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We’ve known from the beginning that AutoBloks needed to support more advanced error reporting than just letting you know if you forgot to populate a required field.  We are excited to announce that AutoBloks 18.12.1 is now available and brings support for a comprehensive rules-based engine that allows for the reporting of errors, warnings, or other informational messages based on how you use the tool.

Errors tend to be the types of problems that, when left unresolved, will cause issues if you try to run your Process.  In fact, if you try to run a Process that has errors, you will get a dialog prompting you if you really want to run it.

Warnings, on the other hand, tend to be less severe.  They should not be ignored, but also should not cause a Process to fail playback.

Messages are purely informational in nature.

Meet the Error List Window


NOTE: Users upgrading from a prior version of AutoBloks may not see the Error List tool window by default since your previous layout (without that window) is being restored. You can use the View tab of the Command Ribbon to select the Error List command from the Tool Windows group, or, from the same View tab, select Restore to Default from the Layout group to apply the new default layout.

This new tool window provides a central location to view and manage any potential problems.  The tool bar at the top allows you to filter the view to only show the items that interest you.  Specifically, you can control if the list only shows problems from the Current Document (i.e. the document you are actively working on) or Open Documents to see every possible problem from all open documents.

Additionally, each message type can be toggled on or off. If you only want to see Error messages, for instance, you can toggle off Warnings and Messages.

Each problem in the Error List also has a context menu with the available actions:

  1. Go To Location – When available, this command will adjust the selections within AutoBloks to highlight the source of the problem and move focus to the relevant control (Tip: This is the default action and will be executed if you double-click the item in the Error List)
  2. Show Help – Most commands should have a help page associated with them, and this command will open the corresponding page in your browser (Tip: The Code value in the Error List is also hyperlinked to open the same page quickly)

Error and Warning Indicators

As you use the application and introduce Errors or Warnings, you will see indicators appear throughout the user interface to help draw your attention.

Activity Call List

In the Activity Call list, small overlay icons will appear in the bottom-right corner of the standard Activity icon.  When you see one of these icons, it means one or more of the corresponding problems is present in the configuration of your Activity Call.  You can either look at the Error List window to review the problems or select the Activity Call to populate the Instructions pane and drill down into the issue.  The following shows a Warning on the “Start timer” activity and an Error on the “Verify expression value” activity.



When defining the Instructions of an Activity Call, there are multiple tabs where details may be provided.  Tabs will have a Red or Yellow indicator on the relevant tab if Errors or Warnings on present on the controls within that tab.  The following shows there is an Error on the Arguments tab:


Individual controls will also have a Red or Yellow indicator next to each control with one or more problems.


If you hover the mouse over the indicators, a tool tip will display the details of the first problem and indicate if other problems are present as well.  The following shows a tool tip for a control that has two errors:


The body of the tool tip displays the message for the first problem.  In the footer, the text “(+1 more)” indicates that 1 additional error has also been detected and will be available in the Error List tool window.


The initial release includes rules to cover the most common problems that might arise while using AutoBloks.  The full list of rules is available here.  A summary of key functionality provided by these rules includes:

  1. Required fields for arguments and element identification must be populated
  2. Expression syntax must be used correctly
  3. Variables used within expression syntax must exist
  4. When arguments expect certain values or data formats, the input must match the expectation

This is just the beginning!  We spent a lot of time developing a rules engine that is very flexible and, as a result, we can easily add new rules to expose additional information to the user.  Have an idea for a rule you’d like to see implemented?  Please contact support and share your idea.

More Hints

Resolving errors is so important to successful automation that we have included some other hints in the user interface as well.

If the Error List tool window has any errors that match the current filter settings but the tool window is not selected, the tab will “glow red” (fades in an out).  In the following screen shot, the “Output” tool window is selected and the “Error List” tool window is tinted red to indicate errors are present:


The following shows a button that will appear on the right edge of the status bar if any errors are detected.  This is a total count of known errors and is not impacted by the filter settings of the Error List tool window.  Clicking the status bar button will activate the Error List tool window.