Getting to the intranet

Ok, let's start using our robot to do something useful!

Defining our task

Our robot will not be spending its precious time greeting the world; it has a job to do. Let's start by being ambitious and describe the full job that it will need to do in one phrase. That will become our task description.

We settle on: Insert the sales data for the week and export it as a PDF

In Robocorp Lab, modify the *** Tasks *** cell like this:

*** Tasks ***
Insert the sales data for the week and export it as a PDF

The first step: opening the intranet

Just like Maria does when she starts working with the sales data, the robot will need to open a browser and navigate to the intranet website.

Great! Let's add it in our task as the first step:

*** Tasks ***
Insert the sales data for the week and export it as a PDF
    Open The Intranet Website

Open The Intranet Website is clear enough for us, but the robot does not yet know what that means. How do we explain that to it? We add a new keyword.

Note that the Open The Intranet Website keyword is indented with four spaces (having four spaces before the keyword). We'll explain this in more detail shortly!

Adding a new keyword

Add a new cell before the *** Tasks *** one by clicking on the + button in the toolbar, and add this code to it:

*** Keywords ***
Open The Intranet Website

Adding a new cell before the Tasks cell

Note: the order is important here. *** Keywords *** cells need to be positioned before the cells that refer to them, in our case, the *** Tasks *** cell.

Great! Now Open The Intranet Website has become the name of a new keyword. It does not do anything yet though... 🤔 How can we teach our robot to open a browser and work with it?

Adding our first library

The answer is by adding a library. Libraries teach our robots new skills by making new keywords available to them. In our case, we want to work with the browser, so we will add the RPA.Browser library. Libraries are added in the Settings section of robot scripts.

Edit the *** Settings *** cell so that it reads like this:

*** Settings ***
Documentation     Starter robot for the Beginners' course.
Library           RPA.Browser

RPA.Browser is part of the RPA Framework set of libraries, created and maintained by Robocorp.

Using keywords from a library

To open a browser and navigate to the intranet, we can now use the Open Available Browser keyword provided by the RPA.Browser library, and give it the address of the intranet as an argument.

Edit the cell containing our own Open The Intranet Website keyword, so it reads like this:

*** Keywords ***
Open The Intranet Website
    Open Available Browser     https://robotsparebinindustries.com/

Note: You need to have at least two spaces before the keyword. This is called indentation. The default is to use four spaces. You can indent by pressing the TAB key on your keyboard. The spaces are shown here as underscores:

____Open Available Browser

You need to have at least two spaces between the keyword and its arguments. If you only have one space, Robot Framework will consider the argument as part of the keyword name. The spaces are shown here as underscores:

    Open Available Browser____https://robotsparebinindustries.com/

Fantastic libraries and where to find them

We have ambitious plans for our robot, and along the way we will add more libraries to make it smarter and allow it to do more things. But how do we know which libraries are available and how they work?

The best place to start is the Libraries page on this very site, where we have put together a list of useful libraries for Robotic Process Automation. Take the RPA.Browser library that we just added for example: it has its own documentation page where you can see examples on how to use it, and the list of all the keywords it provides.

You are not limited to the libraries listed in our site, you can find other libraries around the web, and when you will be more familiar with coding, you can also make your own libraries, it's surprisingly easy!

Ok, now back to our robot!

The robot so far

Now our robot looks like this:

*** Settings ***
Documentation     Robot to enter weekly sales data into the RobotSpareBin Industries Intranet.
Library           RPA.Browser

*** Keywords ***
Open The Intranet Website
    Open Available Browser    https://robotsparebinindustries.com/

*** Tasks ***
Insert the sales data for the week and export it as a PDF
    Open The Intranet Website

Let's run our robot (by clicking on the >> button in the toolbar at the top), and enjoy the robot starting to work for us:

Robocorp Lab - opening the browser

What we learned

  • You should define the task of your robot in one phrase.
  • You can define your own keywords and call them in your task.
  • Keywords cells need to appear before other cells that refer to them.
  • You can get new keywords for your robot by adding libraries.
  • Libraries add new capabilities to your robot.
  • Libraries are added in the *** Settings *** section of your .robot file.
  • Testing your robots often, even after each edit, gives you continuous feedback on how your robot functions.
  • You can open a browser with the Open Available Browser keyword, by giving it the URL you want to open as an argument.
  • Indentation is important.
  • You have to separate arguments and keywords with at least two spaces.