Introduction

Purpose of this Manual

This manual is for users and administrators who plan to deploy AFD Robot Evolution in a Windows environment. It details the installation and configuration options available.

Product Overview

AFD Robot Evolution makes using address management, bank, email, and phone validation within Windows applications easy. Once you have installed Robot, simply type the postcode into any field in a form, and Robot will automatically insert the address into the correct fields.

Robot can also validate Bank details, phone numbers and email addresses right within your application, see the section Bank Account / Card Number Validation, Phone Validation, Email Validation for more information .

Setup

We advise that Robot is installed on a single machine for testing purposes before rolling it out to your client PCs.

Please note that AFD Robot Evolution requires a connection to an AFD Postcode Evolution server. If you already have one of our desktop products installed, then you should use AFD Robot Desktop, which can be downloaded here.

Simply follow these steps to get AFD Robot Evolution setup on a single machine:

  1. Download and run the AFD Robot Evolution installer here.
  2. Once installed, the program will load by itself and then you will be able to add, remove or modify your ‘Evolution Settings’ in the Robot Configuration window.
    1. Server: Leave as default if you are licensed to use our hosted Postcode Evolution service. Alternatively point to your own installed Postcode Evolution server.
    2. Serial: Serial Number on your license certificate.
    3. Password: Password on your license certificate.
    4. Type: Type of data used (such as: Address, Bank, Email or Phone)
    5. If you are using AFD BankFinder, then this will need to be set as Bank.
    6. If you are using AFD Postcode, AFD Postcode Plus, AFD Names and Numbers, or International then this will need to be set as Address.
    7. If you are using Email Validation this will need to be set to Email
    8. If you are using Phone Validation this will need to be set to Phone

If you are using more than one product, it is recommended you have a different entry for each type, for example:

Hotkey Setup

Some Robot functionality such as Email and Phone Validation requires the use of Hotkeys. Robot also supports the use of Hot Keys for bank and address searching. Pressing the Hot Key conducts the task from your application, allowing you to enter an input string to validate.
If you are using an address-based product (such as Postcode, Postcode Plus or Names & Numbers) then by default, pressing CTRL + ALT + A will activate the Robot FastFind search. If you are using AFD BankFinder then by default, pressing CTRL + ALT + B will activate the Bank Robot FastFind search. If you are using Email Validation then by default, pressing CTRL + ALT + E will activate the Email Robot Validation. If you are using Phone Validation then by default, pressing CTRL + ALT + T will activate the Phone Robot Validation. Note that the Hot Keys will apply to all applications. You can configure other Hot Keys or change this combination to any other combination. The AFD Robot Hot Keys can be configured in the “Global Settings” Robot configuration window.
Hotkey type Type of data used
Ctrl, Alt, Shift + Combination of keys to action call
Show notification System tray notification when hotkey is activated
Evolution Setting Select the corresponding evolution setting to the Hotkey type or use default

Hotkey Setup

Some Robot functionality such as Email and Phone Validation requires the use of Hotkeys. Robot also supports the use of Hot Keys for bank and address searching. Pressing the Hot Key conducts the task from your application, allowing you to enter an input string to validate.
If you are using an address-based product (such as Postcode, Postcode Plus or Names & Numbers) then by default, pressing CTRL + ALT + A will activate the Robot FastFind search. If you are using AFD BankFinder then by default, pressing CTRL + ALT + B will activate the Bank Robot FastFind search. If you are using Email Validation then by default, pressing CTRL + ALT + E will activate the Email Robot Validation. If you are using Phone Validation then by default, pressing CTRL + ALT + T will activate the Phone Robot Validation. Note that the Hot Keys will apply to all applications. You can configure other Hot Keys or change this combination to any other combination. The AFD Robot Hot Keys can be configured in the “Global Settings” Robot configuration window.
Hotkey type Type of data used
Ctrl, Alt, Shift + Combination of keys to action call
Show notification System tray notification when hotkey is activated
Evolution Setting Select the corresponding evolution setting to the Hotkey type or use default

Email Validation specific Hotkey settings

Email validation can be done at different levels – this can be set in the “task” section when you select an Email Validation hotkey type. The default is “Live” as this is our most comprehensive and recommended task.

Full – Validates email format and domain.

Live – Our most comprehensive check, validating email format, top-level domain, and server response for the full email address.

Top Level Domain – Validates email format is correct and the top-level domain exists.

Format – Validates if the email address format is correct only.

Local – Validate email format, top-level domain and for well-known domains conduct additional checks of the local portion of the address.

Using AFD Robot Evolution

Address Entry

To use Robot, type a postcode into your application. Robot will detect the postcode and a dialog box will pop up displaying a list of matched addresses:
To insert an address into your application, you can either click the “Insert” button or double click the desired address. Robot will detect your application’s fields and insert the address. See “Customising How Robot Inserts” below if you wish to adjust how Robot inserts the address. If the address you were looking for was not found (for example, the postcode entered was incorrect) then the “Find” box at the top can be used to enter a different postcode or you can perform a FastFind search, for example “Commercial Street, Birmingham”. If you have looked up a Postcode previously, you can click the arrow on the right of the find box, to see your lookup history. If you do not wish to insert the address, press the ‘X’ at the top right of the form or press the “Esc” key on your keyboard to close the Robot address window. To avoid having to select the desired address from the list, you can enter a property number before the postcode into your application. For example, “274, B11 1AA” will automatically insert the matched address into your application without showing the dialog.

Bank Account / Card Number Validation

You can type a sort code and account number, or a debit/credit card number into an input field in an application and Robot will detect if that number is valid and inform you of the result. This helps cut down on errors, as you can follow-up incorrect numbers at the point of entry. Bank Account and Card number validation will also work in Classic Mode applications.

You will be required to set a hot key to use this functionality. (Please refer to Hotkey Setup.)

If you are using AFD BankFinder then by default, pressing CTRL + ALT + B will activate the Bank Robot FastFind search.

Note that correct validation of a number does not guarantee that the account or card actually exists or has sufficient funds to clear a transaction, it verifies that the number is in the correct format.

Phone Validation

You can type in multiple phone numbers into defined input fields within an application and Robot will detect if those numbers are valid and inform you of the result. This helps cut down on errors, as you can follow-up incorrect phone numbers at the point of entry. Phone validation will work in Classic Mode applications validating the most recent keystrokes entered only.

You will be required to set a hot key to use this functionality. (Please refer to Hotkey Setup.)

We recommend you use Phone Validation in Fields Mode where possible, see Customising How Robot Inserts.

Once happy with your settings, you can simply enter the form data then press your hotkey to trigger validation. You will receive a pop-up box with a message showing you whether the phone number is valid.

Email Validation

You can type an email address into your application and Robot will detect if it is valid or not. You will need to set a hot key to use this functionality. Please refer to the Hot Key Support for Reverse Searching section of this manual. This helps cut down on errors, as you can then follow-up an incorrect email address at the point of entry. Take note that Email Validation will also work in Classic Mode applications.

You will be required to set a hot key to use this functionality. (Please refer to Hotkey Setup.)

We recommend you use Email Validation in Fields Mode where possible, see Customising How Robot Inserts.

Once happy with your settings, you can simply enter the form data then press your hotkey to trigger validation on all fields that have been set as an email field. You will receive a pop-up box with a message showing you whether the email number is valid. In addition to the validation message, you will see further information regarding your inputted email.

A simple mistake in typing an email address makes it impossible for an email to reach the right recipient.

Email Responses

  • No Email Address Entered
  • Format Verified
  • Domain and Format Verified
  • Format Verified, Unable to make DNS Request
  • Format Correct, Unable to Open Connection
  • Format Correct, Mail Server Refused Connection
  • Format Correct, Mail Server Timeout
  • Format Correct, Mail Server Refused Server
  • Format Correct, Mail Server Refused Sender
  • Format Correct, Mail Server Refused IP
  • Format Correct, Mail Server Temporarily Unavailable
  • Format Correct, Mail Server Invalid
  • Email Address Live Verified
  • Email Address Verified
  • Format Invalid
  • Unknown Top-Level Domain
  • Domain-Specific Format Invalid
  • Invalid Email, Mail Server Not Found
  • Mail Server Rejected Email Address

Additional Functionality for Email

LocalChecked

Indicates if the local part of the address has been checked (1) or not (0).

AcceptsAll

Indicates if the actual address is verified if applicable (0) or if it accepts all emails (1).

FormVerified

This helps add confidence for corporate email addresses where the server accepts all fields or refused the validation request. It attempts to verify if the format is in-line with those used.

ValueDescription 
PresentThe email address is present on the website – therefore as good as a live validation. In this case, we will also update the other values to reflect this and give a full positive response. 
FormatThe email address is in the format of those present on the website (e.g., if other emails are firstname.lastname@afd.co.uk this will return “true” for others in the same format). 
FailThe email address differs from other formats found. 
(blank)This field is blank if the check is unnecessary (e.g., full live verification occurred), or not possible (e.g., there is no website configured for the domain or none or too few email addresses found to verify). 

Note: This is only done on email addresses that AcceptsAll=1.

Spelling

Indicates if there is a spelling error detected.

NonStandard

Indicates if non-standard characters are present
Example email address: john!??{@afd.co.uk.
Note: This is only for valid email addresses.

Reachable

Indicates if the mail server is reachable.

Dummy

Indicates if the address is likely to be a dummy/test email address.

Throwaway

These are known domains that allow accounts to be created that self-destruct after a certain time, intended for sign-ups, etc.

Generic

Indicates if the address is a known generic email.
Example email addresses: support@afd.co.uk, accounts@afd.co.uk, etc.

Customising How Robot Inserts

To customise how Robot inserts, click the “Options” button after entering a postcode in your application or you can simply right click the Robot system tray icon and modify your current application’s settings.

Robot Options

The Robot Options screen displays a list of available Robot fields. When this box is visible, available fields in your application will be highlighted blue. Assign the Robot field to the appropriate field in your application by dragging and dropping the Robot fields into the relevant fields in your application.
Other options provided are as follows:
  • Insert address without prompting if single resultSelecting this option will instruct Robot to automatically insert (without prompting) when it returns a single result.
  • Enable Robot for this applicationThese options allow you to enable/disable Robot for any application and to determine if addresses, account/card numbers and email validation are enabled.
  • Include Organisation with address fieldsIf using the special “Address” fields, you can choose to exclude the organisation by unchecking this option.
  • Uppercase TownThis is preferred by Royal Mail for correct labelling of envelopes.
  • Grid ApproximationIf you need to insert approximate grids into your application, then tick this option. A message box will appear to warn you that the search will be redone to include the grids.
Double-clicking on one of the blue text boxes in your application provides these options:
  • Upper CaseTo set the field in upper-case if desired
  • Multiple Lines
    If you wish to split multiple line addresses then you need to say how many lines you want to split by. Insert multiple fields into a multi-line box or text area (“Fields Mode” only. See Figure 4)
  • Prefix and PostfixPrefix and Postfix commands in “Classic Mode” to move between fields or lines.
  • Postfix Blank FieldThis is useful if one of the fields is blank, it can insert a postfix in its place. You may want it to keep the blank space (note that Remove Blank Lines will work against this option).
  • Use CoordinatesThis works in conjunction with the option to “Detect on Coordinates” from within Advanced Settings.
  • RemoveYou can also remove the field altogether if you do not wish it to be inserted.

Need Assistance

The “Need Assistance?” button will provide the option to send a request to AFD Support for help setting up your application. There is also an option to use TeamViewer, if you chose to install it during the installation process – this is only to be used if directed by AFD Support.

Advanced Settings

  • Detect on Coordinates
    If set, the application file will be detected when the current field coordinates match the application file field coordinates and the application file detection method is coordinate. The application field must be set up for ‘use coordinates’.
  • Detect on Title BarBy default, Robot recognises an application based on its contents. In cases where the content changes, this option uses the application name picked up from the Title bar instead.
  • ….and FrameThis option can be used if your application includes a tab with different frames. Robot will then detect the application name and the frame that it is using. Contact AFD Support for assistance.
  • Maximum Number of Edit ControlsIf your application contains multiple text boxes within a frame, use this to tell Robot how many text boxes will be used. Default is set to 0.
  • Default to Keystroke SimulationA minority of applications may not display the address unless physically entered using the computer keyboard. This mode forces Robot to simulate physical keyboard entry, which may help in these rare cases.
  • If a pop-up appears whilst insertingRobot will dismiss pop-ups by default to prevent interference with insertion. This option can also be changed to abort the Robot insert, or ignore the pop-up and continue.
  • Detect More ControlsIf some of the fields in your application aren’t recognised at first, this option will force Robot to perform a more thorough scan of the fields.
  • Use Fields / Classic ModeRobot will automatically use the mode that it can detect. Fields mode is used where your application has different text boxes; Classic mode is used for entry into a multi-line text area, such as Notepad.

Global Settings

In “Global Settings”, you can Add, Modify or Remove hotkeys. Double click the hotkey that you would like to remove. Once you lock the settings, Robot will ask you to restart Robot. Once you have restarted Robot, then the user will be limited to only the use of Robot, and will not be able to change fields, etc.

Administrators Guide

Roll Out

Other methods of roll-out

To discuss your individual circumstances and best methods of roll-out that fits within your own setup and working practices, please contact our support team for assistance.

Robot with AFD Installed Desktop product

Please speak with a member of Technical Support if you would like to use Robot with any of our installed desktop products. The compatible products are: Names & Numbers, Postcode Plus, Postcode, Plotter and BankFinder.

Robot Configuration

By running Robot.exe with the command-line parameter “-config”, you can access global configuration settings for Robot.

  • You can modify Evolution settings if required
  • You can remove any applications that have been excluded from use by Robot
  • You can configure Robot Hotkey’s
  • Lock Robot Settings – This option prevents users from saving changes to Robot configuration – useful when you have Robot setup to work the way you want it to with applications. Run robot.exe with the above parameter, and then untick “Lock Robot Settings” to unlock the settings again.  

Glossary

Classic Mode (Non-Form Based Applications)

An application that does not have fields, but uses a large text area (similar to Notepad) is known as a classic application. AFD Robot will not be able to detect any fields so will treat the application as a Classic Application; and will insert the address into a block starting from the left margin and where the cursor is.

Fields Mode (Form Based Applications)

An application that has fields is known as a Form Based Application. AFD Robot will automatically detect these fields if using “Fields Mode”.

Hot Keys

A hot key is a series of one or several keys that invoke software or an operating system operation.

TeamViewer

A proprietary computer software package for remote control, desktop sharing, online meetings, web conferencing and file transfer between computers.

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