Thursday, February 17, 2005

Biztalk 2004 pipeline components

If you are thinking of writing a Custom BTS 2004 pipeline component . This would be my number on recommended article written by Christof

It goes ito how to promote properties from inside your pipeline ;It discusses why your component needs to be streamed and some of those nifty things; that you tend to forget and even if you have written one before I still think this is a good read.

Biztalk 2004 Partner Competency Exam Training Guide

Biztalk 2004 Partner Competency Exam Training Guide was released .
Grab it here

So my next plan should be to see if can put myself through the certification engine. I have never done this certifiaction thing . IT certification value is largely at Debate mostly due to issue with dumps. How do you feel about certifications .
I would like to hear your opinion

Mini Visual Studio

Ever waited like a minute or so for Visual studio to load up and all you wanted to do was to test out some small console code to prove a concept, I am sure most of us have . and If you have you are gonna love this Snippet compiler

That reminds me while I was working in Redmond I have seen a stripped down verson of the IDE called RASCAL . I am not able to find any link to that now

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Explaining Biztalk to your Grandma

I have heard this was apopular question at MSFT interviews "How do you sell excel to your grandmother ?" well No this blog is not about that but then this blog is about how to explain Biztalk to a Business Analyst.One who is not so comfortable with all the geeky terms that we are so used to . I recently had to do one of these myself and I had to kind of get creative with ti . So thought I would just blog about that and see how it goes
Let us first take a look at the architecture of Biztalk from The MSFT Site

To put things in perspective let us consider this Huge Shipping Port were there is lots of ships , barges coming and going . Now I am trying to draw a parallel here

The Port basically deals in containers to carry Goods and Biztalk in XML to carry data

Containers or goods could be brought in using different modes of transport
Big cargo ships , small passenger ships , By Road at times , small Boats, It does not matter how the cargo is delivered into the port , it does not change the later part of processing of the cargo . Same is true for Biztalk which has a number of transport mechanisms like FTP , HTTP, SQL , SMTP , as in the port it does not matter how the data came in what matters is their routing information or who tgat data needs to go .

For identifying the destination of the Goods , This may go through Customs , Transit Inspection and maybe finally broken down to individual goods at times and goes to a cleared warehouse from where they are dispatched based on destination . The same thing happens in the recieve pipeline stage of Biztalk . The file goes through Dissasembly , Party resolution to the SQL server Messagebox . By this time incoming XMLSchema#RootNode is promoted based on which the message is picked up Orchestrations which do some processing on them and return them back to message box .
Consider this as importing some raw material like wood and doing some value add ( make them chairs for instance )
and then on the send side pretty much the reverse happens they are prepacked assembled and encoded and send out using approporiate transports available

What I described above is a publish-subscribe model . Now you can have messages in Biztalk follow a CBR ( Content Based Routing MOdel ) . In that case tha anology is a a conatiner which reaches a port for forwarding . or a transit port , here there is no signinficant value add on the goods but you can change some fringe level properties or change the way the data is represented

There are lot of flaws in this theory but for a person who is wuite new to Biztalk this is as good as a start as any.

PS: The views expressed in these essays are those of the author, and in no way represent, nor are they endorsed by Microsoft oranyone else, as far as I know.

Boy you never know these days , this legal-mumbo jumbo

HAT and Biztalk Debugging

Biztalk Server 2004 follows a Hub-Bus hybrid model and why it is a better model is because it takes the best of each of these individual styles namely Scaling out , throughput and golden copy of data( Centralized data store ) . Every message gets tored in the messagebox . This is how Biztalk achieves Statelessness. This is one of the reason why the Debugging tool ( HAT) is like the way it is .
Although I have heard lot of people complaining about HAT and comparing them to Visual studio debugging support which are excellent many dont realise the nature of Biztalk . Unlike traditional debugging enterprise Stateless application like Biztalk being stateless in nature writes out events to a Database . and a tool like Kat is just a reporting screen of those events . ( You can do live debuggging -but only if you explicitly set it to)

Another way to get to see errors in Biztalk is to run Debugview from . Now you can write out your Debug messages using System.Debug Namespace

Biztalk 2004

It has been sometime since I started working with Biztalk and I have been thinking about blogging for quite sometime well quite a long time actually . I am not new to blogging. But I kind of thought of separating the tech stuff apart, I just wanted to get started So there.. That's it my first Post