Open-source software provides cost-effective solutions as the software is often free to use and can be customized to suit business needs. Open-source software encourages collaboration and innovation among developers, resulting in faster development cycles and the creation of advanced features and functionality. Open-source software for digital process automation offers businesses a cost-effective, flexible, and collaborative solution that enhances efficiency and improves their bottom line.
What is Robotic Process Automation or RPA?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) a technique to automate repetitive tasks and free up people to do more important things and reduce labor costs and often improve accuracy.
It looks similar to recording an Excel Macro, or recording a set of steps on your desktop computer such as clicking the icon of an application to open it, click on buttons with a mouse click, type to enter data into fields etc. In other words it’s a way to setup a computer to interact with a desktop or legacy application in the way that a human would.
It’s often used to automate repetitive tasks or to work with systems that are older and may not have a reliable way to interact with it like you would in an API.
What is Attended vs. Unattended RPA?
There are two main types of RPA: attended and unattended RPA. Attended RPA is used to automate tasks that require human intervention, such as data entry or customer service. This type of RPA is designed to work alongside human operators, enhancing their productivity and enabling them to focus on more complex tasks. In contrast, unattended RPA is used to automate tasks that can be completed without human intervention, such as batch processing or report generation. This type of RPA can work around the clock and complete tasks faster and more accurately than humans, leading to significant time and cost savings.
Reasons to use Open-Source RPA Tools
Some businesses are left out of the Process Automation revolution due to the high costs of entries for some of the larger software solutions. Implementing an RPA program at your business can be very expensive but does not necessarily have to be.
The big RPA providers like UiPath, Automation Anywhere, and Blue Prism are very mature products and allow you very granular control over the automation process. The trade-off is that they can get crazy expensive fast and may only be a good fit for enterprise level customers, leaving a lot of small to mid-size companies out of the party.
The Top Open-Source RPA Tools
Here are our top picks for open-source Robotic Process Automation solutions. They come in a variety of price levels. There is typically a free tier and a cost associated with additional feature sets such as cloud hosting. The list is not comprehensive as we were not able to install or get some of the other commonly referenced solutions to run on our system. We also purposely excluded any solution that requires in depth Python or programming knowledge.
We really like Robocorp as an entry point to the Open Source RPA space. It has a decent number of features and will generate Python code on the back end that super users and automation developers can take advantage of. It’s very nice not being locked into a single ecosystem if your business needs change.
Unfortunately, there is no native support for user interface selectors. This means that there’s no easy built in way for you to select specific buttons or forms in an applications user interface. However, most of the common RPA scripting functions are available. You can add wait times and the ability to retry tasks until they are completed.
The other half of Robocorp is the control room. Automation scripts are designed in the desktop application and can be scheduled to run on an instance of Windows. When you want to centralize running of the scripts, you can schedule them to run through RoboCorp Control Room.
How much does RoboCorp cost?
RoboCorp is a very affordable entry point to Robotic Process Automation when compared to many enterprise grade RPA solutions. There are 3 pricing tiers, including a free tier that has some limitations. Large Pro and Enterprise deployments will want to work directly with their sales team for pricing.
- Free for 1 workspace up to two processes. Robot runtime is limited to 3 minutes per run and 240 run minutes are included.
- Starter: $49 per month for up to four processes. Robot runtime is not limited. 240 run time minutes are included.
- Flex: $299 per month for up to 40 processes. Robot runtime is not limited. 1,440 run minutes are included.
- Pro and Enterprise plans are also available if you contact support.
The most up to date information can be found on their pricing website here:
2.) UI.Vision RPA
UI Vision RPA is a Web Based RPA solution that’s available to try through the Google Chrome Web Store.
The Google Chrome plugin lets you automate a lot of business tasks, whether they are web based or not. Tasks are recorded in the web browser, and contain many similar functions that you would have available in a traditional desktop RPA solution.
In testing, we found that it was not the easiest software to use, but you can get started by recording the steps that you perform with your mouse and keyboard. The software will generate a script which can be used as a starting point to further refine your automation.
3.) Open RPA
Open RPA is straight out of Denmark. It’s open source, and has a graphical user interface. We had a hard time getting it to install on Windows 11 and weren’t able to give it a true test drive. Pricing seems reasonable to start out with though the dedicated processing specs are a little on the low side. We still think it’s worth checking out though as it does seem to have a decent number of features and allows you to easily highlight elements which can be very useful when identifying selectors.
You can find more on Open AI pricing here: Pricing – OPENIAP (openrpa.dk)
4.) Mouse Recorder (Old School RPA)
RPA is the big buzz word these days but prior to it being such a big deal, you could download pretty cheap or free desktop macro recorders and schedule them with Windows Scheduler or they would have their own scheduling capabilities built in.
Some of these solutions like Macro Recorder start at $80.00 for a Lifetime license. It’s worth considering if you need something simple and straightforward. There’s also the ability to install it on an old server you buy off of Ebay and schedule tasks. It’s not exactly an enterprise grade solution, but why pay for more than you need?
Check them out here: https://www.macrorecorder.com/
Tag UI (Honorable Mention)
Tag UI is based out of Singapore. They show up on a lot of top open-source RPA lists, but we only got as far as the install instructions. It seems like it’s better than running pure python scripts but might be a challenge for most business users. A lot of companies don’t allow you to access the command prompt nor should they need to for software installs these days.
You can check out their website here: TagUI – AI Singapore
Using Chat GPT to Turbocharge Free RPA
One of the significant drawbacks of free and open-source RPA solutions is that many of them will require you to have an understanding of how to write scripts, such as Python. The user interfaces can be limited and certainly do not give you the level of control that you would get in a solution such as Microsoft Power Automate or UiPath.
However, new tools such as Chat GPT make it much easier for non-programmers to write in Python and other scripting languages.
If you’re unfamiliar with Chat GPT, it is a natural language processing chat bot that can convert descriptions of a process or description of what you would like a script to do and it will generate the code for you. The results are not always entirely accurate but they are surprisingly good and can act at least as a reference or starting point for beginner programmers.
You can sign up for an account here:
If you are willing to look at paid solutions, companies like Microsoft are already building this technology into their paid RPA solution, Power Automate. While Power Automate is not free it is relatively inexpensive compared to some of the premium RPA solutions out there such as UiPath and Automation Anywhere. Learn more about Power Automate Describe it to Design it here.
Aren’t there more Open-Source RPA Solutions than the ones listed?
The short answer is yes. This list purposely left off a lot of tools that require a depth of Python programming knowledge to take advantage of most of their functionality. The benefit of modern RPA tools is that they should be easy and approachable to use for non-developers and allow business process owners to take advantage of them. For truly enterprise grade applications where millions or billions of dollars are on the line there are much more expensive, and feature rich options available where developers specialize in building redundancy and failure handling into their automations after significant amounts of testing.
Free RPA Software for Non-Commercial Use
Most of the large Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software providers offer free to use Community Editions. These are not open-source but they are interesting resources to see what you’re able to get for your money.
There can be large differences in costs associated with different feature sets along with whether you want to deploy attended or unattended solutions.
- UiPath – sign up for the UiPath Cloud to access a Download link
- Automation Anywhere – sign up for the community edition Here
- Power Automate Desktop – Free for Attended Users. Download here
These providers also offer 90-day free trials of their software, but you will need to go through their sales process to get setup.
Selectors can be a hassle for Open-Source Robotic Process Automation Tools
One feature that is hit or miss for open-source products is the ability to easily choose selectors. Selectors are the secret sauce to RPA in a lot of cases. They’re the user interface elements that we as humans take for granted. It’s obvious to click the X in the top right of a Windows screen to close an app for example. Though figuring out how to point a bot there can be a struggle depending on how well the software was written.
Pro Tip to Make Selectors Easy
If you have the ability to run RPA on a machine that is going to be a constant screen resolution, you can usually define the XY coordinates of where to click. It’s much easier than pointing to a hierarchy of user interface elements.