It’s been a while, but som3 are back with their latest RPA piece, inspired by one of our resident UiPath contractors, Alex Martinez. We got talking about ‘Picture-in-Picture’ (PiP), a cool feature within the UiPath armoury, allowing you to run attended processes in collaboration with the robot. So do not fear, the T-1000 isn’t about to take over our world just yet, instead we can work in harmony and revolutionise the automation process!
So what does PiP actually mean, what’s happening and why is it useful to people like Alex in their day-to-day job?
In a nutshell, the PiP feature allows you to run attended processes in collaboration with the robot. A process started in the PiP mode runs in an isolated Windows session, allowing you to use the machine while the process is running. Now this is incredibly useful as some of the traditional challenges when not using PiP can be:
Automation user idle time
For attended robots to run successfully, the automation user should not interfere with the robot by using the keyboard or mouse. This means that an RPA Developer user cannot use their own PC for a period of time and just watch the robot do its job. Sure there are other things that the Developer could crack on with, but is this the most efficient use of their time?
When the robot and human are interacting with the same software (Word, Excel, Chrome and Adobe), the robot’s complexity (and implicitly cost) increases in order to not interfere with the automation user’s work. E.g., You do not want the robot to close the user’s files/browser as there might be some work in progress there or interact with file explorer and disrupt the user’s ongoing work.
Unpredictable robot execution conditions
When developing the robot, it is very difficult to predict and replicate the exact environment state in which the robot will be triggered, because at different points in time, a user may have different running applications, tabs, files, etc. meaning that the robot will be more susceptible to unexpected behaviour and thus would more often end up in error states.
So the solution….well….Pip of course!
The Picture-in-Picture feature meets all these challenges by allowing the automation user to work parallel and allowing the robot to run the processes in a new Windows session at the same time.
A session consists of all the processes and other system objects that represent a single user’s logon session. Knowing this, if the robot runs in a different session, means that:
- The user can continue working while the robot runs in a corner of the screen.
- The user can still oversee the robot’s work.
- The robot has predictable working conditions (due to the dedicated session, that does not interfere with the human’s session).
- The robot does not affect the user’s working conditions (e.g. doesn’t close her/his browser tabs).
Now like anything new, there can be some initial limitations and having done some research from a number of articles, here were a few that cropped up:
- If you are using a PIN to log into the main Windows session, you are asked for your credentials every time you start a Picture-in-Picture session.
- Due to Operating System limitations for running Picture-in-Picture, Home Editions of Windows 8 and 10 are not supported.
- Runs as administrator cannot be used in the PiP session.
- Automations that depend on Microsoft Outlook do not run successfully in PiP if the application is already opened in the main session.
- To use two browser types, the mode and location of the browser data should be configured from the Open Browser activity properties.
The general conclusion across a number of different users, is that despite these limitations, they can see this feature being implemented in most attended solutions. And as they say, as an RPA Guru, why wouldn’t you love the idea of your own personal assistant that could work side by side with you? With PiP, you’ve got it!
As always, som3 Recruitment are keen to hear from any budding RPA Superstar on the lookout for a new role OR any client who is looking to increase their RPA Talent Pool. So please do get in touch by checking out our website at https://www.som-3recruitment.com/ or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org directly.
Happy roboting all!