This segment of the tour introduces you to the core functionality of Itential Automation Platform (IAP), and since the word "automation" is built right into the product name, it only makes sense sense to jump in and create an automation using Automation Studio.
Automation Studio is where most of the magic happens in IAP. It's an all-in-one application suite where your automations are created and edited. Without Automation Studio, there's not much point to having IAP in your environment.
More information on Automation Studio can be found in the application user guide on the Itential docs site. Also be sure to check out the Automation Builder guide to learn more about arranging and connecting the tasks that go into building your automation.
Create an Automation
Creating an automation using the Itential platform is simple:
- From the IAP home screen, click the Automation Studio tile. The main page displays.
- In the Get Started card, click + CREATE AN AUTOMATION. A dialog box opens.
- For this tour, let's give your automation the unique name "EnlightenMe". Of note, the Automation Name is a required field.
- Next, click the CREATE button. A relatively blank canvas will then display that contains a "START" and "END" task.
Figure 1. EnlightenMe Automation Canvas
Add a Task to the Canvas
On the right side of the screen, there's a list of tools that can be used in your automation. This area is called the Task Menu Sidebar. Itential refers to the items listed in the sidebar as tasks (or steps) that must be completed within your automation.
The docs.itential.io site contains a collection of Task Reference guides for the various tasks listed in the Task Menu Sidebar.
Now that you've created the "EnlightenMe" automation, let's explore how you can add a task to the canvas:
- In the Search box at the top of the Task Menu Sidebar, type "restCall" and press Enter on your keyboard.
- The search results should include a task named "restCall".
- Hover over the restCall task and observe that a "+" (plus sign) will appear.
- Click the "+" to the left of the "restCall" task. This steps will add a new task labeled REST Call to your canvas.
Figure 2. Add REST Call
The REST Call task is a flexible method by which information can be obtained or published across available APIs in a network, including the Web.
Connect Tasks Using Transitions
At this point of the tour, you've created a new automation and then added the restCall task to your canvas. The automation canvas now has three different tasks on it; however, the automation doesn't know what order the tasks should be executed. To do this, you must draw transitions between the tasks in the order they should occur:
- Click the START (pink) task on your canvas. Notice the text becomes bold after clicking the task.
- On your keyboard, press the letter "t" (the keyboard shortcut for transition).
- Next, click-drag your mouse pointer from the START task to the REST Call task and then let go. A green transition line will appear between the two tasks. This indicates a success transition state, which is the most commonly used transition in automations.
- Perform the same transition connection step between the REST Call task and the END task.
You should now have three tasks on your canvas (Start → REST Call → End), with green transition lines connecting them in a linear sequence.
Figure 3. Set Transitions Between Tasks
Configure Reference Tasks and Reference Variables
Next, let's configure the variable information for your task. In our example, we'll leverage a simple, yet fun, "Chuck Norris" API.
If you already have experience using REST Calls in other systems or scripts, the variables available for the REST Call task will look familiar to you.
- Double-click the REST Call task on the canvas. This will open the task dialog for configuration. Tasks typically have Incoming and Outgoing variables. Depending on the tasks available in your Task Menu Sidebar, the number of configuration variables in a task will vary.
- For the Summary field at the top, add "FetchFact" as the value. This will help us distinquish this restCall task from others later on.
- For the Description field, add "Obtain A Chuck Norris Fact".
- For the uri variable, leave the Reference task as "static". For the Reference variable, add this string (without quotes):
- For the verb variable, leave the Reference task as "static". Choose the option
GETfrom the Reference variable drop down.
- For the responseHeaders variable, leave the Reference task as "static". For this example, select
Falsefor the Reference variable.
- Click Save.
Figure 4. Configure Variables
You should notice the REST Call task on the canvas now reads "FetchFact", and if you hover over it with your mouse the tooltip will read "Obtain A Chuck Norris Fact".
Figure 5. Display Tool Tip
Now that you've set the variables for your automation, let's save it and get it ready to test run:
- Go to the lower left corner of the canvas.
- Click the SAVE button. The automation is now ready to test run.
Test Run Automations
To test the automation and see if it works:
Go to the upper-left corner of the canvas, click the blue play arrow to the right of the Automation Name. A modal window will open.
Click the START button in the left corner of the modal. A green toast banner will pop-up at the bottom of the screen.
Note: The banner displays for a few seconds and will disappear quickly if you don't catch it.
Within the banner, there's a message link that says CLICK TO VIEW JOB. Once you click the link, a new tab opens in your browser. This new tab displays the Job Manager view of the running job you just started.
- If the toast banner has disappeared, you'll need to open the Active Jobs window manually.
- To manually open Active Jobs, click the suitcase icon in the top menu bar, right-click on the "Active Jobs" menu option, and select "Open Link in New Tab".
Find the name of the job you initiated in the list and click on it. The job view will open.
Viewing the Job
In the newly opened Job Manager tab, take a moment to study the page to see the different types of information that's available in this view. One item you should notice is the restCall task named "FetchFact".
Figure 6. Job Manager Details
Click the book icon that's located at the end (far-right) of the task. This will open the Task History for "FetchFact" and you will see tabs for Metrics, Incoming, and Outgoing.
The Metrics tab shows basic information on the overall health of the task such as Start Time, End Time, Finish State, etc.
Figure 7. Metrics Tab
The Incoming tab shows information that was provided to the Task. In this example, you'll observe the variables (
verb, etc.) that were specified when you initially created the task. The Incoming tab is the ideal tab to reference when you're troubleshooting a task and need to verify if the task received the information you believe it should have. Essentially you can use this tab to check for incorrect input/faulty output (i.e., garbage in/garbage out).
Figure 8. Incoming Tab
The Outgoing tab shows the output that's produced by the task. In this example, the restCall task produces a
response variable that contains the API's response value, which is in the form of a JSON object. It's important to know that depending on the task's function, the output information will vary from task to task.
Figure 9. Outgoing Tab
Congratulations! In this section of the tour, you did the following:
- Created an automation that utilizes Tasks to obtain data from a remote system.
- Viewed the Job Manager page and the task results that were presented in the Outgoing tab of the Task History.
Next, we're going to explore how to pass data between tasks. Keep the Job Manager tab open for now and continue reading.