September 2008 - Posts

Q: Can I run BizTalk Server 2006 R2 on Windows Server 2008?
29 September 08 07:35 PM | Johan Hedberg | 1 comment(s)

Q: Can I (should I) run BizTalk Server 2006 R2 on Windows Server 2008?
A: No. And these are the main resources I give customers who wants to see some kind of Microsoft reference to this:

Q: Can I (is it technically possible to) run BizTalk Server 2006 R2 on Windows Server 2008?
A: As I mention (but perhaps do not emphasis) in the answer to the first question of this post "Can I (should I)" is an answer directed at customers. From an technical aspect it is possible to install and run at least the main parts of BizTalk Server 2006 R2 on Windows Server 2008 (see this post), however it is not supported. As such the answers to customers is (so far) still no. But then again up until quite recently it wasn't really supported to run BizTalk Server virtualized on VMWare either (but now it is) and we still did that so maybe I'm being over-cautious? It's not the same kind or level of support we are talking about though...

Q: Can I (should I) run Windows Server 2008 as the host OS on which I run virtualized guest OS with BizTalk Server 2006 R2 though Hyper-V?
A: Yes. As long as the guest OS is compatible with BizTalk Server 2006. Ie Windows Server 2003 (, XP or Vista). See the BizTalk Server 2006 R2 Hyper-V Guide.

UPDATE: I updated this post after comments. Thanks Jocke, it's certainly more complete now.

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Pragmatic or passionate? - part 2
28 September 08 07:47 PM | Johan Hedberg | 2 comment(s)

To me there are four distinct type of developers. There are the day-job developers, the lazy developers, the average developer, the programatic developers, and the passionate developers. These are the main types by my definitions.

The day-job developers are the ones that don't care about what they do. They might not even like what they do. They still do it. They might reason that it's a decently paid job, with good benefits and a high degree of freedom. At least that's the case for most of the people employeed within the IT industry according to one of swedens IT newspapers (see link (in swedish)). This kind of developer never learns anything not shoved down his throat (in one way or another). Either by necessity to complete the task assigned or when attending some course he was sent to by his employeers (because he would never actively attend a course - unless perhaps for the chance to get up later in the morning and get home earlier in the afternoon). Even when it comes to completing a task this type more often then not asks someone else how to do it, then does it, instead of finding out for himself.

The lazy developers don't do anything they don't need to. What makes them any better then the day-job developers is that they actually have an interest in what they do. Not enough to make them work to get do anything outside the box (ie their assignment) but they still enjoy going to work and like what they do. They will happily attend courses, and even look ones up themselves, but they still don't put in any effort outside of their job. It's not that they are not interested enough, it's just that they can't get over the threshold of knowing how to start. When assigned a task they can't handle the lazy-developer will try to find out themselves, but it will probably take them awhile since they are not accustomed to seeking out information, and they don't know enough to really know where to look.

The average developer understands that he must evelove to stay attractive. He must learn as the industry changes. As such he will happily attend courses, seminars and read articles. He might not spend all that much time doing it outside work hours, but he will try. If there is, say, a usergroup, he will attend to learn more - because there will be someone else there to feed him information. As such he knows a bit about the industry trends, enough to know which articles and/or books to read, for example on the subway to and from work (maybe not as a daily routine, but when he finds something new and interesting). When faced with a task that he is unaccustomed to he will search for guidance and help in an effective maner, but there is still many areas with which he is unfamiliar. The average developer is more often then not specialized, and can't go outside the frame too much, at least not without quite a bit of work - but he is not afraid or unwilling to take on new things.

The pragmatic developer is experienced. He has done the things he has read about or attended a course on. He sets himself apart from the average developer by having "been there, done that". That doesn't have to mean that he has necessarily done real world projects on all the topics he knows. Some he might only know in theory, but that's enough to make him proficient in finding solutions to new problems in new areas. His knowledge spans a wider area then the average developers since he tries to learn more and new things as much as possible (see my previous post on prioritizing). More likely than not he has an area within which he is specialized, but he has a general understanding of a much wider area and are comfortable discussing most of the terms and concepts found within the industry.

Now the previous type sounds like a pretty decent one. One that I'd like to work with any day. What more could you wish for? I don't consider there to be a category such as a complete developer, ie someone who is the pragmatic programmer and on top of that has the depth of knowledge that matches the specialists level on all or most of the topics available within the industry. There are a few people I would consider putting on that level, and I envy them, but they are too few to form a category, they are more of an exception that confirms a rule then anything else.

So the passionate programmer then? What sets him apart from the programmtic programmer? I'd say two things. The first is his strong desire too always learn more. He may still have priorities that contain other things, but he is passionate about learning more. He not only understands that he needs to learn more to stay ahead, he does it because he enoys it. The second thing is that he doesn't do it all for himself, or the project goal he's currently pursuing. He likes to share. He does his best to make others learn what he knows, to spread the word. This doesn't necesarrily mean he's a trainer, or organizing usergroups for that matter. It might be in a smaller scale. Not all passionate programmers are forward enough, or comfortable to be presenting to large groups. But the desire to share is there.

Now granted there are more to it then this, more aspects. Like knowledge about business, entrepreneurs, people with new ideas, carisma, naturally outgoing people as opposed to naturally quiet or nervous people. People that really stand up for the team as opposed to those who don't. Ok, so where does the arcitect fit in? Etc... But the above categorization is one way to mirror the differences I see in how developers work in regards to their competency. I decided in part to write these posts after listening to an MSDN podcast (in swedish) featuring Patrik Löwendahl and a conversation we had with Johan Lindfors. There is also an article on the swedish forum Pellesoft written by Johan Normén here. It's an interesting topic - this is how I see it.

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Pragmatic or passionate? - part 1
28 September 08 07:49 AM | Johan Hedberg | 2 comment(s)

I've read, listened to and been in a few discussions lately about competency, or the rather the different kinds of developers - as in the diverse approach they have to their day job. I thought I'd give my view, compacted as it must be in a blog. I'd be more then happy to discuss it further with you through comments, email or in real life.

Going back a few years, say to the year 2000, I felt pretty comfortable saying I knew Microsoft development, and by that I would mean that I knew enough (on a sufficient depth) of all the products and technologies that were used in any greater extent in a common development project. It's no secret to you who were active at the time that if you knew SQL, VB6 server-side and ASP together with a little javascript and CSS and could do C++ and COM related programming, and now and again a little XML, then you could pretty much step into any project and be productive as a programmer from day one.

Today the scene is widely different. If you can honestly say that you know every product and technology that is featured within an arbitrary project built on a Microsoft foundation then one of two scenarios are true. 1) You have devoted your life to being a developer and everything revolves around it. 2) You feel always unsufficient, neglecting other tasks and/or family and non-developer friends. You spend what feels like too much time trying to learn, but it never seems like enough.

With that said most of us don't fall into those categories simply because we acknowledge the fact that we don't know everything about everything. Note: If you at this point are thinking that 'Hey, I know everything, but don't recognize this' then hey, you're either a genious - and I salut you, or you're delusional. The range of things to know is just too big. And it's not just technology. Apporaches to programming (ie DDD, TDD, BDD etc) and running projects (ie Agile) as well as other surrounding topics have become increasingly important as the industry has become more mature.

So instead you prioritize, specialize in a few topics and purposefully filter through articles so as to not spend time reading in-depth topics (however interesting they may seem) about (for you) non-essential products and technologies. I might for example find an in-depth article about the search engine plugins and optimization for MOSS 2007's enterprise search engine to be a very interesting topic, but will prioritize, and instead read something I feel is closer to what I do, such as how the UDDI 3.0 integration with BizTalk Server 2009 is built or an introductory article to WebMethods even.

This prioritizing to me is a pragmatic approach. You just can't read it all, do it all, know it all - so you have to be pragmatic. But that doesn't mean you're not passionate about what you do. Writing this I had to prioritize, so this became part 1 and other parts will have to be a later issue, now I have other things to do...

Reorganizing... again...
26 September 08 09:08 PM | Johan Hedberg | 2 comment(s)

So my employeer is making a small organizational adjustment, to follow market trends and to adjust to the rest of the company, making the company more normalized in its organizational structure throughout. It happens once a year or so so you kinda get used to it. This time it actually feels more understandable than before though. Not because I can say that I think it was needed (I dont spend time thinking about such things very much) but because there hasn't really been any noticeable change since we were bought (or merged) and I think most of us have been expecting one. As always on a local level it mean less then it sounds, my experience is that it's business as usual for us and the change is more or less restricted to the management level. This time however it has a more direct impact on my closest surroundings. The (Microsoft) 'Enterprise Architecture and SOA' group I belong to will cease to exist and will be merged with two other groups ((Microsoft) 'Solutions Architecture' and 'Java Architecture') to form a new organizational unit under the name 'Solution Architecture', and a new manager. I like my current group composition and my manager, but then I do my new manager as well and I'm hoping that the closer relationship to the Java people will be educational. I'm sure it will will turn out that it's just business as usual this time as well. And I actually feel more comfortable going by the name solution architect than enterprise. The latter implies to much strategy and higher level issues to me, while the former feels more suited to the technology affinity that I would like to keep.

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Usergroup talk
25 September 08 10:25 PM | Johan Hedberg

Me and Mikael are doing a technical usergroup talk around Business Activity Monitoring in Stockholm the 20th of october. Read more and signup here (in swedish).

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Website moved, availability improved?
21 September 08 01:49 PM | Johan Hedberg

Over the last week our domain has been moved to new servers. We are hoping that this will improve the availability.

The most common visual representation of the problems we have had are the ever annoying Service Unavailable and more seldom the site has loaded but the stylesheets haven't, comments have not been filed as expected etc.

If the problems persist we may have to move the site again and upgrade to premium hosting. We'll just have to wait and see if it comes to that. The old saying that you get what you pay for somehow works for this situation, since we pay about $5 a month for the hosting. So far it's worked fine, but starting this august the availability of the site became poor, which was what motivated the move. We are hoping everything will work smoothly now for awhile.

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PAL not working with restricted account
10 September 08 04:29 PM | Johan Hedberg

Just thought I'd post this since I couldn't find a concise hit myself when searching for it. I'm using the PAL (Performance Analysis of Logs) tool in a restricted environment where my default user isn't an administrator. In certain scenarios this will cause PAL to fail. The definition of certain in my case is when the LogParser CSVInMaxRowSize registry key is too low, causing PAL to want to write a new value, on line 173: WshShell.RegWrite "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Log Parser\CSVInMaxRowSize", iRowSize, "REG_DWORD". The error message that PAL will display in its Command window is: C:\Program Files\PAL\PAL v1.3.3\PAL.vbs(173, 9) WshShell.RegWrite: Invalid root in registry key "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Log Parser\CSVInMaxRowSize".

I "solved" this by running PAL (the call to CScript that is) as an administrative user, since I had that option. I guess smaller (less counters collected) logfiles than mine would not get this error, as would situations where the LogParser maximum row size is already set to a large enough value.

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The new BizTalk Server logo...
09 September 08 09:58 PM | Johan Hedberg

...that can be seen here looks exactly like the SQL Server logo and is very similar to the System Center logo. I wonder why and which server product is next?

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Want more REST?
09 September 08 09:34 PM | Johan Hedberg

I can only follow Mikaels post and thank everyone who attended the BizTalk User Group Sweden event last thursday about REST with Jon Flanders. It was a great turnout weighing in at about 80 people. According to Jon we were one of the largest usergroups he had ever visited. Also, as posted on the usergroup site (in swedish) Jon now has the slides and samples available for download.

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Interviewing for BizTalk employment
09 September 08 09:04 PM | Johan Hedberg

More then a few times I have seen interview questions that people post on their blogs for use when interviewing people for a BizTalk Server job opportunity. I never use interview questions. I'm not sure if the market and access to BizTalk developers is so good in these places where they use the questions that you can pick and choose to get the "best" one. Here, the demand is far greater then the supply it seems. Especially for companies that might not have an outright image as an attractive IT employer. I try instead to form the questions so that they fit into a natural conversation. I suggest that an experienced  BizTalk developer and/or architect can derive how knowledge-able the interviewed individual is from how he (or she, but to be fair they are mostly he) talks about his experience with BizTalk Server, which parts he has been responsible or involved with and things like that, without turning it into an interogation. Most of the time (given the lack of supply) the BizTalk Server experience is only part of the picture anyway. I'm not claiming to be a person termometer in any way, but just listening to someone and what and how they offer information about their previous engagements can tell you alot, often enough. Now on the other hand, if you do find the person to appear knowledge-able, and would really like to make sure before deciding to pay that person that far higher the average salary, by all means, do a deeper knowledge based interview. But to pull that of you really need to already have someone that knows his stuff to evaluate the answers.

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Welcome autumn
04 September 08 08:41 AM | Johan Hedberg

Now that autumn is upon us there is no better start to the fall then BizTalk User Group Sweden and the upcomming event with Jon Flanders. It feels good to start the fall after a prolonged summer vacation with a fun event and meeting up with friends, people of similar interest and other likeminded. See you there!

I would also like to use this post to mention two other events that I find noteworthy.

Myself I have been on parental leave/vacation. Everyone that has or has had small children know that being on vacation with children doesn't really mean sleeping in or sitting in the sun sipping some favorite drink or having a cold beer reading your favorite computer book and/or novel or writing blogpost. Still, really fun times - I wouldn't have traded it for any number of posts. Speaking of which - I have several in mind, I just have to find time to get them down, stay tuned ;)

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