Automate and Build a Pushbot

Get up to speed fast and learn the basics of automation and building with Pushbots. If you’re brand new to Catalytic, head over to the Getting Started with Catalytic guide. If you’re ready to start building Pushbots and automating work for your team or company, you’re in the right place!

Introduction

In this guide, you will learn how to build and automate a business process with a Pushbot— without any code. If you’re new to Catalytic, the goal is to introduce you to the basics of building Pushbots. We have a fun, no-code platform that’s great for business users; you’ll be dragging and dropping your way to automation in no time.

You will build a Pushbot that lets you generate a custom and dynamic Word document based on a template. By the end, you’ll be able to run the Pushbot, complete a task and input some preferences, then auto-populate the document based on your choices.

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This process populates a template with data collected from a task. In this example, the company name "Catalytic" and a Pushbot logo are added into the doc.

This is a great process to start with as it’s easy to build and covers a lot of Catalytic concepts—you’ll use the same drag and drop skills here to build almost anything on Catalytic.

When you’re first getting started with Catalytic, it’s helpful to take a step back and get familiar with the basics. Let’s start there!

How a Pushbot Works

All Pushbots in Catalytic are assembled together like building blocks. Each building block is an automation or manual action that’s performed. A flowchart is a great way to imagine how these blocks come together.

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Here's a simple example of a process represented as a flowchart, with 3 steps one after another.

Catalytic has over 200 actions, that work with Excel, Google Drive, PowerPoint and many other files and applications. These actions can be mixed and matched to automate work. Whatever the actions used, they can be combined together into a process automated with a Pushbot. So these 3 steps could be anything, for example:

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The same 3 step process, but showing how each step is a unique action, like "Upload PDF to Google Drive".

With Catalytic, the mundane or repetitive tasks are automated with a Pushbot, while the creative and high value work is still done by people. Catalytic helps orchestrate and coordinate that work between automation and people.

This coordination is a unique and powerful feature of Catalytic. Catalytic becomes a dashboard for interfacing with automation, where team members can integrate automation into their day to day work. One of the first things we’ll do is assign a task to a user, and then use those answers in automated tasks.

Create a Pushbot

Let’s build that process we talked about earlier—automate creating a custom and dynamic word document.

Step 1. Create a new Pushbot

We’ll start off by creating the Pushbot that will automate this process. We’ll give it a name and description, then jump in and start configuring it.

  1. From your Catalytic home screen, select Pushbots in the top navigation bar.
  2. Click the Create a Pushbot button on the top right of the screen.
  3. Set up the Pushbot as follows:
    • Name: Custom white paper
    • Description: Add a logo, company name, and select from the available templates to create a unique company white paper Great for meetings with customers
    • Leave category and owner as is.
  4. Select the Next: Configure this Pushbot button.

Here’s what this process looks like:

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The Pushbot Settings page is the command center for each Pushbot. From here, you can access all the settings, actions, and tools you need to manage a Pushbot.

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Add a manual action

Every Pushbot follows a series of steps. When you add an action to your process, it is one step the Pushbot will act out.

For our custom white paper Pushbot, each step—adding a company logo, selecting a template, updating the template—all have equivalent actions.

There are two types of actions:

  • Automated actions: Typically require no assistance, and perform steps like adding a row to a table, scanning a pdf for text, or updating a Word file automatically.
  • Manual actions: Tasks done manually by a user like you, and use your creativity and insight to support automation; like selecting the correct option, or entering in a reason for something.

Step 2: Navigate to the Build Process page to add an action

  1. From the Create a Pushbot page (may also be called Pushbot Settings), select Add an Action inside the Actions section.

Here’s what this process looks like:

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This is the build screen, where actions are added, and the process and process flow is created. On the build screen, actions are arranged in a sequence.

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The build screen, before any steps are added. Tasks are added in a checklist-style fashion.

Steps are added one after another, and can be rearranged. The step order does not change the sequence of the actions in the process, it only reorders it visually. To create the right sequence of steps, we’ll customize each action with dependencies and conditions later.

For now, treat this page like a checklist where you enter every step in the process. The first step is assigning a manual action to a user to provide some input.

Step 3: Add a manual action

A manual action is assigned to a team member, and it’s up to them to review and complete it for the automation to continue. Manual tasks often include fields for users to add files, enter in text, or make choices. This information is then added to the process and can be used later on.

There is a lot of flexibility with fields and the information they collect. Here’s an example of what a manual task looks like from the user’s perspective, and how a form field is like a question in a survey.

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Here's an example of the manual task we'll add, and how the form fields turn into survey-like questions.

Now we’ll add this manual action, and configure the fields the user fills out. We use the Assign task to a user action for this, which is one of many manual actions.

Add the manual action

  1. Select Add a step
  2. Give the action the name: Select file template and branding and hit Enter or click Add step
  3. Select Assigned to and select your username
  4. Fill in the details below:
    • Instructions: This process creates a branded file based off a template. Add a logo, select a template, and choose an addressee.

Catalytic tries to match the step name to an action in our action library based on the name. For this step, the system knows it should be an Assign task to a user action.

Here’s what this process looks like:

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In a manual task, add form fields to add questions or information in the task. This is like adding questions to an online survey. We’ll add a field called Logo or Branding, where users can upload an image for the finished white paper.

Add the first form field to the action

  1. Select Add a field under form fields, fill in the details below:
    • Name: Logo or Branding
    • Type: File
    • Description: Upload an image file with a company logo, or the image you want to embed into the document.
    • Example: .png, .jpg, or .gif file of any size
  2. Select Save

Here’s what this process looks like:

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Some processes use dozens of these fields, ranging from multiple choice, choose one, or integer fields. For now we’ll add a second field called Company name or addressee, where users supply the name the white paper is addressed to.

Add a second form field

  1. Select Add a field again, fill in the details below:
    • Name: Company name or addressee
    • Description: Enter a company name, or addressee. This is the name the file is addressed to, or is used when referring to the recipient.
    • Enable Required Field
  2. Select Save
  3. Scroll to the top of the action configuration and select Save for the action.

Here’s what this process looks like:

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This action is now fully functioning and if we ran the process as is, it would assign you a single manual task with the two form field questions we just added—but it would stop there. We can now take the data we collect and use it as an input for another action. To do that, we’ll first introduce and add Pushbot level fields.

Add a Pushbot level field

In the manual action we just added, the user supplies a logo and company name. Instead of also requiring the user to supply the word document template, we can add the word document template as a Pushbot level field where it’s available in every instance.

This concept is similar to adding a signature to your email account;

  • An email signature is included automatically in every email you send.
  • A Pushbot level field is included in every instance that’s started.

Pushbot level fields are great for any frequently referenced information used throughout each instance. You can create a Pushbot level field with text, integers, files or other data, and reference it throughout the process.

Step 4: Add the template word file

Here’s a .DOCX file you can use as the template. Basically, we’re going to take the information we collect in the Select file template and branding action you just added, and add it into those {{ }} brackets in the template file. This is called a field reference, where we reference data from an earlier field, and reuse it in another place.

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Feel free to open it up and check out what’s happening behind the scenes. Don’t change anything in the file (unless you love to break things), as we’ll use this for the rest of the build.

Add and configure the Pushbot level field

  1. From the build screen, select Pushbot Settings in the top left to return back a page.
  2. Scroll to the bottom to the Fields section. If necessary, select Edit to expand it. Then select Add a Field.
  3. Fill in the details below:
    • Display Name: Marketing Template
    • Field Reference Name: This field will populate automatically based on the display name. We’ll keep it as is.
    • Type: File
    • Default: Select this field then choose Browse Files, find the whitepapertemplate1.docx file and select save. Here’s another link to download the template just in case: whitepapertemplate1.docx
  4. Scroll to the top and select Save

Here’s what this process looks like:

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Now that a template file is added, we can add an action to populate the template. To do this, we’ll enter in some field references. A field reference is a way to reuse data in new locations.

Add an automated action

Earlier in the Pushbot, a user will enter some text in the Company name or addressee field. The text they enter can be referenced by the field’s Field reference name, which is {{company-name-or-addressee}} in this case.

A simple example is an email subject line. In one task we collect a user’s first and last name in a Full Name field (For example, “Varun Anand”), in an email task later we reference that field by the field reference name, {{full-name}}. We could write the subject line as “Hey there, {{full-name}}!”, and it would show up to the recipient as:

Hey there, Varun Anand!

If you ever enter a field reference name into another field, email, or anywhere else in Catalytic, it will substitute the reference for whatever value is in the field.

As processes get larger, there are more and more fields to reference. You can type {{ in a textbox where field references are supported to display the field reference picker. With the picker open, start typing to filter the available fields. You can use the arrow and enter keys to select from the choices, or your mouse.

Step 5: Add an action to fill out a word file template

We’ll use the Word: Create a Word Document action to create the unique white paper. We will reference the template file we added as a Pushbot level field. We’ll also add a field reference within the new file name, so every .DOCX file has a unique title, like Catalytic-08-19-2019.DOCX.

Add the first automated action

  1. Navigate back to the builder page. From the Pushbot Settings page, expand the Actions section, and select 1 step.
  2. Select Add a step
  3. Give the action the name: Fill out word template and hit Enter or click Add step
  4. Fill in the details below:
    • File template: {{marketing-template}}
    • Format: DOCX
    • New file name: {{company-name-or-addressee}} - {{run.startDate}}
    • Output field name: brandedfile
    • Under “Starts:”, select Add a Dependency
      1. Leave All must be completed as is
      2. Select Select one or more steps… then pick the first task we made, Select file template and branding.
      3. Select Select file template and branding
      4. Hit Update.
  5. Select Save at the top of the action.

Notice the unique field reference {{run.startDate}} added to the new field name. This is not a field we added to the process ourselves—it is included by default in every process. This is a globally available field, which contain unique information about each instance. Other examples are, Run Percent Complete or Run Owner Email.

Here’s what this process looks like:

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Test the process

You can test a Pushbot at any time, and by doing so regularly, you can spot and fix problems while you’re building. A lot of builders say they test their Pushbot every time they configure a new task; we recommend that!

When you test the Pushbot, you’re able to quickly and privately see how your configuration is working without making any changes or edits to the team or workplace.

Test the process so far

  1. From the top of the Pushbot settings page, select Test
  2. Select the Start button.
  3. The instance will begin, and you will redirect to it. Scroll down to see the assigned and pending tasks.
  4. Select the assigned task to complete it (it has a yellow “assigned” label on the right), and it will open up. Add any image or company name you’d like to test, then complete the task.
  5. Navigate back to the test instance using the breadcrumbs in the top left.
  6. The Fill out word template action will have already completed and may not be visible. Change the status filter to “Any Status” to see both completed tasks.

Here’s what this process looks like:

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Check every output field from a process

As well as testing a process to make sure it’s working, builders regularly check the fields page to see every output from the Pushbot. You can access this in any instance from the instance detail page.

  1. From the top of an instance page, select the top right 3 dot menu.
  2. Select Fields

Every field added manually, or output from an action is recorded on this list. This is a very useful page to review.

Here’s what this process looks like:

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Wrapping up

At this point, the process is completed and ready for use. To summarize the process flow:

  1. A manual action is assigned to the owner. In the task, the user submits a logo and company name.
  2. If the user submits a logo, the logo is resized. If no logo is added, the resize action is skipped.
  3. Whether or not the logo is resized, an automated action references the previously entered data and fills in a template word document.
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The process can now be started manually. After wrapping up the build, start an instance to make sure everything works.

Start an instance

  1. From the Pushbot Settings screen, navigate back to the Pushbot Details page using the breadcrumbs in the top left.
  2. Select Start an Instance. Leave the name, deadline, and other fields as is.
  3. The instance begins and you’re redirected to the detail page for the new instance. The first task is assigned to you, which you can access below, or from the Tasks page accessible from the top navigation bar.

Here’s what this process looks like:

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Overview of introduced topics

In this guide, we covered the following Pushbot building basics. Click any of the links below to read more about that topic.

Next steps

This process is a great starting point to now explore and add a trigger, or add an email action to send the populated template to someone. A trigger is a way to automate how your Pushbot starts. Right now, this process has to be started manually, since there’s no trigger configured.

To begin, try adding a web form trigger to the process.

Set up a web form trigger

A Web form trigger starts a Pushbot when a web form is submitted. When a web form is submitted, all entries are available as fields in the process. Web forms can also be publicly accessible, so you can loop customers, partners, or vendors into your automation.

Explore the help center’s triggers and web form triggers pages to learn more on triggers.

Right now, the process is started manually and the logo and company name is collected with a manual action. The first step is to replace the manual task with a web form so any time someone fills the form out, the image is resized, and the white paper is created. This further automates the process.

Check the help center regularly

For more information on building or working in Catalytic, use the Help Center (you’re there now) to find answers, get step-by-step instructions, or review the specifics of different Catalytic concepts.

You can always get back to help quickly anywhere in Catalytic: help is always available from the menu in the top right of any screen.

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