Robot Framework vs. UiPath

Can someone please summarize or give a concrete example of why I would need to use UiPath instead of Robot Framework to provide an automated task.

In my limited opinion it essentially looks like a way for non-technical people to use a screen recorder to automate tasks without getting hands dirty with scripts, python etc.

Just my personal opinion:
I’m no expert on RPA, but I’ve seen Tool vendor demos of UI Path and other tools in my company.

And the decision on a tool is mostly about the “target” group - your RPA Users/Creators.
There’s always that myth, that RPA can be done without coding.
Tool vendors often try to sell that to customers. Same with Test Automation Tools.

So - an RPA Tool with a User Interface which allows users to Drag&Drop their scenarios is quite appealing to business people. And business people are often the target group of those tools.
But as soon as you need to start customize things - you’re back at coding.
And coding/extending commercial tools can be nasty.
And I personally prefer a “hackable” framework like Robot Framework
Instead of telling the myth that no coding is required - I would focus on making coding as “less painful” as possible.
By using the rights IDEs, the right extenstions, the right libraries.
So people can get started easily. But still having the chance the extend/customize things easily, in case they don’t run out of the box.

There is also an additional component with RPA:
Commercial RPA Licensing is often based on the number of “robots” and tool vendors often provide an infrastructure for running those robots. So you can host your robots permanently, so they can do their work.

And finally - no advertisement, but I still mention it:
If you look ofter at e.g. RoboCorp - who use Robot Framework as a basis: They’re quite successful.
Because they use a reliable framework as a basis, but provide great documentation and tooling to make robot development less painful for people.
I personally prefer that approach every day instead of giving users nice User Interfaces.

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But one thing I forgot to mention:

Have a look at the (UI) technologies that you need to automate with your RPA solution.
Because I can tell you:
Classic UI Desktop Automation can still be tricky. Also when using Robot Framework and the popular libraries. There are some commercial tools out there which have reliable engines.
If it’s all about Web Automation and some Excel things - you should be fine using Robot Framework.
Maybe a little less comfort due to lack of record & play etc - but it’s all steerable.

So the question is, what kind of applications you WANT to automate with your RPA solution.
That’s also something you shall keep in mind, when choosing an RPA solution.

I’ll add that if you need/want “RPA Tool with a User Interface which allows users to Drag&Drop their scenarios” there is significant effort to bring together Camunda and Robot Framework. Camunda has been described as ‘a collection of “open source workflow and decision automation tools [to] enable thousands of developers to automate business processes and gain the agility, visibility and scale that is needed to achieve digital transformation”’ and along with it’s modeler which is desktop UI application for drag and drop workflows.

Some resources:
Camunda & Robot Framework: Introducing robotframework-camunda library.” by Marcus Stahl

" My dream open source RPA orchestrator with Camunda and Nomad" by Asko Soukka

Asko other writings which include several RPA and Camunda articles.

Markus talks at RoboCon 2021 and Camunda Summit 2021.

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So is RPA/UIPATH software killing Robot Framework jobs? Essentially making automation testing a less skilled activity?

Not necessarily. There are two aspects here that we could examine and discuss. One is the natural ease of a designed process meant to make a workflow be intuitive. That is many words so let me give some examples. Apple spends a fair amount of time designing the user experience of its products so that the
way someone interacts with them “just makes sense”. The simplicity of Google’s homepage allows for fast loading and ease of use. A well designed map helps me to visually find where I am and where I need to go without confusion and without getting lost.

In the same way business processes can be mapped out in an intuitive and visual way that helps to both understand and give information to the user. Yes, some poorly designed models do the opposite and just complicate things. But there we would say it is not the tool but the usage of it and the design of the model itself. Using Robot Framework with Camunda I strongly believe enhances the design and usage of RPA as a tool. I would also say that Robot Framework, due to its openness as a platform, its ease of use, and its programmability and flexibility is growing and will take “market share” away from UIPath. Overall the field of RPA is expanding and is projected to over the next several years so I see Robot Framework in an accelerated growth pattern.

The other aspect which should be discussed is by simplifying the tools and the entry to the field of RPA and testing is that making both fields less skilled. My answer to that is no, I feel both fields retain the need for skilled and expertise knowledge. Yes there is a clear danger both in understanding and positioning of the tool as one that “makes any testing/automation possible and everything an absolute ease to do”. Because these tools do simplify the entry that danger of oversimplifying the effort will be ever present. I’ll note there is an acknowledgement and effort by the Robot Framework community and leaders to counter this belief and to help educate and train people with Robot Framework at all levels and to help grow in their knowledge and skillsets beyond just the simple.

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