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Topic Title: Running tasks that require interaction with a GUI screen
Topic Summary: What's the best way to run tasks on agent workstations when GUI screens/windows are accessed?
Created On: 05/18/2012 09:20 AM
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 05/18/2012 09:20 AM
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BeckiBloch
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Joined: 12/30/2011

We have many workflows that need to interact with applications GUI screens. The approach so far has been to do local installs of those applications on the agent workstations, and to leave the workstation logged on and locked. I would like to know what other approaches folks have found that are working for them, and if there's a better way then our approach?

I found this article in the Knowledge Base, but after re-reading it, it's essentially accomplishing the same thing with RDC MGR that we're doing with VNC. http://www.networkautomation.c...indows/4ecdf43e03470/

Thanks much!
Becki

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 05/18/2012 12:44 PM
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JeanDelfosse
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Joined: 03/30/2005

Becki,
the answer may depend on the degree of integration of the GUI with your task functions.
Of course the easiest (BPA wise) approach is to have the application installed on the agent, as you mentioned.
But, if the application cannot be distributed at will, and if there is a way to split the App GUI interface and the remainder of the task, another approach could be to have the app run separately, and having a specific agent on that computer to deal with the GUI interactions. The workflow would then be reworked to include tasks (interactive with the app GUI) that run on the app Agent, and other tasks (non interactive with the app) to run on the local agent.
Of course the feasibility of such a scenario must be appreciated on a case by case basis.

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 05/21/2012 09:20 AM
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BeckiBloch
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That's an excellent suggestion - thank you! It sounds like the best way to ensure the interactive tasks in a workflow run correctly are to leave the agent workstation logged on and locked. Are there any problems with doing that, and then accessing the workstation via RDC Mgr to do development? RDC is much faster than VNC. Thanks!

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 05/21/2012 09:27 AM
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CorySwartz
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Joined: 02/11/2010

The Logon Options under Default Properties define how a workflow/task will interact. You do not necessarily have to leave the workstation logged on for the BPA workflow to run. We have a handful of apps installed on the server that need GUI interaction and we just make sure to always log off our RDP sessions and avoid using the /admin switch. The workflow then uses the Logon properties that we've set in the "Default User" area. These logon properties can be set at the Server, Agent, and Workflow levels.

Hope that helps.

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 05/21/2012 10:00 AM
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BeckiBloch
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Hi Cory,
For some reason I'm really having trouble with this concept, so thanks in advance for your patience, and for helping me learn! We're running BPA Server 8 standard, so we have 1 logon for all users. We have 1 server and 3 workstations. Three developers share one workstation, and the other 2 workstations are 'dedicated' to individual users in other departments outside of IT. If the workstation is locked the workflow will unlock it, and the workflow has a window available to bring up the application and focus the window on the GUI screen. If the workstation is logged off, how does the window become available? Maybe we haven't coded our workflows correctly? I've attached a code snippet that launches the McKesson STAR application, and one that navigates through the screens. When we're logged out of the agent workstation the table load fails on the 'focus window' step with an error message that the window can't be found. Thanks again for any insight you can give me; I really appreciate it!

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 05/21/2012 11:13 AM
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CorySwartz
Expert (100-199)

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It sounds like this might be a timing issue. We had this problem that I posted about in this thread:
http://forums.networkautomatio...=7998&highlight_key=y

The easiest way I've found to troubleshoot remote or interactive workflows is to VNC, LogMeIn, or other true "console" type of remote desktop session and then fire off the workflow from your PC (or set it to a schedule a minute or two before you VNC in). Then you'll see if it's trying to hit the window before it's even logged on to the PC. If it is trying to hit the window too early, you can try Rick's suggestion in the thread I mentioned above to delay the logon function.

One other "workaround" would be to place blank tasks in your workflow to allow for some additional time for the workstation to log on.

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 05/29/2012 05:28 PM
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BeckiBloch
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Thanks Cory! We're still struggling with this, but one thing I read in the 'Logon Options - In Depth' knowledge base article was that interactive tasks should have the priority set to 'run alone'. Have you done that, and if so, what have your results been? I'm also wondering what happens to a workflow that's waiting to run but can't because of the 'run alone' setting. Will it launch when the interactive task completes, or will it not run since it's schedule time may have passed?

Thanks,
Becki

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 05/30/2012 08:41 AM
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Ricardo Castaneda
HelpSystems

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Joined: 01/11/2008

Hi Becki,

If your task is set to run alone all other tasks that will kick off with the same task name will create a Que. Depending on the settings of those tasks they will either run alone or kick off once the first task is complete.

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Ricardo Castaneda | Principal Support Analyst
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Edited: 05/30/2012 at 09:11 AM by Ricardo Castaneda
 05/30/2012 09:01 AM
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BeckiBloch
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Great - thank you! This is the priority setting on the workflow, correct?

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 05/30/2012 09:10 AM
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Ricardo Castaneda
HelpSystems

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Hi Becki,

I apologize for the confusion; This is a task setting only. There is now way to have the Entire workflow run alone, you will only be able to set this up for tasks.

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Ricardo Castaneda | Principal Support Analyst
AutoMate | Division of HelpSystems
HelpSystems, LLC | T: +1.213.738.1700
 05/30/2012 09:21 AM
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BeckiBloch
Journeyman (50-99)

Posts: 54
Joined: 12/30/2011

thanks much! I sometimes refer to tasks and workflows interchangeably which is incorrect. So much to learn..... Thanks again and have a great day!

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 05/30/2012 09:28 AM
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Ricardo Castaneda
HelpSystems

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Hi Becki,

No problem, let us know if there is anything else we can do for you.

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Ricardo Castaneda | Principal Support Analyst
AutoMate | Division of HelpSystems
HelpSystems, LLC | T: +1.213.738.1700
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