UiPath 21.4 release highlights

Discover the best features in the recent UiPath fast-track release

May 01, 2021
1084 words (6 min read)

UiPath 21.4

As you probably know, UiPath has two major releases every year along with a much faster cycle for its Cloud platform and the Community Edition. This week, the spring release landed, with a slew of changes and new features.Which is called the fast-track release because it’s only supported for a year

In this post, we’ll look at my personal list of the most important changes — but make sure to check out the Release notes for yourself as there’s a lot I’m not going to cover.

If you want to keep abreast of new features as they come, I would also recommend signing up for the Insider Preview where, among other things, you will get access to a monthly playlist of Demo Day videos showcasing all new developments.

Automation Store

Automation Hub now offers a way to let users “subscribe” to automations. These will be added to their personal folder on-demand, which means we finally have something like an app store for automations. We don’t have to clutter every user’s view with ALL THE AUTOMATIONS anymore. Yay!

Insights Cloud release

Insights lets you analyze logs and queue information. This helps you gain an understanding of long-run trends in consumption, errors and ROI. You can also build your own dashboards in a business intelligence-like way (sadly, there is no way to integrate external data sources). Hitherto, it was only available on-prem, but now we have an Automation Cloud version, as well.

Task Mining release

You can now buy Task Mining (Cloud only). What is Task Mining, you ask? Fundamentally, it’s a way for you to analyze all the random actions people do on their computer (by running a recording widget in the background) and generate automation ideas and Studio projects from the collected data.

I haven’t seen it in the real world yet, but if Task Mining delivers on its promises, it could indeed be a very useful way to both fill your automation pipeline and reduce the risk of underestimating the complexity of a process.

Cloud Robots

You can now choose to deploy robots as a service in Automation Cloud. ‘Nuff said

Automation Ops

It is now possible to define policies in the Automation Cloud platform that make it possible to change from the CoE side how Studio and Assistant function. For Studio, we used to have the governance file, but this wasn’t too convenient to roll out. Automation Ops is much better. No word on on-prem yet, but I would hope that this will also become available at some point.

Multiple entry points

Projects now allow multiple entry points — that is, you can specify in Orchestrator or in activities like Invoke Process if the process should start with Main.xaml or something else.

Why is this useful? The example the release notes give is to set up different ways to get data into your process. Let’s take a process that consumes pdf files: one entry point could take a Windows path as an input and only work on that file, another could take a storage bucket path, while a third could take a path to a hot folder and work on all pdf files in the folder.

In the past, we would likely have used a process argument to switch between the three, making the whole process more difficult to understand and maintain, as well as mixing responsibilities.

I would like to add another exciting part of design space opened up by this: you can now use projects/processes as “libraries” of a sort. The difference to normal libraries is that the process will automatically update to the version defined in Orchestrator in all client projects: No need to modify and re-release them. Sometimes this is what you want, other times not — but I like the flexibility.

Orchestrator niceties

Shared resources

You can now choose to make Assets, Queues, Storage Buckets and Action Catalogs available in different folders. This makes things a fair bit more flexible when you want to move them around. Oh, did I mention you can move things around now, too?

User/machine mapping

In modern folders, it wasn’t possible so far to specify that only certain users can work on specific machines. This feature was now added, so you can support scenarios such as having a specific technical user for each machine without having a great proliferation of folders.

Multi-session attended robots

You can now use your attended robot on up to 3 different machines. This is buried deep in the release notes, but it was a very frequent request in my experience.

Assistant widgets

You can now extend the functionality of Assistant by adding widgets. The first thing that was added by UiPath is an Apps widget that allows you to start Apps without having to navigate to Automation Cloud first (you have to be signed in rather than use a Machine Key for this to work). Technically, creating widgets was possible before this release, but I haven’t seen it used anywhere yet. Manual here

Miscellaneous usability improvements

Studio experience

This has seen a number of updates that make it easier to use.

  • Undo/redo now has buttons as well as the keyboard shortcuts
  • The performance of Modern experience was improved
  • You can now use Test Activity and Run From Here inside the Use Application scope
  • Object repository got some love
  • More arguments are available in the activity designer (including mandatory arguments in library activities).

Action Center

Action Center has also gotten quite a few usability improvements. It now adds:

  • Soft-deleting actions
  • Multi-select
  • Action history
  • Comments

License model changes

  • RPA developer license will henceforth include Studio Pro and a Test Manager user; it will be renamed to Automation Developer
  • RPA Developer Pro will be discontinued (Automation Developer is a cheaper replacement with more functionality)
  • Test Manager will now carry a yearly server license cost
  • Process Mining Developer will similarly include Studio Pro and a Test Manager user

Drop the mic

There were also many under-the-hood and minor improvements that I won’t go into, such as a move to .NET 5 and 64-bit.

That’s it from me for this week. If you enjoyed this update on the new features, let me know on LinkedIn. Happy developing!

© 2021, Stefan Reutter