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BizTalk Server Development Best Practices. Brian Loesgen Principal SOA Architect Microsoft Corporation. Alan Smith Developer, Trainer, Mentor, Evangelist KnowIT. Theme for this presentation…. Chronology of this presentation This is an interactive presentation, not a multicast

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biztalk server development best practices

BizTalk Server DevelopmentBest Practices

Brian Loesgen

Principal SOA Architect

Microsoft Corporation

Alan Smith

Developer, Trainer, Mentor, Evangelist


theme for this presentation
Theme for this presentation….
  • Chronology of this presentation
  • This is an interactive presentation, not a multicast
  • Audience participation is encouraged – AND EXPECTED!
  • You may have had experiences we have not, we want to hear about them, and they could help others. Please share!
  • Infrastructure considerations:
    • Development environments
    • Project structure
    • Naming conventions
    • Deployment
    • Debugging
    • Testing
  • Architectural Considerations
    • Loose coupling
    • Exception Management
    • BAM
    • Schema visibility
    • Service-enablement
  • Administration Best Practices
development environments
Development Environments
  • BizTalk is a *server* product, there is no “play” button in VS.NET for it
  • DO NOT use XP as a development environment
  • Shared environments can be problematic (other people stopping your services, consuming your messages, polluting your event log, etc)
  • Virtual machines are the way the experts do it
  • Fully self-contained virtual machines are best
    • Capture messages from external systems like SAP so you can “spoof” them when disconnected
project structure general
Project Structure: General
  • Assuming a local database, change the server name to “.”
  • Use relative paths
  • Share a key between projects in an application
  • Define and adopt a common folder structure, something along the lines of:
    • C:\projects\<client>\<application>\
      • Projects
      • Documentation
      • Deployment\Scripts
      • Deployment\Bindings
      • Etc…
project structure stratification
Project Structure: Stratification
  • For simple “one off” projects, it’s OK to put all artifacts into a single project
  • For more complex projects, stratify projects by artifact type:
    • Schemas
    • Maps
    • Process
    • Pipelines
    • Helpers
naming conventions
Naming Conventions
  • Naming conventions don’t really matter in your isolated environment, but become absolutely critical when deployed to a share environment
  • Naming convention should be adhered to
  • Newbies sometimes have issues renaming artifacts as BizTalk uses the initial name for things like namespaces, be careful renaming and be aware of the points of impact
  • Deployment of a BizTalk solution does not have to be difficult
  • MSIs are *the* unit of deployment, use them!
  • Creation of MSIs should be scripted using BTSTask, yielding a highly-repeatable way to add resources to a BizTalk application and generate MSIs (sometimes it’s OK to use the UI)
  • Be kind to your infrastructure folks, use different binding files for different environments. You should NOT include production passwords of course, but accounts, URIs and machine names are usually OK; providing them could eliminate the risk of confusion/mis-configuration
  • NEVER deploy to production from Visual Studio (and keep it off your production servers)!
  • Remember that other resources can be packaged in the BizTalk solution MSI, including:
    • Business rules
    • Virtual roots (eg: Web service receive locations)
    • Helper classes that need to be GACed
    • Support DLLs that may be required by an adapter (eg: SAP) that can either go into the GAC or in the file system
    • Post-processing scripts
  • Once I have my script to generate an MSI, it takes a couple of minutes to create a complete deployment package for a complex solution, and… it only takes a couple of minutes to install it in a target production environment
  • Get the SysInternals Debug View tool, write breadcrumbs for yourself from an expression shape with System.Diagnostics.Trace.WriteLine
  • The Best Practices Analyzer can be a great platform reviewer for you
  • Spend time getting to know the BizTalk admin tool
    • Notice the orchestration debugger
    • Notice the subscription viewer, look at some subscriptions, see what’s under the covers
  • Nunit is a great tool that can be used for BizTalk solutions too
  • BizUnit build on Nunit by adding additional test steps
  • From a purist standpoint, this is however not really unit testing, it’s functional testing
  • Profile your orchestrations to ensure code coverage from the test
loose coupling
  • BizTalk is a pub/sub engine, use it!!
  • Use direct-bound ports where possible
    • Decouples processes
    • More extensible, new subscribers can be added post-deployment
    • Promotes a services-oriented mindset
  • Filter options:
    • Context properties (best choice as not bound by message type)
    • Message content that has been promoted as promoted properties
exception management
Exception Management
  • BizTalk solutions often span multiple technologies, you need a unified exception handling mechanism
  • The ESB Guidance provides such a mechanism
  • An effective exception management strategy will simplify troubleshooting, and allow delegation of troubleshooting to non-administrators
  • In most cases, operational metrics are very important and useful as they can provide insights into solution performance
  • You have not properly implemented a solution if there is no visibility into the solution
  • BAM can be used for operational metrics (“show me order service failures over time”), as well as business metrics (“how many orders did we get?”)
  • You have BAM, use it!
schema visibility
Schema Visibility
  • Define canonical schemas that are your internal representation of data
  • Generally, canonical schemas should not be exposed to the outside world as this would complicate change. Instead, map to your canonical schema
service enablement
  • By default, Windows 2003 Server is shipped as a file server
  • [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\BTSSvc$BTSHOST\CLR Hosting] “MaxIOThreads”=dword:00000064 “MaxWorkerThreads”=dword:00000064 “MinIOThreads”=dword:00000019 “MinWorkerThreads”=dword:00000019
  • See for proper usage!
seek out knowledge
Seek out knowledge
  • Remember “tehInterweb”! ;) You are not alone, there are many, many BizTalk resources out there that can help you
  • Did you know an SDK installed when you installed BizTalk? It’s true, take a look, lots of valuable samples
  • Online samples:
  • BizTalk is a development environment and platform, and as such, encompasses a broad range of technologies
  • BizTalk development does not need to be difficult
  • BizTalk deployment does not need to be difficult
  • Adherence to standards, and accepted best practices, will greatly simplify development, troubleshooting and deployment of BizTalk solutions
resources microsoft home pages
Resources: Microsoft Home Pages

BizTalk Product Website:

BizTalk Server Developer Center:

BizTalk Server TechCenter on TechNet:

Microsoft SOA:

resources learning links
Resources: Learning Links

BizTalk Server 2006 Tutorials:

BizTalk Server Virtual Labs:

BizTalk Beginner Training Roadmap (BizTalk Server Team Blog):

Learning BizTalk Server 2006 - BizTalk Server Developer Center:

BizTalk Webcasts:

resources tools
Resources: Tools

BizTalk Server 2006 Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) :

BizTalk Documenter:


BizTalk Pattern Wizard:

BizTalk Orchestration Profiler:

resources blogs
Resources: Blogs

BizTalk, WCF, WF, SOA, ESB aggregator:

Bloggers Guide to BizTalk (archived posts, “best of”):

Alan Smith’s blog:

Brian Loesgen’s blog: