Sunday, November 11, 2007

SOA Conference 2007 Photos

Marjan has uploaded the MVP Dinner photos with the product group for those of us who were are at the conference . See the photos at the Biztalk Team blog

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Debugging BizTalk 2004 and .net 2.0

I had to debug an old project in 2004 so got one old 2004 machine but I was not able to get my visual studio to attach to the Biztalk service . The machine had .net 2.0 Framework installed .
Some googling and saw this post from Tom about problems with BAS installation and whidbey.

So on similar lines I made the followwing changes to my BTSNTSvc.exe.config

<?xml version="1.0" ?>
<requiredRuntime version="v1.1.4322"/>

and now you can attach your debugger , go ahead and debug !

Thursday, November 01, 2007

OSLO - The Microsoft SOA Road Map

OSLO - The new SOA innovation Wave
The SOA Conference in Redmond always has something that gets you excited , This time it is OSLO .
No OSLO is not another cool name for a new product . In fact I wont call OSLO one
product but a new way of thinking about having a comprehensive ( Shudder ! ) way of
MODEL driven developing and consuming web services delivered through out the stack spanning multiple products . There will be a new underlying modeling language ( XML based ) which will allow you to describe your application with support for a visual design surface
So what are the key new products which are part of the puzzle. - BizTalk Server will continue to provide foundation for distributed and highly scalable SOA and BPM solutions, - BizTalk Services ( currently Non production mode will move commercial supporting hosted applications that cross organizational boundaries. The release will have Messaging , Identity ( Federated ) and workflow. Some now call it the ISB ( Internet Service Bus) what ESB is for applications within the organization , In a Software + Services world you will need an ESB on the cloud which is the ISB .
- WCF which is already there will be further extended in .net Framework 4
- Variety of Tools in Visual Studio 10 to support this
- Service Repository
When will OSLO be ready
Oslo is getting delivered through a set of applications . I pulled this graphic from a Handout at the SOA and BPM conference which gives a good view

I am sure we will be hearing more and more about OSLO in coming months .
Two things are clear 1. ) Microsoft does do SOA ( though they did not say so before ) 2. ) Microsoft does have a very good SOA story and a clear Roadmap to look forward to ..
The future is Plug and play :-) . What do you think . Leave me a note.
Read More

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Releasing Source code for .net Framework , WCF, WPF , LINQ

Visual Studio 3.5 Release 2008 is coming with an icing on the cake . The .net framework libraries souurce code is being released under Microsoft Reference License (MS-RL).
The release will include full visual studio integeration and will intially have The .NET Base Class Libraries (System, System.IO, System.Collections, System.Configuration, System.Threading, System.Net, System.Security, System.Runtime, System.Text, etc), ASP.NET (System.Web), Windows Forms (System.Windows.Forms), ADO.NET (System.Data), XML (System.Xml), and WPF (System.Windows).

Additioanl release in months ahead will have WCF, Workflow, and LINQ !

Boy that is exciting , No more wondering what happens inside that sealed function and step right through ! Read more at ScotGu's Blog .

Friday, September 14, 2007

Custom XSLT in Biztalk Maps

Recently someone asked if you can use custom XSLT in Biztalk Maps . The answer is of course yes as the map you built .btm gets translated to an xslt anyway if yo look at the code that gets spewed out .
In any case to do that create the map and select source and destination . Click on the map and go to properties. There you will see a property custom XSLT . You can select your custom XSLT here . This feature was there since 2004 but I am not sure if it widely used though , on the flip side using custom xslt you kind of lose the graphical view on the map on what is being done , which many BI analysts like (the visual part of the transformation ) . but sometimes custom XSLT's could be the way to go .

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Microsoft BPM and SOA Conference 2007

The dates for the Microsoft SOA and BPM Conference has been announced from Oct 29 to Nov 2nd in MS Campus in Redmond , WA. I like going to the SOA and BPM Conference as it is a more targeted to the line of work I do around BizTalk server 2006 and R2 and frankly between MVP Conference and SOA conference in a year takes up 7 days which I think are well spent on my conference allocation days. Hm.. last year there was a developer Track too . Apart from Keynotes from several MS Executives and technical leaders there are Over 60 breakout and chalk talk sessions, Hand-on-labs (Bring that External Hard Drive),Customer case-study roundtables ,Ask The Experts event and Partner Expo

Check out the Conference Site

Hey this looks like a marketing post ! But I would love to meet whoever you are there . So if you will be at the conference and wants to meet up drop me a line in the comments.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Covast BBot - Supply Chain Appliance


I was reading up about the new Covast  B2B Appliance the BBot.  The idea of appliances in a box is nothing new , but I think as a B2B appliance Covast is the first to offer one that offers supply chain end points an easy way to connect to larger partners .  BBot promises  built in RFID  and SOX compliance . Since it is an appliance model meaning you get the box plug it in and you are ready to configure and tweak it to your need . This model is beneficial because as small supplier you get the leveraged benefit of a common platform without a huge IT overhead  to integrate with your larger  partner and for the large partner it  makes their larger integration efforts more easier  because  previously larger partners had a tough time convincing its suppliers to put the kind of money into integration , or work with a variety of file formats all containing same data , or build out web front ends and rolling  them out to partners.  

Bbot seems to address all these pain points with an appliance model for supply chain . I am not sure as appliances model picks up we will see lower costs for these appliances ultimately benefiting everyone.

This will be interesting to watch . Read more here

Monday, July 02, 2007

BizTalk on VM machines( Virtual Server , Vmware)

Though it is known that BizTalk Server 2006 was supported on Virtual Server 2005 . There was a silence on its support for othe VM's . It is quite hard to get some good documentation on what is Microsoft's stand on other VM's . This KB I recently saw throws more light

As per latest documentation (June 7 , 2007 ) BizTalk 2004 and 2006 is supported on Virtual Server and from a guarded silence on VMWARE now it has been clarified as commercially reasonable support . Which means as long as the issue on the virtual platform does not require a code fix as such, Microsoft would support it .

If the issue is on say VMware, and if it can be reproduced on a non VM box Microsoft would support it. I have heard from fellow MVP's that some customers have already gone and deployed BizTalk solution on VMWare as Vmware was consistent with their overall IT virtualization strategy that included non-ms applications and superior features for eg. Until Virtual Server 2007 ther was not 64 bit support which VMWare already had.

Also there does not seem any case study on customers going live on the BIZTALk + Virtualk Server platform that I have been able to find.

The full text of the KB is reproduced below


Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006 and BizTalk Server 2004 are fully supported when they are installed on a supported operating system that is running on Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. Neither BizTalk Server 2006 nor BizTalk Server 2004 may perform as expected if you have installed it on a supported operating system that is running on a virtual machine (VM) other than Virtual Server 2005. BizTalk Server 2006 and BizTalk Server 2004 have not been tested on operating systems that are running on VMs other than Virtual Server 2005.


Product support for BizTalk Server 2006 and for BizTalk Server 2004 on a VM other than Virtual Server 2005 is provided as commercially reasonable support. Commercially reasonable support is defined as all reasonable support efforts by Microsoft Customer Support Services that do not require BizTalk Server 2006 or BizTalk Server 2004 code fixes.

If you experience a problem in BizTalk Server 2006 or in BizTalk Server 2004 on a VM other than Virtual Server 2005, and the problem cannot be resolved through commercially reasonable support, the problem must be reproducible in a non-VM environment or on Virtual Server 2005 for the problem to be escalated to the BizTalk Server Product group as a bug.

If you are planning a Virtual Biztalk Installtion . Do drop me a line , I am very much interested

Monday, April 23, 2007

BizTalk Services Announced

Some time back when I blogged about the future of BizTalk I got some pretty interesting comments , at that time I felt I could not reply more as it was still under NDA . Now that it is not as of today Microsoft is announcing BizTalk in the cloud or to give the newly christened name BizTalk services

What are BizTalk Services?
These services, which have been in internal incubation for the past year, represent hosted versions of some technologies developed in the Connected Systems Division. Included in this set of services are:
o Message routing – think of this as firewall friendly B2B messaging (Available now)
o Simple publish/subscribe event brokering – Pub/Sub at Internet scale (Coming soon)
o Simple federated identity and access control (Available now)
o Workflow processes – Simple templates for cross-organization integration and the orchestration of business processes interacting with multiple services (Coming soon)

Now that these services are in external mode ( pre-alpha ) MS will now host and manage the Infrastructure on a best-efforts basis. (No SLA) . This is presently free though need not be down the road .

This move as you will probably realise is in essence with Microsofts Software + Services vision

BizTalk Services will be available via

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Morfik Patents AJAX compiler

Just saw this post at slashdot . From all I understood about reading through the whole text , It converts code written in any language to another format( Let us ignore that it is Javascript for a moment here ) and the fact that it is now becomes executable in browser . Doesn't that make it a compiler of some sort . and here I was thinking you cant patent something like a compiler unless you are essentialy demonstrating a significant application. I guess I was wrong.

Things like Google Web Toolkit was around since 2006 , But on further read the interesting note is
"This application relates to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/714,285 filed on Sep. 6, 2005 entitled SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR SYNTHESIZING OBJECT-ORIENTED CODE INTO BROWSER-SIDE JAVASCRIPT.""

Does this bring a leagal question over all AJAX based platforms ? Anyway looks like Morfil Legal team is already in action

Well I was waiting for the days when the whole Rules Editor in Biztalk would be available over AJAX like front ends for business users. Ah looks like I will need to wait a little while longer..

Friday, March 23, 2007

BizTalk or WF vs BizTalk and WF

Well it is interesting to imagine what the future of a product will be that you love very passionaltely . I am of course talking about Biztalk . Ever since WF was announced and was shipped there was a question
Is WF going to replace Biztalk .
Is R2 going to be the last release of biztalk .
What is after R2 V next . What after VNext .
I have heard V Next is going to be based on WF .

That is a lot of questions and No I am not trying to answer them nor am I making any statements . This is just some random spaghetti thoughts that I feel I need to put out of my head .
Well for one I believe BizTalk as a product is NOT going away . It is very much here and it will be here to stay .I am no way discounting the argument that WF lets you do many of the things that Biztalk does today .But my point is how easy is it for you to do something that is already available in Biztalk . BizTalk today is much more than an orchestation engine . It has a very rich adapter story . Building a workflow engine is one thing having the surround story where you can integerate that engine easily with other systems is a totaaly different ballgame . Writing an EDI adapter for your project to connect using workflow project using hand built WF vs what you can achieve with BizTalk and the EDI Adpater that ships out of the box is two different set of efforts and they are very much different . Of course when you see the 23+ adapters shipping out of the box which includes SAP , MQ , Oracle, Peoplesoft , JD Edwards to name a few it is easy to see why I feel that way . Another importnat reason is today enterprises want to make thier integeration as smooth and integerated while being very cost effective . For this they need an integerated help desk . Case in point some enterprise EDI customers who had the Covast accelerator was not happy with the covast support that they recived compared to the level of support that they get for BizTalk . Considering EDI is not going anywhere with the advent of new standards like Rosettanet and eb-XML on the contarary EDI is growing in momentum and is growing about 6% YOY . So these customers will definiely buy a more integerated suite like Biztalk and not probably build or buy external party adapters .

The next release of Biztalk after R2 code named V Next is based on .net 3.0 stack where the WF that you build in Biztlak and the Visual studio will both be the same in fact the designer could be a single one . Also with adpters moving to the new WCF Framework . One could potentially see future adapters built on WCF being consumed by Biztalk ad well as WF . So will biztalk be replaced then , in future . Probably not again becuase Biztalk also does guaranteed delivery and has a high availability model buuilt in which is scalable vertically and horizontally which is again hard to replicate . But if you are a small shop and you want to send some SAP data to your big customer . You probably can use your SAP adapter based on WCF to send data while compromising on lot of enterprise class features at a much lower cost .

Now with R2's EDI support there would be massive RFID deployment at the edge and there should be some new RFID SKU like the previous partner edition whihc wil make the Biztalk footprint much larger . I know there are other RFID early movers out there but the reason I am willing to bet on BizTalk is I remember back in the 90's every game that I used to play from Wolfenstein to Jazz Jack Rabbit you need to install the sound driver for every game . same with a word processing you needed to install the driver for every printer which means the app maker has to figure out support for each printer /sound card vendor . But microsoft came out with a unified printer and sound driver model for which you could write your app and now you can plug and play any printer that you like . This is pretty much the model on RFID now so the RFID printer manufactures I am sure is gonna love that . The fact that RFID will be packeged with Biztalk is a master stroke that I gotta give it to Microsoft .

So in relaity both WF and BizTalk is going to remain playing to their own individual strengths .
WF in the smaller integeration efforts with lower cost for trimmed basic functionality and BizTalk giving a true integeration platform or the Service bus for the much larger enterprise.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

BPEL for Windows Workflow Foundation March CTP

Microsoft has announced the new BPEL for Windows Workflow CTP .This is an add on the for WF .This provides import and export tools for BPEL and includes WF activities representing BPEL for the WF designer in VS 2005. Check it out here

Monday, March 12, 2007

MVP Summit 2007 Day -1

Had a real scare in the morning . I had my flight at 9:55 in the morning . at 8 in the morning I realize it is the new US DST switch today ( It used to be first sunday in April , now it is second sunday in March ) . Luckily Bini has all my bags packed . I got into the first pair of jeans and was rushing to the airport at a normal speed limit . Almost got pulled over by a cop :-) .
Flight was on time but since I did not have any big bags and corning being a smalll town was able to board the plane . There was some problem in my connection in Detroit. They made us change planes and got here in the evening . Cheked into the Renaissance , met a few Polish MVP's and then hit the Party with Palermo . The party was at jilliansbilliards a nice place to hang out . I met Jim Zimmerman, talked about his upcoming book on AJAX . Had a discussion on the value of hosting certain plugins available for visual studio into in an AJAX based browser container, we had some interesting discussionon WCF and VNext . Knocked around a game of pool and got chatting with Mateusz about who are the best programmers in the world . According to him it is Polish and he of course is from Poland :-) . He had a few arguments to his theory. He is presently planning a new game for kids .

Took a cab ,got back to the hotel and slept off early which is not anormal practice for me .But I think I will have a busy day tomorrow .

None of our BizTalk apps are facing any issue with DST change yet . I do not anticipate much changes with time put forward . It will be interesting to see how they behave when we fall back .

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Encryption Decryption using BizTalk

Many have asked me how to configure biztalk with certificates and I tell them it is really easy . But many seems to have a big challenge with it. Sometimes it is the lack of proper understanding of the secrurity infrastructure . sometimes it is things like not setting up the thumbprint. I was planning on writing an article on the same . But today i saw a good post from Richard and I dont think I need to do that now .

This is a well documented excellent post

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Biztalk R2 is nearing release and with support of RFID being delivered it will open a new area for biztalk apps altogether. I am excited about RFID as a technology though the technology is under fire including boycott by many activist group . Some of the concerns regarding privacy are valid but the potential of the technology is amazing. RFID or Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a data collection system based on tiny microchips attached to a box, pallet or individual item that communicate with other devices using radio waves. The RFID readers obtain data from the tags ( even write ) in bulk. Your RFID client software then collects , ortganizes and distributes this data . The tags can be active or passive meaning ones that are activated by sedning a signal or active which continously screams out its existence .
The benefits of RFID over existing technologies like Barcoding are many including more data capacity , do not need line of sight , bulk read , automated reading ,counting and life history of the objects using read/write tags
The applications are tremendous end to end visibility from factory to consumer , medicines, international shipments , animal tracking . From the Biztallk perspective we have an RFID Services running on the client platform with an RFID client on WCF (possibly ) shipping out of the bax whihc biztalk can leverage. Since this would be on WCF you should be able to consume this with not biztalk applications also .
The Event processing layer which hosts the Biztalk rules engine in some format will support things like eliminating duplicate reads , aggregation events or some custom threshhold rules.
I will be posting soon about Biztalk RFID soon . Meanwhile you can visit the RFID resource centre

Friday, January 26, 2007

BizTalk Server 2006 Large Maps

There is a little gem in 2006 that lets you control how large messages are transformed .

Previouslt in 2004 if you had a fairly large transformation , there i s nothing much you could do than scale up the server with more memory. In 2006 you could let BizTalk us the disk after a particular threshold , By default that value us set to 1 MB . That means if your XSLT transformation (which you realize is a tree transformation in memory, Your XML is loaded as the source tree and your declartive Xpath in the xslt is used to match the source tree matches to get the result tree) is larger than 1 MB BizTalk will use the large message transformation engine which will page to disk . This is nice feature for large maps but will slow you down ,Hey it is better than getting an OutofMemoryException and that Administrator's pager going off . You might want to tweak this value (disk is slower than memory ) , Of course you dont want it too high either to beat the whole purpose . You need to figure this value on your available capacity.

To do this you need to change the threshold in the registry
Goto 'HKLM\\Software\\Microsoft\\BizTalk Server\\3.0\\Administration'
and set the DWORD 'TransformThreshold'