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Embracing Python for Automation-as-Code

We are announcing a significant milestone for the Robocorp platform: transitioning away from the Robot Framework language and moving all our focus to Python. Existing bots developed in Robot Framework will continue to operate as usual. All our new developments will be directed towards Python's dynamic and expansive ecosystem.

Robocorp platform will be Python-only

Advancements in Generative AI and LLMs have revolutionised how we approach problem-solving and automation. We realized the potential of Python as a language for automation and AI early. Last year, we announced that we invested heavily in Python on our platform, ensuring that, at minimum, everything that was possible using Robot Framework would be available for Python developers. We have reached that date now.

📌 Today marks a significant milestone in our platform’s evolution. As part of this transition, we’re announcing discontinuing support for Robot Framework on the Robocorp platform. While we will continue to offer bug fixes and security updates for Robot Framework related features until February 15th, 2025, official support will cease thereafter. It’s crucial to understand that automations developed with Robot Framework will remain fully functional within the Robocorp ecosystem. 📌

The benefits of transitioning to Python

Embracing Python as your sole development language offers unparalleled advantages, setting the stage for more robust, scalable, and innovative automation solutions:

  • Access to a Rich Ecosystem: Python’s vast library ecosystem simplifies the integration of advanced features and tools, empowering you to tackle complex problems with ease. By removing the need to re-wrap several packages solely for Robot Framework, you’ll have the latest innovation in use faster.
  • Enhanced Productivity and Innovation: ReMark and even the other GPTs have solid knowledge of Python. This accelerates your development cycles and innovation with code generation and ease of debugging.
  • Universal and Future-Proof Skills: Python’s global popularity ensures that your development skill set remains relevant and in demand, preparing you for future technological advancements. The availability of skilled Python developers far exceeds those of Robot Framework.
  • Streamlined Development Process: Our Python framework provides out-of-the-box features such as logging, mirroring the convenience of Robot Framework but with enhanced performance and control, facilitating a seamless transition to more powerful automation capabilities.

What will happen in detail?

No immediate impact on existing bots: Automations built on Robot Framework will continue functioning as usual, ensuring your ongoing operations are not disrupted.

We announce a deprecation of Robot Framework on the Robocorp platform on Feb 15th 2024, with one-year long term support guaranteed for Enterprise customers (until Feb 15th 2025). Old Robot Framework bots will continue working even after this; we simply do not issue fixes to Robot Framework-related tooling anymore.

Our developer tooling going forward only supports Python. However, we will issue CVE fixes for the following year.

  • Language Server Protocol (LSP) for Robot Framework extension for VS Code remains open-source and available, but we cease to support new features or new versions of Robot Framework.
  • Robocorp Code Extension will support only Python code generation in the inspectors/recorders and its other features. The same will apply to the ReMark developer AI assistant.
  • The documentation site will be focused on Python tutorials and examples. However, we will keep a snapshot of current Robot Framework examples and docs until 2025.

We will restructure our automation libraries over time to focus on Python and to remove the dependency on Robot Framework that exists today in RPA Framework. This work was already started mid 2023 with the introduction of robocorp libraries. See details of all automation libraries here.

  • RPA Framework (our open-source project with the automation keywords many of our users have gotten familiar with) remains available and supports RPA use-cases (like Java apps, Excel, Outlook, PDFs and much more). However, examples and documentation are added only in Python going forward.
  • Some RPA Framework libraries will be deprecated as there are better ways to accomplish the same functionality directly with well-maintained Python libraries. This will be communicated later.

Recommendation for action

While there are no immediate consequences to currently running Robot Framework bots, we recommend our customers take the following action:

  • Start developing new automation workflows in Python. All three certification courses are available now in Python and are a great starting point for developers.
  • Review the “Switch to Python” page for detailed instructions on what is new, and decide if your organisation will implement any existing Robot Framework automations in Python. We do not require this, but in some cases, it will help with maintenance.

Our commitment to open-source software

Robot Framework has served us well, providing a solid foundation for automation – all based on Python. Our decision to focus on supporting Python as an only “offical” language on Robocorp platform does not mean we would have changed our stance on open-source.

We will seek for ways to ensure the continuation of tools like the Robot Framework LSP Extension for VS Code together with the community. At the same time, our open-source stack for Python Automation and AI Actions is in full swing! Check for example these repositories:

  • robocorp (now with the entire automation framework and Action Server in one place)
  • actions-cookbook (AI Actions that connect real-world with GPTs)
  • RCC (repeatable, movable and isolated Python environments for your automation)
  • RPA Framework (libraries for interacting with various tools and platforms).

Relevant further reading