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README.md

TagUI

Why This | Set Up | To Use | Cheat Sheet | Developers | Tutorial | Slides | Video

TagUI is a CLI tool for digital process automation (RPA). It is maintained by AI Singapore, a government-funded initiative to build local artificial intelligence capabilities. To start, check out above tutorial, slides, or video.

FEATURES

  • automate Chrome visibly or headlessly
  • visual automation of websites and desktop
  • write in 20+ human languages & JavaScript
  • Chrome extension for recording web actions
  • R & Python integration for big data / AI / ML

Why This

The goal of UI (user interface) automation is to reproduce cognitive interactions that you have with websites or your desktop, so that your computer can do it for you, base on your schedule or conditions. TagUI helps you rapidly automate your repetitive or time-critical tasks - use cases include process automation, data acquisition and testing of web apps.

Read on for more info or jump right into the flow samples section to see examples of TagUI automation in natural-language-like syntax. This is a full-feature and free open-source tool, so there's nothing to upgrade to or any paid subscription. To feedback suggestions or bugs, raise an issue or email ksoh@aisingapore.org.

Click to show differences between TagUI open-source RPA and commercial RPA software

Key Strengths

  • cross-platform, works on Windows, macOS, Linux
  • increased security as users can view source code
  • rapid iteration cycles in improvement of features
  • $0 to use, under Apache 2.0 open-source license
  • easy to use, thus rapid development + deployment
  • easy for IT policies to deploy, simply unzip and run
  • native integration with Python and R for AI / ML / DL
  • easy API calls to Azure / Amazon cognitive services

Neutral Differences

  • scripts written in 21 human languages, not flowchart
  • JavaScript for advanced scripting instead of C# / VB
  • visual and OCR based automation for desktop apps

Key Weaknesses

  • lack of enterprise audit, control, dashboard, reporting
  • lack of SLA or 24/7 support team for incident-handling
  • lack of large development teams (easily > 30 people)
  • lack of user / developer base grown over many years
  • lack of consultancies / partners distribution network

HOW IT WORKS

TagUI converts your intentions in different human languages into lines of working JavaScript code that perform UI automation. Under the hood, it uses Chrome DevTools Protocol, Sikuli, CasperJS, PhantomJS & SlimerJS.

https://www.typeform.com
click login
type username as user@gmail.com
type password as 12345678
click btnlogin
download https://admin.typeform.com/xxx to report.csv
Click to show powerful and user-friendly features of TagUI that come right out of the box
  • For example, TagUI will instantly convert the automation flow above into 100+ lines of JavaScript code and automatically perform the steps to download a report. Conditions can also be written in natural language for making decisions or checking webpage. No further backend coding or step definition is required. This makes it easy for rapid prototyping, deployment and maintenance of UI automation, whether you are a developer or not. The language engine supports over 20 languages and can be modified or extended easily by users to improve accuracy or add more languages.

  • The automation flow can be triggered from scheduling, command line (in natural language), API URL, email etc. Everything happens headlessly in the background without seeing any web browser, so that you can continue using the computer or server uninterrupted. Running on a visible web browser is also supported, using Chrome or Firefox browser (see chrome or firefox option below). API or command calls can be made with a single line to integrate with other services or apps. Continuous integration with CI/CD tools is possible using CasperJS framework and TagUI's Chrome integration.

  • If you know JavaScript and want to be more expressive, you can even use JavaScript directly in the flow. If not, you will still enjoy friendly but powerful features such as repositories to store your reusable objects, flexible datatables for batch automation, and a Chrome extension which creates automation flows by recording your actions. For rapid prototyping, there's also an interactive live mode for trying out TagUI steps or JavaScript code in real-time. TagUI has built-in integration with Chrome / headless Chrome directly, which also works in live mode.

  • There is automatic waiting for web elements to appear + error-checking + nesting of JavaScript code blocks. Not forgetting the option to run automation flows hosted online or auto-upload run results online for sharing. TagUI also supports visual automation of website and desktop through built-in integration with Sikuli. Instead of using element identifiers, images can be used to identify user interface elements to interact with. TagUI has native integrations with R and Python for big data and machine learning capabilities. R and Python are popular languages with many frameworks and packages in this space.

Set Up

TagUI is in v4.0 - it unzips and runs on macOS, Linux, Windows (link to release notes)

Tip - to try cutting edge version with the latest features, download master.zip to overwrite an existing packaged installation (be sure to manually select and move the folders & files inside master.zip's TagUI-master/src folder to replace your existing tagui/src folder, otherwise some OSes will delete existing target folders that are missing from source folder)

PACKAGED INSTALLATION

TagUI is easy to use right away - no setup is needed, in most environments all required dependencies are packaged in. Avoid spaces in the folder path as some components of TagUI don't work well with spaces in folder and file names.

Platform macOS Linux Windows Node.js (macOS/Linux)
Package unzip and run unzip and run unzip and run npm install tagui

Potential exceptions - On some Windows computers, if you see 'MSVCR110.dll is missing' error, install this from Microsoft website (choose vcredist_x86.exe) - this file is required to run the PHP engine. On some newer macOS versions, if you get a 'dyld: Library not loaded' error, install OpenSSL in this way. For some flavours of Linux (Ubuntu for example), which do not have PHP pre-installed, google how to install PHP accordingly (Ubuntu for example, apt-get install php).

Optional - configure web browser settings in tagui_config.txt, such as browser resolution, step timeout of 10s etc

MANUAL INSTALLATION

Click to show step-by-step setup if you prefer to download dependencies manually from their websites
  1. PhantomJS (headless scriptable web browser) - http://phantomjs.org
  2. CasperJS (navigation/testing for PhantomJS) - http://casperjs.org
  3. SlimerJS (scriptable web browser for Firefox) - https://slimerjs.org
  4. TagUI (general purpose web automation tool) - https://git.io/vMCTZ
  5. PHP (only required for manual Windows setup) - http://windows.php.net

Tip - recommend putting TagUI to a folder path without spaces (some dependencies have issue with that). for manual Windows setup, 1. set SLIMERJS_EXECUTABLE env variable to point to slimerjs.bat, 2. put GNU utilities (cut / gawk / grep / head / sort / tail / tee), curl ssl in tagui\src\unx, 3. add phantomjs\bin, casperjs\bin, php folders to path

To Use

COMMAND LINE

./tagui flow_filename option(s) for macOS/Linux, tagui flow_filename option(s) for Windows
  • Flow filename can be a local file or the URL of an online file
  • Filename can have no extension, .txt or .js or .tagui extension
  • Type tagui without parameters to see its version and options
Click to show the command line options supported by TagUI and their purposes
Option Purpose
headless run on invisible Chrome web browser instead of default PhantomJS (first install Chrome)
chrome run on visible Chrome web browser instead of invisible PhantomJS (first install Chrome)
firefox run on visible Firefox web browser instead of invisible browser (first install Firefox)
upload upload automation flow and result to hastebin.com (expires 30 days after last view)
report web report for sharing of run results on webserver (default is only a text log file)
debug show run-time backend messages from PhantomJS for detailed tracing and logging
quiet run without output except for explicit output (echo / show / check / errors etc)
speed skip 3-second delay between datatable iterations (and skip restarting of Chrome)
test testing with check step test assertions for CI/CD integration (output XUnit XML file)
baseline output execution log and relative-path output files to a separate baseline directory
input(s) add your own parameter(s) to be used in your automation flow as variables p1 to p9
data.csv specify a csv file to be used as the datatable for batch automation of many records
Click to show info on automation log files, and how to run tagui from any directory

After each automation run, a .log file will be created to store output of the execution, a .js file is the generated JavaScript file, a .raw is the expanded flow after reading in any module sub-scripts that are called in that flow. These files are for user reference purpose and can be helpful in debugging or troubleshooting the automation flow.

Tip - to run tagui from anywhere in macOS/Linux, use ln -sf /full_path/tagui/src/tagui /usr/local/bin/tagui to create symbolic link. To run tagui from anywhere in Windows, add tagui/src folder to path. Then tagui will be accessible from any folder. If you have issue running visible automation using Firefox/SlimerJS check this setting.

Click to show how to run TagUI scripts by double-clicking as desktop icons

To do that on Windows, create a .cmd or .bat file with contents like the following, which goes to the directory where you want to run the automation, and run tagui command on the file with your specified options. You can also associate .tagui files directly to be opened by tagui\src\tagui.cmd command. Double-clicking the .cmd or .bat file will start automation.

@echo off
c:
cd c:\folder
tagui filename quiet speed chrome

To do that on macOS / Linux, create a file with contents like the following, which goes to the directory where you want to run the automation, and run tagui command on the file with your specified options. You will need to use the command chmod 700 on the file to give it execute permissions, so that it can be run by double-clicking on it.

cd /Users/username/folder
tagui filename quiet speed chrome

BY SCHEDULING

To schedule an automation flow in crontab (macOS/Linux), for example at 8am daily

0 8 * * * /full_path_on_your_server/tagui flow_filename option(s)

Tip - for Windows, use Task Scheduler instead (search schedule from Start Menu)

TAGUI WRITER & SCREENSHOTER

TagUI Writer is a Windows app created by @adegard which makes it easy to write TagUI scripts. By pressing Ctrl + Left-click, a popup menu will appear with the list of TagUI steps for you to paste into your text editor. Arnaud also created a ScreenShoter app which makes it easy to capture snaphots for TagUI visual automation. Download them here.

Click to show a preview of how TagUI Writer looks like (it works across different editors)

TagUI Writer

CHROME EXTENSION

Download from Chrome Web Store to use TagUI Chrome web browser extension for recording automation flows.

Click to show details about TagUI Chrome extension and what it can be used for

TagUI Chrome extension is based on Resurrectio tool and records steps such as page navigation, clicking web elements and entering information. To start recording automation flows, click TagUI icon on your Chrome toolbar. Right-click for shortcuts to some TagUI steps, such as capturing webpage screenshot or to show the element identifier.

The recording is not foolproof (for example, the underlying recording engine cannot capture frames, popup windows or tab key input). It is meant to simplify flow creation with some edits, instead of typing everything manually. See this video for an example of recording sequence of steps, editing for adjustments and playing back the automation.

NATIVE LANGUAGES

To run TagUI flows in native languages or output flow execution in other languages (see demo run)

  1. set your default flow language with tagui_language variable in tagui_config.txt
  2. write automation flow in native language base on language definition .csv files
  3. optionally set tagui_language in flow to any other languages as output language
Click to show the 20+ human languages supported by TagUI and how to self-build language definitions

Tip - as Windows Unicode support is not as straightforward as macOS/Linux, doing this in Windows may require changing system locale, using chcp command, and selecting a font to display native language correctly (more info)

TagUI language engine supports over 20 languages and can be modified or extended easily by users to improve accuracy or add more languages. The languages are Bengali, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Vietnamese. This starting set is partly chosen base on the list of most commonly used languages, partly from the countries around where I'm from (Singapore), and partly from countries with a lot of developers.

If your native language is not in the above list, you can also automate building a new native language definition by using this language build automation flow (src/languages/build) that self-builds the vocabulary set using Google Translate. To do that, update build.csv with the languages that you want to build and run tagui build using chrome in src/languages folder. Use quiet option to hide the verbose automation output. The generated files are named as their 2-character language codes to prevent overwriting existing language definitions by accident. To use the generated .csv files, rename them to their full language names. See full list of languages possible to be generated by Google Translate.

Most of the language definitions are automatically self-built using Google Translate (except english.csv and chinese.csv), and would be wrong without understanding vocabulary used in UI interaction context. Native language users can update the language definition csv themselves and are welcome to submit PRs with correct words to be used. Some languages are very different from English structure (for eg, written from right to left, different order of adjective and noun) and would be impossible to use correctly in TagUI.

VISUAL AUTOMATION

TagUI has built-in integration with Sikuli (base on OpenCV) to allow identifying web elements and desktop user interface elements for interaction. Steps that support visual automation are click, hover, type, select, read, show, save, snap. Simply specify an image filename (.png or .bmp format) of what to look for visually, in place of the element identifier, to use visual automation alongside your usual automation steps. Also, by using vision step, you can send custom Sikuli commands to do things such as typing complex keystroke sequences.

Click to show where to download and install Sikuli, additional usage details and a demo GIF

Sikuli is excluded from TagUI packaged installation due to complex dependencies that are handled by its installer. First, make sure Java JDK v8 is installed. Download Sikuli to tagui/src/tagui.sikuli folder and setup (choose option 1 - Pack1). If you have download error messages during setup, unzip contents of this file to tagui/src/tagui.sikuli folder, right-click sikulixsetup-1.1.3.jar and open or run as administrator. On Windows, make sure display magnification is set to 100%.

To type onto the screen instead of a particular element, use type page.png as text or type page.bmp as text. To do a snapshot or an OCR of the whole screen, use page.png or page.bmp as the element identifier for steps snap or read respectively. The usual helper functions visible() / present() can also be used to check whether an image is visible on the screen. Relative paths are supported for image filenames (eg pc.png, images/button.bmp). A screen (real or Xvfb) is needed for visual automation. Tesseract OCR (optical character recognition) is used for visually retrieving text.

Sample Visual Automation

PYTHON INTEGRATION

TagUI has built-in integration with Python (works out of the box for both v2 & v3) - a programming language with many popular frameworks for big data and machine learning. The py step can be used to run commands in Python and retrieve the output of those commands. To use Python integration in TagUI, first download Python for your OS. macOS and Linux normally come pre-installed with Python. Make sure that python command is accessible from command prompt.

Click to show how to use py step in your automation flow to send and receive data from Python frameworks

In your automation flow, use the py step followed by the Python commands to be executed, separated by ;. You can then use the print command in Python to output the result you want to be accessible in your automation flow as py_result variable. For a super basic example, below steps in your TagUI automation flow will output 3. If the result is JSON data, the JSON object py_json will be created for easy access to JSON data elements. If not, py_json will be null.

// using py step to denote Python code, and getting back output from py_result
py a=1;b=2
py c=a+b
py print(c)
echo py_result

// alternatively, you can use py begin and py finish to denote a Python code block
// indentation of Python code is also supported, for example in conditions or loops
py begin
a=1;b=2
c=a+b
print(c)
py finish
echo py_result

// an example of passing dynamically generated variables to Python integraton
phone = 1234567
name = 'donald duck'
py_step('phone = ' + phone)
py_step('name = "' + name + '"')

py print(name)
echo py_result
py print(phone)
echo py_result

You can also use the execfile() command in Python v2.X to run Python scripts. Or use exec(open('filename').read()) in Python v3.X to run Python scripts. For examples of using Python for machine learning, check out this essentials of machine learning algorithms article or this article on Python deep learning frameworks.

R INTEGRATION

TagUI has built-in integration with R - an open-source software environment for statistical computing and graphics. R can be used for big data and machine learning. The r step can be used to run commands in R and retrieve the output of those commands. To use R integration in TagUI, first download R software for your OS. Make sure that Rscript command is accessible from your command prompt (added to path or symbolically linked).

Click to show how to use r step in your automation flow to send and receive data from R frameworks

In your automation flow, use the r step followed by the R commands to be executed, separated by ;. You can then use the cat() command in R to output the result you want to be accessible in your automation flow as r_result variable. For a super basic example, below steps in your TagUI automation flow will output 3. If the result is JSON data, the JSON object r_json will be created for easy access to JSON data elements. If not, r_json will be null.

// using r step to denote R code, and getting back output from r_result
r a=1;b=2
r c=a+b
r cat(c)
echo r_result

// alternatively, you can use r begin and r finish to denote a R code block
r begin
a=1;b=2
c=a+b
cat(c)
r finish
echo r_result

// an example of passing dynamically generated variables to R integraton
phone = 1234567
name = 'donald duck'
r_step('phone = ' + phone)
r_step('name = "' + name + '"')

r cat(name)
echo r_result
r cat(phone)
echo r_result

You can also use the source() command in R to run R scripts. For examples of using R for machine learning, check out this essentials of machine learning algorithms article or this guerilla guide to machine learning video series.

CLI ASSISTANT

TagUI scripts are already in natural-language-like syntax to convert to JavaScript code. What's even better is having natural-language-like syntax on the command line. Instead of typing tagui download_bank_report june creditcard to run the automation flow download_bank_report with parameters june creditcard, you can type erina download my june creditcard bank report. This may be more intuitive than recalling which automation filename you saved to run. For a demo of the CLI (command line interface) assistant in action, see this video.

Click to show details on how you can rename your CLI assistant and the syntax used to invoke automations

The commands erina (macOS/Linux) and erina.cmd (Windows) can be renamed to some other name you like. The commands can be set up in the same way as the tagui / tagui.cmd above to be accessible from any folder. The command basically interprets this general syntax erina single-word-action fillers options/parameters fillers single-or-multi-word-context to call run the corresponding automation flow action_context with options/parameters.

Also, adding using chrome / using headless / using firefox at the end will let it run using the respective browsers. The default location where automation flows are searched for is in tagui/flows folder and can be changed in tagui_helper.php. Filler words (is, are, was, were, my, me) are ignored as they don't convey important information (more design info).

FLOW SAMPLES

Following automation flow samples (tagui/src/samples folder) are included with TagUI

Flow Sample Purpose
1_yahoo searches github on Yahoo and captures screenshot of results
2_twitter goes to a Twitter page and saves some profile information
3_github goes to a GitHub page and downloads the repository file
4_conditions goes through examples of using conditions in natural language
5_repositories shows using repositories on Russian social media site VK.com
6_datatables set of flows uses datatables to retrieve and act on GitHub info
7_testing shows how to use check step assertions for CI/CD integration
8_hastebin used by upload option to upload flow result to hastebin.com
9_misc shows how to use steps popup, frame, dom, js, { and } block
a_facedetect uses face recognition to detect profile images on webpages
b_visualoutlook uses visual recognition for desktop MS Outlook email sending
c_chinese_flow run flow in other languages (first, change src/tagui_config.txt)

Cheat Sheet

AUTOMATION WORKFLOW

  • What happens behind the scenes when you run an automation flow

TagUI Flowchart

STEPS DESCRIPTION

  • TagUI auto-waits for a webpage element to appear and interacts with it as soon as it appears
  • Element identifier can be auto-recorded using TagUI Chrome extension, or found from web browser
  • Identifiers help to pinpoint which webpage elements you want to interact with (examples in flow samples)
  • TagUI auto-selects provided identifier in this order - xpath, css, id, name, class, title, aria-label, text(), href
Basic Step Parameters (separator in bold) Purpose
http(s):// just enter full url of webpage ('+variable+' for variable) go to specified webpage
click element to click click on an element
rclick element to right-click right-click on an element
dclick element to double-click double-click on an element
hover element to hover move cursor to element
type element as text ([enter] = enter, [clear] = clear field) enter element as text
select element to select as option value ([clear] = clear selection) choose dropdown option
read element to read (page = webpage) to variable name fetch element text to variable
show element to read (page = webpage, ie raw html) print element text to output
save element (page = webpage) to optional filename save element text to file
load filename to variable name load file content to variable
echo text (in quotation marks) and variables print text/variables to output
dump text (in quotation marks) and variables to optional filename save text/variables to file
write text (in quotation marks) and variables to optional filename append text/variables to file
variable_name = value (for text, put in quotes, use + to concat) define variable variable_name
// (on new line) user comments (ignored during execution) add user comments
tagui relative or absolute filename (see MODULES section) run another tagui flow
ask question or instruction for user (reply stored in ask_result) ask user for input
live try steps or code interactively for Chrome / visual automation enter live mode (Firefox not yet)

Tip - to use variables where text is expected, '+variable+' can be used. XPath is an expressive way to identify web elements. If you know xpath and use xpath for element identifier, use double quotes for text //*[@title="Login"]

Click to show pro steps such as snap, table, wait, check, api, run, dom, js, r, py, vision, code blocks
Pro Step Parameters (separator in bold) Purpose
snap element (page = webpage) to optional filename save screenshot to file
snap (pdf) page to filename.pdf (headless Chrome / PhantomJS) save webpage to basic pdf
table element (XPath selector only) to optional filename.csv save basic html table to csv
wait optional time in seconds (default is 5 seconds) explicitly wait for some time
check condition | text (in quotes) if true | text (in quotes) if false check condition and print result
upload element (CSS selector only) as filename to upload upload file to website
download url to download to filename to save download from url to file
receive url keyword to watch to filename to save receive resource to file
frame frame name | subframe name if any next step or block in frame/subframe
popup url keyword of new tab window to look for next step or block in new tab window
{ and } use { to start block and } to end block (on new line) define block of steps and code
api full url (including parameters) of api call call api & save response to api_result
run OS shell command including parameters run OS command & save to run_result
dom javascript code for document object model run code in dom & save to dom_result
js javascript statements (skip auto-detection) treat as JS code explicitly
r R statements for big data and machine learning run R statements & save to r_result
py python code for big data and machine learning run python code & save to py_result
vision custom visual automation commands run custom sikuli commands
timeout time in seconds before step errors out change auto-wait timeout

Tip - for headless and visible Chrome, file downloads can be done using normal webpage interaction or specifying the URL as a navigation flow step. For Firefox and PhantomJS, the download and receive step can be used. As TagUI default execution context is local, to run javascript on webpage dom (eg document.querySelector) use dom step. Set dom_json variable to pass a variable for use in dom step. Or dom_json = {tmp_number: phone, tmp_text: name} to pass multiple variables for use in dom step (dom_json.tmp_number and dom_json.tmp_text). On Windows, snap step requires display magnification to be set at 100% to work properly.

For steps run, dom, js, r, py, vision, instead of typing the step and the command, you can use something like py begin followed by many lines of py code, and end with py finish to denote an entire code block. This saves typing the step repeatedly for a large integration code block. For steps r, py, vision, the helper functions r_step(), py_step(), vision_step() can be used to pass dynamic variables to those integrations. Below is an example for py step for passing dynamically generated varibles from TagUI to Python integration. Indentation of Python code within py begin-finish and vision begin-finish blocks is supported, for example in conditions or loops.

phone = 1234567
name = 'donald duck'
py_step('phone = ' + phone)
py_step('name = "' + name + '"')

py print(name)
echo py_result
py print(phone)
echo py_result

CONDITIONS EXAMPLES

Click to show how conditions can be expressed in natural language (optional brackets) or JavaScript
  • Conditions help in decision-making and taking different actions base on run-time context
  • Write text in quotation marks (either " or ' works) to differentiate text from variable names
  • { and } block is required after for loop (while is deprecated - no auto-wait, hangs CasperJS)
  • Use for loop to repeat blocks of steps (nested loops, conditions, break, continue supported)
Condition (in natural language) JavaScript
example - if day equals to "Friday" if (day == "Friday")
example - if menu contains "fruits" if (menu.indexOf("fruits")>-1)
example - if A more than B and C not equals to D if ((A > B) && (C != D))
example - for n from 1 to 4 for (n=1; n<=4; n++)]
example - for n from 1 to infinity for (n=1; n<=1024; n++)]
example - while cupcakes equal to 12 while (cupcakes == 12)
contain .indexOf("text")>-1
not contain .indexOf("text")<0
equal to ==
not equal to !=
more than / greater than / higher than >
more than or equal to / greater than or equal to / higher than or equal to >=
less than / lesser than / lower than <
less than or equal to / lesser than or equal to / lower than or equal to <=
and &&
or ||

Tip - use { and } step to define step/code blocks for powerful repetitive automation with for loop. The usual break and continue commands can be used on next line after an if condition, to break out of the immediate loop or continue to the next iteration. To loop 'indefinitely' use for n from 1 to infinity, where infinity is a pre-defined variable at 1024. When using contain / equal, you can write with or without s behind. You can use if present('element') to check if the element exists, before doing the step on next line. Other useful functions include visible('element'), count('element'), url(), title(), text(), timer(), which can be used in conditions and steps such as check or echo.

HELPER FUNCTIONS

Click to show helper functions csv_row(), present(), visible(), count(), url(), title(), text(), timer()
  • Below are helper functions which can be used in your steps or code like a variable
  • You can define your own JavaScript functions in tagui_local.js and tagui_global.js
  • TagUI will look for a local function file tagui_local.js in the same folder of flow
  • TagUI will also look for a global function file tagui_global.js in tagui/src folder
  • Local definitions take precedence over global definitions (same for repositories)
Function Purpose
csv_row(row_array) return formatted string for writing to csv file, eg using write step
present('element') return true or false whether element identifier specified is present
visible('element') return true or false whether element identifier specified is visible
count('element') return number of elements matching element identifier specified
url() return page url of current web page
title() return page title of current web page
text() return text content of current web page
timer() return time elapsed in sec between calls
// example of using csv_row() helper function
read name_element to name
read price_element to price
read details_element to details
item_info = [name, price, details]
write csv_row(item_info) to product_list.csv

MODULES

Click to show how you can call other TagUI automation flows within an automation flow file
  • This lets you reuse and compound automation scripts to build complex flows
  • Sub-scripts can be multiple levels deep and be of any filename or extension
  • To call sub-scripts, use tagui step followed by absolute or relative filename
  • For example, tagui login_crm or tagui crm.login or tagui outlook\sendmail
  • Variables can be directly used or modified in parent script and sub-scripts

Tip - tagui step works by expanding content of a sub-script into the flow, at the line where tagui step is used to call the sub-script. Thus variables that are accessible from the parent flow file will also be accessible from the sub-script. A .raw file will be created to store expanded contents of the automation flow (useful for checking error messages). Alternatively, try using run step to run tagui on a flow file, so that it is run as a separate child process.

REPOSITORIES

Click to show how you can use repositories to make objects reusable and improve readability
  • Repository csv files have 2 columns, for example below (headers up to you to name)
  • TagUI will look for a local repository file tagui_local.csv in the same folder of flow
  • TagUI will also look for a global repository file tagui_global.csv in tagui/src folder
  • Using `object` in your flow replaces it with its definition (which can contain objects)
  • For example, `type email` becomes type user-email-textbox as user@gmail.com
OBJECT DEFINITION
email user-email-textbox
create account btn btn--green btn-xl signup-btn
type email type `email` as user@gmail.com

DATATABLES

Click to show how datatable csv files can be used to perform batch automation at scale
  • When running TagUI, specify the csv file to use, eg tagui flow_filename trade_data.csv
  • TagUI loops through each row to run automation using the data from different rows
  • Eg, echo 'TESTCASE - `testname`' in your flow shows TESTCASE - Trade USDSGD
  • echo '`[iteration]`' can be used in your flow to show the current iteration number
  • A file tagui_datatable.csv will be created in tagui/src folder for TagUI internal use
# testname username password pair size direction
1 Trade USDSGD test_account 12345678 USDSGD 10000 BUY
2 Trade USDSGD test_account 12345678 USDJPY 1000 SELL
3 Trade EURUSD test_account 12345678 EURUSD 100000 BUY

Developers Reference

TagUI is a young tool and it tries to do the task of automating UI interactions very well. It's designed to make prototyping, deployment and maintenance of UI automation easier by minimizing iteration time for each phase. Originally developed by a test automation engineer to avoid writing chunks of code when automating web interactions.

API

Click to show how to use the API webservice that comes with TagUI and how to make complex outgoing API calls

Automation flows can also be triggered via API URL. TagUI has an API service and runner for managing a queue of incoming requests via API. To set up, add a crontab entry on your server with the desired frequency to check and process incoming service requests. Below will check every 15 minutes and run pending flows in the queue. If there's an automation in progress, TagUI will wait for the next check instead of concurrently starting a new run.

0,15,30,45 * * * * /full_path_on_your_server/tagui_crontab

To call an automation flow from your application or web browser, use below API syntax. Custom input(s) supported. The default folder to look for flow_filename would be in tagui/src folder. Automation flows can also be triggered from emails using the API. For email integration, check out Tmail. It's an open-source mailbot to act on incoming emails or perform mass emailing; it also delivers emails by API. Emails with run-time variables can be sent directly from your flow with a single line (see flow sample 6C_datatables). If you have data transformation in your process pipeline check out TLE, which can help with converting data.

your_website_url/tagui_service.php?SETTINGS="flow_filename option(s)"

Besides integrating with web applications, TagUI can be extended to integrate with hardware (eg Arduino or Raspberry Pi) for physical world interactions or machine learning service providers for AI decision-making ability. Input parameters can be sent to an automation flow to be used as variables p1 to p9. Output parameters from an automation flow can be sent to your Arduino or application API URL (see samples 3_github and 6C_datatables).

For making outgoing API calls in your automation flow, to feed data somewhere or send emails etc, use the api step followed by full URL (including parameters) of the API call. Raw response from API will be saved in api_result variable. If the API response is JSON data, the variable api_json will be created for easy access to JSON data elements. If not, api_json will be null. For example, api_json.parent_element.child_element retrieves value of child_element.

api_config = {method:'PUT', header:['Header1: value1','Header2: value2'], body:{'id':123,'pwd':'abc'}};

For advanced API calls, you can set above api_config variable which defaults as {method:'GET', header:[], body:{}}. Besides GET, you can use other methods such as POST, PUT, DELETE etc. You can define multiple headers in the format 'Header_name: header_value' and provide a payload body for PUT requests for example. You can set it as above before using the api step, or set using api_config.method = 'PUT'; and api_config.header[0] = 'Header1: value1'; etc. api_config.body will be automatically converted to JSON format for sending to API endpoint.

In addition, macOS/Linux/Windows CLI commands can be executed using run step. This can be used to call other apps or services hosted locally on the OS, instead of being hosted through webservices. To use run step, specify the full command including parameters. Execution result will be stored in run_result, which can be used in your automation flow.

CHROME

Click to show how TagUI has native integraton with visible and headless Chrome using DevTools Protocol

TagUI has built-in integration with Chrome web browser to run web automation in visible or headless mode. It uses a websocket connection to directly communicate automation JavaScript code and information to Chrome.

To develop new custom methods for Chrome integration, see this TagUI issue and tagui_header.js for examples of websocket calls from TagUI to Chrome (via Chrome DevTools Protocol). The function chrome_step(method, params) sends message to Chrome and returns the response. You will see examples from simple websocket calls such as getting webpage title to stacked ones such as handling of frame or popup window. To tweak how TagUI launches / kills Chrome and the integration PHP process, see TagUI runner script for macOS/Linux or Windows.

Probably the best way to see the websocket communication in action is to enter TagUI live mode (add live step in your automation flow), then tail -f tagui_chrome.log in another terminal to see the Chrome DevTools Protocol messages going to and fro as you enter TagUI steps or JavaScript code. If you are running on Windows, you can click on the PHP process window directly to see the messages.

At run-time TagUI will start a PHP thread in the background to manage the integration with Chrome for concurrent communication. The Textalk PHP websocket is used as it is super-light and most importantly, it works even without any update for 2 years. The normal approach to integrate with Chrome is through chrome-remote-interface project or tools such as Puppeteer and friends. However, that approach introduces Node.js dependency which means users without a Node.js development environment cannot run TagUI with Chrome. Outside of JavaScript ecosystem, there are also tools like chromedp in Go language to integrate with Chrome.

In order to retain TagUI unzip and run functionality, the approach of launching a separate PHP thread is chosen. Since the TagUI natural language interpreter is already written in PHP, there is no new dependency. Also, doing websocket communication within the single-threaded JavaScript environment used by CasperJS is not possible as it involves a redesign of fundamental CasperJS methods such as casper.exists to support async/await or use JavaScript promises which are not yet supported by CasperJS (for compatibility with latest PhantomJS).

Like chrome-remote-interface, TagUI communicates with Chrome through Chrome DevTools Protocol. The protocol is primarily designed for debugging the web browser instead of web automation, so many methods are still in experimental status. However, the API is stable enough for TagUI steps to work with Chrome. When chrome or headless option is used, TagUI replaces CasperJS methods it uses with custom methods to talk to Chrome instead of PhantomJS. When firefox option is used or by default, TagUI doesn't invoke custom methods and PHP process.

TESTING

Click to show details of how TagUI can be used for test automation with integration to CI tools

The check step allows easy testing of conditions. When the test option is used, test assertions are automatically performed for check steps. This lets CasperJS framework output a XUnit XML file, which can be used for CI/CD integration with tools such as Jenkins. Below are examples of check steps, more examples in sample flow 7_testing.

// check whether the element search-buttons exists
check present('search-buttons') | 'search button exists' | 'search button does not exist'

// check whether the search button text is correct
read search-buttons to button
check button equals to 'Search' | 'search button text is correct - ' button | 'search button text is wrong - ' button

// check that the page has the text My Portfolio
check text() contains 'My Portfolio' | 'page text contains My Portfolio' | 'page text does not contain My Portfolio'

// check that number of header menu items are more than or equals to 6
check count('uh-tb-') more than or equals to 6 | 'header menu items >= 6' | 'header menu items < 6'

CasperJS test scripts are inherently different in structure and syntax from its usual automation scripts. With the test option, TagUI automatically sets up your automation flow to work as a test script. TagUI allows you to reuse the same flow for testing or automation by running it with or without the test option. More info about CasperJS testing framework.

Note that CasperJS is not yet supporting Chrome, below additional examples using CasperJS built-in test assertions won't work when chrome or headless option is used. TagUI smart selector can still be accessed using tx('selector'). As TagUI allows you to write JavaScript / CasperJS code directly within the automation flow, advanced testing or coding techniques that can be implemented in CasperJS should work directly within your flow.

test.assertTextExists('ABOUT','Check for ABOUT text');
test.assertSelectorHasText(tx('header'), 'Interface automation','Check for phrase in header element');

In the event you get an error saying that it cannot understand the step for your JavaScript line, raise an issue or modify the source code (tagui_parse.php is where interpretation of natural language to CasperJS JavaScript code takes place). Alternatively, use step js to explicitly declare that whatever follows on that line is JavaScript code and ensure that the line is not treated as a TagUI step.

FILES

Click to show details of the different files used by TagUI and their purposes
Core Files Purpose
tagui main runner for TagUI automation
tagui.cmd main runner for Windows platform
tagui_config.txt web browser settings used for automation
tagui_parse.php to interpret natural language into code
tagui_header.js template for CasperJS / integrations code
tagui_footer.js template for CasperJS / integrations code
Multi-Language Purpose
translate.php translation engine for native languages
translate.log translation in English reference language
Chrome Integration Purpose
tagui_chrome.php PHP thread for Chrome integration
tagui_chrome.log log for Chrome websocket transactions
tagui_chrome.in interface in-file for Chrome integration
tagui_chrome.out interface out-file for Chrome integration
Sikuli Integration Purpose
tagui.py interface for Sikuli visual automation
tagui.log log for Sikuli Python transactions
tagui_windows.log same as above but for Windows
tagui_sikuli.in interface in-file for Sikuli integration
tagui_sikuli.out interface out-file for Sikuli integration
tagui_sikuli.txt Tesseract OCR integration interface file
R Integration Purpose
tagui_r.R interface for R integration
tagui_r.log log for R platform transactions
tagui_r_windows.log same as above but for Windows
tagui_r.in interface in-file for R integration
tagui_r.out interface out-file for R integration
tagui_r.txt integration file for storing output
Python Integration Purpose
tagui_py.py interface for Python integration
tagui_py.log log for Python platform transactions
tagui_py_windows.log same as above but for Windows
tagui_py.in interface in-file for Python integration
tagui_py.out interface out-file for Python integration
tagui_py.txt integration file for storing output
API Service Purpose
tagui_crontab to run service request batch from crontab
tagui_runner.php retrieving service requests from queue
tagui_service.php receiving service requests into queue
tagui_service.log log to track service requests history
tagui_service.in log to track incoming service requests
tagui_service.out log to track processed service requests
tagui_service.act service request batch ready to execute
tagui_service.run service request batch currently running
tagui_service.done service request batch finished running
CLI Assistant Purpose
erina natural language command line helper
erina.cmd same as above but for Windows platform
tagui_helper.php command line natural language parser
tagui_helper generated normal TagUI command to run
tagui_helper.cmd same as above but for Windows platform
Misc Files Purpose
tagui_report.php to generate html report from text log
transpose.php transpose conventional datatable csv
sleep.php allow adding execution pause on Windows

SECURITY

Click to show details of security concerns and features of TagUI

Below architecture diagram for TagUI will be used to elaborate on this topic of security.

TagUI Flowchart

As TagUI and the foundation it is built on is open-source software, it means users can read the source code of TagUI and all its dependencies to check if there is a security flaw or malicious code. This is an advantage compared to using commercial software that is closed-source, as users cannot see what is the code behind the software due to lack of visibility.

For open-source software, users and developers who spot security issues will raise issues to the maintainers and work towards a fix. For commercial software, other ways such as tracking the web traffic or file system activities have to be deployed to infer on what the software is doing.

Following are links to the source code for TagUI and its open-source dependencies. You can dig through the source code for the other open-source dependencies below, or assume that security issues would have been spotted by users and fixed, as these projects are mature and have large user bases.

Following are more comments specific to TagUI for the topic of security.

  • By design, TagUI does not send outgoing web traffic or send outgoing data, other than what the user is automating on, for example visiting a website. However, there is an upload option, when used, TagUI will go to an open-source service Hastebin that allows uploading of information to share via URL. This sends outgoing data of the automation execution log to that website and returns an URL to user so that user can share the output of the automation with colleagues or friends.

  • TagUI allows running of automation files whether they are stored locally as a file on your laptop or computer, or if the file is an online URL. This means users should be cautious to run automation from online URLs unless they are sure that the online URL is a safe source and not doing something destructive. This can be checked by accessing the URL using a web-browser to see the automation steps performed in the online automation file.

  • TagUI comes with a web service, that can be used to trigger automation flows if TagUI is installed on a web-server. More details in Developers Reference section under API. The design minimizes security risk by not forcing users to turn on exec() for their PHP configuration. This means execution of malicious commands cannot be injected through the web-service. Instead, the web-service works by using crontab to periodically check for automation requests. Webservice execution of online flows is now disabled by default so that malicious users cannot trigger execution of a malicious flow hosted online.

  • TagUI has very powerful features, including the ability to run command line programs, Python code, R code, API calls, and ability to make changes to the local file systems. These features can become security risks if a malicious automation flow file is executed. Imagine TagUI as a tool, such as fire. In evil hands it can be used to do evil things at scale. In good hands, it can be used to solve pain points related to digital processes that are repetitive and huge in volume.

  • As TagUI can replicate what a normal human user can do on the computer, TagUI is restricted and compliant to the same security policies as the normal human user would be subjected to. For example, having to use a hardware token in order to access the laptop, or user password in order to login to the computer. Or having a 2FA hardware token in order to access confidential information from a web or enterprise application.

License

TagUI is open-source software released under Apache 2.0 license