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Charles Young

Microsoft announced BizTalk Server 2009 today, and gave the green light to talking about the new version.    It’s due for release in the first half of next year, and is shaping up nicely.    Microsoft is casting BizTalk Server 2009 as a major new version in its own right, rather than just an updated 'release' of BizTalk Server 2006.   This is an important move, and one I strongly welcome.   There is certainly enough in BizTalk Server 2009 to warrant thinking of it as a major revision of the product, although it retains the same familiar functionality and tooling we have been using since 2006 (or even 2004).

I've been fortunate in getting my hands on the current non-public CTP in the last month or so, and putting aspects of the new version through its paces.   It's not wise to go into much detail about this first CTP because some of those details will doubtless change in forthcoming betas, driven in part from the feedback Microsoft is getting.   However, I will say a little about the new development and build features and expand just a little on the press releases.   These are the areas I have been looking at in depth.

BizTalk Server 2009 will ship with bindings for Visual Studio 2008, and you will need to upgrade to this version of the IDE if you are still using Visual Studio 2005 (which you will be, of course, if you are a BizTalk Server 2006 user).  It happens that, in previous months, I've seen more than one BizTalk shop where developers are having to run both versions of the IDE side by side in order to continue developing for BizTalk Server 2006 whilst exploiting features like WCF and WF in .NET 3.5.   For many, the changes in BizTalk Server 2009 will come as a relief.   This is not a cynical ploy by Microsoft to force people into upgrades for no additional benefit.   The move to Visual Studio 2008 is accompanied by a very welcome move to a new project format, bringing BizTalk Server 2009 into line with mainstream .NET development.   The new BizTalk project type is defined using MS-Build, just like C# or VB.NET projects.   This has major implications in a number of areas.   First, it means that, if you use TFS Build, you can now build BizTalk Server 2009 projects without having to write complex scripts that shell out to DevEnv.    Just like C# projects, you can let TFS Build do the majority of the grunt work for you, and concentrate your attention more fully on ensuring that your automated build scripts are comprehensive and robust.   This is worth the upgrade in its own right, and removes a major source of current irritation.   Thanks to the rough edges in the current CTP, one of my colleagues has had the opportunity to get to grips with this side of BizTalk Server 2009 in some depth, and we can report that it is all looking very good indeed, once a few remaining gremlins have been chased out.

The other aspect of BizTalk Server 2009 which we have spent some time on is unit testing and debugging.   In one sense, this is not really so much about new functionality, but more about bringing what has previously been considered 'black-belt' into the mainstream.    In Biztalk Server 2006, we currently use BizUnit to drive black-box (grey-box?), end-to-end testing, but we have also created some additional code of our own to support unit testing of BizTalk maps, schemas and pipelines.    Similarly, if you know the undocumented registry key in BizTalk Server 2006, you can get BizTalk to retain the generated C# code for debugging purposes, manually attaching to BtsNtSvc.exe processes in order to debug into orchestrations, etc.    This has proved a life saver in certain situations.  The new version of BizTalk Server is now designed to support these approaches seamlessly.   Of course, it is designed to work with the integrated unit testing features of the IDE, rather than BizUnit.   There are currently some outstanding questions with regard to the debugging support which I won't go into here, because they simply reflect the unfinished state of the first CTP.   However, unit testing certainly works smoothly with BizTalk Server 2009 projects, and will help to raise the bar in terms of the approach that is taken to development of BizTalk solutions.   Again, I will avoid going into further here because I will hit issues that are still to be fully resolved, but things are generally looking good.

I have only mentioned those areas of BizTalk Server 2009 which I have been looking at in any depth.   There is a lot, lot more.   One thing I will monitor closely is the inclusion of ESB Guidance 2.0.   I have some problems with some aspects of ESB Guidance 1.0, like the unfortunate way in which the UDDI resolver violates the UDDI standard!    However, having spent the last year doing little else but designing and implementing service bus patterns using BizTalk Server and WCF (or, in one case, WSE), I regard the inclusion of ESB Guidance 2.0 as a really intriguing, and hopefully worthwhile, aspect of the new version.    It is also intriguing that Microsoft has decided to release their implementation of UDDI 3.0 as part of the BizTalk package.   Let no one tell you that BizTalk has no role to play in building service buses, or that it is to be regarded as 'merely a hub-and-spoke message broker'.   In my experience, the exploitation of the dynamic features of BizTalk (dynamic ports, BAM interception, the rules engine, etc.,) in a rigorous, policy-driven fashion provides good support for implementing many of the core patterns described within the world of ESB.   The core design of BizTalk Server predates later ESB thinking, but is much better aligned to it that some people will admit.

Roll on 2009.

Posted on Friday, September 5, 2008 9:34 PM BizTalk Server 2004/2006 , Team Foundation Server | Back to top


Comments on this post: BizTalk Server 2009 Announced

# re: BizTalk Server 2009 Announced
Requesting Gravatar...
Hello Charles.
This is a great article, which got my attention. But I'd like to know, where can I download a non-public CTP version from?. I have membership to CONNECT, but I do not see anything there. Please let me know. I'd love to get my hands on playing with BizTalk 2009. I'm quite frustrated with using 2006 and VS 2005 / 2008 combination, as you mentioned here.
Left by Pinaki on Sep 06, 2008 9:09 AM

# re: BizTalk Server 2009 Announced
Requesting Gravatar...
The only way I know is by being on the TAP (Technical Adoption Programme) which means a committment, within given time scales, to develop a real-world app using the CTPs and betas, and deploy it to a live environment. The TAP is well underway, now, so it's a little late in the day, but if you have a convincing scenario in which you will use BizTalk Server 2009 for real development, there might be a chance of getting accepted onto the programme.

Public betas will probably be forthcoming, possibly in the next couple of months or so, so you may just have to wait it out.
Left by Charles Young on Sep 06, 2008 9:19 AM

# re: BizTalk Server 2009 Announced
Requesting Gravatar...
Great Article! Good to see Microsoft are actually creating a new full release of BizTalk for 2009.

Looking forward to seeing a beta!

Thanks.
Left by Vishal Somaiya on Sep 15, 2008 9:42 AM

# re: BizTalk Server 2009 Announced
Requesting Gravatar...
i wanted to suggest some more features in BizTalk, then BizTalk product development team can notice these problems in current version of BizTalk server 2006 r2-
1. In BizTalk rule engine, there must be fecility of nested if statement rules or else condition.
2. Mulitple version rules calling in call rule shape, automated priority setting for rules policies(based on condition like season shopping rates...etc). More ease/simple way to Calling BizTalk rules with .net coding(GUI). More GUI based features in BRE like other third patry Business rules engine/composers.
3. Giving less burden on middileware BizTalk developer ratherthan TFS/ Coding stuff. If this seperation is there then there will be seperate work area for BizTalk developer and .Net developer/TFS developer/all. This is the major drawback for BizTalk middileware development or code dependency over other Microsoft sub technologies. This is taking more time consuming ratherthan other middileware technologies in middileware market. Then development time is also take less time ratherthan other middileware technolgies.
4. There must be standard BizTalk Pattren wizard (which support failed messsage/pipeline/error handling, correlation, compensation, bam, Bas, convoy, direct binding, intterput, fault tolerance/handling in orchestrations services, ESB....real pattrens etc). This will reduce devlopment for projects timeline.
5.Automated testing tools for BizTalk orchestration/pipelines/adapters/schema level unit testing with out third party unit testing tools within Visual studio IDE.
6. Integrated Load/performance tools for load/stress testing BizTalk applicatons within Visual studio IDE with interuption support of suspened messages or zombies.

hope & See u later in BizTalk server 2009....
Left by kumar on Sep 25, 2008 12:41 PM

# re: BizTalk Server 2009 Announced
Requesting Gravatar...
The one thing I can't understand is why they are committed to XLANG because their customers say so.

Who are these dimwitted customers they speak of???

I deal with BizTalk constantly and this is one of the major bug-bears of this product.

Surely this is just spin
Left by Andrew Hatch on Nov 27, 2008 3:29 AM

# re: BizTalk Server 2009 Announced
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Does anybody know i HWS is still included in Biztalk 2009?
Left by J on Dec 10, 2008 8:57 AM

# re: BizTalk Server 2009 Announced
Requesting Gravatar...
HWS will be formally discontinued from BTS 2009. Personally, I never came across anyone using the technology, though a couple of my colleagues say they have.
Left by Charles Young on Jan 04, 2009 8:58 PM

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