Automation Software Review

Automation Software Review
Full-Fledged Automation Systems: AutoMate – WinAutomation – RoboTask –
Automation Anywhere
Automation Tools: Automize – UBot Studio – Macro Toolworks – iMacros – and many others!

Product images of AutoMate - WinAutomation - Automation Anywhere - and RoboTask

Before you buy a Automation Software, see here on the only complete, genuine, and unbiased Automation Software Review! I tried to find one myself and I couldn’t, so I put in an enormous amount of work to systematically compare Automation Software.

It turned out that we can draw a pretty distinct line between what we call Automation Systems and what we call Automation Tools. The top Automation System Providers in the market are: AutoMate, WinAutomation, RoboTask, and Automation Anywhere. With each of these products you can in principle design an automation for anything (per drag & drop and selecting properties) – because of their architecture and their supported functionality.

Other Automation Software must be considered Automation Tools, because each of those either offer certain functionality only or they require scripting/ coding/ programming – or even recording your own actions first.

On this page you see the review summary – the 10 +1 most striking points to note on the top Automation Systems AutoMate, WinAutomation, RoboTask, and Automation Anywhere. At the end you find links to detailed comparison tables that allow you to drill as deep as you like into our systematic analysis.

Nowhere you will get a better understanding of the capabilities of modern Automation Systems – and the pleasure (and pain) of using them. You will realize how easy and quick Automation has become – and soon you too will automate a vast amount of your daily work, your hobbies, your interests. Automation saves time, and Automation is fun!

Now let’s get cracking! First:


The 10 + 1 most striking points to note

1) Primary User Group

Primary User Group of modern Automation System Software?

AutoMate both targets and pleases primarily computer experts like Programmers, Network Managers, System Administrators, and other IT Professionals.

WinAutomation and RoboTask both target and please primarily ordinary computer users.

Automation Anywhere targets everyone and pleases primarily the unconcerned who fancy graphics, step-by-step instructions, and built-in solutions.


2) Philosophy

Philosophy behind the Automation Systems

The philosophy behind the Automation Systems is entirely different. Not least is this documented by the technical approach and the licensing concept (see below).

Also see AutoMate‘s explanation in the Help documentation: “Occasionally users may have a need to run a task created by AutoMate from outside of AutoMate.” – Here, this is thought to be an exceptional circumstance – and hence the “solution” they offer for this scenario limits the user.

Conversely, see WinAutomation‘s explanation in the Help documentation: “If you’ve bought the PRO version, you can even turn the Jobs into executable files that will run on any computer – whether they have WinAutomation or not.” – Here, this is thought to be a typical need and desire – and hence the solution is brilliant.

Similarly with Automation Anywhere: “When you run the .exes on other computers, the SMART automation technology adjusts for more than 40 possible differences, such as window size, position changes, CPU load, desktop icon location changes, etc to ensure easy task compatibility across computers.” – Perfect!

RoboTask don’t mention it anywhere explicitely, but you cannot compile the Automations to exe files. The developers require every user of an Automation to buy the software – or to accept the limited functionality of the Lite edition.


3) Technical Approach

Technical Approach of the Automation SystemsWinAutomation and Automation Anywhere: Each Automation that has no design errors at the end of the design stage can be compiled into a stand-alone executable (.exe) file – which can be run on any number of systems, without the Automation System being installed.

AutoMate and RoboTask: Each Automation needs to be interpreted during each runtime – which requires part of the Automation System to be present, and which of course consumes extra resources and performance on every system that utilizes the Automation.


4) Licensing Concept

There's the money!


AutoMate‘s Automations can only be executed on systems for which a runtime license has been purchased (and hence eg the AMTask.exe file is present). Similarly, RoboTask‘s Automations require the system to be present too, however note that RoboTask is extremely light on resources and processing power required: About 1/40th of AutoMate!

Automation Anywhere and WinAutomation allow the execution of Automations on an unlimited number of systems without paying again, because compiled Automations can run stand-alone.


5) Pricing

Pricing of Automation Software

The pricing, particularly between Automation Anywhere and AutoMate on one side (one continent) and WinAutomation and RoboTask on the other side (of the globe) is worlds apart: Thousands versus Hundreds!

Therefore our Automation Software Review on provides a complete summary if there are equally big differences in the potential, performance, and usability of the Automation Systems.

By the way, all four top Automation System Providers offer a free trial of their software. So, just click on each of them here, and try them out for yourself if you have the time.

AutoMate offers a free trial of their software package for 30 days. But note that, since it’s a bundled package, you only experience after purchase which of the components (and Actions!) remain available to you and which ones you will be missing after those 30 days.

WinAutomation also offers a free 30-days trial, but you’ll keep all the functionality you’ve got since the only difference between their Standard and their Professional edition is the ability of the latter to compile an Automation to a stand-alone executable (.exe) file.

Similarly RoboTask: 30-days free trial with full functionality, including all plugins, as they call it. RoboTask Lite is entirely free – however its functionality is very limited.

Automation Anywhere (as with almost everything else they do) does it … … different. Here, the free trial lasts for 50 times saving an Automation you designed. However, they count everything: Even the tiniest change to an Automation, and likewise changes to the sample Automations provided! And guess what, an Automation won’t run unless you’ve saved it first. – Also, some of the (more desirable) functionality doesn’t work in the trial (or it is limited to eg 5 instances), and since you get a bundled package, like with AutoMate, you’ll only realize after the trial what functionality you actually retain.


6) Appearance

Appearance of the Automation Software SystemsWinAutomation appears unostentatious: GUI, Admin, Actions, Help – almost all is minimalistic and concise. No clutter anywhere! In its “Job Designer” you can read plain English sentences that tell you what your Automation does – including the crucial properties you’ve set. Very appealing.

AutoMate appears ostentatious: GUI, Admin, Actions, Help – just about anything is feature-rich and detailed. In its “Task Builder”, you can choose to read plain English sentences that tell you what your Automation does – and you can read all properties you’ve set. Very appealing too.

RoboTask has the most basic GUI of all. Its standard window is tiny, because there isn’t much to see or to set anyway. Nontheless, all is practical, functional, and very fast.

Automation Anywhere appears … … different (again): Appealing GUI, however Admin and Help file seem rather motley – and the list of Actions is about as messy as the average 16-year old’s bedroom . In its “Task Editor”, more often than not you won’t find plain English sentences – rather, it’s often glutted with what looks like code. Unappealing.


7) Ease of Use

Ease of use of modern Automation SystemsIn AutoMate, opening new windows is necessary and response is slow. Eg you need to click an Action and open a new window just to see what an Action does – which can easily take 5 seconds depending on the complexity of the Action. Likewise, the “Task Builder” first needs to “initialize”, each time before it opens – which can easily make you wait a further 10 seconds. – The idea you just had, it may well be gone by the time you can start to drag and drop Actions into place!

In addition, in AutoMate, Variables are neither being created and deleted dynamically, nor does the “Create Variable” Action use sensible default naming for the Variables that you create. Further time is wasted finding simple errors, since AutoMate cannot detect any errors in its “Task Builder” during the design of an Automation – although its Debugger can help you to find errors. – Some or all of these points appear to be a direct consequence of the technical architecture of AutoMate.

In Automation Anywhere, opening new windows is necessary but response is immediate. Eg you need to click an Action and open a new window in order to see what exactly the Action will do (and you can’t even see where the Action will be dropped – it will be dropped below). Nonetheless, there’s no queuing necessary, you’re being served instantly (except when you set properties). – The idea you just had, it should still be there!

In addition, in Automation Anywhere, Variables are neither being created and deleted dynamically, nor does the “Variable Manager” provide any names for Variables at all. As with AutoMate, context-sensitivity seems non-existent, and Variable management is certainly not automated (which one would expect from an Automation System)! Likewise, Automation Anywhere cannot detect any errors in its “Task Editor” during the design of an Automation – which is even worsened by the fact that no Debugger is on offer!

Similarly in RoboTask: Opening new windows is necessary, however response is the fastest of all. The user interface is the most basic of all, but effective. The “Task Editor” shows only minimal information about the Actions in your Automation – rather keywords than sentences. Standard Windows cursor buttons don’t work here – you need to click the buttons provided for everything you do.

In addition, in RoboTask, Variables are neither being created and deleted dynamically, nor does the “Create Variable” Action use sensible default naming for the Variables that you create. Automatic error detection and a Debugger do not exist either. Thankfully however, the help is context-sensitive, so you can always open up some help documentation that actually relates to the Action you are working on – something the 30-times more expensive AutoMate cannot even offer!

In WinAutomation, hovering is enough and response is immediate. Eg you see immediately what an Action does when you hover over it. Likewise, the “Job Designer” opens immediately when you click an Action or an existing Automation. – The idea you just had is still there, and you can start to drag and drop Actions into place. – Nice!

In addition, in WinAutomation, Variables are being created and deleted dynamically, and they automatically get sensible default names that facilitate understanding what the Action does! Further time is saved thanks to WinAutomation being able to detect oversights and various “logical” errors instantly during the design of an Automation – Actions, properties, and exception handling that just don’t make sense at that point within the Automation. – Now that I call automatic – nice!


8) Language

Can the Automation System Providers speak plain English?WinAutomation‘s language is plain English throughout, not just in the Help file. No jargon, no code. While this will clearly appeal to the ordinary computer user, most IT experts are likely to be frustrated by the lack of technical detail. For example, in the Help documentation: “Number: This is the data type of a variable that holds a number”, and “The Numeric data type now holds larger values with more precision” – all well, but how much precision please?!?

AutoMate‘s language, especially in the Help documentation, is so technical that it is likely to frighten away most ordinary computer users. In fact, the Help file appears to have been written by IT experts for IT experts. Also, AutoMate still frequently uses the words “macros”, “modules”, and “code”, and even displays the code – which appears somewhat archaic for a modern Automation Software System – but again reflects its primary user group.

Nonetheless, in many instances the greater detail of AutoMate will be welcomed by some ordinary computer users too. For example, it has not just one number data type but five, and it clearly says how many bits each of them is using, eg: “Double: A 64 bit real value”. – This should allow any truly interested party to find out the degree of precision of any calculation performed.

Automation Anywhere‘s language is plain English throughout, and they like to spell out what to do by using 1, 2, 3 (etc) – which should make it easy for everyone including a child. However, as with WinAutomation, the Help documentation doesn’t go into detail. In fact, Automation Anywhere‘s Help file doesn’t go any further than skin-deep – which still seems to be a lot of information since there’s no context-sensitive Help beforehand. While the Help documentation is entirely free of code, Automation Anywhere‘s “Task Editor” (where you’ll spend most of your time) often looks as if it’s rather full of it.

RoboTask‘s language can be called “technical English” – about in the middle between the highly complicated AutoMate and the very easy WinAutomation language. However, RoboTask is the only top Automation System where English clearly is not the everyday language of the software makers: The English errors in half of all sentences can become nerve-racking when you sift many pages of help documentation.


9) Learning curve
Learning curve of modern Automation Systems
This is a crucial point, isn’t it? After all, we’re all short of time, and we don’t want to waste our time trying to figure out what a certain software component can do – or why it doesn’t do what we want!

WinAutomation‘s learning curve is flat like a pancake. WinAutomation is so simple and context-sensitive (and the Help documentation so “needless”) that an afternoon is enough to design an Automation of 100+ Actions that does a massive amount of what you want (at least I did).

RoboTask‘s learning curve is fairly flat too. The Actions are well documented, which helps to design quick Automations. What makes using RoboTask more demanding though is the lack of a Debugger: Without the functionality of a Debugger as WinAutomation offers it, it takes of course more time to design demanding Automations using RoboTask. The lack of Action-level Exception Handling and lack of automatic error detection in the “Task Editor” are additional drawbacks.

AutoMate‘s learning curve is very steep. AutoMate is so feature-rich (and so complex and technical in its Help documentation) that you can spend days, if not weeks, before you get the hang of it to design an Automation of 100+ Actions (even for me, although I am somewhat “used” to design Automations).

Automation Anywhere: starts flat – and keeps that way for as long as you confine yourself to automate only what Automation Anywhere‘s software designers thought of – and hence have provided as preconfigured solutions. However, don’t embark on trying to automate other things too (any other thing) – you’ll be quickly so frustrated that your “learning curve” is the last thing you worry about.


10) Predefined Actions

Actions of Automation Systems

Automation Anywhere‘s functionality (in its Premier edition) is spread across 174 Actions – not 380 as their Marketing claims (see Boasting with built-in Actions)! – However, at least 91 of those Actions could have been avoided (had the company wanted) since they could more sensibly be integrated into other existing Actions (as competitors have done). This leaves just 83 genuinely different Actions with functionality that is related!

RoboTask‘s functionality is spread across 132 Actions – and their marketing isn’t in the business of boasting as AutoMate and Automation Anywhere are. However, at least 34 of those Actions are unnecessary in the way that they could more sensibly be integrated into other existing Actions (as competitors have done). This leaves 98 genuinely different Actions with functionality that is related.

WinAutomation‘s functionality is spread across 182 Actions – not 130 as their Marketing still understates. However, at least 71 of those Actions are unnecessary in the way that they could more sensibly be integrated into other existing Actions (as competitors have done). This leaves 111 genuinely different Actions with functionality that is related.

AutoMate‘s functionality (in its Professional edition) is spread across 210 Actions – not 250 as their Marketing claims (see Boasting with built-in Actions)! However, at least 48 of those Actions are unnecessary in the way that they could more sensibly be integrated into other existing Actions (as competitors have done). This leaves 162 genuinely different Actions with functionality that is related.

The greater variety of different Actions in AutoMate primarily results from having the following Action Groups too: Active Directory, XML, Cryptography, Network, Multimedia, Timer, and “Advanced”. Most Actions within these Action Groups WinAutomation, RoboTask, and Automation Anywhere simply don’t have built-in.


+1) The extra point to note!

It can’t be said often enough, and here’s the first time: Do not be put off if in our subsequent review tables an Automation System doesn’t have a specific feature that you find appealing. In most cases it is rather easy to replicate that feature if you utilize the Automation System the right way!

No Automation System will offer everything built in as you desire. But don’t worry. Once you have a bit experience, you’ll see that often a few Actions put together the right way is all you need in order to replicate or emulate the feature you desire (there we said it the second time). Conversely, with Automation Tools you cannot normally do this.

Now off to the races: See Automation Software Systems – what really matters, and then see our comparison table of the top Automation Systems and our Actions comparison table of the top Automation Systems!

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