Take Automation to the Next Level with Web Services!

by Guest Authors - Zdenek Kabatek, Martin Hanton - RPA Professional Services at NEOOPS

The term ‘Web services’ has joined the other trendy buzzwords dominating the automation scene lately. Thanks to their versatility, web services are widely used in standard IT integrations and now they are finding their way into RPA.
It is a technique that was available in Blue Prism from the very beginning – I have been studying this topic since 2016. I remember offering this feature to our clients, educating them on the topic, explaining how to use it and what are the advantages of it, but in the last 5 years, the adoption among our clients was not very widespread.
Especially when customers are starting with RPA, they are hesitant to use such technologies. But as they are becoming more mature so their appetite for more elegant & effective solutions increases.
During last year, we have seen a big change in the trend where there are many more applications which, apart from the GUI, offer the SOAP or REST API web services and companies that are running their RPA initiatives for years are starting to gauge the advantages and disadvantages of standard GUI-based automation methods versus utilizing web services.
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We have been through this story with many clients and we have helped them to explore this modern and flexible way of automation.
The main differences between “traditional” automation techniques and web services could be summed up in this way:
·         Forget about screen scraping and spying GUI elements. Using a web service allows you to talk to the system directly via API, which makes it completely independent with changes in the user interface and saves time while configuring your automations.
·         Using this direct communication channel really speeds the processing up, because you no longer depend on the often-unpredictable interface responsiveness, testing whether write stages can be used or you are bound only to Global Send Keys action (you know what I am talking about, don’t you).
·         On the other hand, bypassing all the visual elements is inherently connected to a potential risk of missing validations built in the user interface. Therefore, an increased attention must be paid to the quality and consistency of input data.
Blue Prism can handle both SOAP and REST types of web services. SOAP web services are still widely used, but we see an increased usage of REST API web services as more and more modern apps which support REST API are implemented in companies’ software ecosystems (e.g., ServiceNow). At the same time, the mindset among our clients is changing and we see much bigger interest in the technology – and it does not matter if you want Blue Prism to consume...