This chapter will help you to get started with ThinkAutomation as quickly as possible.
ThinkAutomation is business process automation platform designed to monitor and act on business events. Use ThinkAutomation to receive Email Messages, SMS Messages, Database Records, Twitter Feeds, Web Pages, Web Forms, RSS Feeds and other sorts of messages from multiple sources - then extract useful information from these messages to update your databases and perform multiple automated actions. Automate the processes that need to occur when your business receives incoming messages and dynamically respond to things happening on the web.
ThinkAutomation consists of two key processes:
1 - The ThinkAutomation Server Services
The ThinkAutomation Server runs as a collection of system services. These services handle the receiving and processing of messages. The services will automatically start each time your computer starts, so they will always be running in the background receiving, downloading and processing your messages.
2 - The ThinkAutomation Administrator
This program is used to configure ThinkAutomation settings. It does not need to be left running for messages to be processed. The ThinkAutomation Administrator can be run on the same computer as the ThinkAutomation Services or on remote computers. It connects to the ThinkAutomation Server via a secure HTTPS connection.
To start the ThinkAutomation Administrator select ThinkAutomation Administrator from the ThinkAutomation folder on your Start menu.
How It Works
ThinkAutomation can read messages from multiple sources (POP3 Servers, IMAP Servers, Exchange Servers, Office 365, Twitter, RSS Feeds & Web Forms). ThinkAutomation can also receive messages directly via it's own built-in mail server and receive messages from Web Pages, external database records, SMS messages and Microsoft Azure Queues.
You can create any number of 'Triggers' that are checked against these incoming messages. A Trigger is a set of conditions that ThinkAutomation will check for (for example, a specific 'from' address, or specific words in the subject line or body). If a message passes the Trigger conditions, ThinkAutomation will process a series of 'Actions' against it. These actions include the updating of a database, sending email responses, printing reports and many more.
After ThinkAutomation has processed an incoming message it stores a copy of the message in its own database (called the 'Message Store'). This provides a useful central repository of all messages, and prevents the same message from being checked and processed twice. During development of your triggers, you can reprocess messages held in the Message Store to rerun Actions against a message.
Installing & Starting ThinkAutomation
Install ThinkAutomation by running the ThinkAutomation40.exe setup program. Ensure you are logged on to your computer with full Administrator rights. ThinkAutomation requires Windows 7, 8, 10 or Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 2, 2012 (32 or 64 bit) operating systems.
When you start the ThinkAutomation Administrator for the first time the Registration Wizard will start. Run through this to register your copy. If you are evaluating ThinkAutomation and don't have a serial number, click the 'Start Your Evaluation' button to generate a temporary serial number.
When the Registration Wizard completes, the Configure Message Store wizard will start:
ThinkAutomation stores each message it processes in it's own 'Message Store'. ThinkAutomation can manage this database itself, or you can use an external SQL Server database. If you will be processing large numbers of messages, we recommend using SQL Server 2008 or higher. The best option for this is to use SQL Server 2008/2012/2014/2016 Express and install it on the same computer as ThinkAutomation itself. SQL Server Express is a free download from Microsoft.
Once the Configure Message Store wizard completes, the ThinkAutomation Administrator will start. When the Administrator first starts it automatically installs and starts the ThinkAutomation Services. These are designed to be left running at all times.
Before you can use the ThinkAutomation Administrator, you need to login. The ThinkAutomation Server entry can be left as '(local)' since we are connecting to the ThinkAutomation Server running on the local computer. The default User Name is 'Admin' with no password.
Click Connect to login to ThinkAutomation:
The File Menu
Click File tab on the Ribbon bar to display the File Menu
The Program Options button is used to define global settings. Select Mail Server Options if you want to enable the built-in mail server so that ThinkAutomation can accept messages for processing directly (as opposed to 'pulling' messages from other sources).
The Register button is used to register your serial number when you purchase ThinkAutomation. You can check for the latest product updates by clicking the Check For Updates button.
By default a 'Samples' account is created. This contains a number of sample triggers. You can open these triggers for tips on how to use ThinkAutomation. You should not add triggers to the samples account as the account is disabled and won't actually do anything.
Adding An Account
Click the Add Account button to create Message Retrieval Account. This tells ThinkAutomation how and where to read your emails (or other types of messages) from. Once you have created an Account, ThinkAutomation will read your messages from the message source and pass each message to one or more 'Triggers'. The Triggers define what conditions to apply to the incoming message. If the message matches the trigger conditions then ThinkAutomation can extract information from the message and perform database updates and other business process automation actions.