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Automagica: Open-Source Robotic Process Automation (github.com)
113 points by mariushn 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments



This is a huge area in enterprises right now - most large global businesses have (I estimate) 2/3 of their headcount at serious threat to process automation - and people are putting the money into it now - expect this area to blow up in the next year or so - definitely a area for the sensible contractor to look at.

However is this automation package going to win? I don't know but OSS is likely to have a big part to play

And as for the Windows only part - well 99.9% of the processes that are currently done by humans and will get automated are done on windows machines (cos if they were done by humans using a Linux box they would have already built a shell script for it)


This appears to be a glorified services ad posing as an open source project.

The crux of desktop automation isn't that you can do the easy things, but that you have a way of doing everything. A 99% automated process with one manual step in the middle is still pretty useless.

Which is the reason the major vendors tend to have been in business for 10+ years. Because it's not about wrapping the Windows Active Accessibility API (or whatever they're calling it now) and patting yourself on the back.

It's about supporting, out of the box, that VB6 app with a hacked-in async UI interaction using a custom grid with a combo box in it.

And it's about exposing it in a way that, ideally, a business use familiar with Visio-only can kludge together 85% of the logic.

In short, this looks like all those times HN opines on {biology / rocketry / etc} and offers that "If they just ____, it would all be easy."


Have you worked with major vendor solutions? They don’t do much more than wrapping the accessibility api and in some cases clumsily so. They have surface automation on top, but if you end up using it you are already in a bad place automation wise.

I've worked with all of the top 5 products in the space at various times. And no, they don't.

Automation Anywhere is the least compatible of the bunch, and even it includes custom translators.


I have consulted for quite a few Enterprise and from my point of view none of this will come to pass unless everything happens out of the box. Of course I can be completely wrong.

Every automation requires paying carefull attention to business process, designing it to handle all possible scenarios,handle sudden failures gracefully, and recover and restart from a known state. This is doable but requires a large attention span, most enterprise projects evangelist gets completely deranged if it can't be done in 2 weeks because hey we are agile.

As an example most Enterprise are on cloud because it's cool. It still takes 2 months to get an approval, VM provision still happens with hand, Dev still insist on running their instances 24x7 and get away with it.

Irony is every single one of them talks of how cool DevOps is but never gets it implemented because once it's done their will feel unloved.

Cloud was cool 2 years back. Currently it's automation, cloud cost control products, access management tool,agile (daily 2 hour standup) and RPA.

I am intrigued how these trends get started.


I am also intrigued. And yes I do think that without an engrained culture of automation / engineering the long term prospects are dim.

But, the RPA projects I know of at major enterprises are deeply funded supported and reported right at the top. The justification and rationale are real - too many opaque manual processes, costing too much.

Yes it's a thing like "cloud" was - but despite the obvious fails (which primarily are to do with being on private cloud when no single company can possibly be big enough) cloud is a thing that's not going away for enterprises - neither will this

As for the "oss as advert" - yeah I agree. Good luck to them :-)


> Yes it's a thing like "cloud" was - but despite the obvious fails (which primarily are to do with being on private cloud when no single company can possibly be big enough)

I am referring to companies on Azure and yet having a 2 month process to approve a VM.


> This is a huge area in enterprises right now...

Yeah, and I'll be honest I didn't see this coming...Or at least, i didn't see the enterprise popularity aspect coming...Sort of because I kind of thought automation of this type was a solved thing. But i guess not. For most of my career, I've worked in web and/or digital marketing roles...so automation stuff was most often taken care on the server side via bash scripts, etc. And for desktop stuff, I assumed those who needed it, simply set up desktop automation via Applescript for macs, windows task scheduler for windows, macros specifically for excel, and of course the classic bash scripts for linux...So, color me surprised when I recently heard so much buzz around this weirdo "RPA" (robot process automation) stuff. Honestly, half of it seems somewhat reasonable. For the other half, i think this is just a bunch of IT consultants, platform developers/vendors, etc. colluding to get tons of enterprise money to create or expand an industry to capitalize on the perceptions that humans "should" be automated away. I feel uneasy learning this stuff for my dayjob, knowing the long-term effects might negatively impact someone's livelihood. I know there are orgs. out there who would give their idle humans more creative/fullfilling work out there...But i also know some orgs. who care less, and simply slash humans from their ranks chasing the almighty dollar regardless of the human cost. I guess the only upside is that this appears to be an open source software, so i guess that's good. <sigh>


Yeah I am a bit confused why RPA is so hot right now in corporate land. There are many many people who do repetitive stuff on their desktops these days though..


I have used other (commercial) RPA vendors before, I do not understand why it took so long for a Python RPA platform to be developped. The commercial 'graphical flows' are such bullshit. They claim to be business friendly so that your average manager can use it to automate tasks, but in reality it sucks and just creates vendor lock-in. Looks like Automagica still has some work to do on the cross-platform area but at least it is nice to see Python code based RPA.


"Cross-platform" "Only supports Windows 10"


Relax. The actual quote from the readme is:

> Automagica officially supports Windows 10. Linux and MacOS are not officially supported.

It's cross platform, and Windows 10 is officially supported.


Looking in activities.py, I see a some functions that are OS-agnostic, but also a ton of functions that are Windows-specific in terms of process names and paths, and directly referencing the win32 lib. It's a matter of "unsupported" meaning "impossible" rather than "you're on your own". That said, the code is pretty easy to read, and would make for a good starting point to make your own automation library.


Well, it might be cross platform in function...but they simply don't provide support for mac and linux...Then again, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt. ;-)


Yeah indeed. It works, but not all of their activities work on Mac OS


Exactly.

DON'T CALL IT CROSS-PLATFORM WHEN IT ISN'T.

Lying isn't acceptable just because a president does it.


Very curious on the delta with AHK.

Their syntax looks a little bit more easier and the OCR Integration with Tesseract looks nice. AHK however has way more examples.


AutoHotKey is Windows only and Automagica looks like it has crossplatform support for one.


> "Our platform is built on open source technologies such as Python and Google’s Tensorflow, and is therefore easily extensible with the latest and greatest developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence."

This... should definitely not be on your front page if you're trying to appear like a serious desktop automation suite. Just, no.


I've used it for some small projects, I think their documentation is very beginner friendly. Their cross-platform support isn't that great though, half of their activities do not work on a Mac..


Cross-platform support wouldn't even be that hard to implement considering Python is cross-platform already and there are quite a lot of automation libraries for it.


sikuli ís nice




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