While we don’t have a new Studio/StudioX preview version to release this month, we wanted to release some goodies for you just in time for the holidays. Quick side note, we are very excited about the changes we’re making to Studio/StudioX, but they’re not ready yet, so you’ll learn more about those next year.
Today we are pleased to announce that we have some improvements available in our default activity set for StudioX, but of course it is possible to use these in Studio as well.
Create charts in Excel
Add charts from Excel to Word and PowerPoint files
Open Excel, Word, and PowerPoint files from SharePoint
HTML Editor for creating rich emails
Gmail just works, no need to bring your own ClientId and Secret anymore
…and more! See details below
To get all of the great functionality covered below, you’ll need to open your package manager and upgrade to the latest pre-release versions.
A lot of exciting improvements to StudioX’s Excel Business activities. To access the new functionality covered below, upgrade the UiPath.Excel.Activities package to the latest prerelease.
See the Excel Updates in Action
Creating and Copying Charts
This preview introduces two new activities for working with Charts in Excel.
Insert Excel Chart: We now have the ability to create charts in your automations. You can choose the chart type, Data range, and where it is inserted.
Copy Chart to Clipboard: Once you’re created a chart, a common scenario is to move this into another document such as a Word or PowerPoint file. The way to do this is to use the “Copy Chart to Clipboard” activity and then use a corresponding paste activity for Word or PowerPoint (see below for details on those).
See the PowerPoint and Word sections for the activities to add charts copied to the clipboard to those file types.
Project Settings for Excel
Under Project Settings, you’ll now see an “Excel Business” category. This brings some options for how Excel will behave.
Launch Excel: Normally when Excel starts for automation, it does not load all Add-ins. In most cases this is not a problem and helps Excel start more quickly. However, in some cases an Add-in may be required for the automation to run correctly. Changing the “Run value” for the “Launch method” to “Application” will cause Excel to start such that all Add-ins load.
Excel Visibility: A common request has been “how can I run automations using Excel but keep Excel hidden”. This is now possible by setting the “Show Excel Window” value to “False”.
Use Excel File: This region is where you’ll be able to set options for the “Use Excel File” activity. This release introduces a single option that controls the format data is returned from Excel to your automation. Because of different regional settings, Excel can return values to your automation that are not formatted the same as what you see when you open the file in Excel. The “Read formatting” option gives you the ability to Explicitly choose what format values should be returned to your automation:
Default: Keeps the current behavior
RawValue: Returns the raw value with no formatting applied
DisplayValue: Returns the value as it appears to you when you open Excel. The one important thing to note about DisplayValue is, if the value is truncated in Excel (e.g. for dates if the column isn’t wide enough to display the full value, it will appear as #####. In this case, DisplayValue will return the #####). To help with this, we added the “Auto Fit” activity covered below.
Excel preview: When you browse the contents of an Excel file, Range, or Row StudioX currently processes the .xlsx file itself. This brings some limitations including the restriction only being able to preview the contents of .xlsx files, and the inability to preview contents of files on SharePoint or DRM’d using an Excel add-in. To improve this, we are now offering the option to use Excel directly to preview file contents. There are three options currently available:
Default: In this preview, this is no change from the current behavior. When we have an updated StudioX as well, there will be a user preference in your settings, and “Default” will mean “use my preference setting”
UseXmlFile: This is the current behavior with the limitations mentioned above
UseExcelInstance: This is the new functionality to use Excel. It should enable previewing all file types, and the contents of files opened using URLs from sources such as SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive. If the preview is too slow to load, opening the file in Excel will greatly speed it up, as StudioX will find the already opened file.
Use Excel File:
- Now offers a “Read formatting” option. You can choose to inherit the project level setting (the default) or explicitly set it for values read from the file indicated in “Use Excel File”.
- Supports URLs for files stored on SharePoint/OneDrive/Teams. You can now open, read from, and modify files stored on remote locations. If Excel can open it, it will now work in your automation. There are a couple of things to note with this preview:
- You can only open files from these remote locations at this time, you cannot create new files on a remote location using a URL.
- Previewing contents of remote files does not yet work. For the + sign to show you the contents, you’ll need to set the Template file property and point to a local .xlsx file.
- Auto Fit: This activity automatically adjusts the width of the columns in the specified range to fit the widest content. This is especially useful when using the new “Display value” Read formatting option (as discussed in the Project Settings section).
A Note to Studio Users
You can access the Excel activities used in StudioX (a discussed above) by turning on the “Show StudioX” filter in the “Activities” panel
You will then see the StudioX activities under the “StudioX -> Business -> Excel” category
To access the new functionality covered below, upgrade the UiPath.Mail.Activities package to the latest prerelease.
See some of the Mail Updates in Action
We know you want to create rich emails with tables, pictures, different fonts, etc. This is possible with Outlook by using a Word document, but unfortunately could not be done for Gmail or Outlook 365 using Word.
To solve this, we have introduced an HTML Editor that allows you to create rich HTML emails (and other content) directly.
- To use directly with the StudioX Mail activities that create mails (Forward, Reply, and Send) you will see a new body option called “HTML” with a button titled “Open Editor”
- To create HTML content for other purposes or if you want to bring your own template file, there is also a standalone “Create HTML Content” activity which outputs the results as a string which can be saved for later and used as input.
Note, this is the default way you’ll use the HTML editor in Studio/StudioPro. The Create HTML Content activity will appear in the App Integration -> Mail category.
To use values at runtime (variable values) we need to make these available to the HTML editor via mapping. To do this:
Click the “Add data values” button in the top right of the HTML editor
Choose “Map data value…”
In the “Map data values” dialog that appears you can choose what values you will want to use in your HTML content. Currently the two options are
Single value: For things like values saved for later from “Get Text” or a specific cell in Excel.
Table: for inserting tables into your email from sources such as Excel.
Once the mapping is created, click the “Add data values” button again, and you’ll the mappings available to insert. Click the value you want to insert a placeholder into the editor. The value will be added when the automation runs.
Gmail and Outlook 365 StudioX Activities
Use Gmail: You are not required to provide your own ClientId and Client Secret any longer when adding a Gmail account. When you choose “Add account” you will now see an “Authentication Type” option. If you choose “Default” this will use the UiPath application registered with Google, you don’t need to do anything else, just click “OK”. However, if you prefer, you may still provide your own values by choosing “My ID/Secret”
Use Outlook 365 activity : When you choose “Add new account” you will see a dialog that lets you choose if you want to use the UiPath default application or provide your own Application and (optionally) TenantId. What you need is determined by how your Azure AD administrator has configured your service. If your Azure AD administrator has installed the UiPath Studio O365 app for your organization, simply choose “Default” and click “OK”.
Note to Studio users: As noted above for Excel, you can access these activities in Studio/StudioPro by enabling the StudioX activity filter.
Shared Mailbox Support for Outlook Desktop
You will now see shared mailboxes as options for the “Account” selection when working with the “Use Desktop Outlook App” activity.
Secure Password (SecureString) parameter in Mail activities
Mail activities dealing with sensitive data like passwords, have been enhanced to accept SecureString as input. Now you can pass the secure password of an Orchestrator’s asset credential directly to these activities.
The list of activities that got a SecurePassword parameter: Exchange Scope, Delete Exchange Mail Message, Get Exchange Mail Messages, Move Exchange Mail Message, Move Exchange Mail Message, Get IMAP Mail Messages, Move IMAP Mail Message, Get POP3 Mail Messages, Send SMTP Mail Message, Delete IBM Notes Mail Message, Get IBM Notes Mail Message, Move IBM Notes Mail Message, and Send IBM Notes Mail Message.
For example, this is where the SecurePassword parameter appears in Send SMTP Mail Message activity:
To access the new functionality covered below, upgrade the UiPath.Word.Activities package to the latest prerelease.
This release brings the following improvements to the Word activities
Use Word File: You can now open and modify files from remote locations (e.g. SharePoint/Teams) using a URL for the “Word file” value.
Note: Currently this only supports opening existing files, you can’t create new files on a remote location using a URL path.
- Paste Chart into Document: A new activity that pairs with the “Copy Chart to Clipboard” activity in Excel to add the chart placed on the clipboard to your Word file including the format in which it will be pasted (Embed workbook, Link workbook, or as a Picture).
- Add Hyperlink to Document: A new activity that gives you the ability to insert a hyperlink into a Word document including specifying the URL and displayed text.
To access the new functionality covered below, upgrade the UiPath.Presentation.Activities package to the latest prerelease.
Use PowerPoint File: You can now open and modify files from remote locations (e.g. SharePoint/Teams) using a URL for the “PowerPoint file” value.
Note: Currently this only supports opening existing files, you can’t create new files on a remote location using a URL path.
Paste Item into Slide: A new activity that allows you to paste a chart copied to the clipboard into a PowerPoint slide. Due to limitations in the PowerPoint automation capabilities, it does not offer the ability to choose the format at this time, but if you look in the Properties panel you will see the ability to set additional properties include it’s top and left offsets as well as the chart’s height and width.
- The Terminal Session recorder can now be reopened at any point after dragging the activity to the Workflow Designer by using the Start Recorder button in the body of the activity.
- Starting with this update, the Terminal Activities pack now supports automating in ANSI terminal emulation.
- Resolution change support has been added for Direct Connection and HLLAPI providers. This feature is needed when the resolution change takes place during a terminal session, on the host side, outside of the terminal emulator configuration.
Smooth mouse motion
Executing mouse events is one of the most used actions in UI automation. We have improved the way the mouse pointer is moved from source position to its destination by introducing a new property for classic and modern Click/Hover activities, named CursorMotionType. This property can be used to set the type of motion executed by the mouse pointer: either ‘Instant’ – the pointer jumps directly to the destination or, ‘Smooth’ - the pointer moves in increments. This option is specifically useful for cases where the target application or UI elements do not respond to the mouse pointer ‘teleportation’ events but expect a linear mouse pointer movement.
UIExplorer delayed restore
The UIExplorer comes with a new option that can be used to grab selectors for UI elements valid only when they are in focus: menus, menu items, application options visible under focus, like Notepad’s File menu.
Using this option for grabbing a selector, conducts the UIExplorer window delayed restored such that the indicated element keeps the focus and stays on the screen enough time for the selector be generated properly.
Custom browser support
We’ve added a new BrowserType option for the OpenBrowser activity, that enables the automation of custom applications developed over Chromium based frameworks like JXBrowser or CEFSharp, through Webdriver protocol.
Improved offline editing mode
Editing targets in Modern experience is now improved with an offline mode, where the target’s configuration can be edited even if the target application is not running. Also, the user gets a chance to start the application manually and retry the editing operation.
Support for hover-only elements
We have added support for generating selectors from the selection screen (Modern experience only), for elements visible only on hover, which disappear when they lose focus.
Working with visible elements (check element visibility)
For the Modern activities, in the properties pane, under Target group, there is a new flag/property called Check element visibility , like the one from Check State, which can be used to work with visible elements only. The function is off by default.
- design-time – in the selection screen we only show/highlight/select visible elements and offscreen ones.
- runtime – it filters out all the hidden elements, so only visible or offscreen ones are available for execution
Added ‘Remove informative screenshot’ option
Whenever needed, one can now remove the informative screenshot attached to an activity by using the ‘Remove informative screenshot option available in the Modern activities burger menu:
Allow setting targets via native scraping
The native scraping method extracts the text and its exact position on the screen. Thus, native scraping can be used for UI automation when selectors are not available.
We have enabled Native Scraping as an additional way of identifying elements, via the Selection Screen. Whenever this option is used, the selection screen highlights only the target elements available through native scraping.
Below is an example of text elements and their position, when using native scraping against SAP Logon 750 window.
The targets defined with native scraping will only have native text as identifying method:
Note: this option is available only for applications supporting native scraping. For example, the Chromium based browsers do not support this way of scraping text while InternetExplorer does.
Activity Packages Versions
Please find below the list of versions for all activity packs released with today’s update.
- UiPath.Excel.Activities v2.10.0-preview
- UiPath.Word.Activities v1.6.0-preview
- UiPath.Mail.Activities v1.10.0-preview
- UiPath.Presentation.Activities v1.1.0-preview
- UiPath.Terminal.Activities v2.1.0
- UiPath.UIAutomation.Activities v20.12.0-preview