Azure Automation runbook types

The Azure Automation Process Automation feature supports several types of runbooks, as defined in the following table. To learn about the process automation environment, see Runbook execution in Azure Automation.

Type Description
Graphical Graphical runbook based on Windows PowerShell and created and edited completely in the graphical editor in Azure portal.
Graphical PowerShell Workflow Graphical runbook based on Windows PowerShell Workflow and created and edited completely in the graphical editor in Azure portal.
PowerShell Text runbook based on Windows PowerShell scripting.
PowerShell Workflow Text runbook based on Windows PowerShell Workflow scripting.
Python Text runbook based on Python scripting.

Take into account the following considerations when determining which type to use for a particular runbook.

  • You can't convert runbooks from graphical to text type, or the other way around.
  • There are limitations when using runbooks of different types as child runbooks. For more information, see Child runbooks in Azure Automation.

Graphical runbooks

You can create and edit graphical and graphical PowerShell Workflow runbooks using the graphical editor in the Azure portal. However, you can't create or edit this type of runbook with another tool. Main features of graphical runbooks:

  • Can be exported to files in your Automation account and then imported into another Automation account.
  • Generate PowerShell code.
  • Can be converted to or from graphical PowerShell Workflow runbooks during import.

Advantages

  • Use visual insert-link-configure authoring model.
  • Focus on how data flows through the process.
  • Visually represent management processes.
  • Include other runbooks as child runbooks to create high-level workflows.
  • Encourage modular programming.

Limitations

  • Can't create or edit outside the Azure portal.
  • Might require a code activity containing PowerShell code to execute complex logic.
  • Can't convert to one of the text formats, nor can you convert a text runbook to graphical format.
  • Can't view or directly edit PowerShell code that the graphical workflow creates. You can view the code you create in any code activities.
  • Can't run runbooks on a Linux Hybrid Runbook Worker. See Automate resources in your datacenter or cloud by using Hybrid Runbook Worker.

PowerShell runbooks

PowerShell runbooks are based on Windows PowerShell. You directly edit the code of the runbook using the text editor in the Azure portal. You can also use any offline text editor and import the runbook into Azure Automation.

Advantages

  • Implement all complex logic with PowerShell code without the additional complexities of PowerShell Workflow.
  • Start faster than PowerShell Workflow runbooks, since they don't need to be compiled before running.
  • Run in Azure and on Hybrid Runbook Workers for both Windows and Linux.

Limitations

  • You must be familiar with PowerShell scripting.
  • Runbooks can't use parallel processing to execute multiple actions in parallel.
  • Runbooks can't use checkpoints to resume runbook if there's an error.
  • You can include only PowerShell Workflow runbooks and graphical runbooks as child runbooks by using the Start-AzAutomationRunbook cmdlet, which creates a new job.

Known issues

The following are current known issues with PowerShell runbooks:

  • PowerShell runbooks can't retrieve an unencrypted variable asset with a null value.
  • PowerShell runbooks can't retrieve a variable asset with *~* in the name.
  • A Get-Process operation in a loop in a PowerShell runbook can crash after about 80 iterations.
  • A PowerShell runbook can fail if it tries to write a large amount of data to the output stream at once. You can typically work around this issue by having the runbook output just the information needed to work with large objects. For example, instead of using Get-Process with no limitations, you can have the cmdlet output just the required parameters as in Get-Process | Select ProcessName, CPU.

PowerShell Workflow runbooks

PowerShell Workflow runbooks are text runbooks based on Windows PowerShell Workflow. You directly edit the code of the runbook using the text editor in the Azure portal. You can also use any offline text editor and import the runbook into Azure Automation.

Advantages

  • Implement all complex logic with PowerShell Workflow code.
  • Use checkpoints to resume operation if there's an error.
  • Use parallel processing to do multiple actions in parallel.
  • Can include other graphical runbooks and PowerShell Workflow runbooks as child runbooks to create high-level workflows.

Limitations

  • You must be familiar with PowerShell Workflow.
  • Runbooks must deal with the additional complexity of PowerShell Workflow, such as deserialized objects.
  • Runbooks take longer to start than PowerShell runbooks since they must be compiled before running.
  • You can only include PowerShell runbooks as child runbooks by using the Start-AzAutomationRunbook cmdlet.
  • Runbooks can't run on a Linux Hybrid Runbook Worker.

Python runbooks

Python runbooks compile under Python 2. You can directly edit the code of the runbook using the text editor in the Azure portal. You can also use an offline text editor and import the runbook into Azure Automation.

Advantages

  • Use the robust Python libraries.
  • Can run in Azure or on Linux Hybrid Runbook Workers. Windows Hybrid Runbook Workers are supported with python2.7 installed.

Limitations

  • You must be familiar with Python scripting.
  • Only Python 2 is supported presently. Any Python 3-specific functions fail.
  • To use third-party libraries, you must import the packages into the Automation account.

Next steps