Visual Process Designer

The Visual Process Designer tool allows you to create processes in easier and more convenient way than to apply the standard approach. You have full set of tools for process creation that is used in standard processes but you have greater capabilities to apply these tools and therefore set up more sophisticated scenarios.

Data acquisition, conversion and distribution is visualized in the Process Designer through use of graphic elements and connectors arranged by threads.

By using library of graphic elements and a workspace, you can quickly assemble different process components to set the required process. The created process can be represented as a graph in the Process Designer window.

Visual Process Designer interface

The Visual Process Designer interface consists of the upper line, Process Designer Library, Workspace panel, and Properties panel.

The upper line of the Process Designer contains name of the process (on the left) and the Designer Toolbar. You are allowed to change name of the process if needed.

The table below specifies buttons of the Visual Process Designer toolbar.

Button Name

Description

New

Click to open new workspace for creation new process. The workspace with the previous process will not be saved automatically.

Save

Click to save the specified work flow as a process.

Save as ...

You can choose the following options:

  • Save new process: Save the specified work flow as a new process.

  • Save as template: Save the specified work flow as a template. Elements settings are not saved.

  • Save as template (retain data): Save the specified work flow as a template. Elements settings are saved.

Insert Template

Click to open the list of existing templates. You can select the required template and add it to the workspace.

Insert Process as Group

Click to open the list of existing processes. You can select the required process and add it to the workspace as a group element.

Triggers

Click to specify when the process will run.

You can choose the following types of process triggers:

  • Schedules

  • Inputs Monitoring

  • Manifests Monitoring

  • Report Warehouse

Only one of them can be chosen at a time.

Schedules Trigger

A schedule is used to specify when, and at what interval the process will run. You can create a number of schedules but their launch time must differ.

NOTE: If the Config service is not available and you are using Altair licensing, Automator processes will be switched to "Limp Mode." In this mode, you can run only one process (i.e., one Standard Process and one Visual Process) every hour. Moreover, you cannot run a Visual Process that involves other Standard or Visual Processes. Limp Mode is deactivated once the Config service becomes available.

 

To add a new schedule for a process:

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. On the Process triggers dialog, select the Schedule radio button.

  3. Click the Add schedule button.

  4. Select the task execution frequency from the following options: One Time, Hourly, Daily, Weekly, Monthly.

  5. Set the time you want the process to run.

  6. Set the start date of the process.

  7. Select the appropriate time zone from the drop-down list.

  8. Click the Ok button to save the schedule.

To delete a schedule:

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. Click the Delete icon near the schedule you want to delete.

  3. Click the Ok button to save process schedules.

Select the Suspend check box to temporarily hold up the trigger.

Inputs Monitoring Trigger

When you specify inputs monitoring settings for a process, you specify files that you want Automator to monitor a particular location for. When the file arrives in the specified location, Automator will trigger running of the associated process.

NOTE: Changes in monitoring settings, including enabling and disabling monitoring or changing paths for monitored folders, take effect after approximately 1 minute.

To specify an inputs monitoring file

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. On the Process triggers dialog, select the Inputs Monitoring radio button.

  3. To add a file not from the process, expand the Browse section, set the file path, and click the Add button.

NOTE: If you're unsure of the file's exact name or if you want Automator to monitor for any file of a particular file type, you can use a wildcard character, either an asterisk (*) or a question mark (?), so that the arrival of any file of the specified type will trigger the running of the process. An asterisk may replace multiple characters while a question mark may replace any single character.) For example, adding *.prn to the end of the folder path instructs Automator to trigger the running of the associated process when any report file with a .prn extension arrives in the specified location.

You may also use the naming macros to specify the file path (for local and named paths). Click the Insert Macro icon Naming macro and select the naming macros from the drop-down list.

  1. To add a file from the process, expand the Process inputs sections and press the Add icon near the input path, which you want to add to the Monitoring Paths list.

  2. Expand Options to specify monitoring behavior:

  • Disable monitoring if trigger file is not removed – The input mask (e.g., myfile.txt or *xyz.pdf) from the monitored folder can sometimes cause a process job to fail with an error and remain in its original folder. By selecting Disable monitoring if trigger file is not removed, Automator stops monitoring the corresponding folder(s) for the process and its input mask(s) only. When this option is not selected, the monitoring is left enabled; when new files appear in the monitoring folder, the process running is triggered again. You would, for example, enable this option if a problem requires intervention to determine why the inputs caused the process to fail and prevent the process from running until the issue is addressed.

  • All files must exist – Monitoring based on multiple files starts as soon as one of the files is found. By selecting the All files must exist option, the monitoring process will not start unless all the associated files are found.

  1. Click the Ok button to save the process monitoring.

 

To delete an inputs monitoring file

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. Select the Inputs Monitoring radio button.

  3. Click Delete icon near the file path you want to delete.

  4. Click the Ok button to save process monitoring.

Manifests Monitoring Trigger

When you specify manifests monitoring settings for a process, you specify the manifest XML files that you want Automator to monitor a particular location for. When the file arrives in the specified location, Automator will trigger running of the associated process.

To specify a manifests monitoring file

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. On the Process triggers dialog, select the Manifests Monitoring radio button.

  3. To add a file, expand the Browse section, set the file path, and click the Add button.

NOTE: If you're unsure of the file's exact name or if you want Automator to monitor for any file of a particular file type, you can use a wildcard character, either an asterisk (*) or a question mark (?), so that the arrival of any XML file will trigger the running of the process. An asterisk may replace multiple characters while a question mark may replace any single character.)

You may also use the naming macros to specify the file path (for local and named paths). Click the Insert Macro icon Naming macro and select the naming macros from the drop-down list.

  1. Click the Ok button to save the process monitoring.

 

To delete a manifests  monitoring file

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. Select the Manifests Monitoring radio button.

  3. Click Delete icon near the file path you want to delete.

  4. Click the Ok button to save process monitoring.

Report Warehouse Trigger

This trigger is available only if in the Monarch Server License the Enterprise Server component is enabled.

It enables you to specify certain document types so, when the system receives a report with the corresponding document type, the trigger runs a process.

To assign Report Warehouse document types

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. Select Report Warehouse.

  3. Add document types by clicking the plus icons or by drag and dropping them into the Assigned Document Types field.

  4. Click Ok.

You can also add document types from the Report Warehouse Input of the current process by clicking the Assign from process button.

Select the Disable Triggers check box to temporarily turn off all triggers.

Scripts

Click to apply scripts to the current process.

In the Process Declarations tab, the following settings are available.

  • Script field: Displays the existing process declarations.

  • Insert Script: Allows you to quickly generate VB.NET script for frequently used tasks. For complete options, refer to Inserting a Script section.

  • User Scripting Help: Opens the User Scripting API Help, which is a collection of script fragments that can be copied and pasted as useful starting points in the Script Editor.

In the References and Imports tab, specify additional assembly references and namespaces that are required by PostExport, PreExport, and Global Declarations sections. The following settings are available:

  • Namespace: Lists the namespaces you have specified. You can add a namespace by clicking the Add button.

  • Name: Lists the names of any additional assembly references you have specified. To add a name, click the Add button.

  • Assembly: Lists the paths of any assemblies you have selected.

Generate Manifest File

Click to create a manifest XML or JSON file that is based on the settings of the visual process. The created XML/JSON file can be used immediately to initiate process runs.

In the Manifest window, select the preferred manifest file format:

  • XML – creates a manifest XML file

  • JSON – creates a manifest JSON file

NOTE: This icon is available only after the visual process is saved.

Before starting a process with a manifest containing some passwords, make sure to specify all required passwords and uncomment the “TODO:Specify Password” row in the manifest. If the process has no passwords, the manifest file generated automatically could be retained as it is.

Alerts

Click to view, add, edit, or remove alerts for the current process.

In the Process Alerts window, click the Add icon  or the Edit icon  to create or edit an alert, respectively. The following settings are available:

  • Code: Specify the alert type.

  • Description:Specify the alert description.

  • Ignore Global Alert: Select this check box to ignore global alerts.

NOTE: This option is available only when the Allow ignore Global alerts setting is enabled. See Automator Settings for details.

  •  Immediate alert: Select the Raise the alert immediately when detected within running process check box if the alert being created should be immediate.

NOTE: The Rise Alert Immediate checkbox is available only for the SystemAlertNoInputToExporter alert and the SystemAlertProcessElementFailed alert.

  • Actions: Choose which action to add to the alert. The Log, Email, and RSS options are available. See Adding an Alert.

Save and Run

Click to save the project and launch its execution.

Stop

Click to cancel the execution of the project.

Auto Arrange

Click to let the Process Designer arrange graphic elements intuitively on your workspace.

Zoom In (+)

Click to increase the size of some workspace area so that you can focus on areas of particular interest.

Zoom Out (-)

Click to decrease the size of some workspace area so that you can return to a larger scope.

Clear

Click to clear Visual Process Designer workspace

Log Mode

Click to open the Log Mode view.

For a new process that has not been run yet, there are no logs available.

Otherwise, the Log Mode view shows the results of the last run of the current processes.

The Log Mode allows visual elements to be edited, along with their respective settings. After changes are made, click the Save and Run icon to actualize your changes by running a process with updated settings. Click Stop to cancel the execution of the process.

Process Events displays general information about the recently run process, including the start and end times.

Process Items allows you to filter the process information by selecting and clearing the following check boxes:

  • All — displays all file sources.

  • Warning — displays the file sources with warnings.

  • Error — displays the files sources with errors.

Click the n Events link below each file source to expand the relevant information, including the start and end times.

The items may be sorted according to duration (ascending and descending), start time (ascending and descending), and type.

Click the Export Log button  to export the log to an XML file.

Click the Designer Mode icon to leave the Log Mode view.

Process Global Settings

Click to modify the workspace validation settings of the Visual Process in  the Process Global Settings window.

Select the Disable Validation checkbox to turn off the workspace validation for the loaded Visual Process.

NOTE: This setting has higher priority than the workspace validation setting in Automator General Settings.

Rights

Click to assign process access rights to other users, roles, or groups.

NOTE: See Application Settings for more details.

Help

Click for information about basic and advanced Visual Processes.

Close

Click to close Visual Process Designer

The Visual Process Designer interface consists of the upper line, Process Designer Library, Workspace panel, and Properties panel.

The upper line of the Process Designer contains name of the process (on the left) and the Designer Toolbar. You are allowed to change name of the process if needed.

The table below specifies buttons of the Visual Process Designer toolbar.

Button Name

Description

New

Click to open new workspace for creation new process. The workspace with the previous process will not be saved automatically.

Save

Click to save the specified work flow as a process.

Save as ...

You can choose the following options:

  • Save new process: Save the specified work flow as a new process.

  • Save as template: Save the specified work flow as a template. Elements settings are not saved.

  • Save as template (retain data): Save the specified work flow as a template. Elements settings are saved.

Insert Template

Click to open the list of existing templates. You can select the required template and add it to the workspace.

Insert Process as Group

Click to open the list of existing processes. You can select the required process and add it to the workspace as a group element.

Triggers

Click to specify when the process will run.

You can choose the following types of process triggers:

  • Schedules

  • Inputs Monitoring

  • Manifests Monitoring

  • Report Warehouse

Only one of them can be chosen at a time.

Schedules Trigger

A schedule is used to specify when, and at what interval the process will run. You can create a number of schedules but their launch time must differ.

NOTE: If the Config service is not available and you are using Altair licensing, Automator processes will be switched to "Limp Mode." In this mode, you can run only one process (i.e., one Standard Process and one Visual Process) every hour. Moreover, you cannot run a Visual Process that involves other Standard or Visual Processes. Limp Mode is deactivated once the Config service becomes available.

 

To add a new schedule for a process:

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. On the Process triggers dialog, select the Schedule radio button.

  3. Click the Add schedule button.

  4. Select the task execution frequency from the following options: One Time, Hourly, Daily, Weekly, Monthly.

  5. Set the time you want the process to run.

  6. Set the start date of the process.

  7. Select the appropriate time zone from the drop-down list.

  8. Click the Ok button to save the schedule.

To delete a schedule:

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. Click the Delete icon near the schedule you want to delete.

  3. Click the Ok button to save process schedules.

Select the Suspend check box to temporarily hold up the trigger.

Inputs Monitoring Trigger

When you specify inputs monitoring settings for a process, you specify files that you want Automator to monitor a particular location for. When the file arrives in the specified location, Automator will trigger running of the associated process.

NOTE: Changes in monitoring settings, including enabling and disabling monitoring or changing paths for monitored folders, take effect after approximately 1 minute.

To specify an inputs monitoring file

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. On the Process triggers dialog, select the Inputs Monitoring radio button.

  3. To add a file not from the process, expand the Browse section, set the file path, and click the Add button.

NOTE: If you're unsure of the file's exact name or if you want Automator to monitor for any file of a particular file type, you can use a wildcard character, either an asterisk (*) or a question mark (?), so that the arrival of any file of the specified type will trigger the running of the process. An asterisk may replace multiple characters while a question mark may replace any single character.) For example, adding *.prn to the end of the folder path instructs Automator to trigger the running of the associated process when any report file with a .prn extension arrives in the specified location.

You may also use the naming macros to specify the file path (for local and named paths). Click the Insert Macro icon Naming macro and select the naming macros from the drop-down list.

  1. To add a file from the process, expand the Process inputs sections and press the Add icon near the input path, which you want to add to the Monitoring Paths list.

  2. Expand Options to specify monitoring behavior:

  • Disable monitoring if trigger file is not removed – The input mask (e.g., myfile.txt or *xyz.pdf) from the monitored folder can sometimes cause a process job to fail with an error and remain in its original folder. By selecting Disable monitoring if trigger file is not removed, Automator stops monitoring the corresponding folder(s) for the process and its input mask(s) only. When this option is not selected, the monitoring is left enabled; when new files appear in the monitoring folder, the process running is triggered again. You would, for example, enable this option if a problem requires intervention to determine why the inputs caused the process to fail and prevent the process from running until the issue is addressed.

  • All files must exist – Monitoring based on multiple files starts as soon as one of the files is found. By selecting the All files must exist option, the monitoring process will not start unless all the associated files are found.

  1. Click the Ok button to save the process monitoring.

 

To delete an inputs monitoring file

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. Select the Inputs Monitoring radio button.

  3. Click Delete icon near the file path you want to delete.

  4. Click the Ok button to save process monitoring.

Manifests Monitoring Trigger

When you specify manifests monitoring settings for a process, you specify the manifest XML files that you want Automator to monitor a particular location for. When the file arrives in the specified location, Automator will trigger running of the associated process.

To specify a manifests monitoring file

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. On the Process triggers dialog, select the Manifests Monitoring radio button.

  3. To add a file, expand the Browse section, set the file path, and click the Add button.

NOTE: If you're unsure of the file's exact name or if you want Automator to monitor for any file of a particular file type, you can use a wildcard character, either an asterisk (*) or a question mark (?), so that the arrival of any XML file will trigger the running of the process. An asterisk may replace multiple characters while a question mark may replace any single character.)

You may also use the naming macros to specify the file path (for local and named paths). Click the Insert Macro icon Naming macro and select the naming macros from the drop-down list.

  1. Click the Ok button to save the process monitoring.

 

To delete a manifests  monitoring file

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. Select the Manifests Monitoring radio button.

  3. Click Delete icon near the file path you want to delete.

  4. Click the Ok button to save process monitoring.

Report Warehouse Trigger

This trigger is available only if in the Monarch Server License the Enterprise Server component is enabled.

It enables you to specify certain document types so, when the system receives a report with the corresponding document type, the trigger runs a process.

To assign Report Warehouse document types

  1. Click the Triggers icon.

  2. Select Report Warehouse.

  3. Add document types by clicking the plus icons or by drag and dropping them into the Assigned Document Types field.

  4. Click Ok.

You can also add document types from the Report Warehouse Input of the current process by clicking the Assign from process button.

Select the Disable Triggers check box to temporarily turn off all triggers.

Scripts

Click to apply scripts to the current process.

In the Process Declarations tab, the following settings are available.

  • Script field: Displays the existing process declarations.

  • Insert Script: Allows you to quickly generate VB.NET script for frequently used tasks. For complete options, refer to Inserting a Script section.

  • User Scripting Help: Opens the User Scripting API Help, which is a collection of script fragments that can be copied and pasted as useful starting points in the Script Editor.

In the References and Imports tab, specify additional assembly references and namespaces that are required by PostExport, PreExport, and Global Declarations sections. The following settings are available:

  • Namespace: Lists the namespaces you have specified. You can add a namespace by clicking the Add button.

  • Name: Lists the names of any additional assembly references you have specified. To add a name, click the Add button.

  • Assembly: Lists the paths of any assemblies you have selected.

Generate Manifest File

Click to create a manifest XML or JSON file that is based on the settings of the visual process. The created XML/JSON file can be used immediately to initiate process runs.

In the Manifest window, select the preferred manifest file format:

  • XML – creates a manifest XML file

  • JSON – creates a manifest JSON file

NOTE: This icon is available only after the visual process is saved.

Before starting a process with a manifest containing some passwords, make sure to specify all required passwords and uncomment the “TODO:Specify Password” row in the manifest. If the process has no passwords, the manifest file generated automatically could be retained as it is.

Alerts

Click to view, add, edit, or remove alerts for the current process.

In the Process Alerts window, click the Add icon  or the Edit icon  to create or edit an alert, respectively. The following settings are available:

  • Code: Specify the alert type.

  • Description:Specify the alert description.

  • Ignore Global Alert: Select this check box to ignore global alerts.

NOTE: This option is available only when the Allow ignore Global alerts setting is enabled. See Automator Settings for details.

  •  Immediate alert: Select the Raise the alert immediately when detected within running process check box if the alert being created should be immediate.

NOTE: The Rise Alert Immediate checkbox is available only for the SystemAlertNoInputToExporter alert and the SystemAlertProcessElementFailed alert.

  • Actions: Choose which action to add to the alert. The Log, Email, and RSS options are available. See Adding an Alert.

Save and Run

Click to save the project and launch its execution.

Stop

Click to cancel the execution of the project.

Auto Arrange

Click to let the Process Designer arrange graphic elements intuitively on your workspace.

Zoom In (+)

Click to increase the size of some workspace area so that you can focus on areas of particular interest.

Zoom Out (-)

Click to decrease the size of some workspace area so that you can return to a larger scope.

Clear

Click to clear Visual Process Designer workspace

Log Mode

Click to open the Log Mode view.

For a new process that has not been run yet, there are no logs available.

Otherwise, the Log Mode view shows the results of the last run of the current processes.

The Log Mode allows visual elements to be edited, along with their respective settings. After changes are made, click the Save and Run icon to actualize your changes by running a process with updated settings. Click Stop to cancel the execution of the process.

Process Events displays general information about the recently run process, including the start and end times.

Process Items allows you to filter the process information by selecting and clearing the following check boxes:

  • All — displays all file sources.

  • Warning — displays the file sources with warnings.

  • Error — displays the files sources with errors.

Click the n Events link below each file source to expand the relevant information, including the start and end times.

The items may be sorted according to duration (ascending and descending), start time (ascending and descending), and type.

Click the Export Log button  to export the log to an XML file.

Click the Designer Mode icon to leave the Log Mode view.

Process Global Settings

Click to modify the workspace validation settings of the Visual Process in  the Process Global Settings window.

Select the Disable Validation checkbox to turn off the workspace validation for the loaded Visual Process.

NOTE: This setting has higher priority than the workspace validation setting in Automator General Settings.

Rights

Click to assign process access rights to other users, roles, or groups.

NOTE: See Application Settings for more details.

Help

Click for information about basic and advanced Visual Processes.

Close

Click to close Visual Process Designer

Major part of toolbar controls can be called using the context menu. The Process Designer context menu is called on the right click on the workspace area. You can use the following commands from the Process Designer context menu:

 

The context menu is also available for all graphic elements. You can use the following commands from the element context menu:

  

On the left panel, there is a Process Designer Library with graphic elements to denote different types of inputs, models, exporting jobs, prerequisites, etc. All items from this library can be used to assemble the required process.

To the left of the Process Designer Library, the Workspace panel is adjusted to where you can drag and drop graphic elements from the Library panel.

Single or double click on a particular graphic element opens panel with its properties. When displayed, the Property panel is located on the right part of the Process Designer window. Mandatory buttons of the Properties panel are as follows:

NOTE: When you do not click Ok or Apply in the Property panel and you click on another graphic element in the Workspace panel, a dialog box appears to warn you about losing unsaved changes. In the dialog box, you can choose to save or not save the changes you have made in the Property panel. Clicking Cancel will close the dialog box, and the Property panel will remain open.

 

The Process Designer Library contains the following groups of the graphic elements:

  

Some library elements define the process work flow, and some not. For example, library elements from the Input and Model groups represent data, but not work flow.

Process work flow is defined by graphic elements in the following library groups:

  

Elements from the Input and Model groups do not define process work flow. Belonging to work flow is a benchmark why two types of connectors are used, namely:

 

One more work flow (not data) indicator for a graphic element is availability of input and output pins of gray color on the element's icon (Pin image).

Connectors differ by color:

 

Quick adding the connected elements

Quick connectors are available upon mouse over an element — two plus signs (+) appear on top of it.

NOTE: Quick connector buttons for workspaces with selected settings of load plans and input files allows to select and add a connected input file element (unpinned input files only).

 

Group element

You can open the group element by right-clicking and choosing Drill In, or by double-clicking the element. After opening, the breadcrumbs line displays the group name.

If you want to exit the group, click the previous element in the breadcrumbs line.

You can add new elements to the group element by dragging and dropping.

You can connect the group element with the required element by dragging the connector icon from the group element to the required element. Also, you can connect the required element with an element of the group. After that, you can open the group element and proceed with connecting it to the necessary element in the group (the icon of that connection is selected and the name of the connecting element is displayed in the tool tip).

 

Instructions for process work flow building

NOTE: A Visual Process can be run in parallel with itself. This feature is useful in specific cases, e.g., those initiated by a manifest file with different inputs and outputs for each process run or when a macro output is used according to different input file names.

However, running the same Visual Process in parallel could lead to resource contention. This feature does not include any mechanism for locking inputs or outputs if they simultaneously appear in more than one instance.

Every time you run a process, process log item is created. Refer to the Process Logs section for details.

If you save some process as a template, it will be saved in the list of templates and could not be found in the list of processes. In this case, settings for all data flow items will not be saved.