Control runbook activities

Important

This version of Orchestrator has reached the end of support, we recommend you to upgrade to Orchestrator 2019.

You set the sequence of operations in runbooks by linking activities together in the Runbook Designer. These links are known as "smart links" because you can configure them to control the type of data passed from one activity to another. You can also control when the runbook completes activities by setting the logic for when those operations run with embedded loops. Finally, you can use text and numerical operations to manipulate data as it passes between activities, or to set conditions for the order of operations. This topic describes how to control sequencing and manipulate data within your runbook.

The activities in your runbook will complete according to the order you set by linking them together. You can control the data that flows between the activities by using the Include and Exclude tabs of the Link Properties. For example, you could only include data to be passed to the subsequent activity that meets a particular criteria.

Important

The rules of the smart link Exclude tab supersede the rules on the smart link Include tab.

Important

The rules on each tab are joined by using an or condition. Only one of the conditions defined on a tab must be true for the condition to be true.

The type of data published by an activity determines the type of criteria you can set for controlling the runbook sequence. Some activities publish binary data, and others publish numeric, or text data.

If the published data is text data you can use any of the following to set the criteria for execution, inclusion or exclusion.

Condition Description
contains The specified text appears somewhere in the value of the Published Data item.
does not contain The specified text does not appear somewhere in the value of the Published Data item.
starts with The value of the Published Data item starts with the specified text.
ends with The value of the Published Data item ends with the specified text.
matches pattern The value of the Published Data item matches the specific regular expression.
does not match pattern The value of the Published Data item matches the specific regular expression.
equals The value of the Published Data item exactly matches the specified text.
does not equal The value of the Published Data item does not match the specified text.

Note

Text values are not case-sensitive.

You can also set criteria using regular expressions to perform pattern matching.

If the published data is numerical you can use any of the following to set the criteria for execution, inclusion or exclusion.

Condition Description
equals The value of the Published Data item is exactly equal to the specified value.
does not equal The value of the Published Data item does not equal the specified value.
is less then The value of the Published Data item is less than the specified value.
is greater then The value of the Published Data item is greater than the specified value.
is less than or equal to The value of the Published Data item is less than or equal to the specified value.
is greater than or equal to The value of the Published Data item is greater than or equal to the specified value.
is between The value of the Published Data item is between two specified values.
  1. Right-click a smart link to select Properties to open the Link Properties dialog box.

    Important

    To change the values that make up the rule, you have to select each underlined portion of the smart link condition.

  2. Click the listed activity in the condition to open the Published Data dialog box.

  3. Select the Show common Returned Data box to display properties that are common to all activities.

  4. Select a property from the Published Data and click OK. The criteria expression is changed depending on the type of data that the property returns.

  5. To change the different parts of the expression, select the underlined text, and then either select or type in an appropriate value.

  6. Click Finish.

  1. In the Link Properties dialog box, click either the Include tab or Exclude tab.

  2. To select the condition that you want to remove, click to the right of the link condition on the word or, and then click Remove.

  3. Click Finish.

Repeat activities with embedded loops

By using loops, you can build automatic retries and monitor at any location in a runbook.

You can create a loop for any activity so that you can retry operations if they fail or test the output information of the activity for valid data. You can also use these mechanisms to build wait conditions into your workflows.

When you configure a loop for an activity, it will continue to run with the same input data until a desired exit looping criteria is reached. You build the exit criteria for the loop in a similar way as smart link configurations. You can use any published data item from the activity as part of the exit or do not exit configuration. Included in the common published data are special data items such as Loop: Number of attempts and Loop: Total duration that let you use information from the loop itself in the looping conditions.

Loops run one time for each incoming piece of data that is passed to the activity. For example, consider a runbook that uses a Query Database activity followed by Append Line. If the Query Database activity returned three rows, the Append Line activity would run three times. If you have a loop on the Append Line activity, it would run three separate loops. After the first data item has looped through the Append Line activity, the next item goes through Append Line and loops until it exits, and then the third begins. After all three items have been processed, the next activity in the runbook runs.

To configure looping

  1. Right-click an activity in the runbook to select Looping. The Looping Properties dialog box opens.

  2. On the General tab, click Enable.

  3. In the Delay between attempts box, type the number of seconds to pause between each attempt to run the activity.

Exit and Do Not Exit Conditions

The rules on the Exit tab specify the conditions that determine whether the loop exits. The rules on the Do Not Exit tab specify the conditions that cause the loop to continue.

Important

The rules on the Do Not Exit tab supersede the rules on the Exit tab.

The rules within each tab are joined by using an Or condition. Only one of the conditions on a tab must be true for the entire tab to be true.

Use the following procedure to add or remove an Exit condition.

To add an exit condition

  1. In the Looping Properties dialog box, click either the Exit tab or Do Not Exit tab, and then select the condition listed in the box, or click Add to add a condition.

    Important

    To change the values that make up the rule, you have to select each underlined portion of the link condition.

  2. Click the listed activity in the condition to open the Published Data dialog box.

  3. Check the Show common Returned Data box to display properties that are common to all activities.

  4. Select a property from the published data, and then click OK. The criteria expression is changed depending on the type of data that the property returns.

  5. To change the different parts of the expression, select the underlined text and either select or type in an appropriate value.

  6. Click Finish.

To remove an exit condition

  1. In the Looping Properties dialog box, click either the Exit tab or the Do Not Exit tab.

  2. To select the condition you want to remove, click Or to the right of the link condition, and then click Remove.

  3. Click Finish.

Set a schedule for a runbook

You can set a schedule to control when a runbook runs. For example, there are times when it is inappropriate to run some runbooks, such as backing up a runbook on a main server during regular business hours. You can create a schedule that runs according to a complex interval, such as the first and third Mondays and Thursdays of every month, except when these days fall on a holiday.

Schedules use the system clock of the Runbook server that runs the runbook. This enables schedules to function in virtual machine environments, and to continue running even when the system clock is adjusted because of the move to or from daylight savings time.

Runbooks that start before a prohibited time run until finished, even if they are still processing when the prohibited time arrives. They will not be interrupted after processing has started.

Important

The access permissions for schedules can be modified, but the runbook server does not enforce these permissions.

Note

If you schedule a runbook to start during an hour that is skipped when the system clock is adjusted forward by one hour, that starting time is skipped, and the runbook starts at the next scheduled time. If you schedule a runbook to start during an hour that occurs two times because the system clock is adjusted backward by one hour, the runbook starts two times.

Note

Orchestrator does not support moving multiple schedules with multiple-selection. To move more than one schedule to another folder, you must move each schedule individually.

To create a schedule

  1. In the Connections pane, right-click the Schedules folder or a subfolder of the Schedules folder, point to New, and then click Schedule to open the New Schedule dialog box.

  2. On the General tab, in the Name box, type a name for the schedule.

  3. In the Description box, type a description that describes or explains the purpose of the schedule.

  4. Click the Details tab. Select the days that this schedule allows runbooks to run:

    Days of week: Select this option and select the days of the week when this schedule allows runbooks to run.

    Occurrence: Select the weeks of the month when the schedule allows runbooks to run.

    Days of month: Select this option and select the days of the month when this schedule allows runbooks to run. Specify the days of the month by entering the number of the day. You can use hyphens to describe ranges and commas to separate entries. For example, typing 1,3 includes the first and third day of the month. Typing 1-21 includes the first through to the twenty-first day of the month. You can combine both to create complex descriptions of the days of the month. Type all to specify all days of the month. Type last to specify the last day of the month.

    You cannot use all and last as part of a range of days. Additionally, if you typed a range of 5-31, this range works correctly for all months, including those with 28, 29, 30, and 31 days.

  5. Click Hours to open the Schedule Hours dialog box.

  6. Click and drag to select a group of hours in a week. The text at the bottom of the dialog box shows the time period that you selected. Then select one of the following:

    Permit (blue): assigns the time period that you selected as a time when runbooks are allowed to run.

    Denied (white): assign the time period that you selected as a time when runbooks are not allowed to run.

  7. Click OK.

  8. Click the Exceptions tab. The list displays all the days that are exceptions to the rules defined in the Details tab.

  9. Click Add to open the Date dialog box.

  10. Specify the date and select Allow or Disallow to allow or not allow the runbook to run on that day, and then click OK. The entry appears in the list.

  11. To modify an Exception entry, select it, and then click Modify. To remove the Exception entry, select it, and then click Remove.

  12. To modify a schedule, double-click the Schedule.

  13. To remove a schedule, right-click the Schedule, and then select Delete.

  14. Click Finish.

To assign a schedule to a runbook

  1. Right-click the runbook tab, and then click Properties to open the Runbook Properties dialog box.

  2. On the General tab, click the ellipsis (...) button to open the Select a Schedule dialog box.

  3. Select the schedule that you want to apply to the runbook, and then click OK.

  4. Click Finish.

    Every time the runbook is started, it checks the schedule to verify that it is allowed to run. If it is not allowed to run, it stops and does not restart until the next time it is started.

To remove a schedule from a runbook

  1. Right-click the runbook tab, and then click Properties to open the Runbook Properties dialog box.

  2. On the General tab, click the ellipsis (...) button to open the Select a Schedule dialog box.

  3. Do not select a schedule. Click OK.

  4. Click Finish. The schedule is removed from the runbook.

Manipulate data with functions

You may need to manipulate string data from text files, returned data, or other sources, and convert it into a usable form for your runbook activities. In addition, you can perform simple arithmetic operations, such as calculating sums and differences, and performing division and multiplication operations. For example, you can extract text from a text file by using a Text File Management activity, trim leading and trailing spaces from the text, and then retrieve specific parts of the text that you can pass to other activities as returned data items.

You manipulate data in the runbook by inserting a function. Data manipulation functions must be enclosed in square brackets ('[' and ']'). For example:

[Upper('this will be inserted in upper case')]

When the activity runs, the text 'this will be inserted in uppercase' in the example is replaced with 'THIS WILL BE INSERTED IN UPPERCASE'.

Functions are case-sensitive. For example, Upper('Text') will be processed, but upper('Text') will not.

The table below lists the functions supported for runbooks.

Function and Definition Usage Parameters Example
Upper - converts text to uppercase. Upper('Text') Text - the text that is being converted to uppercase. Upper('this will be converted to uppercase') returns 'THIS WILL BE CONVERTED TO UPPERCASE'
Lower - converts text to lowercase. Lower('Text') Text - the text that is being converted to lowercase. Lower('This Will Be Converted To Lowercase') returns 'this will be converted to lowercase'
Field - returns text in a specific position. Field('Text', 'Delimiter', Field Number) Text - the text that is being searched.

Delimiter - the character that separates each field.

Field Number - the position of the field that is being returned (starting at 1).
Field('John;Smith;9055552211', ';', 2) returns 'Smith'
Sum - returns the sum of a set of numbers. Sum(firstNumber, secondNumber, thirdNumber, ...) Number - the number that is being added. You can put any set of numbers, each separated by a comma (,). Sum(2,3,4,5) returns '14'
Diff - returns the difference of two numbers. Diff(Number1, Number2, <Precision>) Number1 - the number that will be subtracted from.

Number2 - the number that will be subtracted from Number1.

Precision <Optional> - the number of decimal places that the result will be rounded to.
Diff(9, 7) returns '2'

Diff(9.3, 2.1, 2) returns '7.20'
Mult - returns the product of a set of numbers. Mult(firstNumber, secondNumber, thirdNumber, ...) Number - the number being multiplied. You can put any set of numbers, each separated by a comma (,). Mult(2, 3, 4) returns '24'
Div - returns the quotient of two numbers. Div(Number1, Number2, <Precision>) Number1 - the number that will be divided.

Number2 - the number that will divide Number1.

Precision <Optional> - the number of decimal places that the result will be rounded to.
Div(8, 4) returns '2'

Div(9, 2, 2) returns '4.50'
Instr - returns the position of first occurrence of text within another text. Instr ('SearchText', 'TextToFind') SearchText - the text that is being searched.

TextToFind - the text that you are searching for.
Instr('This is a string that is searched', 'string') returns 11
Right - returns a subset of the text from the right side of the full text. Right('Text', Length) Text - the full text.

Length - the number of characters from the right side that will be returned.
Right('Take from the right', 9) returns 'the right'
Left - returns a subset of the text from the left side of the full text. Left('Text', Length) Text - the full text.

Length - the number of characters from the left side that will be returned.
Left('Take from the left', 4) returns 'Take'
Mid - returns a subset of the text from the middle of the full text. Mid('Text', Start, Length) Text - the full text.

Start - the starting position in the text where you want to begin returning characters.

Length - the number of characters starting from the Start position that will be returned.
Mid('Take from the middle', 5, 4) returns 'from'
LTrim - trims leading spaces from text. LTrim('Text') Text - the text that is being trimmed of leading spaces. LTrim(' Remove the leading spaces only. ') returns 'Remove the leading spaces only. '
RTrim - trims the trailing spaces from text. RTrim('Text') Text - the text that is being trimmed of trailing spaces. RTrim(' Remove the trailing spaces only. ') returns ' Remove the trailing spaces only.'
Trim - trims leading and trailing spaces from text. Trim('Text') Text - the text that is being trimmed. Trim(' Remove leading and trailing spaces. ') returns 'Remove leading and trailing spaces.'
Len - returns the length of text. Len('Text') Text - the text that is being measured. Len('Measure this text') returns 17

Note

Functions are case-sensitive. For example, Upper('Text') will be processed, but upper('Text') will not.

Next Steps