Asset Packaging for the Blue Prism Digital Exchange
This document provides information about:
- The supported package formats for asset submissions (i.e. .BPRelease, .BPSkill, .XML, .ZIP, and .MSI).
- Information about hosting an asset directly on the DX .vs an external website.
- How to address license, copyright, and trademark requirements of your company.
2. Package Types
Blue Prism, as a software platform, supports exporting assets in two different file formats:
.xml. Both formats result in an output file containing XML describing the specific process/VBO, but the .bprelease format can be used to package multiple Blue Prism components (i.e. processes, VBOs, schedules, credentials, work queue definitions, etc) together in one file.
You can export processes and VBOs directly from Process Studio or Object Studio using the following steps:
- Open the specific process/VBO in Process/Object Studio.
- Go to File | Export | This Process and step through the prompts of the Export Process wizard.
Fig 1. Process Export
NOTE: While Blue Prism allows you to export individual pages from specific processes/VBOs, it is not recommended to submit individual pages or actions to the Digital Exchange. Only complete processes or VBOs should be submitted.
As mentioned above,
.bprelease files allow you to package multiple Blue Prism assets together into a single file. However, they work just as well for single processes and VBOs. BPRelease files are the recommended package format for assets submitted to the Digital Exchange.
To package an asset as a .bprelease file, first you will create a package defintion. After you have created your package definition, you can create releases of that package definition. Releases can be thought of in terms of a traditional software release that takes the form of a major, minor, etc version (ex. v1.0, v2.0).
To create a package definition:
- In Blue Prism, go to the Releases tab.
You can either right click on the Package Overview node in the navigation tree and click New Package, or click the Hamburger button in the top right corner of the screen and select Create. Either option will open the Package Creation wizard.
Fig 2. Menu - Package Overview
Fig 3. Menu - Releases
Follow the steps of the Package Creation wizard to create a new package definition.
Now that you have created your package definition, you can begin to create releases based on that package definition. To create a new release:
- Within the Releases tab, click on the specific package definition in the package navigation tree.
Now click the New Release button on the center-right of the screen.
Fig 4. New Release
Complete the prompts within the New Release wizard.
NOTE: When creating a release, it is recommended that you include some sort of version or date information within the name of the release so that it will be easily identifiable (ex. 'Test Solution v1.0' or 'Test Solution - 20200726').
Depending on what you are submitting to the Digital Exchange you may need to make use of a compressed or zipped archive (i.e. .zip file). This could be the case if you have a process that makes use of additional files or content external from Blue Prism. An example might be a series of Excel spreadsheets, an Access database file, etc. In situations like this it is acceptable to combine the .bprelease file containing your Blue Prism process/VBO along with the other files in a zipped archive.
Another situation where you might use a zipped archive is when you host your project files in a GtiHub repository and you want to create GitHub releases.
A final option for packaging assets would be to create a Microsoft Installer file (i.e. .msi). An MSI file is a good choice when you have additional files, libraries, or executables that are necessary to your process. Using an MSI can make the deployment much easier for the user as the MSI can be configured to place the additional files in the required file system locations and even register the files if required by the Windows O/S. However, if you do create an MSI you may need to answer additional questions from the review team when submitting your MSI to Digital Exchange.
There are various tools available, both paid and free, for creating MSI's. Below is a small sampling of various installation tools:
- Microsoft Visual Studio Installer extension
- Nullsoft Scriptable Install System (NSIS)
- Advanced Installer
- Inno Setup
NOTE: Blue Prism does not recommend a specific installation software. Choose what works best for you, your company, and your budget.
3. Asset Hosting: Digital Exchange .vs External Websites
When preparing your asset for submission, you have two options as to where the actual asset file(s) will reside. You can submit them directly to the Digital Exchange, where they will be stored and downloaded directly from the Digital Exchange. Alternatively, you can create what is known as a link-out entry on the Digital Exchange. A link-out allows you to store your files on a different web site (ex. your company web site, GitHub, etc). When users access the asset card on the Digital Exchange they will see a Link to Asset button which will connect them to your specified location for accessing the asset.
Fig 5. Link to Asset Button
Why would someone choose to host their asset on a different site? The reasons can vary, but there are two primary reasons:
- The submitting company may want to work directly with anyone interested in their asset. In this case, the end customer/partner would contact that company directly and request access to the asset. The publishing company may have specific license requirements, specific service requirements, etc that need to be discussed beforehand.
- Another reason is related to engagement with the open source development community. As an example, Blue Prism maintains a presence on GitHub where we have several projects that are available for users, partners, and independent developers to collaborate on.
When you submit your asset, you chose which asset submission type you are making. Depending on your choice, the amount of requested information will vary. Below is an example of the initial asset submission page. Notice the two options in red are submissions where the asset will reside directly on the Digital Exchange. The option, in blue, is for link-outs.
Fig 6. Asset Submission Type
NOTE: It is important to understand that by hosting your asset on an external web site you are limiting the amount of information the Digital Exchange can collect with regards to number of downloads, specific files downloaded, etc within your Digital Exchange Analytics reporting. Once a user follows a link-out, the Digital Exchange no longer has visibility into what they do with regards to your asset.
4. License, Copyright, and Trademark Notices
Many companies require the inclusion of certain license, copyright, and trademark notices in any collateral they expose for public consumption. Within Blue Prism processes and VBOs, the recommended approach for addressing this requirement is to include a
Note stage on the main page of your process/VBO, and set the value of that Note stage to your company specific license/copyright/trademark notice. Below is an example of the notices you will encounter in Blue Prism published assets.
5. User Guide Template
The following file is a template user guide you may use when preparing your asset for submission to the DX. You are not required to use this template or its format. It is simply an example of the sort of the information you might provide to help your users understand how best to leverage your asset.