Getting Started with Automation Apps

Kezia Yu
Kezia Yu
  • Updated

FME Version

  • FME 2023.0

Introduction

FME Flow (formerly Server) 2022.2+ has the ability to create Automation ‘apps’ - a method to allow authorized users to manually trigger Automations. When you choose to create an Automation app, FME Flow will generate an app page with a valid token that includes the necessary permissions. The app is shared as a URL and may be presented through a customizable web page. You can provide users with access to multiple Automation apps, workspace apps, and other links from a single, customizable web page by creating a Gallery App.

The ability to publish Automations as FME Flow Apps enables users to run complex workflows “on demand” with configurable input parameters. FME Workspace apps can only trigger a single FME workspace at a time. Whereas with Automation apps, we can now trigger more advanced, multi-workspace, and multi-action workflows. This will benefit the end-users and allow complex workflows to be created, shared, and leveraged across organizations. 

Note: In FME 2023.0, Manual Keys were renamed to Manual Parameters. The functionality is the same, the wording may be different across articles. 

 

Creating an Automation App

You can create an Automation app from the ‘Create Automation App’ page or the ‘Manage Automation Apps’ page, ‘Create’  button. Both pages are located in ‘Flow Apps’ from the side menu panel. Please note that Automation apps can only be created if the automation trigger is a manual trigger. Select 'Create Automation Apps’ from the drop-down menu.

AutomationApp_1.png
 

Note: You will see an error message on the Create Automation App page if you do not have any Manual Trigger Automations.

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Parameters

There are a few parameters you will need to configure when creating your Automation app.

AutomationApp_4.png

Name: Provide a name for the app. The name appears on the run page for the app and will also become part of the URL for the run page. App names are case-insensitive. The name will appear as <Name> Automation app on the run page. 

Title (optional): The title will be displayed at the top of the app in the browser tab.

Description (optional): Provide a description or additional information for the app. The text body will be located below the name on the run page.   

Automation: Select an Automation with Manual Trigger. Ensure the Automation is started.

Expiration: FME Flow generates a token that is used to authenticate the Automation app. The token automatically has the necessary permissions required for the user to run the application. You can set the expiration date for the security token of the app. After the token expires, the Automation app will no longer run. The default expiration is 10 years from the current date.

Allowed Users: All Automation apps require the creator to specify which users are allowed access to run the application. When a user goes to the FME Flow Automation app URL, they will need to log in to FME Flow first prior to seeing the run app page. Access to the app is restricted to authorized FME Flow Users who belong to the specified Roles.   

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Automation Parameters from Manual Parameters (Keys)

Automation apps enable complex workflows to be run “on-demand” with configurable input parameters. The manual trigger in Automations can now be configured to prompt you with a list of parameters generated from the existing manual parameters. The manual parameters will appear as input parameters on the Automation Apps page. To create manual parameters, you will need to go to Automations > Manual Trigger > Output Attributes > Success > Manual Parameters > Manage. See Manual Trigger, Output Attributes for more detail. 

 

AutomationApp_ManualKeys1.png

 

Once you select Manage, a pop-up window of the Manual Parameters Editor will appear. The left panel allows for parameter management and the right panel allows for defining the parameter properties. To define Manual Parameters, click the + button to add a Parameter. The Manual Parameters that are supported include Choice, Color, Date Time, File/URL, Message, Number, Password, Text, Yes/No, and Geometry. Properties include Parameter (required), Prompt (required), a Required checkbox, Default Value (optional), and any additional parameters based on the Parameter type. Parameters must be unique in naming convention. In the left panel, you can arrange the ordering of parameters with the up and down arrows or by drag and drop.

The left-hand side of the Manual Parameters Editor is where all of your created parameters are shown, as well as options to add new ones, reorder and delete. The right-hand side is where you can set the properties for the newly created or selected Parameters.

 

ManualKeysEditor.jpg

 

Customize

Similar to Workspace apps, Automation apps allow for the flexibility of customizing the appearance of your application. The look and feel of your Automation app can be tailored to your organization’s colors, logo, and images. At the bottom of the ‘Customize’ section, you also have the option to ‘Run Immediately’. This is to specify the app to run as soon as its URL is invoked without displaying a run page. The parameters below used to customize the application run page are all optional. The Icon, Logo, and Banner parameters only support JPEG and PNG file formats. 

Browser Icon (optional): The icon will be visible in the browser tab. There is a 300 KB file size limit for icon images. 

Heading Background Color (optional): Configure the background color of the banner at the top of the app page. It appears behind the Heading Banner if transparent. 

Heading Logo (Optional): This will appear above the Heading Banner and/or Heading Background Color. There is a 1 MB file size limit for the image. 

Heading Banner (optional): This image will appear at the top of the app page. If transparent, it appears over
Heading Background Color. There is a 1 MB file size limit for the image. 

Footer Text (optional): The text appears below the links on the app page. 

Footer Logo (optional): This appears beneath the Footer Text, and behind the Footer Banner if transparent. There is a 1 MB file size limit for the image. 

Footer Banner (optional): An image to comprise the banner at the bottom of the app page. If transparent, it appears over Footer Logo. There is a 1 MB file size limit for the image. 

Run Immediately: Option to configure the Automation app to run immediately once the URL is invoked, without displaying a run page. 

AutomationApp_5.png

 

Here is an example of an Automation app with and without a customized run page.

AutomationApp_15.png

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Click OK and a message will appear to indicate the app is created with its corresponding URL. You may click the Copy icon to copy the URL. To run the app, click the URL. Once your Automation app is created, the security token can be accessed on the API Tokens tab of the Token Management page.AutomationApp_7.png

 

Managing Automation App

By default, all apps are enabled to run when created. To disable or enable an app, select an app, then select Actions > Disable or Enable from the ‘Manage Automation Apps’ page.

Similar to Workspace apps, you can view or copy the URL from the main Flow Apps > Manage Automation Apps page. You can also change the expiration date of an app by selecting the app and choosing ‘Change Expiration’ from the Actions dropdown menu.

AutomationApp_11.png 

AutomationApp_12.png

 

Another option to manage the expiration of an Automation app is via the ‘Token Management’ page. This is because the expiration is managed by the token that authorizes the usage of the app. To access the Token Management page, click ‘Manage tokens’ from the ‘User Settings’ dropdown (top right of the FME Flow Web Interface). On the ‘Token Management’ page, you should see the token created for your app. Click it to edit its parameters. On the page, you can edit the token description, enable or disable the token (disabling the token will disable your app), and change the expiration date. 

AutomationApp_13.png

 

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Automation App Parameters (Keys)

Parameters enable the Automation author to pass data values from one Automation component to the next. Automation apps have three parameters: 

  • Automation App ID {app.id} - The ID of the automation app that ran the automation.
  • Automation App Name {app.name} - The name of the automation app that ran the automation.
  • Automation App Runtime User {app.user} - The user who ran the automation app that ran the automation.

Automation app parameters become accessible after creating an Automation app from an Automation. Once the app is created, any Action downstream from the Manual Trigger can use Automation app parameters. Inside the Action details, find them in the drop-down menu next to a parameter. Automation App is listed alongside other types of parameters, such as Manual, Event, etc. Expand Automation App to find the three parameters.

AutomationAppKey1.jpg


Automation app parameters may also be selected from the Text Editor's sidebar.
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Note: For more information on Automations and parameters, please see the Automation Keys: What They Are and Why You Should Use Them webinar. 

 

Troubleshooting

  • The Automation must be based on a manual trigger.
  • The file manual key does not support temporary uploads. The file parameter in Automation apps allows end users to select a file from the FME Flow Resources folder.
  • There was a known issue with the Automation Apps file parameter not allowing the end-user to access the FME Flow Resources folder due to a lack of permissions on the app token. See Known Issues in FME 2022.x for more detail.
  • If you receive a warning message saying, ‘The selected automation is disabled,’ your app may be enabled, but the Automation it runs may not be started. Please start the Automation by going to Automations > Manage Automations >  Select the Automation and click Actions > Start. 

AutomationApp_2.png

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Additional Resources

Documentation: Automation Apps

Documentation: Manual Trigger

Documentation: Gallery Apps

FME Flow Troubleshooting: Users/Roles

FME Flow Documentation - Roles

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