BTS2013 features explained: Dependency tracking

A while ago we started a series on explaining some of the new features that were introduced in BizTalk 2013 in more detail. We’ve already discussed the XslCompiledTransform API and the Improvements in dynamic send ports. A complete list of the new features in BizTalk 2013 can be found in our post when the product launched.
To continue the series of new features, we would like to digg a little deeper in the announced feature ‘Dependency tracking’… what does this mean?

The dependency tracking is a newly added feature in BizTalk 2013. The dependencies between artifacts can now be viewed and navigated in the Admin console, but what exactly will be shown and how does it work?

BizTalk artifact dependencies

First of, I’ll like to give a bit more details on dependencies in BizTalk. You’ll probably all know that a typical BizTalk Server application involves various artifacts such as orchestrations, send ports, receive locations, pipelines, schemas, maps, etc. . And also that all of these artifacts can have dependencies on each other. There is a useful post on msdn explaining the dependencies between these BizTalk artifacts and listing the dependencies of BizTalk artifacts as in the below table.

DependencyTable
As the table suggests, there are two modes of dependencies.

  • Uses (Using) – An artifact uses another artifact, for example, a send port uses a pipeline.
  • Used By (Used by) – An artifact is used by another artifact, for example, a send port is used by an orchestration.

As a consequence of these dependencies, there is a hierarchy of the BizTalk artifacts that needs to be followed on re-deploying these artifacts. And you’ll need to know which dependent artifacts need to be stopped or re-deployed.

Dependency tracking pane in BizTalk 2013

Now… as of BizTalk 2013, the dependency information of these artifacts is available in the BizTalk Server Administration console. It will display both kinds of dependencies (when artifacts use another artifact as well as if the artifact is used by another artifact) in a brand new dependency tracking pane.

How to view the dependency tracking pane?

  1. In the BizTalk admin console, go to the artifact of which you wish to have the dependencies shown.
  2. Now right-click on the artifact and choose View dependencies.ViewDependencies
  3. NOw you can see that the dependency statistics pane on the bottom will be filled. It will show both kinds of dependencies. Under Used by it will show the number of artifacts that use the selected artifact. While under Using the number of artifacts that use the selected artifact will be shown.
    DependencyStatisticsPane
  4. Clicking on the number of artifacts will bring up the list of the dependent artifacts. In the shown list, you again can bring up the dependencies and click through to any level of the depency tree you want. On top, you’ll see a trail of bread crumbs to show the level of depency you are viewing.DependencyTree

Note

Note however that the shown dependencies are only the directly dependent artifacts. So for example if a send port is part of a send port group, it will be show the dependent send port group. But if the send port group is again dependend on an orchestration, the dependent orchestration will only be shown on the dependencies of the send port group. So in the dependencies of the send port, you will not find the dependend orchestration directly.
You will need to go through the dependency tree using the above explained trail of bread crumbs to view all of its dependencies.

BTS2013 features explained: Improvements in dynamic send ports

In a previous post, I started a series on explaining some of the new features of BizTalk 2013 in more detail. We started with a more detailed explanation on why BizTalk 2013 will be using the XslCompiledTransform API. You can find a list of the new features that BizTalk 2013 introduces on our earlier post.
In this next post in the serie, I would like to explain the announced ‘Improvements in dynamic send ports’… What has been changed in this new version of BizTalk?

BizTalk 2010 (& earlier)

Dynamic send ports where introduced already in an earlier version of BizTalk. However, unlike a static send port, you didn’t have the possibility to choose a BizTalk host that the ports send handler would run on. The dynamic send port will use the default send handler that is configured for the adapter that is being used. Meaning we are tied to using the same default Host for each dynamic port that uses the same adapter, which could cause separation of concern issues with bigger systems.

DynSendBTS2010

Or in other words… when you wish to run a dynamic send port using a different host, you are obliged to change the default send handler of the specific adapter. But keep in mind this will effect all dynamic send ports that are using this adapter as well.

DefaultSendHandler

BizTalk 2013

BizTalk 2013 now has the ability to assign a host handler per adapter. This means you now have the possibility to configure a host to be used per adapter on a dynamic send port…  providing more control on how your workload gets executed with dynamic send ports. This change will bring better scales and performance for dynamic send ports.

DynSend2013

When adding a dynamic send port, you see there is a whole new Transport section in the General tab of the send port properties. By clicking on the Configure-button of the transport section, you’ll be able to choose which host must be configured as send handler for each available adapter.

DynSendHostConfig

Note however that the hosts that can be assigned to an adapter are the configured send handlers of the adapter. So you need to make sure that there is a send handler defined on the adapter configured to use your desired host. The chosen host no longer needs to be the default send handler defined for the adapter.

AdapterSendHandlers

First Cumulative Update for BizTalk 2013… available through Microsoft Update!

The Microsoft Team has just announced the release of the very first Cumulative Update For BizTalk 2013.

But an even more surprising news is that it is available using Microsoft Update!… This is the very first time a BizTalk Update can be obtained with Microsoft Update, as before it had to be done by downloading it manually through the hotfix download. An amazing improvement if you ask me, making it a whole lot easier for administrators.

The update will still be available through the hotfix download though.

The Content of the Cumulative Update

The very first CU for BizTalk 2013 brings 3 fixes:

  • User cannot perform certain database-related operations in BizTalk Server 2013
  • BAM tools cannot be configured in a multi-node BizTalk Server 2013 environment
  • The vertical scroll bar on the target schema does not work correctly when you use Visual Studio to design a BizTalk Server 2013 map

How to install using Microsoft Update

The following steps are applicable if you have Microsoft Update enabled in the machine where BizTalk Server is installed.

  1. Log into a server where BizTalk Server is already installed, and Microsoft Update is enabled
  2. Check for windows update
  3. Notice available fixes for BizTalk Server under optional updates
  4. Select the update and install

(Perform the above operations in each of the BizTalk nodes)

The original announcement can be found here.

BTS2013 features explained: XslCompiledTransform

In a previous post we announced the release of the new BizTalk 2013, listing all of the new features it will bring. In the upcoming posts I would like to explain in more detail some of these features, and the consequences it will bring with it.
First of all, one of the changes introduced in BizTalk 2013 is the use of the enhanced XslCompiledTransform API, instead of using the XslTransform API that is used in older BizTalk versions. This change would provide significant improvements in mapping engine performance for complex maps. Sounds great, but what is the difference between both?

First of all, I would like to note that the XslTransform API has become obsolete and has been replaced by XslCompiledTransform.

The new XslCompiledTransform API will boost the performance for complex maps. Although I would like to make a side note about this one… Although the overall performance of the XslCompiledTransform class is better than the XslTransform class, the Load method of the XslCompiledTransform class might perform more slowly than the Load method of the XslTransform class the first time it is called on a transformation. This is because the XSLT file must be compiled before it is loaded. For more information, see the following blog post: XslCompiledTransform Slower than XslTransform?

Using the XslCompiledTransform will compile the XSLT style sheet down to a common intermediate format. And once the style sheet is compiled, it can be cached and reused. Making the XslCompiledTransform considered the best choice for the “one Load, many Transforms” scenarios.

Sources:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/antosha/archive/2006/07/16/xslcompiledtransform-slower-than-xsltransform.aspx
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/66f54faw(v=vs.110).aspx
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/system.xml.xsl.xslcompiledtransform.aspx
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/system.xml.xsl.xsltransform.aspx

BizTalk Server 2013 is now RTM!

BizTalk Server 2013 is available on MSDN as of now!

BTS2013-MSDN

With this, the eighth release of BizTalk is a fact.

These are the new features that are announced for the BizTalk Server 2013 release:

  • Integration with Cloud Services – BizTalk Server 2013 Beta includes new out-of-the box adapters to send and receive messages from Windows Azure Service Bus, making it easy to build hybrid solutions. It also provides capabilities to host BizTalk endpoints in Azure through the Service Bus Relay providing a simple and secure way to connect external partners and application to BizTalk Server on-premises. New adapters include
    • WCF-BasicHttpRelay
    • WCF-NetTCPRelay
    • SB-Messaging
  • RESTful services – BizTalk Server 2013 Beta provides adapters to invoke REST endpoints as well as expose BizTalk Server artifacts as a RESTful service.
  • Enhanced SharePoint adapter – Integrating with SharePoint using BizTalk Server 2013 is now as simple as integrating with a file share. We have removed the dependency on SharePoint farms, while still providing backward compatibility.
  • SFTP adapter –Enables sending and receiving messages from an SFTP server.
  • ESB – The ESB capabilities previously introduced in the ESB Toolkit are now fully integrated with BizTalk Server and the ESB configuration experience is vastly simplified to enable a quick setup.
  • Dependency tracking – The dependencies between artifacts can now be viewed and navigated in the Admin console.
  • Improvements in dynamic send ports –You now have the ability to assign a host handler per adapter, providing better scales and performance for dynamic send ports.
  • XslCompiledTransform – The mapping engine now makes use of the enhanced XslCompiledTransform API, which provides significant improvements in mapping engine performance for complex maps.
  • Ordered Send Port improvements –We have made changes to the BizTalk runtime engine which significantly increases the performance of ordered send port scenarios, for example in HL7 solutions that use the MLLP Adapter.
  • BAM Alerts update – In previous releases of BizTalk Server, BAM Alerts feature had a dependency on SSNS (SQL Server Notification Services). With the current release of SQL Server (SQL Server 2012), SSNS is no longer available. However, we have made sure your existing BAM Alerts scenario work just the same even if your backend is targeting SQL Server 2012. If your backend is SQL Server 2008 R2, you will continue to require the dependency on SSNS.
  • Support for latest LOB version and protocol standards – Additionally, we also support the latest LOB versions and protocol standards. For B2B, the enhancements include
    • Support for X12 5040, 5050, 6020, 6030
    • Support for EDIFACT D06A, D06B, D07A, D07B, D08A, D08B, D09A, D09B, D10A, D10B
    • HL7 2.5.1

BizTalkServer2013

 

With this new release, Microsoft also changed their licensing model for BizTalk Server to a per-core licensing model. This per-core licensing model is consistent with their SQL Server licensing. The impact of the new licensing model for the customer will vary based on how BizTalk Server 2013 will be deployed. Customers running BizTalk Server software on processors with four cores or less will have their license costs remain consistent with BizTalk Server 2010, as core licenses are priced at one quarter the cost of a processor license. Customers running servers with higher capacity processors on the other hand will have their licensing costs grow with the increased power of their hardware. More information on the BizTalk 2013 new licensing model can be found in this document or in this blog.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on info@cnext.eu (more contact details can be found on http://www.cnext.eu).

Biztalk 2013 Beta released

Microsoft finally released a beta version of the new biztalk, wich can be found here.

The first thing that should be noticed is that Microsoft decided to change the next versions name from Biztalk 2010R2 to Biztalk 2013. This has some very important consequences… It indicates the next version to be a major release, which implies a much longer support from Microsoft.
Microsoft’s support lifecycle policy says that products will have 5+5 years (mainstream+extended) support. However, that applies to major versions. If the product would still be BizTalk Server 2010 R2, it will not get an extended support lifecycle end date.

So in conclusion, having the next Biztalk version being a full release is an important sign to the market, it implies a much longer support lifecycle for the product.

Biztalk 2013 will have following new features:


  • Integration with Cloud Services: messages using different relay endpoints hosted on Azure.

  • RESTful services: provides adapters to invoke REST endpoints as well as expose BizTalk Server artifacts as a RESTful service.

  • Enhanced SharePoint adapter: the need for dependency on SharePoint farms has been removed, while still providing backward compatibility.

  • SFTP adapter: added an SFTP adapter that will enable sending and receiving messages from an SFTP server.

  • ESB Toolkit integration: ESB Toolkit is now fully integrated with BizTalk Server. Also, the ESB Toolkit configuration experience is vastly simplified to enable a quick setup.

  • Dependency tracking: dependencies between artifacts can now be viewed and navigated in Admin console.

  • Improvements in dynamic send ports: the ability to set host handler per adapter, instead of always using the default send handler of the adapters.