BizTalk in the Cloud, One Step Closer

By jpsmit
December 16, 2011

We all know Microsoft is putting an enormous amount of effort in their cloud initiative called Azure. It started with compute and storage but in the mean time it has grown and more and more products are released in a cloud version before the on-premise version is released. An example is Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Since the September 2011 release of Azure the Service Bus is part of it. In the service bus we find things we know from BizTalk. The most well-known ones are Queues, Topics and Subscriptions. This so called ‘Brokered Messaging’ introduces message queuing and durable publish/subscribe messaging, which is the basis of BizTalk messaging.

Of course BizTalk is capable of a lot more, but Microsoft released today the CTP of Windows Azure Service Bus EAI and EDI. If we take a look at this release we immediately recognize the BizTalk influences in there. It is a CTP but it is showing the direction Microsoft is going.

Let’s focus on EAI for now. To install the SDK you just need a regular development machine with Windows 7/2008, .NET4 and VS2010. Download the SDK here. Installing the SDK will install some new VS templates under the section ‘ServiceBus’.

When the EAI project is created, the Solution Explorer looks like this:

And also new toolbox items are present, in which you’ll recognize the ServiceBus features Queues and Topics:

So the first step in BizTalk development would typically be to add a schema. This can be done by the regular ‘Add Item’ option in the Solution Explorer. There the first real BizTalk items show up! We all know the Maps and Schemas!

One thing that caught my eye was the extension of the mapping file, not BTM but TRFM. I can only speculate what the extension stands for.

Adding the schema is nothing new since adding XSD’s has been part of Visual Studio 2010 from the beginning.


Next step is creating a map, after adding the item another familiar screen shows up!

As well as selecting the source and destination schema. Unfortunately it isn’t possible to drag the schemas onto the mapping canvas.

And of course the toolbox is also familiar, although some items are missing, new or named differently from BizTalk.

This is definitely a preview of the new mapper as it will show up in the next version of BizTalk. Although the mapper has improved in BizTalk 2010, this one is even more advanced (and worth a blog post by itself!). For example I put the ‘If-Then-Else’ expression on the canvas:

This is really awesome!

Testing the map works quite the same way as in BizTalk, however it isn’t possible yet to generate a sample message from the schema so you need to create one yourself.

Typically you would also create artifacts like orchestrations, pipelines, etc, but they are missing in this CTP. However it won’t be a surprise that at least orchestrations will show up with WF4 in the near future.

So now we have a schema and a mapping, now what to do with it? Keep in mind that this is all Azure stuff so we need to deploy it into the cloud.

I’ll discuss these steps in my next blog post, but we’re definitely moving towards BizTalk in the cloud! Exciting stuff!

Didago IT Consultancy

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