Incremental automation to feed the beast
As many people know, I have a passion for automation – mostly because it provides consistency in execution which drives quality up and often shortens time scales. Although when I talk to people they complain that they do not have time to automate their stuff because they have to learn a new application, develop the automation scripts and then test them. To be fair, these are things that have cause me issues in the past. So I put the idea to one side in my brain and let it tickle me every now and again when something twigged – and a few weeks ago it twigged on something big time after reading this blog post – http://scn.sap.com/community/it-management/alm/blog/2014/09/04/solution-manager-update–to-busy-to-improve
What I had forgotten and I suspect a lot of people had also forgotten about is a very simple application which has long since disappeared from Windows, Windows Recorder (I think). This was an application which would record your mouse clicks and keystrokes into a script/macro and replay it when you wanted from a hotkey or just loading from the application. This was automation at it’s simplest and most pure but as a young person I had no appreciation of its uses, mostly because my job was not repetitive (not sure admitting that is a good thing 🙂 )
This idea took hold and I thought a lot about why I wanted to use recorded Macros, it was not because I didn’t want to spend time building lovely scripts or configure software – it was because I didn’t have the time to build beautiful adaptable scripts. So I needed to find the time, and by taking an incremental step into recorded macro based automation, I could free up time in which to take the 2nd larger step into more complete scripted automation.
I experimented with a lot of automation products to enable me to easily record macros, replay them effectively, add parameters to allow me to deploy them in different scenarios without major reprogramming and be as cheap as possible. The cost aspect was important, mostly because if this is a transient piece of software then you do not want to be spending hundreds of pounds/dollars/euros on it. I evaluated several products
Macro Express – http://www.macros.com/
Macro Scheduler – https://www.mjtnet.com/automation-software.htm
WinAutomation – http://www.winautomation.com/
Jitbit Macro recorder – https://www.jitbit.com/macro-recorder/
I don’t want to bore you with the full evaluations – they all had pluses and minuses but what I wanted was some quick, easy, cheap and functional, for this JitBit Macro recorder won and I will be using this going forward.
Next I needed something to automate, something which was repetitive and time consuming – the obvious answer Daily Checks on SAP systems, my favourite topic and also the ideal 2nd stage automation project as Daily checks become obsolete with Solution Manager exception based reporting and alerting.
My intention was to record the mouse clicks and keystrokes to perform daily checks, capture the results in screenshots which could be e-mailed to myself as a record of the tasks. Once I had reviewed the screenshots I could take further action if required or print the screenshots as a record of the daily task being completed.
The attached video is a short demonstration of how I can automate the following
1. Starting the SAPGui
2. Logging into an SAP System
3. Running a transaction
4. Rerunning the Macro to demonstrate the recording
This should give you a taste of what we can do with this software and in my next blog I will show how to automate a full daily checks task list.