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We continue to iterate quickly on bringing new functionality to AutoBloks, and the latest release (19.1.1) adds two important new features… environment variables and “on error” playback control for when an activity call encounters an error.

Environment Variables

One of the more important aspects of a successful automation strategy is to separate your data from the steps you perform.  With AutoBloks, you accomplish this through the use of variables.  Until now, all user-defined variables had to be defined on a per-process basis.  If you have several related processes that all need the same data, this could result in unnecessary duplication of variables across those process and, most importantly, introduce a high degree of maintenance if the value of a variable needed to change.  Environment variables are here to specifically address this scenario!

Environment variables are defined in XML-formatted data files.  Each file represents a single variable repository, and you can instruct AutoBloks to load one or more of those repositories.  Once loaded, the variables defined within each repository will be available to all of the processes you execute.

The following screen shot shows how easy it is to define your own environment variables.  In this example, you can see a basic XML document which defines a single variable called “PattersonConsultingUrl”.  The Options dialog of AutoBloks is used to add this file as a variable repository.  Once added, the Variables tool window will include this repository and defined variables under the “Environment Variables” category.  This new variable is now access to you just like all the other built-in and user-defined variables.

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Tip: This file format is intentionally the same as the file format used by Micro Focus Unified Functional Testing, so you can easily share your data between the tools.

While not shown above, you can also define a “Category” property for your variables to better organize large repositories of data.  For more information on using variables, refer to the AutoBloks On-line Documentation.

On Error Playback Option

No matter how hard we try to avoid them, playback errors are inevitably going to happen.  For each Activity Call, you have a new option to control how AutoBloks will respond to errors.

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  • Show prompt with options – This is the default behavior and is how AutoBloks has always behaved up until now.  The user will be prompted with a dialog to retry, continue, or stop.
  • Stop running – Log the error and stop further execution.
  • Continue to the next activity call – Log the error, but try to continue the execution.

These additional options allow you to refine the behavior of a process to better handle situations where errors are expected and you want to perform a specific action without the delay of being prompted.