Open Source RPA Platforms
Post updated May 26th 2020
One big factor in choosing an RPA product is cost, so here is an overview of all of the Open Source RPA software that I can find on Google.
Summary of Findings
I’m putting the summary up top in case you don’t want to read further. As of now, I wouldn’t recommend any of the Open Source RPA solutions to clients. I need to dig deeper into Automagica and Taskt first, as they look the most promising.
A list of sources for these open source projects include
Abandoned since January 2018. Code is not in a usable state, and there is no documentation.
Actively developed as of May 2020. Has an odd installer that requires downloading a lot of packages straight from the web. I personally have security concerns over this. It also requires user registration in order to be used and cannot be used offline.
I tried disconnecting my Internet, and running the software, but it just closes the software immediately. So it isn’t a stable solution for people with spotty Internet connections, or start up founders who need to work on the road, or in different shared offices etc.
Generally, I dislike having to phone home and connect to the author’s servers, and the installer just downloading random packages off of the Internet. I’d love to explore this further but unfortunately the hard requirement of having an Internet connection limits its usefulness to me as a consultant as I frequently visit customer sites without Internet.
Python 3.7 based, last updated August 2019. The installer is a zip of the source code, and the documentation is quite bare bones. This is not for anyone but programmers at the moment – thank god I was one for 10+ years or I’d have no idea how to get started with this.
Opening the “Studio” (a batch file) opens up a local webserver and browser page. The GUI is … not quite user friendly, but it makes sense since I have both programming and RPA knowledge. This isn’t something you’d want to use if you aren’t at least at an intermediate level of knowledge of RPA and programming.
Overall, I’ll keep my eye on this one. It is very rough graphically, but with time could become a useful RPA software.
Robot Framework RPA
This really seems to be a testing suite for software development, and has limited uses for business automation. I read through all of the documentation and couldn’t even find out how to build a workflow with if else statements. Everything seems like straight through processing.
This looks a lot like Blue Prism, which is great for business users, but the project seems abandoned since August 2018. It is not fully featured enough to be used by most companies.
This is a promising looking Python based solution, but it is again very programmer (coding) heavy. Actively developed as of May 2020. It seems to be a 2 man company trying to build a competitive product to the big RPA vendors, as the pricing is possibly even more than what the big vendors have.
They have a hosted SAAS model with a “free” usage that is limited to 1 robot and 50 automation runs per month. I believe that if you use their pure code solution that you can get around those limits, but I haven’t tried so myself yet.
An actively developed C# based product as of April 2020. It has a GUI that looks usable. I’ll dig deeper into this and provide a full review.
This is another command line based automation framework that requires you to learn their proprietary language. From their documentation, desktop applications can only be automated using Images which is troublesome. Imagine trying to automate Excel 2016 vs 2012 vs office 365, which all have different user interfaces and icons. This would work if you only intend to use RPA on a single PC, and never update the applications.