October 2008 - Posts

A BizTalk Developers approach to Dublin
30 October 08 12:57 AM | Johan Hedberg | 1 comment(s)

Relax. Grab a beer (a Guiness perhaps). Dublin, the application server role extension to WAS/IIS, is to be released roughly three months after Visual Studio 2010, so somewhere around 1,5-2 years from now. There is still time to come to grips with it. Even so... Although purposefully and overly simplified from the technological aspect from the visual aspect Dublin looks like the BizTalk Admin Console. It acts the same. The terms used are the same. There the queries for messages, there are Active instances (Running or Ready to Run), there are Suspended instances - which you can resume or terminate, there is context based routing, it imports and exports applications easily etc. But Dublin is of course much more then a user interface. When you dive down into it, it seperates itself through a number of things. Read more at Charles Youngs post here. But BizTalk developers, don't worry, you'll quickly feel at home.

PDC Wireless Tip
29 October 08 07:32 PM | Johan Hedberg

I've heard alot of people, and helped a few, that have had problems with the PDC Wireless network. The things that many people do at conferences is to sit with their laptop in their knee. Doing this they are not plugged in. When your laptop goes into it's Power Saving mode, it lowers the performance on your wireless adapter. This in effect can, and will often, result in your computer having problems reaching the wireless network. You can however change this, and run the wirless on full power while still having all other settings set for power saving. If you go to Power Options -  Change plan settings - Change Advanced Power Settings, you get the window in the picture. Now if you scroll down a bit on that you'll find your wireless, and unless you change this it will have the Maximum Power saving option. Change this to Maximum Performance instead, and of you go!


A BizTalk Developers approach to Oslo
29 October 08 06:13 PM | Johan Hedberg

So you've probably heard of this thing called Oslo and the components of it. In this post I'll try to address Oslo from the point of view of the BizTalk Developer.

You could argue that BizTalk has a pretty model driven approach to development, although you'd be hard pressed if you went as far as calling it model first, or even schema first. The concepts of developing and deploying an Oslo model does however closely resemble the order of the steps performed to develop and deploy a schema in BizTalk.

First of you develop a schema, a xsd, or in Oslo terms a model. You do this in the tool called IntelliPad, using the language called M. Another way to put this is that M lets you define a textual DSL.

Second you compile, or validate, this schema. In Oslo terms you convert it into an image. You (currently) do this using the Oslo command line tools, the Oslo compiler.

Third you import this schema into the repository, like you would a BizTalk schema into the MgmtDb. In Oslo this step converts the model into SQL code. Oslo is very tightly coupled to SQL, and the repository is really just a database. A quote I caught is that "M is to T-SQL as C is to assembly".

You can then build a xml document that conforms to that schema. You would to this in what would equivalently be an infoset. In Oslo this is again done using the IntelliPad tool and still using the M language. Now you can compile this document, which performs schema validation, after which you can put this data into the repository - that is (for the sake of the BizTalk comparison) you can receive an xml document resembling the desired schema and disassemble it into the internal format, in this case a SQL table.

Now if you want to enter data in a format other then xml, perhaps a flatfile, you can do this. In this case you would then disassemble that format (although there is no real equivalent in Oslo for this step) and then use a map (xslt) to transform this document into the correct xml format according to the specified schema. In Oslo terms this is what is called a grammar. A grammar converts an arbitrary unicode character string into a structural format, ie xml. A grammar again is a DSL, but for a different domain, in this case a domain where you enter things in plaintext.

Now if you want to view this data in SQL in a format other then it's raw tables, then you can use the Quadrant tool to view this data using any of a generic set of views. These views are Visual DSLs over the same data. There is really no good comparison to this for BizTalk.

You can get Oslo now if you wan't to play around and see how this looks.

BizTalk Server 2009 CTP comming up
28 October 08 11:16 PM | Johan Hedberg | 3 comment(s)

One of the things we have learned at PDC is that BizTalk Server 2009 will most likely be released as a CTP very soon. It's not available now, but "two weeks" was a number mentioned by Mike Woods, PM on the BizTalk Server team.

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PDC Tweet
28 October 08 09:58 PM | Johan Hedberg | 2 comment(s)

If you like twitter and want to listen in on the chitter chatter that happens there that revolves around PCD, check out this tweetgrid.

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PDC Pre-Con - WCF
28 October 08 04:29 PM | Johan Hedberg | 1 comment(s)

PDC Pre-con

Conference Tip #1: A Pre-Con is an introduction. At least the first part of the pre-con will be taking it from the beginning. Don't be dissapointed if you feel you know all the stuff they say during the first hour or two.

Conference Tip #2: Don't leave after the first hour or two. It will get more interesting.

WCF Pre-Con session

I've heard Juval Löwy of IDesign talk about WCF in the past. In fact I've even read his book (Programming WCF Services), now being sent to the presses for a 2nd edition. It is a comprehensive thing that gives a good introduction to WCF as well as introduces patterns and re-usable code for working with it. In a video recorded on Channel9 I've heard Juval say that everything should be a service. At the time I thought that sounded slightly crazy. This time the message was that the introduction of WCF is the same kind of semantic shift from .NET development as .NET was from VB or C++ and C++ was from C. Syntax is the small part, sematics is everything really. Overall what WCF gives us is a proven library of best practices and guidelines available out of the box. After an entire day he had has me convinced, of both of the points above. Now, I'm not saying that all classes should be a service and all methods a service call, but I definatly can tell you that I can see the advantages of such a situation after a full days worth of hammering it in by Juval.

It's really all about the glue. Research has shown that as much as 95% of time is spent buidling, maintaining and troubleshooting glue code. That only leaveas 5% for doing the real stuff, the stuff that you are really getting payed for. WCF is out-of-the-box glue. All that security, transactional support, serialization, versioning etc etc that you'd want your application to have, without you having to spend any time on developing it. A sweet deal really.

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Blogical SFTP Adapter v1.3
27 October 08 12:56 AM | Johan Hedberg

I've updated the Blogical SFTP Adapter previously released to codeplex by Mikael to include a couple of new features that have been requested and developed for or by customers or community.

  • The abaility to leave files on the source server and rename them instead of deleting them after get.
  • The ability to give a name, not only for the temp path but for the temp file, written to the source server through a send port, to be used for example when you want to directly to the destination folder and only want it to have it's final name once fully written.
  • The ability to after you have put a file verify that it is really the same size (bytes) as the stream delivered to the adapter by BizTalk. This can be useful when you distrust the network or the receiving server, and causes a delete of the remote file and a following retry in BizTalk should the file sizes no match.

Read more and get the Blogical SFTP Adapter here.

With the above said, we are trying our best to react to requests and suggestions for improvement as well as direct bug reports. For minor or easily adjusted feature additions or bug fixes we are happy to help you right away. For major feature requests or custom development, we will try our best to make it happen, but things might be speedier if we set up a business arrangement around that, if you have such requirements. Please feel free to contact us, though all comments and suggestions should as a first option be posted on the discussions board of the Blogical SFTP Adapter at codeplex.

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BUGS - BAM Session 2 - Samples
21 October 08 11:12 PM | Johan Hedberg | 1 comment(s)

Here is the demo code, and presentation (in swedish) from the BAM talk I gave at the BizTalk User Group Sweden event on the 20th. Thank you all who attended, and to Precio for hosting it. Please contact me with any questions you might have about the samples, how to get them running and how best to go forward to utilize the benefits they demostrate. I'll add an additional blogpost as soon as possible, describing the sample code. But until then I just wanted to put the code out there for you to look at if you would like to. This download does not include the Purchase Order demo that I used to demonstrate aggregations, that's part of the Business Activity Monitoring Training kit, which I highly recommend, and that you can get here. It also does not include the WCF Calculator Interceptor sample, which is part of the BizTalk Server samples that Microsoft provides, get that one here. Also check out Mikaels post to get the BAM Session 1 slides and demo code, and read the explanation at the biztalkusergroup.se site (also in swedish).

I'd like to inform you of...
16 October 08 10:28 PM | Johan Hedberg | 2 comment(s)

...what? Do you get it, I certainly don't. All I got yesterday when opening up my laptop after standby was this (se image below). Apparantly it's an error, at least that's the title of the dialog, but then again the icon is informational. But hey, I didn't really have much choice, I wanted to know what lay behind - I took the Red pill and pressed ok.

As PDC is approaching, do you want to take the red pill and learn what really goes on behind the scenes? If so then check out the The Devil’s Field Guide to the PDC, although I'm not entirely sure he got the whole red pill / blue pill anology correct - but that might be just my interpretation.

If you at this point are asking yourself "Hey., whatever happend after you pressed ok!?" - I'm sorry to dissapoint you, nothing happened. Which in itself doesn't really do the red pill / blue pill analogy justice either...

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The PDC is getting closer...
14 October 08 10:20 PM | Johan Hedberg

...anf get-togethers and parties are starting to add up. Some internal or private and some open to everyone that will hopefully be packed with people. We arrive late saturday, and will probably just fall asleep as soon as we hit the hotel, seeing that our local time places that at a 9 hours timediff from the local time in Los Angeles. So by the time we arrive at our hotel the head will still being in the mindset of 6 am. We're hoping to be more in sync when we wake up on sunday - we have to, because that sunday night makes up the first party.

Party with Palermo  

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Making the switch to Messenger 9 Beta
13 October 08 10:32 PM | Johan Hedberg

There are lots of news in Messenger 9 Beta. Some that I at first sight can't really say I like, and some that I just don't see as being useful just yet. But there are some highlights. Read more here. It's the small things that make me happy, like the possibility to be online from more then one computer at a time. You can get the beta here.

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Getting up to speed with .NET 3.5
13 October 08 09:47 PM | Johan Hedberg

If you haven't had the opprtunity yet to dive into the .NET Framework 3.5 there is a training kit from Microsoft covering the enhancements to the Framework. There is also this other training kit that covers a larger part of the .NET 3.0/3.5 Framework and Visual Studio 2008. Using Live Search to look for training kits unfortunatly reveals that there aren't that many training kits around. Too bad. There should be more. It's a good way to start learning a new technology on your own.

Talking about Live Search, Microsoft is really trying their best to get more people using their Live plattform. The latest offer I've come across is searchperks - where you get points for searching the web, which you can then redeem for something that you wan't. If you are a really busy searcher you can get stuff like xbox controls.

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BizTalk and Big Design Up Front
04 October 08 10:11 PM | Johan Hedberg

Some companies seem to think that doing a Big Design Up Front (BDUF) before starting out implementing a BizTalk solution is the way to go. However it isn't a BDUF from the aspect that they first would like to go through all their requirements and then through a waterfall style design phase for all of the requirements they have in mind. Had it been BDUF it would have been bad. now it's worse. They want to install an all purpose integrations plattform with full support for BPM, Human Workflow and Governance from day one.

Although I'm not an agile fanatic of any sort, I just don't believe that should or can be done. You can't just decide on all the pieces you wish you had in your infrastructure and go out and buy them and think you will get the benefit of those pieces included with the purchase. For that matter it's not even certain the pieces you think you want are the pieces your business really needs. And what's worse, doing so is a fast way to waste a huge amount of money. Although they are all great products, you just can't put what you needed for that - SQL Server, BizTalk Server, MOSS, K2, SOA Software and a couple of other products - together from day one when starting out establishing a new integration plattform. You are smart if you start small. Integration is about being agile, BizTalk is about being agile. Being able to exchange one product for another whilst not impacting the rest of the systems within the company. You can't just install an enterprise architecture because you want to "start doing SOA". Sorry to those of you missing out on all that juicy license money ;)

Now with that said, you can do a BDUF if you wan't to. I believe there are sitiations where that method works, although I think a slightly more agile approach is more likely to succeed. But even if you do, don't translate that design directly over to products and a Big Bang install and think you're there. It's just not that easy.

I was thinking about this while building lego with my son recently, and I took this picture. You can draw your own conclusions as to its meaning.

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