First Look At BizTalk Server 2010 Mapper

One of the new things in BizTalk Server 2010 is the improved developer experience around mapping and transformation. This is one of the most important things developers will face in integration projects so let’s see this is all about.

If you launch Visual Studio 2010 you’ll see the familiar project templates for BizTalk.

Visual Studio 2010 template

Looking at the icons for the templates (as well as the other icons related to BizTalk development in the next image) it gives a kind of retro feeling. The icons aren’t as sophisticated at the other Visual Studio 2010 icons. It is expected to be fixed in the final version.

Visual Studio 2010 template

I created a simple project with two schemas, a map and an orchestration. The experience with the schema and orchestration is not changed, so let’s go to the mapper.

If you add a map, like current version of BizTalk, the mapping workspace is shown.

mapper

It looks quite different from what we know today, but on the other hand it is also familiar. Left and right you can select the source and destination schemas. In the middle you drag the functoids and make the transformation by linking sources nodes to destination nodes. The schema picker itself hasn’t changed. That is a pity, there is a good example in the BizTalk Software Factory on how to reduce the number of clicks that is involved in selecting schemas.

I created a simple source schema with two fields and a destination schema with one field. I added a “concatenate” functoid and connected the source and destination fields like we do today. The tooltip shows what needs to be done with this functoid.

mapper

mapper

mapper

The functoid dialog has been redesigned. The input tab looks like what we have today but is redesigned and the ‘Label and Contents’ tab is totally new. By filling this with the appropriate information, it will be easier to search on.

mapper

One of the things that developers complain about in the current mapping workspace is the lack of overview when the mapping gets bigger and more complex. In that situation it is difficult to see what input is mapped to what output and what nodes are connected to a functoid. That is much improved now.

In the next image, I first clicked on a single source node. Then the link from the source, via the functoid, to the target node is highlighted.

mapper

The image below shows the result when I click the functoid, all links from and to the functoid are highlighted. In this simple scenario this doesn’t really add value, but for more complex mappings this is very valuable.

mapper

What else is new in the mapper?

At the top of the mapping workspace there is a toolbar and in the menu section there is a BizTalk menu with which you can add pages and rename them. This is already available in the current versions of BizTalk.

mapper

The toolbar is totally new, it has some interesting options.

mapper

The first icon is a switch for the view of the source schema: default tree view or relevance tree view. In the default tree view all nodes in the schema is displayed. In the relevance tree view mode only the nodes that are linked to functoids or destination nodes are displayed. I feel like that this option only works if your mapping is larger than 4 fields.

The second icon is a switch for links between source and destination: all links or only relevant links.

The third icon is a switch for auto-scrolling of functoids, on or off. This switch makes sure that the selected functoid is always visible on the mapping workspace.

The fourth icon is a familiar hand, for switching between normal and panning mode. It allows dragging your workspace.

Then there is the zoom and search option, where you can search in source schema, destination schema and functoids.

The last icon is the same as the first, but then for the destination schema.

Conclusion: the developer experience is definitely enhanced and because this is a first look I haven’t even shown everything that is possible!

If you want to know more about the new mapper, check out these blogs:

What is new in Installing BizTalk Server 2010 Beta?

Anyone keeping an eye on the BizTalk roadmap already knows that the first beta of BizTalk Server 2010 has become available. For those who missed it, Steef-Jan Wiggers has an excellent post on it. Also the list of new things in BizTalk Server 2010 is something that described in multiple blogs, like this one.

Immediately after releasing I built a Hyper-V image with the new beta. The installation experience is quite similar to the current BizTalk versions 2006 and 2009. This post is describing the things that I noticed during installation. Not all screens of the setup and configuration are in this post, just the new things.

When you unpack the beta package, you’ll end up with 5797 files. After launching setup.exe, the familiar welcome screen is shown. Of course it is ‘2010’ everywhere.

The first thing that I noticed when walking through the setup wizard was the mandatory participation in the Customer Experience Improvement Program, but that is understandable for a beta product.

CustomerExperience

In the installation procedure you can select the components to install and another thing I noticed was that the HWS (Human Workflow Services) are dropped. This was already a hardly used feature but now it is actually gone.

CustomerExperience

I installed SharePoint Foundation 2010 before installing BizTalk Server 2010 Beta to test the SharePoint Adapter.

ComponentInstallation2

The rest of the installation is about the same as in 2006 and 2009.

Then the configuration of BizTalk Server 2010 Beta. The first noticeable thing is that the configurator seems to have problems with the SharePoint Foundation 2010 setup.

Configuration1

SharePoint Foundation 2010 is still called WSS 4.0 here, the previous name of the successor of WSS 3.0. In the installation guide for Windows Server 2008 R2 I was instructed to configure IIS in 32 –bit because otherwise I wasn’t able to run the BAM portal site.

Then, when the installation finished there was another new thing. When configuring BizTalk to run under an account with administrative rights, the Enterprise SSO also succeeds with a warning.

Configuration2

This time I used a dedicated account so that couldn’t be the case. By double clicking on the exclamation mark the error showed up. By using a basic configuration you don’t set a password for the SSO backup file. That is not a best practice so you’re warned for this.

The next configuration error was an expected one, the SharePoint adapter could not be configured because of the 32/64 bit issue.

Configuration3

My conclusion is that the installation and configuration experience hasn’t been changed a lot. Some minor enhancements are made but nothing big.

BizTalk Server 2010 Preliminary Information

Like I wrote in my previous post, BizTalk Server 2010 is coming and you’d better be prepared for it!

There is a good reason for Microsoft to call this new version of BizTalk Server not 2009 R2 but BizTalk Server 2010. It is not just that it is aligned with the 2010 versions of Office, SharePoint (Foundation), Visual Studio and will support Windows Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 R2, but it is more than that. It also supports the .NET 4.0 framework so you can start building BizTalk applications and custom components like functoids and pipeline components using .NET 4.0 framework features (BizTalk Server 2010 will support 2009/2006R2 applications as well). But there is another reason to name it 2010, implicating a major release:

BizTalk Server 2010 introduces “BizTalk + AppFabric”. This combines the rich proven features of BizTalk Server and the flexible development environment experience of .NET to allow users to easily develop simple integration applications. Since AppFabric is used to host WCF and WF applications, this will add a new dimension to BizTalk development. Some very very very preliminary documentation about this can be found here. The BizTalk + AppFabric feature allows for low latency scenarios by skipping the persistency in the message box like is the case with the current publish/subscribe mechanism in BizTalk Server.

The documentation consists mostly of installation guides which are not final yet. The most final guide so far seems to be “Installing BizTalk Server 2010 on Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2008.docx”. Although there is no installer yet to perform the actual installation, it is interesting to walk through the document.

You need to have on your machine:

  • Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 SP2, Windows Vista SP2
  • .NET Framework 4.0 and 3.5 SP1
  • IIS 7.0 / 7.5
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2007 or 2010 (must be 32-bit version)
  • Visual Studio 2010 (Professional recommended, Standard and Team System supported)
  • SQL Server 2008 SP1 or 2008 R2
  • SQL Server 2005 Notification Services
  • SharePoint Foundation 2010 or WSS 3.0 SP2 (side-by-side installation supported)

Like with the previous and current versions of BizTalk Server, a CAB file with prerequisites is (already) available for download (Win2k8R2 x64).

It looks like there are no separate components you can install, the new features are part of the setup components we already know from current versions. One thing however that we all expected: HWS is deprecated.

Documentation about BizTalk Server 2010 can be found here:

Keep in mind that this documentation is far far from final. At this moment for example the installation guide for Windows 7 and Windows Vista actually appears to be the upgrade path from BizTalk Server 2009/2006 R2. Also the document about BizTalk + AppFabric is in such a draft state that it probably will be changed the moment the first Beta will be made public.

BizTalk Server 2010 is Coming

If you’re watching BizTalk developments you probably know that a new version of BizTalk Server is coming. This version used to be called BizTalk Server 2009 R2, but to keep in line with the 2010 releases it was renamed to BizTalk Server 2010.

At the moment it is quiet, at least I couldn’t find much about this new version. Today I found some preliminary documentation that triggered me to look further. On the Microsoft Connect site, the beta and TAP site, I found a reference to BizTalk Server. You need to logon, but you can find it here. It states that the TAP program started some time ago, in December 2009. The full announcement of what is in BizTalk Server 2010 can be found here (you also need to logon for this one).

For those who don’t know yet, here a copy from that announcement.

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What’s planned for the next BizTalk release?

  • VS 2010 Support
    • Use of Visual Studio 2010 to develop application for BizTalk Server 2010
    • Projects developed in VS 2008 can be seamlessly migrated to Visual Studio 2010
  • Intelligent Mapper
    • Enhanced user interface for better visualization of maps and to support complex mappings
    • Background noise reduction using highlight propagation, auto scrolling and sibling coalescing
    • Support for search
    • Reusable parts for improved user productivity
    • Enhancements to the current functoids
  • Enhanced Trading Partner Management (TPM)
  • BizTalk Administration Console – Performance Enhancements
    • This feature aims to improve BizTalk Administration Console performance across the board by more than 60%. Key Scenarios like refresh, addition, deletion of port, enlistment of an orchestration will be optimized. Post Enhancements, the BizTalk Administration Console would be more responsive and address one of the key customer pain-points of Console performance in BizTalk 2009.
  • BizTalk Settings Dashboard
    • The BizTalk Settings Dashboard will serve as a one-stop shop for BizTalk Engine settings visualization and modification. This feature will enable BizTalk Administrators to centrally manage BizTalk Settings as admins will be able to export and import settings from one environment to another (for e.g. staging to production). The BizTalk Settings Dashboard is a step forward in consolidating all BizTalk Settings and will incorporate design extensibility to accommodate future addition of settings.
  • Improved Management Pack
    • The Improved System Center Management Pack will address key customer pain-points (e.g. high-CPU usage, duplication of discovered artifacts etc.) in the existing Management Pack. The new and improved design will also incorporate enhancement like better visualization of BizTalk Application and Platform Artifacts, Improved monitoring and diagnostics of artifacts like Orchestrations, Grouping of Alerts etc.
  • RFID OOB Event Filtering and Delivery
    • The scope for this feature covers providing a set of OOB components for Duplicate Elimination filter, EPC based filter, DWELL filter, posting events from BizTalk RFID to BizTalk Server, Posting events from BizTalk RFID to an EPCIS service and an Event Delivery framework for applications to subscribe and receive asynchronous events. These Out Of Box components address common RFID scenarios and will enable partners to focus solely on business logic hence helping accelerate BizTalk RFID solutions.
  • FTP/FTPS Adapter
    • The FTP Adapter in BizTalk is one of the most popular transport adapter in BizTalk server, used in different scenarios. In BizTalk Server 2009 R2, we provide additional features in the FTP adapter that includes the following:
      • Support for FTPS, FTP over SSL – Enables to connect to FTPS servers for transferring files securely. Both Implicit and Explicit FTPS are supported.
      • Support for read-only FTP servers – Enables configuration to pick up files from a partner FTP server which may provide only read-only permission. The adapter will ensure that each file is submitted only once to BizTalk Server.
      • Support for atomic file writing – Can be used to ensure that files are read only after they are transmitted fully to the FTP server.
      • Enhanced performance – Re-designed to increase the performance, both while sending files to as well as receiving files from FTP servers. The adapter will be more resilient to server going down.

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I also found some kind of schedule regarding the TAP program:

December 2009 – January 2010: Nominations and Selections

February 2010: Release of CTP product build for testing

April 2010: Beta 1 release

Q3 2010: RTM

According to this timetable, the TAP customers already saw a Beta 1. For the RTM we need to wait till Q3 of this year.

This is an exiting time for the BizTalk community. I also saw some other interesting preliminary documentation to which I’ll dedicate my next post.

Guide for Development with Enterprise Library 5.0

While checking the released artifacts for Enterprise Library 5.0 I found a preview version of an eBook titled “Zen and the Art of Managing Crosscutting Concerns in Enterprise Software Development”.

The eBook describes how Enterprise Library 5.0 is working and how you should use that in your projects.

The current release is dated November 12th and the table of contents shows these chapters.

  1. Meet the Librarian (Information about Enterprise Library 5.0 as a whole)
  2. Much ADO about Data Access (Using the Data Access block)
  3. Error Management Made Exceptionally Easy (Using the Exception Handling block)
  4. As Easy As Falling Off a Log (not in the preview yet)
  5. A Cache Advance for your Applications (not in the preview yet)
  6. Banishing Validation Complication (not in the preview yet)
  7. Relieving Cryptography Complexity (not in the preview yet)
  8. An Authentic Approach to Token Identity (not in the preview yet)

The preview doesn’t go any further than these chapters and while reading it, it is clear that we’re dealing with a preview. Nonetheless it looks like this is a valuable document and I hope we’ll see some final version of this book soon.

You can get the eBook here.

In the eBook there are several references to a coming dedicated eBook about Unity. I hope the plans are turned into some valuable books.