It is generally accepted that Russian software is traditionally inferior to Western software. For many, this is, if not an axiom, then a fairly long-proved theorem. Especially when it comes to corporate products. I was also sure of this and believed that in most cases Russian corporate-level products are made for the public sector. Those. in order to fulfill the requirements for import substitution. This was the case until recently, when my company did not need to automate routine processes and I was not puzzled by the choice of RPA.
Under the cut I want to share the results of the analysis that we conducted with colleagues. The article does not pretend to be a detailed comparative review, rather a case for choosing an RPA for specific requirements, which will acquaint you with some of the functions of such platforms that are in demand today.
For those who are far from the topic:
RPA (Robotic process automation) is literally robotic process automation. Software robots can perform a variety of actions within pre-designed scenarios. Usually they are entrusted with routine tasks that they are able to perform faster and more efficiently than people, to avoid mistakes. At the same time, employees have more time for intellectual and creative tasks.
Requirements and selection criteria
The main features in our case were the following RPA functionality. The platform should perform tasks such as working with different types of applications, office documents, machine vision and text recognition using built-in free tools. It was also important that the robot could be created quickly. Ideally, you needed a no-code solution, with an intuitive interface that did not require learning a new notation to work with. Obviously, the easier it is to create a robot for the next task, the higher the probability of successful implementation. We also evaluated the functionality of the platforms and set requirements for debugging.
UiPath and ROBIN 2.0 have approximately the same basic functionality. Actions are carried out quickly. Both platforms are endowed with a machine vision function. UiPath works with desktop applications, web applications, can send mail and work with processes. Similar functions are available on ROBIN 2.0.
ROBIN 2.0 implements OCR using free integrated tools. If necessary, you can use third-party recognition applications, for example from Abbyy, Yandex, DBrain. UiPath can also use its own OCR solution for recognition, and use third-party software. This set of basic functions is quite enough to implement most of the typical, widespread, standardized tasks.
Interface and development capabilities
In our case, the key factors were ease of implementation and ample opportunities in no-code. To deal with programming as little as possible, delegate RPA tasks to analysts.
In the case of UiPath, the main burden falls on the C # programmer. It is almost impossible to make a normal robot without knowing the language. There are no-code solutions in UiPath, but they cover only very primitive actions, i.e. designed for very simple robots.
ROBIN 2.0 has the advantage: Assembly of robots – No-code, i.e. even complex processes can be automated using an intuitive interface. In the robot setup studio, it is impossible to write program code, and accordingly, cases when an employee can mess up something and “spoil” the robot’s functionality are excluded. The tasks of recording user actions are traditionally solved by recorders, which are available in both UiPath and ROBIN 2.0.
Expanding platform capabilities
Both UiPath and ROBIN 2.0 have the ability to create new actions using custom code.
With this in UiPath, a programmer can write code in a robot. In our case, this is not a suitable option. The problem with UiPath is that every robot can be equated with custom software, which is expensive to develop and difficult to maintain. As soon as the programmer who wrote the robot leaves, problems arise. In addition, in UiPath, it is possible to create separate actions in C # using the SDK.
ROBIN 2.0 offers to create separate actions. You can’t write code in the studio. This suits us more, since the robot is already built from ready-made actions. This approach looks convincing, firstly, the robot consists only of ready-made actions, no code, which means it works transparently and is easy to maintain. Also, each new, custom action is tested and evaluated by the placement services, and in the future it becomes possible to reuse it for all the company’s robots.
Uipath’s strength is its large community, with lots of forums and development materials. There are no problems with finding the information you need. ROBIN 2.0 does not have such a large community, one can rely mainly on the documentation on the site, which is periodically updated, and also rely on support recommendations, which responds relatively quickly.
We found no significant difference in the role models. Both platforms have a role-based model, you can use both internal authentication and through AD. A slightly more flexible setting of the rights grid in ROBIN 2.0 can be distinguished.
A feature of ROBIN 2.0 is the regulation of user rights and access not only to the robot level, but also to each specific action available in the studio. UiPath controls access to the level of a particular robot.
UiPath works correctly only with Windows, starting from “seven” and higher. There is no native Linux support for execution. The developer community has solved this problem and are sharing a crutch solution using a browser on the forums.
ROBIN 2.0 is native cross-platform. The same robot can run on both Windows and Linux workstations. This moment is critical for us. Developers offer work with native applications and functions of different OS, and interaction is possible not only through the browser. The launch of robots and the work of the orchestrator are implemented on CentOS, RedHat, AstraLinux, AlterOS.
Debugging and Updates
Basic functions such as tracking logs, variables, breakpoint do not differ significantly and are equally well implemented in both platforms.
ROBIN 2.0 also uses remote debugging. If a robot breaks down on sale, it becomes necessary to check it step by step, but there is usually no access to the product. And in this case, in ROBIN 2.0, you can start the robot from your computer and step by step debug and identify the error using the debugging tools available in the studio.
The basic functionality of the platforms has practically no differences. Approaches and individual nuances differ significantly, each platform has its own chips.
UiPath is mainly focused on developers, the interface is convenient for the programmer and is fully adapted to his needs. ROBIN 2.0, on the other hand, is aimed at analysts without skills, and is a no-code tool for creating robots in a visual editor.
For our tasks, given the need for rapid platform implementation, ROBIN 2.0 was better suited.
In my opinion, this is a more flexible and user-loyal solution, adapted to the realities of domestic business, for example, to the requirements for import substitution and fairly widespread use of Linux. UiPath, as a market leader, strives to offer one-stop solutions that can be in demand everywhere. It is a monolithic product built for a huge community of C # developers. In our case, it is definitely less convenient.