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Focus on Productivity, Platforms and DevOps

With the 2018.2 release, we deliver full support for enterprise Java desktop applications such as Oracle Forms, significant productivity improvements such as sub-flow parameterization with drag-and-drop and a new neural-network based OCR engine. And we have added new REST API endpoints for even tighter DevOps integrations.

We highly encourage you read through this list of new features and then reach out and speak with one of our product specialists today if you haven’t already heard from them.

Support for Enterprise Java Desktop Applications

Automating enterprise Java desktop applications such Oracle Forms has so-far been almost impossible using other tools. With version 2018.2, the desktop building blocks in LEAPWORK now support hassle-free automation of desktop applications built with all Java platforms, including those from IBM and Oracle for x86 and x64 versions of Windows.

Oracle

 Note that only Java version 1.7 and later is supported by the desktop building blocks. For earlier versions of Java, we recommend using the image and text-recognition building blocks.

Big Productivity Improvements

The LEAPWORK Automation Platform is all about taking ownership of automation without needing to have deep technical skills, and high-productivity features play an important part in making that happen. In the 2018.2 release, we have added a number of much-requested improvements in this area.

First of all, when working with sub-flows, it’s now very easy to add parameters; simply drag and drop a blue or green wire to the left side of the sub-flow. You will be prompted to enter a name for the parameter, and then it automatically gets wired up to a blue or green input block inside the sub-flow.

It also works “in reverse”; you can drag and drop a blue or green wire to the right side of the sub-flow, which will create output blocks inside the sub-flow.

productivity

To help navigating large suites of flows and sub-flows, you can now right-click any sub-flow and select “Show in Tree”, which will make the tree-view on the left side of the screen automatically show the position of the selected sub-flow.

show-in-tree

When adding a sub-flow to the canvas, the “Add Building Block” popup now shows the tree structure of the sub-flows, which makes it much easier to navigate to the right sub-flow. Additionally, the type-ahead filtering in the list of building blocks has been made case-insensitive, which also helps navigating to the right blocks:

add-new-building-block

We have added the following highly-requested keyboard shortcuts:

  • CTRL+R will run a flow from the currently selected building block (“run from here”)
  • CTRL+0 will zoom the canvas to fit all contents
  • CTRL+1 will set the zoom level of the canvas to 100%


And last but not least, schedules can now be copied and pasted, just like other assets:

copy-schedules

Significant Performance Optimizations

The 2018.2 release comes with a large number of significant performance optimizations to the communication protocols between the Studio, Controller and Agent components, as well as the storage engine on the Controller. It’s something we continuously work to improve, and the 2018.2 release is a major step in this direction.

Performance optimizations have also been applied to the migration process from older versions of the LEAPWORK Automation Platform (version 2.5 or earlier). As a side note, if you are upgrading from version 2.5 or earlier, please make sure to read the upgrade guide.

New REST API Endpoints for DevOps

As DevOps continues to spread across enterprise organizations, we continue to strengthen our commitment to third-party integrations such as Jenkins, TFS, Jira and others. To support this, we have expanded the REST API to include five new endpoints, listed below.

rest-api

The Export endpoint returns a zip file containing all assets (folders, flows, sub-flows, datafiles, etc.) from a given starting point. If no starting point is supplied, all assets will be exported. The output zip file can be used as the input parameter to the “Import” endpoint or can be imported manually in LEAPWORK Studio.

The Import endpoint is used to import a previously exported zip file to the Controller. The import/export mechanism can for instance be used to move flows from one Controller to another.

The Hierarchy endpoint returns a hierarchical list of all assets. The items in the hierarchy can be used as parameters in the Import and Export endpoints.

The Re-Run endpoint re-triggers a previously run schedule with all assets exactly as they were when the original run happened. This precise re-run capability can be very helpful in some CI/CD scenarios.

The Get Run Item Screenshot endpoint returns the file path to a captured screenshot image (using the Log Screenshot building block) in a flow.

The Get Run Item Video endpoint returns the file path to the video recording for a run, if video recording was enabled and the video was not removed by the retention policy.

Neural Network-Based Text Recognition

Text recognition is a combination of amazing and annoying; it makes it possible to read text and numbers from simple pixels on a screen without having access to the technology that rendered those pixels. This is incredibly useful when automating virtual desktops such as Citrix as well as 3D software and games. Unfortunately, text recognition algorithms are not perfect. However, using machine learning and neural networks, we can continue to push the boundaries of precision.

In the 2018.2 release, we have included a new version of our built-in text recognition engine, based on Tesseract 4, with a trained neural network. This new engine is selected by default for all new flows and sub-flows, but existing flows and sub-flows will continue to use the old engine.

ocr

Note that the mode for the new engine is by default set to “Fast speed” and not “High quality” because the latter can take up to 60 seconds to process a single desktop screen, and the fast mode is almost as precise in most cases.

Also note that for the highest-precision text recognition possible, we highly recommend you use ABBYY FineReader inside LEAPWORK.

Miscellaneous

The 2018.2 release also includes a number of minor features and changes:

  • All the individual “keyframes” data in the automation runs are now stored in a separate database, for performance reasons
  • Scheduled actions no longer escapes POST body characters #, + and & which can corrupt data being posted to Slack or other third-party services
  • “Refresh columns” in the database block has been simplified so it now runs in the user session, just like when the flow is actually running
  • The folder path for storage of run media (videos and screenshots) are now configurable in the controller.config file, using the AutomationRunMediaFolder key
  • The date block no longer includes a timestamp, which was confusing
  • Any flows and sub-flows currently open by yourself are now shown as being locked (by yourself)
  • There is a new “Runtime Context Info” building block, which can output the flow name, schedule name and environment information (name, type, host, port, username, machine name and resolution), which can then be used during runtime
  • Unlocking a locked flow or sub-flow can now be performed by contributors and not just administrators

 

Upgrading from v2.5? Go to the Upgrade Guide

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Want to know more about the release? Get in touch!