Creating Your First Activity Call


As already mentioned in previous steps of this tutorial, you create an automated Process by executing a series of Activities. We also learned that an Activity supports Input and Output Parameters to control how an Activity executes. Later, you will also learn about Activities that need you to identify which element of a user interface you need to act upon.

When we add an Activity to our Process, what we are really adding is a call to an Activity with a set of Instructions (i.e. parameters, target element) that are to be used when executing the Activity. In AutoBloks, we refer to this as an Activity Call.

In other words, an Activity defines some action that can be done, and an Activity Call is a reference to an Activity with Instructions for how it should be executed.

Create a New Process

To organize our Activity Calls, we must create a Process. With AutoBloks open:

  1. Select File on the Ribbon Command Bar. This will open the Backstage Menu with a list of commands on the left edge.
  2. Select the Home tab if it is not already selected.
  3. Select the New Process button. The Backstage Menu will close and the new Process will open.

After executing the command, a blank Process will be opened and displayed as a new Document Window as highlighted below:

AutoBloks Screenshot Blank Process

Creating an Activity Call

With a Process open, you can now add an Activity Call. We want to open the Google Search home page, so we need to use the Navigate to URL Activity.

  1. In the Activities Tool Window, locate and expand the Web category.
  2. Select the Navigate to URL Activity. The description of this Activity will now be displayed at the bottom of the Tool Window so that you can confirm the action performed by the Activity.
  3. Click and the Navigate to URL Activity, drag it to the empty Activity Calls list at the top of the Process document, and then release the mouse to drop the Activity.

AutoBloks Screenshot Animating the Drag-and-Drop of an Activity

The following screen shows the result of adding the Activity Call:

AutoBloks Screenshot New Activity Call Parts

From the image, you can see the Activity Calls list has been updated to reflect our new call to the Navigate to URL Activity (1). In the Activity Calls list, you will also see several columns of information. Specifically, the Input column displays the current values provided as Arguments for the Input Parameters of the Activity. Since we have yet to provide a value, the Url argument is empty (2). The red text indicates that the Parameter is required and the Argument is empty, so we must populate the Argument for the Activity to be able to execute correctly.

Parameter vs. Argument

The terms Parameter and Argument can be confusing because they appear to refer the same thing. A Parameter is defined on an Activity to indicate data that can be passed to/from the Activity. An Argument is the actual value being passed by the Activity Call to a defined Parameter of the Activity. In other words, Activities define the Parameters and Activity Calls define the Arguments.

If you are still confused, don't worry. Most people don't need to know the difference, and you will be just fine if you think about Parameters and Arguments interchangeably.

Populating Arguments

When an Activity Call is selected in the list at the top of the Process Document Window, the Instructions for that Activity Call are displayed below.

AutoBloks Screenshot New Activity Call Arguments

  1. Select the Arguments tab. This is where you populate the Arguments for Input and Output Parameters.
  2. Notice that below the Url Argument is a brief description describing the purpose of the Parameter. If you are unclear about a parameter based on name alone, this description can provide useful information.
  3. For the Url argument, set the value to
  4. Notice that after you populate the Argument, the Input column for the Activity Call is updated to reflect the new value without the red text.

Save the Process

Now that you have created your first Activity Call, it is time to save your Process.

  1. Select File on the Ribbon Command Bar. This will open the Backstage Menu with a list of commands on the left edge.
  2. Select Save As. The Backstage Menu will close and the Save As dialog will be displayed.
  3. Chose a location for your process (e.g. C:\Users\<name>\Documents\AutoBloks) and name your process Tutorial1. Click the Save button to save your file.
AutoBloks uses the .abprocess file extension to designate Process files.