Book Review: Pro BAM in BizTalk 2009
A while back now I got the Pro BAM in BizTalk Server 2009 book. I have always liked BAM and we always try to use it in our solutions, if nothing else then for infrastructural logging purposes. However BAM has never been something that has been described in any detail or highlighted within the BizTalk documentation. There are also a great deal many BizTalk solutions and developers out there that have never used BAM, perhaps in part because they haven’t had a good source to learn about it. When we had a user group meeting and talked about BAM last year we did a short put-your-hand-up poll and, if my memory serves, only about one out of five did put their hand up. And this in a group that to a large part I would judge as pretty progressive. I didn’t ask how many had used BAM outside of BizTalk, but I am pretty sure that if I had the answer might have been one or two, out of the whole group, if that.
If the issue is that it’s hard to find a source that covers BAM, one that is decently complete in its coverage, then that is one issue that is now resolved. Pro BAM in BizTalk Server 2009 succeeds in being that source. It covers both development, administration and business aspects of BAM. And with Business I don’t solely mean the Business Analyst role, but also where BAM fits, where it makes sense, and how you can get your data into the observation model as well as how you can get it out and report and research on it.
Although BAM presently is a BizTalk bundled technology the book approaches BAM from a BizTalk independent way, and talks as much about BAM in relation to other connected system technologies like WCF and WF as it does BizTalk. But that’s in line with the trends of BizTalk in general, where WCF more and more is taking on a very central role. Not everything is 100% up to date, but that’s not to be expected – change happens so fast that yesterday can be old news today, but the book still strives to put things in context of the latest technology and concepts and touches on topics such as Dublin and Oslo.
The book also goes into great detail about how to use the different types of tooling that comes along with BAM aimed for the different roles of Business Analyst, Developer, Administrator, and Information Worker (or Data Consumer as the book calls it). I also like how the book has specific sections on troubleshooting, should everything not work as expected, and tips that goes beyond just configuring it but also living with it.
It’s a really complete book in its coverage of BAM, and pointing out what’s missing is not an easy task, and isn’t really fair to the authors. If anything a discussion on BAM and performance could have been present. Although BAM has a highly performing infrastructure, a performance discussion is always of interest, especially from a BizTalk perspective when comparing it to for example the DTA tracking. The book also doesn’t go into much detail about when different tables are used, or what they contain and what flags have what meaning. Such things are however not need to know for you too call yourself a BAM wiz, something which this book may very well help you become.
Thanks Jeff and Geoff, it’s a great addition to my library. And I’m a better BizTalker for reading it ;)