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Browser Migration: Ask Me Anything

By James Woods posted 05-07-2021 11:47

  

Person using Blue Prism software on a computer

We were delighted to be joined by Blue Prism product experts Bruce Liu and Ashish Easow for a Community AMA session on the topic of Browser Migration.

It was a really busy morning, with an interesting group of questions in reaction to Bruce's Browser Migration webinar video. We've compiled the key questions and answers all in one place here - but if you want to read the original thread here's a link: April 28th Ask Me Anything: Browser Migration

Spy modes

Our first question was from Harshit Rawat:

Q "Related to conversion utility - In some post I read that not all elements spied using different spymodes are converted to equivalent elements for Chrome/Edge/Firefox. Is there any plan to enhance the conversion utility soon?"

A Conversion is currently possible from IE based HTML objects to modern browser equivalent of Chrome/Edge/Firefox. Conversion rules are being fine-tuned on as-needed basis ongoing. We welcome any inputs from the community as to areas where current conversion rules are either not sufficient or lacking to increase conversion accuracy.

AA to UIA conversion is also offered on objects already converted to modern browser mode, as a 2nd pass using the tool.

Win32 mode conversion is not covered by the tool as there may not always be interoperability between different browser elements spied using this mode. We would advise you to re-engineering those elements and associated actions during your migration process so you can be sure these would still function under the modern browser mode.  BL

On a similar topic, Nagarjuna Atuki asks:

Q. "Why is AA spy mode not available for Chrome browser"

while Vit Jurica wants to know:

Q: "Why AA spy mode is not available in Browser-based Application? When we switch object from Browser-based Application to the Windows Application and spy elements in AA mode, then switch object back to Browser-based Application elements are recognizable."

A: [From our Knowledge Base] When using the 'Browser-based (Chrome)' option in the Application Modeller, this was explicitly excluded as an option for Chrome because the browser itself doesn't support the Accessibility Mode particularly well.  Microsoft User Interface Automation (UIA) is a much better option if the browser mode does not do what you need. 
You should also check this community thread for more information : Active accessibility mode not working in google chrome   BL

Stability

Tejaskumar Darji asks:

Q. "Can we expect better and production-grade stability on chrome and edge with BluePrism 7.0 upcoming version? Because currently, chrome/edge automation is really not a stable solution, unlike IE."

A. In my reply to Amlan (below) there's more information, hopefully that should result in better issue debugging in case of chrome and edge.
But to answer your question, yes, we are looking at the way browsers communicate with BP and you should hopefully see an change and improvement in it for the upcoming releases.   AE

Nagarjuna Atuki also says:

Q. "Chrome automation is not as good as IE browser. Do we have any documents/KB articles which will help us to make it more stable?"

A. I would highly recommend the Blue Prism University Course titled Modern Browser Automation. You may also download a PDF copy of the guide as a handy go-to reference.
We have been gradually improving how Blue Prism works with modern browsers over time.   BL

Browser Mode

A technical query from Amlan Sahoo:

Q. "When the browser mode will work as it is working like HTML mode. if it's an enterprise tool why those options "Use fixed browser extension port". It should work seamlessly without choosing any other option as it's happening for other tool. It means if I am not selecting the fixed browser extension why it's throwing error "127.0.0.1 with append URL". When we are launching any URL without Fixed port why is this appearing? Because it's no meaning of giving option to do testing without fixed port."

A. I have seen customers for whom browser mode works fine without and also for those where I had to debug and solve the issues.

What I have seen is that most of the issues are caused due to ports being blocked, but it gets very hard to debug a port blocked issue. We follow a few steps which works in most cases,

1. In case browser mode does not work you can try:

  • Change to fixed port in settings for browser mode
  • After restarting RR/IC, check if browser mode works
  • If not Open command prompt
  • Run command: netstat -aon | findstr /ic:"31924"
If the ports dont have an issue you should see below screen.

If run other commands on the PID displayed (number on extreme right), you should be able to see the applications making connections on that port.
If you see ports being blocked, then you would need to check which application is blocking the ports and debug accordingly.
2. In case browser web page elements have trouble highlighting/spying.

Keep in mind, html spying works through browser extension, UIA, region mode etc communication does not work through the browser extension.

If you are using html identification,

  1. use simple html spying (through BP, choose attributes) and check if that works.
  2. Another option is to choose xpath, and it gives more options.

Eg open chrome -> Page you want to spy -> Right click on element -> Inspect




Console opens up with the elements highlighted in elements tab -> Right click on highlighted -> Copy -> Copy Xpath
Do CTRL + F on elements tab – You should see a small textbox open at the bottom

Paste the copied xpath and check if identifies correctly.
The same xpath can be used in application model to identify the element in  BP.
You would need to check which html element works with clicks and waits.

BP redirects the url through 127.0.0.1 link and the page redirects to the targeturl appended to it. The correct url should open after redirection, its a problem if it doesn't open.   AE

A. There is a Blue Prism University course titled Spying Using CSS and XPath you may also look into.   BL

Alternative Browsers

Harshit asks:

Q. "Do we have any support doc available based on which users can decide which would be the best alternative to Internet Explorer, depending on the type of web app we are trying to automate?"

A. I would advise not to look at this question from Blue Prism's point of view. We do support all three browser types. As long as such browsers are supported by the web applications, developer experience in interacting with those web browsers should be largely the same.
The support of web application is mainly driven by the following two factors:

  1. organisation preferred browser option
  2. web application support of browsers and versions  BL

Deborah Parfitt wants to know:

Q. "Please can you recommend the ideal Edge Chromium customisations and related settings to work with Blue Prism and Run Time Resources so this can feed into our Group Policies?"

A. Given the large amount of settings which could potentially affect automations, its hard to give specific advice. I would advise having all Edge related group policies exported and work through them with your IT to arrive at the most optimal configuration.   BL

Most browser settings are governed by common group policies, and actually most of the settings dont have much of an impact on browser automations.
But there are a few which i have seen, but tbh its not an exhaustive list, so as Bruce mentioned you may have to debug the settings as every org has its own set of policies.

  1. Internet connectivity/Chrome store availability in production - If chrome/edge store is not available in production, you may need to look at offline install for upgrading the extensions from the default version which comes with BP like here  Offline Install guide
  2. Ports and other settings as I mentioned in reply to Amlan's question below. 
  3. Chromium browsers - auto update disabled. Chromium browsers auto update every 15 days or something if i recall right. This update needs to come from a lower environment in a controlled way rather than happen directly in production.   AE

Nagarjuna asks:

Q. "Is there any way to get / release the BP Chrome Plugin manually?"

A. You are able to find instructions on manual browser extension deployment using the following three links, one for each type of browser: Chrome Edge Firefox   BL

Another question from Nagarjuna:

Q. "Do you recommend any version of BP and Chrome browser for stable chrome automation?"

A. We have been gradually improving how Blue Prism works with modern browsers over time. Generally speaking, you will have better user experience with a more recent versions of Blue Prism than those that have been release earlier. We will be revamping the way how Blue Prism software communicates with modern browsers by introducing a feature called "native messaging host". Blue Prism will no longer require any port to talk to the browsers, the fixed port option in System Settings will also be removed as a result. Native Messaging Host is expected to be released alongside v7, as well as v6.11, though the feature is still in testing.    BL

Migrating - what to expect

Vit Jurica asks:

Q. Can we expect Browser automation to work same as IE? There are things missing, not working very well or not at all, like extension is crashing, Document Loaded condition is missing, elements cannot be clicked, etc

A. We will be revamping the way how Blue Prism software communicates with modern browsers by introducing a feature called "native messaging host". Blue Prism will no longer require any port to talk to the browsers, the fixed port option in System Settings will also be removed as a result. Native Messaging Host is expected to be released alongside v7, as well as v6.11, though the feature is still in testing.

Modern Browser mode was not originally created as an equivalent of IE like-for-like. The fact that Microsoft is deprecating IE has suddenly made it necessary to make these two modes compatible with each other. Over the course of the past year, we have gradually rolled out some features in modern browser modes to close known gaps. But we do acknowledge more work is still needed in certain areas. You can find known gaps recorded at https://github.com/blue-prism/ApplicationModellerConversion/blob/master/BROWSER.md. It is envisaged that future versions of Blue Prism will further narrow the gaps to provide direct conversion options. When these features are offered, Application Modeller Conversion Tool will incorporate them in the first place so customers can take advantage of them as soon as possible.    BL

Jhogel Ponne enquires:

Q. Will there be special support from Blue Prism for clients with many automated processes that use IE?

A. Blue Prism will continue support IE in the same way as it is. But if web applications have stopped supporting IE, there is little Blue Prism can do to turn that around.   BL

Jhogel also asks:

Q. Will you provide support material or documentation on the changes and adaptations necessary to migrate the processes developed with IE to Chrome / Edge / Firefox. For example: spied items in IE and Chrome / Edge / Firefox equivalents?

A. The best support material you will be able to find are in two locations:

Summary

It's clear that Browser Migration away from Internet Explorer is a big issue, affecting many of you. Hopefully the knowledge shared in this session will help you in the journey away from Internet Explorer.

Thank you all for your questions, and to Bruce and Ashish for giving up your time to answer them live on the Community.

If you have any further questions about migrating your browser from Internet Explorer - please post on our Blue Prism Product Community, where community members will be ready to help you answer your queries.

Many thanks


#InsideRPA
#Product
1 comment
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Comments

05-11-2021 11:40

thanks for sharing James!

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Blue Prism Capture is an on-premise solution that combines task extraction and computer vision to auto generate screenshots, step descriptions, process data, and process flows, from a process owner demonstration of the as-is process. The captured flow can then be viewed and optimized by a process analyst, who can add further notes, definitions, and rearrange the steps in the flow, to produce a Process Definition Document (PDD) ready to be used by developers. Capture is free to use at the initial general release, with additional capabilities such as export to Blue Prism processes being developed in future releases.
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Capture v2.1 is available at no extra costs to all Blue Prism customers, with the software available to download on the Blue Prism Product Portal.
The known issues list for Blue Prism Capture can be found here.
Blue Prism Capture is free to use at the initial general release, with additional capabilities such as export to Blue Prism processes being developed in future releases. It is currently available to all Blue Prism Customers, with the software available for download on the Blue Prism Product Portal.