Here's a braindump that I did for people with 2004 experience who are moving across to 2006. It's just a very quick run through some of the new bits and pieces to look out for. It's not complete, but it might be handy as the 50,000 ft view. It's also written with a dev audience in mind and is not necessarily the view of my employer either! (Is that enough caveats?).
Functionally very smilar to 2k4 - nothing like the shift in experience from 2k2 to 2k4. It's a "tidying up/more functionality" release, not a re-write.
The #1 new feature: You can zoom orchestrations in the development environment ;-)
New BTS Admin tool which is actually useful (cf current admin console) and can be used to make modifications to your server. Also contains really good reporting, far nicer than HAT, for investigating failed messages.
New security group aimed at system operators who need to maintain, not modify, a server install
Includes lots and lots more adapters out of the box - eg MSMQ, POP3. Also all the iWay adapters such as JD Edwards, out of the box.
Really nice flat-file schema wizard, should save hours for anyone who needs to work with flat files.
Really, really, really, really nice. Collections of assemblies/bindings/resource files/etc are grouped into "Applications" within BTS. These applications appear as their own controllable group within server administrator. You can start and stop the whole thing (including orchs, send/receive ports) simply with a right click. You can also right-click and generate an MSI ready for import to another BTS2k6 box - and yes you can include multiple bindings files for multiple environments
and it prompts you at MSI import time as to which environment you are setting up. Interesting to see how Scott Colestock
makes use of this.
This is now much easier. All pre-requisites are supplied in a CAB file and installed for you, so no more hunting around for Patch A and Service Pack B.
Install is a two phase process: 1 - Install 2 - Configure so you can install to multiple boxes, then just run the configuration wizard to set up multiple identically configured BizTalk boxes. Config tool is now robust and usable (cf ConfigFramework.exe)
You can install on XP - but don't, as you get a slightly different feature set and the install is slightly different. Better to stick to 2k3, unless your client's servers will be running XP of course ;-)
You can pre-create BTS Databases and the installer will use them and configure them. Just create an empty DB with the right name, and off you go. This is good for live deployments where you can create the database on teh server and disks that you want, precreate to a sensible size instead of forcing it to autogrow up to 2-3GB - a good way to boost performance.
Apparently, renaming of a biztalk server will be supported using a UI. This has yet to make an appearance in beta though.
BTS2004 projects "will" open fine in 2006. There have been reports of one single schema file that had issues, but it took 5 minutes to fix.
New BAM portal, which runs on ASP.NET. BAM can now hook into pipelines and message properties, not just orchestrations, so you can use it for pure messaging solutions too out of the box without dropping down into custom pipelines, custom components and the BAM API.
Can maybe use BAM for large-scale message tracking instead of TPE, with potential big performance gains as you get a dedicated database for it. This is just an idea some people are floating at the moment, and worth looking into for advantages/disadvantages
BTS2k6 ships with "Scenarios" - showing, eg, b2b, messaging, and so on. These are enterprise quality, complex applications showing best practice. Significant dev effort from MS into making these, so leverage them. Also probably contain useful components and utilities.
Apparently XBox Live runs on BizTalk 2006 :)