Five Recent Automation Questions Answered

by default, in Automation Strategy, posted 8/31/16
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In all of AutoMate’s live webinars, attendees ask us great questions about our products or automation in general. In this blog post we’ve compiled some of the recent answers that our automation experts have provided. These questions come from people like you who are hoping to streamline processes in their business or expand their existing automation strategy. If you read through these and still have questions of your own, get in touch directly or join one of our monthly AutoMate Solutions Tours.

The Questions

1. Can AutoMate monitor an email folder and then process an attachment on the email?

Absolutely! A lot of people think about monitoring email in terms of monitoring a POP3 or IMAP mailbox. However, in those cases, when you process an email you have to delete it right away. AutoMate also has actions for Microsoft Exchange and Office 365, so after you process your emails and attachments you can move the documents into a new folder, allowing you to maintain them after processing. 

2. Are there any issues with scaling? For example, can I launch an .exe for a number of managed tasks over a large number of instances?

A Windows machine is a Windows machine. That is to say, if you have a machine with 4GB of RAM and you launch a hundred tasks at once, you may run up against the limits of how well that machine is made to perform. But there is a way to use AutoMate manage a large number of tasks. If you evaluate your machine and decide, for example, that only four active instances at a task will be able to run at once, you can set the rest to queue up until space is available. If you are running AutoMate BPA Server, you can scale by running your tasks across multiple VMs. BPA Server supports agent groups, so you can dedicate a group of identically-configured machines to a critical task and BPA server will round-robin between them.

3. How can I design a process to log into a trading partner website and download files?

It’s common these days for a trading partner to provide files for download through a service like SAP Ariba or a homegrown site rather than using FTP or direct email. AutoMate can also handle pulling or pushing files from email or FTP, but if you’re downloading files from a site you might want to use website interactivity. Let’s say this is your typical process: Every day your team receives a daily notification of available file downloads. Someone logs onto the site, navigates to the page, and gets the downloads. The whole process can be automated with AutoMate using a combination email actions, GUI interaction, Excel and database actions, and other features depending on your needs.

 4. How do I automate button selection in a program that doesn’t allow it? 

There are a few methods to automating button selection. We recommend first using the Focus Window action, which brings a specified window to the foreground so it can receive keystrokes or clicks. Start by trying to identify the window name or the object in the window so you can use interactivity actions like “Move Mouse to Object” or “Press.” If interactivity won’t work, the next thing to try is keystrokes. For example, to press a button you can tab to the correct button and send a “Spacebar” or “Enter” key to the control. If keystrokes are also not an option, your last resort is to maximize the window, focus it, and then use AutoMate to move the mouse to a specific position in that maximized window.

5. How can I audit an interactive task?

It’s important to be able to see what’s going on with your automation when you’re not there to monitor it. One way to do this is to automatically take screenshots along the way so that you can identify any problems visually. If you also want to keep a log on completions, you can write to a log file while also keeping copies of the screenshots to show auditors.

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