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Some opinionated changes of Windows Workflow Foundation in Auteros Studio

Auteros Studio is built based on Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF) technology from Microsoft.

A workflow is a set of elemental units called activities that are stored as a model that describes a real-world process, so it will fit naturally with RPA problems.

WWF provides a drag-drop workflow designer and a workflow engine to run the workflow. The workflow designer enables users with no or little programming experiences to design a workflow, and it's another important fit with RPA.

WWF comes with great reusability and extensibility, you can host all the WWF components in your own application with it's rehosting option. And you can write your own custom activities to represent specific tasks of your workflow requirements.

So it's easy to get a fully working workflow application with rehosting option as you can see in the following image all the components of WWF in Auteros Studio.

In our opinion, WWF with default features is enough for the workflow part of an RPA solution. But along the way, we see we need something more to fit our needs and hopefully it will help users also.

So we made the following changes:

Make the workflow designer cleaner so it can easy to follow

  • Activity's properties can be edited both in the workflow designer and the properties pane. But to make workflow designer looks more compacted, we tried to remove all the editing in the workflow designer (except some Microsoft default activities that we can't now). So editing of activity's properties will be done in properties pane.

  • Don't use scope activities.

  • Although we can break a workflow to multiple sub-workflows, but at some point the workflow still complex and hard to follow. So for developer, we support Scripting option with C#, so you can code an entirely workflow.

Centralize processes in one place

A process represents one automation scenario. It can consist multiple workflows with one dedicated main workflow (like the entry point of a program).

In Auteros Studio, we don't manage processes seperately by projects, because it will create many switching back and forth between processes to open the project files.

Auteros Studio only has one project in the Explorer tab, all processes (workflows) will be created and managed under this project.

You can:

  • Organize workflows by folder.

  • Set workflows as Main.

  • Drag a workflow to workflow designer

  • View the dependency workflows of a workflow in the Dependencies Tab.

Make C# Expression first class

WWF only comes with VB expression, but VB is not so popular now, so we remove it and only support C# expression.

With the great new .NET Compiler Roslyn, we can support Intellisense when you type in the C# expression and code. Also, it creates opportunity to enable bots to run in other platforms than Windows like Linux or Mac.

Enable/Disable activities

Allow enable/disable activities in a workflow (disabled activities will be grayed out), so when the workflow runs, it won't execute these activities.

Run only one activity at time.

If an activity have properties with static values, you can run only this activity to see it's result instead of running the workflow.

You can get Auteros RPA Community version here. It's completely free, unrestricted.

To make Auteros RPA better, we would love to hear your feedback at feedback@auteros.com

You can ask questions in Auteros's forum or join our Slack community.

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