Tells the system to run all tasks and conditions that are currently in the testing stage or higher.

  3. Production - Tells the system to run all tasks and conditions currently in the production stage or higher.

  4. Archive - Tells the system to run all tasks and conditions currently in the archive stage.

Constants

Allows you to create and define constants configured for use on an agent machine. The value of an AutoMate constant is available to all tasks on the specified agent. However, unlike variables, constants maintain the same value from task to task and the value cannot be modified from or within a running task. More on constants

Field Name

Description

Name

The name of the constant.

Value

The value of the constant.

Comment

An optional user-defined comment about the constant.

Enabled

Specifies whether the constant is globally enabled or disabled. Newly created constants are enabled by default.

SQL Connections

Allows a user to create/configure a SQL connection for use on any connected Agent. A SQL connection is a string that contains the information needed to access a database. Once configured, the pre-defined SQL connection can be called from any Open SQL Connection step of any task.

Property

Description

Name

The user defined name of the SQL connection. This value corresponds to the Session Name parameter found in the properties of the Open SQL Connection action.

Value

The connection string to set as the pre-defined SQL connection. Click the Build button to open the Data Link Properties dialog allowing you to build a proper connection.

Comment

A user-defined comment describing the SQL connection. Entering a comment is optional.

Enabled

Specifies whether the connection is enabled or disabled (all new connections are enabled by default).

Task Isolation

AutoMate BPA tasks can be tailored to execute with varying degrees of isolation allowing for faster startup speeds. Tasks can be set to run under a single pre-loaded process allowing faster startups but eliminating tasks from being isolated from one another or each task can be set to start in their own process isolating them from other running tasks at the cost of a reduction in startup speeds.

Task Isolation functionality operates only in situations when multiple tasks begin simultaneously on the same machine (either manually or automatically with the use of a trigger) or when one or more tasks are started while another task is currently in a running state. Keep in mind that certain tasks may need to run independently, such as tasks that contain interactive actions or ones that directly interact with the desktop. Such tasks can be set to run alone within the task Priority settings.

Property

Description

High

All tasks are set to start in their own process as opposed to starting from a single pre-loaded process. The first task instance and subsequent simultaneous task instances must wait for their corresponding process to start reducing overall startup speed. However, because each task is isolated in their own process, they become independent from all other running tasks. Therefore, failure of a particular task will not effect other running tasks. (Equivalent to Always Isolate option if set per individual workflow or task).

Medium

The first task instance starts from a pre-loaded process providing faster startup for that task. If other task instances start while the first instance is currently running, each of those tasks will start from their own process which may reduce their overall startup speed. However, since each subsequent task is isolated in its own process, failure of an individual task will not effect other running tasks (default).

Low

The first task instance and all other simultaneous instances start from a pre-loaded process allowing for optimum startup speeds. However, since all tasks are run from the same process, failure of a single task will effect all tasks that are running under the same process. (Equivalent to Never Isolate option if set per individual workflow or task).   

Load Management

Dictates the maximum number of tasks that can run simultaneously on an agent machine. Each running task consumes approximately 7 megabytes of memory. The more tasks that run at once, the more memory is consumed and the more CPU power is required to track and maintain the tasks. Load Management allows more control over how many tasks can run simultaneously in order to better utilize system resources and eliminate potential issues that may drastically impede overall system performance.

Property

Description

Maximum number of running tasks

Specifies the maximum number of tasks that should run simultaneously on a given agent. When this limit is reached, tasks are not started and placed in a "waiting tasks" queue until the running tasks count goes below this value. Queued tasks will run in the order that they were initially placed in the queue. The default (as well as maximum) value is 50.

Miscellaneous

Enables users to set various miscellaneous BPA Server 9 settings which are in reference to the port that BPA Agents should use and whether or not to disable the Windows Foreground Timeout feature.  

Property

Description

Automate Agent Port

Specifies the default port that connected agents should use to communicate with the server component (default is 8500).

Disable Windows Foreground Timeout

Windows Foreground Timeout prevents other applications from focusing or changing the order of windows on a system without direct user interaction if another application has been accessed within several seconds. This can prevent AutoMate from properly focusing a window during execution of actions that may need to interact with a specific window, such as Move Mouse or Send Keystrokes actions. If this option is enabled, Windows Foreground Timeout functionality is turned off, allowing AutoMate to properly bring specific windows into the foreground. If disabled, Windows Foreground Timeout stays on, in which case, the system will blink the window in the system tray until it is manually clicked. This parameter is enabled by default.

See Also


Agents | Agent Groups | Deploying Agents | Managing Agents | Process Agents | System Agents