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Business Process Automation Platform

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1

Table of Contents

An Introduction to Business Processes

Business Process Management (BPM) software is a powerful technology, enabling organisations to streamline business systems through the automation of processes and communications across multiple systems, databases, and people — leading to improvements in process efficiency across the whole business.

Incorporating workflow technology that enables human interaction at critical stages of a business process, BPM software has a deserved reputation as one of the most valuable investments in IT that a company can make.

Product Overview

BPA Platform is a unique Business Process Management software suite, enabling organisations to build powerful automated business processes, while leveraging the power of existing systems. The BPA Platform product range offers a scalable, cost-effective automation solution for organisations, ranging from the small-to-medium business to the large enterprise.

BPA Platform provides unrivalled functionality for the provision of BPM solutions. Its extensible process modelling capabilities enable the automation of complex manual tasks, therefore driving improvements in operational efficiency throughout the enterprise. It also provides a common automation framework across the entire information chain.

The product is built around the central concepts of “tasks” and “steps” — providing the ability to build flexible automation processes with logical building blocks. These processes integrate seamlessly with existing information sources, applications, infrastructure, and communications without the need for complex programming.

White Paper - BPA Platform 2020  Update 1

White Paper - BPA Platform 2020 Update 1

The BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Technical Overview introduces you to all available features of this release.

Download White Paper

BPA Platform Components

The diagram below demonstrates an example architecture of all main BPA Platform components:

BPA Platform Components

For more information about the various Agents detailed in the diagram, please see About BPA Platform Agents below.

BPA Platform Server

The BPA Platform server consists of the tasks’ runtime engine and the configuration store (back-end database) where all BPA Platform data and task information is held. It is recommended you install the server on a dedicated machine. For a detailed description of the installation procedure, refer to the product help.

Remote BPA Platform Client

The BPA Platform client is the interface used to create and manage your tasks. This is installed locally to the BPA Platform server, or can be installed in a remote location that has access back to the BPA Platform server.

Third-Party Connectors

As well as the standard tools made available with BPA Platform, third-party connectors are also available. These connect BPA Platform to external applications and platforms, such as, CRM and ERP systems. For more information, consult the white paper library.

System Architecture

BPA Platform is Windows-based software, using a true three-tier client server model over TCP/IP, with a multithreaded server running as a Windows service:

  • The BPA Platform client — Provides all administrative and task design capabilities
  • The BPA Platform server — Provides client connectivity and manages task processing
  • The BPA Platform data store — Contains BPA Platform data and task information Three-tier architecture has a number of benefits:
    Data is kept independent to network conditions as it is managed centrally by the server
  • Data integrity is maintained as database operations are transactional
  • Improved security as clients do not need a network share to access data

Task Performance and Processing

The BPA Platform server is multi-threaded, enabling multiple tasks to run simultaneously. This increases server processing capacity and reduces the need for queuing tasks. The number of task threads is determined by Server settings.

It also supports multi-processor functionality, and minimises processor context-switching.

Task Isolation

The BPA Platform server isolates a task instance from both the BPA Platform server itself and other task instances. This means that external inconsistencies, such as exceptions caused by ODBC drivers, applications, or other system APIs do not affect ongoing BPA Platform operations beyond that task instance. Such untoward occurrences are logged immediately to the Event Log and, if configured, notifications are sent to the administrator and task “owner”.

Operational Schematic

This diagram demonstrates how BPA Platform provides automated BPM services, and the main components contributing to those services. It also demonstrates how BPA Platform provides greater efficiency by interacting with business partners, individuals, and systems (whether internal or external).

BPA Platform operational schematic

Tasks

Tasks are the primary entity in BPA Platform. They represent all, or a part of, a distinct business process, containing multiple interrelated steps.

By building tasks, you can design business rules that partially or completely replace a manual process. Each task provides complete control for which steps are used and in what sequence, using visual modelling techniques. A task can be scheduled periodically or triggered real-time.

Task developers can also automatically run tasks through the BPA Platform API, or by integrating the Workflow Web Service into their own applications.

Tools and Steps

Tools are used to create steps within a task, providing the functional building blocks that interface with common technologies, systems, and applications. They are joined together in a logical sequence to build the business process. The following tool categories are available:

Category IconTool CategoryDescription
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Data ConnectorsProvides a connection between BPA Platform and an external data source, such as, a relational database (RDBMS) or a CRM system, or even third party applications used with BPA Platform.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1EventTriggers a task to run based on specific criteria and exposes data through variables to other steps in the task.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1ExecuteExecutes an external application, procedure or object, allowing developers to control the precise result of this step when using proprietary systems.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1InputPulls information into BPA Platform from a source, such as a relational database (RDBMS), file format, or other structured source, and exposes this to other steps.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1FormatConsumes and formats data, then exposes that data in a designated form to other steps.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1GeneralProvides generic functionality to BPA Platform tasks, such as, moving files.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1OutputConsumes information from Input or Format steps and outputs the information from BPA Platform into another system, application, or communication method.

For more information about the tools available, please see the BPA Platform Supported Standard Tools Matrix.

Installing BPA Platform

You use the same BPA Platform installation EXE to install the server, clients, and agents:

BPA Platform installation

For a detailed description of how to use the Installation Console, refer to the product help.

Configuring BPA Platform

You use the BPA Platform Configurator to install third-party software that may be required by available tools. Connections to required agents are also configured here. Note that you can only launch the Configurator if logged into the machine with Administrator rights.

Configurator Features

  • The installation is not stopped if the prerequisites for a selected feature are not available as these are checked by the Configurator
  • Features can be configured immediately or left until required
  • The Configurator launches automatically after installation is complete so you can start the configuration immediately
  • The Configurator provides a graphical indication of the configuration status of each feature
  • After changes have been made, you can refresh the configuration details to update their status without closing the application
  • The configuration process can be saved, stopped and restarted at any time
  • The Configurator can be launched at any time from either the Windows Start menu or from inside the Installation Console

Configurator Layout

The Configurator interface is split into two panes:

BPA Platform - Configurator interface

  • Navigation pane — The navigation pane uses a tree structure, with a folder node for each installed feature.
    Greyed-out folders are for features not yet installed.
    BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 indicates that the feature has been configured and is usable
    BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 indicates that a configuration issue exists which must be rectified before that feature can be used
  • Configuration pane — Displays configuration options for the feature highlighted in the navigation pane

Configuring BPA Platform Features

Features can be configured separately by selecting them in the navigation pane. Alternatively, you can step through the configuration process in order by clicking Next as each configuration is completed. Only installed and available features can be configured — the Configurator skips over the others.

About Feature Prerequisites

A Prerequisites node is available for each feature, as shown above.
Clicking on a Prerequisites node displays all that is needed for the related feature in the Configuration pane, where:

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 indicates those prerequisites are in place
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 indicates that a configuration issue exists but the feature is still usable
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 indicates the prerequisite has not been met

Click Show Details to see a full description of the problem.
If available, click Install or Modify to complete the prerequisite.

If required, you can complete the configuration at a later date without affecting other aspects of BPA
Platform, though the feature in question remains unusable.

Navigating the BPA Platform Client

You use the BPA Platform client to maintain your BPA Platform installation including creating and maintaining tasks, running maintenance, and administering user permissions.

BPA Platform - client view

About the User Profile

Clicking the user profile’s down arrow displays the following options:

  • Change Password — Change the password of the currently logged in user (BPA Platform accounts only)
  • Switch User — Logs off the current user and returns you to the client login screen
  • Exit — As above but instead closes the client completely

About the Toolbar

The client administration tools are grouped according to function (if all the toolbar is not seen, click to see the hidden toolbars).

Managing Folders

We recommend you group your tasks into folders for easier management.

Use the Folders toolbar to manage your task folders:

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 New Folder — Create a new folder in the highlighted node of the Tasks tree
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Move To Folder — Moves the highlighted task to a new location
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Copy To Folder — Copies the highlighted task to a new location

Managing Task Processing

Use the Tasks toolbar to manage task run-time: Use:

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 New Task to create a task in the folder currently open in Tasks.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Queue Now to manually start Tasks.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Terminate Task to manually stop Tasks.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Event Log to open the full Log so may take some time to open. To view entries for a specific task, either open the Event Log and filter the entries or right-click the task itself and select Event Log.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Import to bring in existing tasks and their corresponding global connections and objects from another BPA Platform instance.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Export to save tasks and their corresponding global connections and objects from this BPA Platform instance.

Managing Tasks

Use the Edit toolbar to manage existing tasks:

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Open
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Rename
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Cut
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Copy
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Paste
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Delete
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Add Shortcut

Managing Your BPA Platform Installation

Use Administration to manage this BPA Platform instance:

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 New User — Create a new user.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Licensing — Manage the licence for your BPA Platform installation, such as, importing a new licence.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Settings — Coming Soon. Controls the global options for your BPA Platform installation; at the time of writing, you access the global options window via the BPA Platform Client (Classic).
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Maintenance — Initiates the maintenance procedure on your BPA Platform installation.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Help — Takes you to this page.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 About — Lists the version and build number of your BPA Platform installation. Use this to also view information about the hardware hosting this instance of BPA Platform (use System Info)

Using Shortcuts

You can add any frequently edited variables, tasks, tools (global configuration only) to the Shortcuts panel on the left. Right-click on the required item and select Add to Shortcut Bar.

You can also group your shortcuts according to any category you want. Right-click in the shortcut pane and select Add new group. Drag relevant items to the new group. You can rename the group by right-clicking the group header.

About the Resources Tree

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 The resources tree (System) makes available those global settings and tasks that make up your BPA Platform installation. Resources found under this node are only available to System Administrator-level users:

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Users — Manage BPA Platform user accounts
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Variables — Manage all global variables; task variables are managed in the task itself
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Formulas — Manage all global formulas; task formulas are managed in the task itself
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Functions — Manage all global functions; task functions are managed in the task itself
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Tools — Manage the global connections for available BPA Platform tools
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Memory Providers — Manage the global connections for available memory providers
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Agents — Displays the registered Agents
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Tasks — All created tasks and task folders are “stored” in this node
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Recycle Bin — All deleted tasks are “stored” here

About the Items List

The items list shows the contents of the selected resource node.

Where Tasks is the selected resource node, you can change the view by sorting according to:

  • Name
  • Task ID (folders are not included when this sort option is selected)
  • Last Run (time)
  • Last Run Status
  • Owner

Folders and tasks listing are never merged. Like the functionality in Windows Explorer, even when sorted by one of the options above, the folder list always appears first with the tasks immediately after.

About Active Tasks

The Active Tasks pane provides a visual representation of real-time task run-time:

BPA Platform Active Tasks pane

where:

  • The active task pane (top) provides the status of the current task running. You can sort this pane according to:
    • Name
    • Status
    • Started
  • The active step pane (bottom) shows the status of the steps in the task. You can sort this pane according to:
    • Step
    • Progress
    • Status
    • Started

If multiple tasks are running at the same time, the bottom pane shows the steps for the currently highlighted task in the top pane.

About the Recycle Bin

When deleting tasks and task folders, you can choose whether to permanently delete them or send to the recycle bin in case they need to be restored later.

BPA Platform Recycle bin

When deleting a task (either by pressing DEL on the keyboard or selecting Delete from the right-click menu), you are asked to confirm whether the task should be moved to the recycle bin — selecting No leaves the task where it is. This is not a permanent delete — for a detailed description of how to permanently delete tasks, refer to the product help.

When deleting folders, be aware that the folder structure is not maintained inside the recycle bin; all tasks in that folder are however moved to the recycle bin.

Setting BPA Platform Global Options

The global options affect all aspects of BPA Platform, especially all task run-times.
At the time of writing, BPA Platform global options is accessed via the Classic client (Manage > Options).

About the Server Tab

The Server tab of the Options interface allows a system administrator to configure how the BPA Platform server “listens” for connections from BPA Platform clients.

BPA Platform - Server tab of the Options interface

It also determines how many tasks may be run asynchronously on the server.

About the Impersonation Tab

Impersonation is where the BPA Platform server “impersonates” a Windows domain user, enabling it to access remote network locations, such as databases, files, or printers.

Why is this needed? Tasks are run using the Windows Local System account. This account typically does not have sufficient network access rights for such resources, resulting in failed tasks. By impersonation a valid Windows domain user, such remote resources are available to the task. Note that this only applies at task run-time; if you are logged into the BPA Platform client as a Windows domain user, or even the computer hosting BPA Platform itself, this makes no difference to the account used by running tasks.

Two types of impersonation exist:

  • Global — Applies impersonation to all tasks
  • Task — Applies impersonation to a single task

Where global- and task-level impersonation exists in the same BPA Platform installation, task-level impersonation overrides global.

The Impersonation tab is used to run all tasks under a specific domain users’ credentials.

BPA Platform 2020

About the Run Times and Maintenance Tab

The Run Times and Maintenance tab is used to globally set times when tasks and maintenance routines should run. This ensures tasks do not conflict with other automated processes such as backup or data warehousing routines.

BPA Platform Run Times and Maintenance Tab

To manage instances where tasks are running when the maintenance is scheduled to start, use the following parameter to set a time period to delay maintenance being run:

  • Force maintenance initialisation timeout

About the National Holidays Tab

The National Holidays tab is used to set dates when tasks are not to be run.

BPA Platform National Holidays Tab

To enable a list of dates to be quickly compiled, an import feature is provided through which a pre-configured list of dates for a specific country may be automatically added. Alternatively, dates may be individually added and then edited or removed as required.

About the Event Log Tab

The Event Log tab provides a system administrator with the facility to set a global time interval in days after which event log entries are purged.

BPA Platform Event Log Tab

Optionally a user-defined PowerShell script can be linked to the process which will run prior to the purging of the log. This can be used to save the log data to disk, for example.

About the Notifications Tab

This feature provides the facility to set up automatic notifications by email to system administrators and task owners when selected warnings and errors occur within BPA Platform.

BPA Platform Notifications Tab

An administrator can configure exactly what notifications are required for the different types of potential occurrences. Administrators and task owners are alerted when an error occurs so that they can assess the situation and take remedial action if required.

Creating and Managing BPA Platform Tasks

This section describes the various features and interfaces of the BPA Platform client to help you create and manage tasks.

Using the Task Interface

The task interface is the main interface you create tasks with. Only users who have a Task Administrator Server Role can create, edit, or run tasks.

You create new tasks by either:

  • BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Clicking New Task.
  • Right-clicking on Tasks or a child folder and selecting New Task

If a task folder structure is in place, you can either create the task directly in the relevant folder or in the parent Tasks folder and move it after creation — users must have Edit permissions for that folder.

About the General Tab

Use the General tab to name your task and set any run-time parameters, such as, debug, impersonation, and task holiday time.

BPA Platform General Tab

Enter a meaningful Name for this task. If required, add a Description to help other users identify the task. The Version number is incremented every time the task is edited and saved. You should not need to adjust this value but if you do, use the same number format.

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 To set impersonation, task holiday times, and other advanced features, click Options

All tasks are enabled by default. Use the slider to prevent the task from running.

About the Design Tab

Use the Design tab to create new or edit existing tasks.

Task View or Step Summary

By default, the Design tab opens to the full task design area where you add task steps from the Task Browser on the right.

BPA Platform Task View or Step Summary

If any task steps are highlighted, you can select Step Summary to view the generic details of that step (these are taken from the General tab):

BPA Platform Step Summary

If required, you can rename the task step and amend the description from here. Additionally, you can access any global configurations or connections from the Step Summary view — click Global configuration.

Aligning Task Steps

To move multiple task steps, click and hold to draw a box around the required steps. With multiple task steps selected, you can also use the following to align your task steps:

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Align the steps to the same horizontal line
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Align the steps to the same vertical line
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Evenly space the steps out along the horizontal line
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Evenly space the steps out along the vertical line
Note that the above buttons are only active when two or more steps are selected.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Use Fit to fit all task steps to the current design view pane.
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Use the Zoom function to Zoom in and out of your task design view.

About Start and End Steps

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Start
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Stop

For each task there is a start step, denoted by above the step, and an end step denoted by above the task step. Both steps can be automatically selected by the tasks or can be assigned manually — right-click in the design area and click Automatically Choose Start Step to toggle between selected and not.

A task may have more than one start step — If an Event tool is used to trigger the task to run, typically this and the immediately following step are both denoted as the start. This is because the Event step triggers the task to run but the actual “job” of the task is started by another step.

A task may also have more than one end step — If a Decision step has been added to the task, each branch would have its own end step.

About the Task Browser

The Task Browser holds all tools and properties needed to create tasks — recordsets, variables, functions, formulas, and step properties as well as available BPA Platform tools. It is available as part of the Design tab and again when configuring each task step.

About the Tools Tab

The Tools tab exposes all available BPA Platform tools used to create task steps. Use Scope to only view tools in the specified category. This tab is only available with the Task Browser in the Design tab.

BPA Platform Tools Tab

About the Environment Tab

The Environment tab exposes all available task data that can be used by this task step — other step’s data such as recordsets, variables, formulas, functions, and step properties. Additionally, task-specific variables, formulas, and functions can be created here — right-click on the required item and select New.

BPA Platform Environment Tab

About the Reference Tab

The Reference tab exposes several common Visual Basic scripts which can be used in task steps — drag-and-drop the script into a text area in the step configuration interface.

BPA Platform Reference Tab

About the Help Tab

The Help tab displays help for that tool or tab that is currently active.

About the Script Tab

The Script tab displays the actual VBScript used to run the task.

BPA Platform Script Tab

Use Edit to adjust the script as required; however, it is not recommended you so unless instructed by a Codeless Platforms partner as you cannot use the Design tab again after changing to scripting mode.

About the Task Options Interface

Task Options allow you to control when and how a specific task is run. These include:

  • Setting valid run times — see About the Run Times Tab and About the National Holidays Tab
  • Setting the user that runs the task — see About the Impersonation Tab
  • Setting task disable, time-out, and concurrent instance rules — see About the Advanced Tab

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 You open the Task Options interface by clicking Options in the task design’s General tab.

About the Run Times Tab

Use the Run Times tab to specify the times of the day and days of the week when the task can run.

BPA Platform Script Tab

Each time block represents 30 minutes; each day has 48 blocks. Green blocks indicate allowed task run time, with white blocks indicating the times when the task cannot run. Those blocks containing a spanner indicate when maintenance is scheduled to run on the BPA Platform server. By default, tasks do not run while maintenance is being run. If a task is triggered to run during this time, whether automatically or manually, run-time is delayed until maintenance has completed, whatever time that is. Note that maintenance run-times are set globally and cannot be overridden for individual tasks — see About the Run Times and Maintenance Tab.

To select / clear a timeslot, click the relevant box.

To select / clear the same timeslot for all days, click the relevant oval box at the top of the grid.

To select / clear a whole day, click the relevant label. Click and hold to select multiple consecutive timeslots.

About the National Holidays Tab

Use the National Holidays tab to specify which public holidays this task does not run on. At the time of writing, you cannot specify the actual date; instead, you must choose which group of holiday to use.

BPA Platform National Holidays tab

Holiday groups must be added first. You do this in BPA Platform’s global options — see About the National Holidays Tab.

About the Impersonation Tab

Impersonation is where the BPA Platform server “impersonates” a Windows domain user, enabling it to access remote network locations, such as databases, files, or printers.

Why is this needed? Tasks are run using the Windows Local System account. This account typically does not have sufficient network access rights for such resources, resulting in failed tasks. By impersonation a valid Windows domain user, such remote resources are available to the task. Note that this only applies at task run-time; if you are logged into the BPA Platform client as a Windows domain user, or even the computer hosting BPA Platform itself, this makes no difference to the account used by running tasks.

Two types of impersonation exist:

  • Global — Applies impersonation to all tasks
  • Task — Applies impersonation to a single task

Where global- and task-level impersonation exists in the same BPA Platform installation, task-level impersonation overrides global.

Use the Impersonation tab to set the impersonated user for this task only.

BPA Platform Impersonation tab

About the Advanced Tab

Use the Advanced tab to handle automatic disabling of tasks, debug entries, and other such advanced features.

BPA Platform Advanced Tab

Debugging a Task

From time-to-time, our Support Desk may require extra information from a task run to help diagnose a problem. Select Enable Debug to log extra information to the Event Log. You must ensure you clear the selection when no longer needed as it creates long, verbose entries in the Log which can take up valuable database space.

Running Tasks Concurrently

If a task is queued to run multiple times in the same time period, whether by being manually run or via a trigger event, it must wait for the original task run to complete before the next one starts by default. If required, you can have the task instances run concurrently. From the Maximum Concurrent Instances pane, select one of the following:

  • Multiple Instances — Specify the number of task instances that can occur at the same time
  • Unlimited Instances — There is no limit to the number of task instances that can occur at the same time

About BPA Platform Tools

Tools are used to create steps in a task, which are then linked together to form the “task plan”. Steps expose and consume information each other in different ways depending on their specific purpose.

The following BPA Platform tools are available to you to create tasks (note that some tools appear in multiple tool categories):

IconTool NameTool Category
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Applications Platform ConnectorData Connectors
Call COM Object ToolCall COM ObjectExecute
Call Stored Procedure (OLEDB) ToolCall Stored Procedure (OLEDB)Input, Data Connectors, Output, and Execute
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Call TaskExecute
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Convert Recordset to XMLFormat
Convert XML to Recordset ToolConvert XML to RecordsetFormat
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Create Workflow JobFormat
Database Query ODBC ToolDatabase Query (ODBC)Input and Data Connectors
Database Query OLEDB ToolDatabase Query (OLEDB)Input and Data Connectors
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1DecisionGeneral
event triggered emailEmail Trigger (SMTP)Event
File ManagementFile ManagementGeneral
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Filter DataGeneral
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Format as Flat FileFormat
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Format as HTMLFormat
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Format as HTML ProFormat
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Format as TextFormat
Import Flat File ToolImport Flat FileInput
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Import XML DocumentInput
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Microsoft SQL Server TriggerEvent
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Oracle TriggerEvent
text parser toolParse TextGeneral
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Print DocumentOutput
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Retrieve Text MessageInput
Run Crystal Report Tool - Crystal Reports AutomationRun Crystal ReportFormat
Run External Program ToolRun External ProgramExecute
Run Microsoft Reporting Services ToolRun Microsoft Reporting ServicesFormat
Run Microsoft Word (Merge) ToolRun Microsoft Word (Merge)Format
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Run VBScriptExecute
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Save FileOutput
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1ScheduleEvent
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Send Email (SMTP)Output
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Send Fax (Tobit)Output
Send Text Message ToolSend Text MessageOutput
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Transfer File (FTP)Output
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Transform DataFormat
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Web Service ConnectorData Connectors
BPA Platform 2020 Update 1Workflow Job TriggerxEvent/td>

Each tool’s white paper is available to download from
https://www.codelessplatforms.com/community/resources/white-paper-library/.

About BPA Platform Agents

BPA Platform agents are a distributed component residing locally or on another machine. Agents monitor for occurrences of an event for a particular process. When such an event is identified, the agent notifies the BPA Platform server to queue the relevant task(s). Related data can also be passed to the server for the tasks.

AgentDescription
Email Trigger (SMTP) AgentThe Email Trigger (SMTP) Agent works with the Email Trigger (SMTP) tool to process incoming SMTP messages. It can run on the same or separate computer to the server. It launches tasks when messages arrive that match filter rules previously configured within a Email Trigger (SMTP) step for a task.

It interfaces with Microsoft Virtual SMTP Server which is part of the Microsoft Internet Information Services. When a message is received by the Virtual SMTP Server, a copy of the message is passed to the Agent which in turn decides if there are any tasks to run.

Microsoft SQL Server Trigger AgentThe Microsoft SQL Server Trigger Agent is a service that sits between BPA Platform and SQL Server. It is installed onto any SQL Server instance and is responsible for both maintaining the triggers in SQL Server and for handling the running of a task once a trigger has been fired. When a SQL Server trigger is fired, a connection is made to the Agent service which then launches the relevant task.

BPA Platform also supports the use of triggers on a SQL Server failover cluster, enabling the firing of triggered tasks from whichever server in the cluster is active at the time. An Agent must be installed on each node, starting with the active node. However, because all are monitoring the same SQL Server instance, the BPA Platform client sees only a single Agent registration.

Oracle Trigger AgentThe Oracle Trigger Agent is a service that sits between BPA Platform and an Oracle server. It can be installed onto any Oracle Server. It is responsible for both maintaining the triggers in Oracle Server, and for handling the running of a task once a trigger has been fired. When an Oracle trigger is fired, a connection is made to the agent service which then launches the applicable task
Schedule AgentThe Schedule Agent is a service that resides on the BPA Platform server (BPA Platform Schedule Agent) and, unlike the other agents, is automatically included in the server installation. The agent is responsible for both maintaining task schedules and for handling the running of tasks at the scheduled date and time. When a schedule is reached the agent service launches the applicable task.
Workflow Job Trigger AgentThe Workflow Job Trigger Agent is a Windows service which resides on one or a number of Web Server computers. It connects to and monitors all configured Create Workflow Job and Workflow Job Trigger steps on its associated BPA Platform server. These are retrieved and cached locally. The Workflow Job Trigger Agent checks the IIS server and verifies that the currently configured folders can handle Workflow Jobs if requested.

About BPA Platform Variables

Variables are created and used extensively throughout BPA Platform and can either have fixed values or values that are dynamically populated when a task is run.

Two classes of variable can be created.

About Global Variables

Global variables are available for all tasks in this BPA Platform installation. Only users with System Administrator or Variable Administrator rights can create global variables. However, once created, global variables can be used by
any task.

BPA Platform Variables

About Task Variables

Task variables are only available for the specific task they are created for. Users with Task Administrator rights can create task variables.

BPA Platform Task Variables

When exporting tasks, task variables are automatically included.

About BPA Platform Formulas

Formulas are VBScript expressions that return a value taken from outside BPA Platform, such as a date or timestamp.

BPA Platform Formulas

Two classes of formula can be created.

About Global Formulas

Global formulas are available for all tasks in this BPA Platform installation. Only users with System Administrator or Formula Administrator rights can create global formulas. However, once created, global formulas can be used by any task.

About Task Formulas

Task formulas are only available for the specific task they are created for. Users with Task Administrator rights can create task formulas.

When exporting tasks, task formulas are automatically included.

About BPA Platform Functions

Functions execute a series of VBScript statements that return a value.

BPA Platform Functions

BPA Platform Functions

Two classes of function can be created.

About Global Functions

Global functions are available for all tasks in this BPA Platform installation. Only users with System Administrator or Function Administrator rights can create global functions. However, once created, global variables can be used by any task.

About Task Functions

Task functions are only available for the specific task they are created for. Users with Task Administrator rights can create task functions.

When exporting tasks, task functions are automatically included.

About Repositories

Repositories are used by the Internal Memory feature to store memorised data in BPA Platform’s proprietary database format. At the time of writing, access to the repositories is via the Classic client only.

BPA Platform Repositories

You can edit the repository’s data and schema independently of the task that creates them.
You can also create repositories independent of a task which can then be used by multiple tasks.

Example Use Cases

The following are just a few examples of how exposing memorised data in a Repository can be used:

  • A Repository can be exported and imported as a .xml file which retains all Repository information, including the hierarchical data structure.
  • Repository data and schema information can be exported or imported as a .csv file.
  • A Repository can be selected for use in any task so that different columns are populated from different data sources.
  • Repository data values can be manually edited, rows deleted or the Repository “reset” by deleting all the data.
  • The Repository schema can be edited to change column details, insert or delete columns to match the data source, and even insert child rows in the schema to create a hierarchical data structure.
  • Using a Filter Data step, the current Repository data for a task can be compared to a new recordset produced at task run-time to filter the data passed to the Output step for processing. A Repository search allows rows in a selected schema to be returned and displayed.
  • An advanced Repository search enables single or multiple search expressions to be constructed.

About Memory Definitions

Memory is used to store specific task data, such as recordset data, variables, and formulas. You use memory definitions to ensure tasks only run when certain conditions have been met based on the memorised data. For example, where customer credit limit notifications are stored in memory, you can have the Send Email (SMTP) step check the memorised data to ensure the notification is not resent to the same customer.

Users must have permission to use Memory Definitions.

BPA Platform Memory Definitions

You can create any number of memory definitions.

The following memory definition types are available (for a detailed description of each memory definition type, refer to the product help):

About Internal Memory

The Internal Memory feature uses a Repository to memorise task data, by mapping fields from the recordset against Repository fields.

BPA Platform Internal Memory

About ODBC Memory

You use the ODBC memory feature to create a definition that memorises data for a selected table, columns, or both, from a specified ODBC data source at task run-time. Instead of mapping the data into a Repository, the data is written back into the applicable table.

BPA Platform ODBC Memory

About OLEDB Memory

You use the OLEDB memory feature to create a definition that memorises data for a selected table, columns, or both, from a specified OLEDB data source at task run-time. Instead of mapping the data into a Repository, the data is written back into the applicable table. The OLEDB Memory window is the same as the ODBC Memory window above.

About Call Stored Procedure Memory

You use the Call Stored Procedure memory feature to create a definition that memorises data for a selected table, columns, or both, from a specified OLEDB data source by executing a stored procedure at task run-time. Instead of mapping the data into a Repository, the data is written back into the applicable table. The stored procedure is responsible for storing the parameters in the required format.

Transaction options allow a procedure execution to only be committed when criteria has been met, such as a successful or failed iteration, or based on a rule.

BPA Platform Call Stored Procedure Memory

About Running Tasks

You create new tasks by either:

  • BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Clicking New Task.
  • Right-clicking on Tasks or a child folder and selecting New Task

    If a task folder structure is in place, you can either create the task directly in the relevant folder or in the parent Tasks folder and move it after creation — users must have Edit permissions for that folder.

The task interface opens.

To run a task manually, you do the following:

  1. Log into BPA Platform.
  2. From the resources tree, expand the Tasks folder structure and locate the relevant task.
  3. From the items list (right), right-click on the required task, and select Queue Now.

If required, you can select more than one task (hold down CTRL and select each task in turn) and queue them at the same time.

Alternatively, you can use the following methods to automatically run a task:

  • Use the Schedule tool to execute tasks at a specific date and time or on a regular schedule
  • Use other Event tools to trigger a task to run

For a detailed description of how to create a task, see How to Create a Basic Task.

Task Practises to Avoid

The following recommendations are made about task practises to avoid:

  • Do not create tasks that contain multiple Event steps (see Tools and Steps) that initiate different parts of the task flow.
  • Do not create tasks that contain multiple unconnected task flows.
  • Do not create tasks that daisy-chain unrelated activities from a single event, such as a single Schedule step initiating tasks involving unrelated information, people, or systems.

Using Task Folders

We recommend you group your tasks into folders for easier management. Note that there is no limit for the level of sub-folders you can create.

BPA Platform Using Task Folders

Setting Permissions for Task Folders

If required, you can set permissions for user access to the task folder. Note that new users are given full access:

  • Full Control — Users can create sub-folders and tasks, and remove the same from this folder
  • Visible — The folder and its contents are displayed to the user when clicked
  • Create Folder — Users can create new sub-folders in this folder
  • Create — User can create tasks in this folder
  • Read — Users can only read tasks in this folder
  • Execute — Users can manually run (all) tasks in this folder (right-click the task and select Queue Now)
  • Edit Own — Users can only edit those tasks and sub-folders they have created in this folder
  • Edit All — Users can edit any task or sub-folder created in this folder
  • Delete Own — Users can only delete tasks and sub-folder they have created in this folder
  • Delete All — Users can delete any task or sub-folder created in this folder

Exporting Tasks and Task Data

You can export your BPA Platform data for use in other BPA Platform installations. BPA Platform files have a .TKS or .CONNECTION file extension. .TKSS files are locked BPA Platform solutions — refer to your Codeless Platforms partner.

BPA Platform Exporting Tasks and Task Data

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Click Export in the Tasks toolbar to create the files.

What Can Be Exported?

Objects Included in the .TKS File

You can export a mix of the following to a .TKS file:

  • Task folders and contents

    Sub-folders are automatically included when the parent folder is selected. If sub-folders are not required, you can clear the selection before exporting.
  • Tasks and associated properties

    Associated task data is included when a task is exported, that is, task variables, task formulas, task functions, memory definitions, and repositories as well as the task process itself.
  • Repositories
    Note that repositories can be separately exported through the Repository interface (see Exporting the Repository Data Set). This method creates an .XML or .CSV file instead.
  • Global formulas
  • Global functions
  • Global variables

Objects Included in a .CONNECTION File

You can export the following to a .CONNECTION file:

  • Any global connection or configuration created in your BPA Platform instance

Importing Tasks and Task Data

Exported BPA Platform data can be imported into any BPA Platform instance running the same or higher version than it was created in. This feature is particularly useful where a sandbox environment is used for testing purposes before going live. Exported BPA Platform files have a .TKS or .CONNECTION file extension. .TKSS files are locked BPA Platform solutions — refer to your Codeless Platforms partner.

To import a BPA Platform file, do one of the following:

  • BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Click Import in the Tasks toolbar to load the files into BPA Platform
  • Right-click on any folder in the top-level Tasks folder and select Import — if doing this method when importing the tasks file, be aware that asks are imported into the folder selected

If any object in the tasks file (.tks only) already exists in the BPA Platform instance, you are prompted for which action to take (Replace, Do Nothing, or Create New (note that Create New appends (1) to the object name after import)):

BPA Platform Importing Tasks and Task Data

About BPA Platform User Accounts

Use the General tab to enter the credentials for this user account:

BPA Platform User Accounts

BPA Platform supports two types of user authentication:

  • Internal — Internal accounts are created in and for BPA Platform only.
  • Windows — Windows accounts are initially created in your Microsoft® Active Directory® database. To allow your users to use their Windows credentials to access BPA Platform, you must add those credentials to BPA Platform as well.

If you need to disable an existing user account or create an inactive one, for pending users for example, use the Disable Account / Enable Account slider to switch between the two.

Creating a Local BPA Platform Account

To create a local BPA Platform account, configure the following:

  • User name — Provide a unique username. All alphanumeric characters are supported.
  • Email address — Optional. An email address is only required if this user is to receive server notifications and alerts (see About the Notifications Tab).
  • Authentication — Enable BPA Platform Authentication.
  • Password — Enter a password that adheres to your organisation’s security policies. Confirm the password.

Creating a Windows BPA Platform Account

  • User name — Click Browse to select the Windows account.
  • Email address — Optional. An email address is only required if this user is to receive server notifications and alerts (see About the Notifications Tab).
  • Authentication — Enable Windows Authentication.
  • Domain — If the Windows user account is in a different domain to where the BPA Platform server is located, enter the domain here.

About the Server Roles Tab

Server roles determine which features of BPA Platform a user has access to. There are nine server roles you can assign to a user:

BPA Platform Server Roles Tab

Note that selecting System Administrator selects all other roles.

Server RoleFeature Access
System AdministratorThis is the highest level of server role.
System administrators have access to all features listed below.
Security AdministratorSecurity administrators create BPA Platform users.
Note that only System administrator-level users can maintain existing user accounts.
Security AdministratorSecurity administrators create BPA Platform users.
Note that only System administrator-level users can maintain existing user accounts.
Server AdministratorServer administrators maintain BPA Platform, including:

  • Managing licences
  • Managing server global options
  • Running maintenance
Tool AdministratorCreate and maintain global configuration for allowed tools (Tool Access tab), memory providers (Memory Access tab), and agents (Tool Access tab).
Repository AdministratorsCreate and maintain repositories.
Tool AdministratorCreate and maintain global configuration for allowed tools (Tool Access tab), memory providers (Memory Access tab), and agents (Tool Access tab).
Variable AdministratorVariable Administrators create and maintain global variables.
Task-level variables are only available if users are Task Administrators as well.
Formula AdministratorFormula Administrators create and maintain global formulas.
Task-level formulas are only available if users are Task Administrators as well.
Function AdministratorFunction Administrators create and maintain global functions.
Task-level functions are only available if users are Task Administrators as well.
Task AdministratorWhen logged in, Task Administrators only have access to the top-level Tasks folder. From here,
they can:

  • Create and maintain tasks containing allowed tools
  • Open tasks created by other users — note that if access to a tool has not been granted to the logged in Task Administrator, steps using those tools cannot be opened
  • Run tasks created by themselves and other users
  • Enable / disable tasks owned by themselves and other users
  • Create and maintain task folders
  • Maintain folders created by other users that they have been granted permission to view
  • Create and maintain task-level variables, functions, and formulas

About the Tool Access Tab

Use the Tool Access tab to specify which BPA Platform tool’s global configuration this Task or Tool Administrator can access.

BPA Platform Tool Access Tab

By default, all installed tools are available to all Task and Tool Administrators — clear the selection for those tools you don’t want the user to access.

Advanced Database Tool Settings

For those tools that provide connections to external databases (Database Query (ODBC), Database Query (OLEDB), and Call Stored Procedure (OLEDB)), you can further customise user access. You do this by only allowing access to specific global connections created for that tool. If the tool has multiple connections created, (Advanced) is active.

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Click Advanced — all global connections created for that tool are displayed.

BPA Platform Database Tool Settings

Clear the selection for those connections the user cannot access.
If your security policies dictate that this user must use different credentials to access the database, click Edit.

BPA Platform credentials

Provide the new credentials. Use Test to ensure the database can be reached.

About the Memory Access Tab

Use the Memory Access tab to dictate which memory provider’s global configuration this user can access.

BPA Platform Memory Access Tab

Only users who are Tool Administrators can access memory definitions.
For more information about using the memory feature, refer to the product help.

About the Script Objects Tab

The underlying language used to build the tasks is VBScript — go to the Script tab of an open task to view this. This script can be edited to tailor the task to further meet your organisational needs.
Use the Script tab to allow or prevent users from editing the VBScript.

BPA Platform Script Objects Tab

Using the Event Log

The event log provides complete accountability for all activity in BPA Platform, such as:

  • BPA Platform server events
  • Enabling / disabling of tasks
  • Task creation
  • Task errors
  • Task run-time events
  • User activity

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Click to open the event log.

BPA Platform Event Log

Double-click an entry to view the full details.

Exporting the Event Log

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 If required, you can export the log to a CSV file.

Filtering and Sorting the Event Log

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 You can also filter and sort the event log view as required — click for the required column.

You can filter the event log according to:

  • Category and Type — These are filtered according to their preconfigured values, for example:

BPA Platform Filtering and Sorting the Event Log

  • Task ID and Time — These allow expressions to filter the event log, for example:

63661

BPA Platform 2020 Update 1

Use Clear Filters to clear a specific column’s filter that has been applied. To remove all applied filters, click Show All in the main event log view.

Any applied filters remain in place until the client is closed and reopened. To keep the current applied filter even after a client restart, click Save Filters. The filter is then re-applied every time the event log is opened (Save Filters remains blue to indicate the filter is still applied). To stop this, click either Show All or Save Filters again.

About myBPAPlatform

myBPAPlatform is an ASP.NET web application which can be optionally installed onto any available Web Server.

When Workflow Jobs are created, each one is assigned to a specific User, Users or User Groups for completion and stored on a Web Server. There are then two methods by which they can be made available to the specific user(s) for actioning.

The first method is through the delivery to the user(s) of a hyperlink to the Workflow Job web form URL and this is nominally contained within an email message. When the user clicks on the link the Workflow Job web form will open in a web browser. The only drawback of this method is that users cannot see all of the Workflow Jobs that have been assigned to them.

The second method is to utilise myBPAPlatform. This is a fully featured web application that provides users with a secure login method and through a comprehensive user interface allows users to manage all WorkFlow Jobs assigned to them.

Logging Into myBPAPlatform

In order to use the myBPAPlatform web application you must first log in through the Login page. Specific account information is set by the Administrator when your account is created.

BPA Platform - Logging Into myBPAPlatform

About the Main Interface

The main application interface is split into three basic areas:

BPA Platform Main Interface

  • Title Bar — The Title Bar is located underneath the myBPAPlatform banner. It displays the name of the currently logged in user, and provides links to the Codeless Platforms website, the help for the current page, and log out button.
  • Command Area — The Command Area provides access to various functions and features:
    • New — Add a new workflow job
    • Open — Opens the highlighted workflow job for editing
    • Delete — Deletes the highlighted workflow job
    • Look for — Enter search criteria when searching for workflow jobs
    • Search In — Choose the type of search criteria: Created, Name, Modified, Owner, Stage
  • Display Area — The Display Area displays all workflow jobs assigned to the logged in user:
    • ID — The unique ID number for the workflow job
    • Created — The date and time the job was created
    • Name — The name of the job
    • Modified — The date and time the job was modified
    • Owner — The name of the user who is assigned ownership of the job at its current Stage
    • Stage — The current stage for the job

Adding New Workflow Jobs

Clicking on the Add button in the Command Bar displays the Add New Job page:

BPA Platform New Workflow Jobs

  • Display Area – When the Add New Job page is being displayed, the following are provided in the Display Area:
    • Select Job to Create — Provides a list of the Workflow Job Step types available to the user.
    • Job Name — A name for the new Job may be manually entered.
    • Add Job — Creates a single Workflow Job for the type selected with default values. The page will be closed and the new Workflow Job added to the list in the Overview page.

Editing Workflow Jobs

Selecting a Workflow Job in the Overview page and then clicking on the Open button in the Command Bar displays the Edit Job page:

  • Display Area — When the Edit Job page is being displayed, the Workflow Job page is displayed and may be edited as required. Once editing is complete the changes may be saved by clicking on the Save button in the Command Bar. In addition the following buttons are provided by default in all Workflow Job forms:
    • Save — Saves the Workflow Job in its current state and closes the page. the Overview page will be displayed.
    • Submit — Publishes the Workflow Job form to the BPA Platform server. The Workflow Job form field values are then compared against filters created for Workflow Job Submission Steps and where they match the applicable Task will be run. The page closes and the Overview page will be displayed.

About BPA Platform Developer Modules

The following modules allow you to develop custom applications that expand your organisation’s installation of BPA Platform.

About the BPA Platform Task API

The BPA Platform API offers a structured, powerful and easy-to-use interface to access the BPA Platform Software Suite’s server. It provides the ability to import tasks, enumerate tasks in folders, access basic task information, enable / disable a task, set / read task variables, set / read task categories, set / read task run parameters, and to run a task.

The API itself is COM-based and can therefore be used by any development environment supporting COM ,such as, Microsoft Visual Basic, Microsoft Visual C++, ASP, or VBScript and so on.

About the BPA Platform Tool SDK

What is the Tool SDK?

BPA Platform is designed to model business processes by passing information between a number of different steps each performing a specific task. The task carried out by each step is performed by a tool. BPA Platform comes with a wide range of tools built in which can be dragged onto the task design surface and connected in an almost infinite number of ways. However, it may be necessary to perform a function which BPA Platform does not include in the standard package. To easily facilitate this, Codeless Platforms have developed the Tool SDK.

The Tool SDK is a bolt-in pack for Microsoft Visual Studio, allowing custom tools to be developed in C# or VB. This is done by way of step-by-step wizards to simplify the process. The tools that are built can be distributed and used with installations of BPA Platform.

Who Should Use it?

The Tool SDK is intended for use by anyone with a basic understanding of BPA Platform and programming in either Microsoft Visual Basic or Microsoft Visual C#.

What do I Need to Use it?

To use tools generated with the Tool SDK, each copy of BPA Platform must have the Tool Interface API installed and licensed to use the required number of plug-in tools. Codeless Platforms Sales will be able to supply the keys required to activate your software for this feature.

To create tools for use with BPA Platform, you need a supported copy of Microsoft Visual Studio, a copy of Codeless Platforms BPA Platform, and a copy of the BPA Platform Tool SDK.

What are the Different Types of Tool I can Create with it?

  • Input — Input tools extract information from a source, such as a database, internet web service, or barcode reader, and make it available to other tools in BPA Platform
  • Output — Output tools accept information in the form of documents or recordsets and perform a task on this data. This may be distributing it by a transport such as SMS or email, or storing it to a database or file for later use
  • Format — Format tools accept information usually in the form of a recordset, perform some processing on it (for example conversion to HMTL or PDF) and make the outputted document or recordset available to other tools to use
  • General — General tools either accept or generate information in the form of recordsets or documents. An example might be a word counter where the configuration allows dynamic text to be entered with a list of words to check for. This would then be published as a step parameter.
  • Integration — “Templated” integration tools can be generated that call onto specific third-party APIs. These tools consume XML containing the details of the data that you want to change in the third-party application and output XML for consumption in other BPA Platform tools.

How do I Distribute my Tools?

The Tool SDK Wizard automatically creates a setup project. You add the new tool to this and build it. This then generates a setup.exe installer file which can be distributed as required.

About the Workflow Web Service

The Workflow Web Service is a .NET-enabled software application that enables developers to integrate functionality for users to add, edit, submit, re-assign, and delete Workflow Jobs into their own web sites, applications, or web services.

As the product is .NET enabled and access to the web service uses standard internet protocols, it is vendor, platform and language independent enabling multiple methods of connection. The web service also supports WSDL and DISCO.

BPA Platform Components

For details of the functions, objects, and so on included in the web service, request our Workflow Web Service — Programming Specifics document from your account manager or business partner.

White Paper - BPA Platform 2020  Update 1

White Paper - BPA Platform 2020 Update 1

The BPA Platform 2020 Update 1 Technical Overview introduces you to all available features of this release.