With @Noordsestern we’ve noticed RPA (Robotic Process Automation) being mentioned often at Camunda events lately. Mostly in the context of exclusive commercial vendors. Strictly limited to communicating with legacy systems.
We have both been using open source Robot Framework for RPA for years with success *). Without need to worry about license limitations, we might have been able to use RPA for wider range of use-cases than just for legacy systems.
Because isn’t any proper RPA solution eventually indistinguishable from a generic “remote code execution service” or just a FaaS (Function as a Service)? Once you have a such system in place, any problem starts looking like an “RPA problem”. Maybe not all glue code is worth of their own dedicated microservice after all?
For the last few weeks, we have been trying to figure out, what could be an approachable enough solution for trying out Robot Framework RPA with Camunda. Here’s the latest try:
Robot Framework RPA playground is Docker Compose -environment, with pre-configured Camunda with a deployed example process, Jupyter Lab IDE for editing and manual execution of the bots, all connected with containerized Firefox for browser automation with noVNC-provided visual.
The example process is about using one bot to do a search for web content and then required amount of additional bots for fetching the results for manual review. Task logs and results are reported back to Camunda, of course.
For a start, it would be fun to know, if anyone else can actually get that running. Seeing is believing, hopefully. Next, if someone gets interested, we’d be happy to point to more examples and resources. There are plenty of materials available and also a commercial cloud provider with their own IDE and bot scheduling service.
Also, it is not a coincident that the playground uses Jupyter Lab as its IDE. It happens to be that Jupyter is also the de-facto standard working environment for data science and machine learning…
*) Disclaimer. From the two of us, only Markus is already orchestrating RPA bots with Camunda, including scheduling them using Kubernetes. I’m still relying on other systems triggering jobs with Jenkins, and only designing & implementing Camunda treatment for our future bots.