How To Talk About Selectors With A Programmer

Hi all,

My question is a bit complex, so allow me to provide some background (I’ll put at TL;DR at the end). I’ve been the lead RPA developer at my company for a while, but my background isn’t in computer science. Sometimes I run into problems with non-existent, or worse, inconsistent selectors working with certain software. For software that hardly produces any selectors at all (like Adobe Creative Cloud software), I can at least speculate as to the cause: perhaps the software is written in a programming language that UiPath doesn’t understand, or maybe security settings are preventing UiPath from interfacing with the software. However, when selectors sometimes exist and sometimes don’t, without any rhyme or reason that I can discern, it’s much harder to explain or find a solution.

Allow me to elaborate on one software that keeps giving me trouble. My company uses TouchPoint by Enghouse Interactive, an email management system. Inside TouchPoint, I can view different email queues that list subject, sender, time received, etc. in a datatable-like format. Sometimes when I look at an email queue, each row of the table with have distinct and intelligible selectors. Other times, the exact same list will not have any selectors; UiPath sees the entire queue as one big element with no meaningful children. When that happens, trying to get the selectors back is like feeling around in the dark. I have the robot click on the list, minimize, maximize, and move the window, restart the software, log out and back into the queue, etc. I’ve yet to discover a method that consistently restores the selectors.

We have weekly conference calls with the vendor, so if I knew how to explain my problem to them, it’s possible that one of their programmers could explain what’s going on behind the scenes and how I can fix it. The problem is that I don’t know how to talk to a non-UiPath user about selectors. I know that selectors must be based on some sort of properties embedded in the program’s code, but I don’t have the language to talk to a traditional programmer about that. Does anyone know how I could have a conversation about a program’s selectors appearing and disappearing with a programmer who doesn’t use UiPath?

Thanks for bearing with my lengthy explanation. Hopefully the context helps my question make sense!

TL;DR: How can I talk to a traditional programmer about what might be causing their software’s selectors to disappear and reappear randomly?

I’m not familiar at all with that agent, but my initial thought is that it’s an email manager, meaning you might be able to use other methods to read the email (like Exchange or Outlook)… rather than trying to code for a tool that is coded differently than other Microsoft UIs.

My suggestion would be to have a UiPath representative on the call with the vendor of Touchpoint.

From my observation, UiPath selector generation is imitating the “Inspect.exe” tool and tree structure created by Microsoft: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/desktop/winauto/inspect-objects

Regards.

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Thanks for the input, Clayton! I know there was a discussion about trying to have the robot work with just Outlook rather than TouchPoint, but we hit some integration roadblocks. Since we’re hitting roadblocks anyway, we might revisit that idea.

I’ll also read up on “Inspect.exe” and Microsoft’s tree structure to try to improve my own understanding of how all of this works in the background. Thanks again!

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