|By Thom Robbins||
|August 6, 2003 11:58 AM EDT||
In Part 1 of this article (XML-J, Vol. 4, issue 6) we looked at creating a solution that used a new product in the Microsoft Office System 2003 called InfoPath. In this installment, I'll show you how to extend the solution created in Part 1 using BizTalk Server 2004.
In Part 1, we created a form that collected new patient information for a health care customer. Once we completed the initial InfoPath solution, the CIO was very impressed with the fact that InfoPath leveraged existing back-end Web services and allowed the company to continue developing using the service-oriented architecture (SOA) that they had invested very heavily in. The CIO's next challenge for my project team was to build an InfoPath solution that extended the patient form and included workflow components. What he wanted was an easy integration into their back-end mainframe system. I can remember his exact words, "Integrate and they will come!" Now we'll do exactly that. I will show you how we extended the solution using BizTalk Server 2004 and how the enhancements in this version make it possible.
What Is BizTalk Server 2004?
BizTalk Server 2004 is the third release of this server product. When we started this project BizTalk Server 2004 was publicly available in Beta 1 (www.microsoft.com/biztalk/beta). This new version is designed to solve three basic common integration scenarios - Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), Business Process Automation (BPA), and Information Worker Integration. The redesigned architecture is built on two main services that enable these: orchestrations that provide the execution framework for business processes, and BizTalk Messaging that enables transformation and routing between business processes.
Orchestrations allow the design, execution, and management of a business process. Workflows are created and saved into executable XML files called an XLANG orchestration. XLANG is a proprietary execution environment of BizTalk Server, but the new version enables the exporting of orchestrations to the Business Process Execution Language for Web Services 1.1 (BPEL4WS) specification. BPEL4WS defines a language for the formal specification of business process and business interaction models. XLANG has been a core component of BizTalk since the first product release but has been substantially enhanced within the new version. XLANG is now an extension of the managed runtime environment of the .NET Framework and this inclusion provides enhanced support for communication, transactions, long-running processes, and state management. These new managed orchestrations appear as a palette in Visual Studio .NET 2003 that allows developers to visually create, edit, and modify workflow processes directly within the development environment. For example, the managed environment enhancements and the new BizTalk Architecture allowed us to develop our initial NewPatientOrchestration without any custom coding. An additional extension to XLANG is a tracking engine. The Business Activity Monitor (BAM) allows business decision makers to monitor business processes and track potential process bottlenecks. Using the dashboard interface of Windows Sharepoint Services the business user is able to monitor, interact with, and even change existing BizTalk processes. The main feature of BAM is the provision of a platform for continual process improvement that is easily configured and managed.
Within BizTalk Server 2004 both messaging and orchestration have been combined into a single subsystem. This combination enables a shared common data store for process, state management, and messaging. During the execution of a process the messaging components handle the transport and mapping while the orchestration executes the defined processes.
The BizTalk Implementation
The CIO tasked the project team with two goals for the NewPatientOrchestration. The first was to publish a Web service that accepted the incoming completed and validated InfoPath forms. The second was to implement a basic transformation that could easily match an existing mainframe upload XML Schema (see 'Defining the Architecture').
The direct integration of BizTalk into the Visual Studio .NET
2003 IDE adds a new set of project types. For the
NewPatientOrchestration and Web service we started with an empty
BizTalk project. This project type created a blank project with
references to the managed assemblies needed to create an
orchestration. The inclusion of BizTalk into the managed environment
means that all default references exist as a managed assembly. These
default references include:
The Microsoft.BizTalk.DefaultPipelines namespace defines the default pipelines: XMLReceive, PassThruReceive, XMLTransmit, and PassThruTransmit. This default reference processes documents using the PassThruReceive and PassThruTransmit function (see sidebar 'Pipelines').
Pipelines are used to process messages that are defined as an XML Schema (XSD). These schema definitions define and maintain the specific message formats and structures used during the orchestration. We created two XSDs that matched the specific schema items and formats that were needed for our orchestration. These were generated using the new XSD schema item within the Visual Studio 2003 IDE (see Figure 1). The first schema (see Figure 2) represented the InfoPath-submitted inbound XML document. The second schema represented the transformation and matched the existing XML message format used for the mainframe system (see Figure 3).
Once we completed both the inbound and transformed schemas it was important to check the specific XSD formats. In many ways, reviewing and comparing a specific message instance is a lot easier than reviewing the schema tree and data types. Creating an XSD can be a very complex process that includes describing all the possible formats and variations within a specific document type. Within the Solutions Explorer, right-clicking the schema and selecting "generate instance" creates a reference document for schema definitions. It is important to remember that this is not a foolproof check, but it really helped to quickly review and validate the XML document.
Messages are the basic unit of communication within an orchestration. Messages consist of one or more parts with context data that describes their properties and content. BizTalk orchestration uses messages to provide the context for interchange between business process participants. Typically, orchestration is broader in scope than a traditional workflow. Each participant is autonomous, and the responsibility of routing a work item is determined by each cooperating participant. BizTalk Orchestration extends the definition of the traditional interaction diagram to include definition and control for decisions, concurrent actions, transactions, and supporting actions. The result of a completed orchestration is an XLANG executable file that represents the description of the business processes.
Within the Visual Studio 2003 IDE, new orchestrations are added in the same way as all other BizTalk items - through the Solutions Explorer and the New Item menu. This adds a file with an ODX extension that contains the XLANG structures. Within the IDE the orchestration page provides a visual interface that presents the underlying XLANG structure. This interface is broken into three sections that define an orchestration. First is the actual design surface or palette. This area is the visual surface where toolbox items are dropped and configured to define the process flow. Using this surface I dropped the send and receive ports that define the inbound and outbound message handler. The second area of the orchestration designer is the Orchestration Types window, which defines the specific port types, correlation types, and role links available within the orchestration. Using this window I was able to define the specific inbound and outbound operations defined for the orchestration. Finally, there is the Orchestration Variable window, which shows the orchestration properties, parameters, ports, messages, variables, correlation sets, and role links available for this orchestration. Using this window I was able to correlate the specific message to either the inbound or outbound port (see Figure 4).
Mapping schema definitions
Within the orchestration designer, the transform shape enables the flow of data from one message to another. This can be done through a direct assignment or a mapping process. The NewPatientOrchestration required a specific map because of required transformation and data translation to the outbound message type. The transform shape provides access to the BizTalk Mapper, which allows the assignment of specific source and destination attributes and provides both transformation and translation of specific schema elements and attributes.
Maps are initialized and defined by placing the transform shape onto the design palette (see Figure 5) and then defining the schema for the source and destination documents. This configuration is then loaded into the BizTalk Mapper, where the actual element and attribute flow from one message to another is defined. Within a map, functoids are used to manipulate the data flow. Functoids are an important part of any map. They provide the ability to map elements and attribute data into different elements and attributes across different structures. Within BizTalk Server 2004 they have become part of the Visual Studio toolbox palette and appear as part of the map. When working on a map you can drag them directly onto the design palette. For example, within the NewPatient Orchestration we dragged the string concatenation onto the map and dragged the source and destination elements between the two (see Figure 6). Within a map, input links correspond to input parameters and lead to the functoid from the left; an output link corresponds to the output parameters and leaves the functoid from the right.
Deploying the Solution
Once the map and orchestration are completed, the solution is ready for deployment. All projects within BizTalk Server 2004 are deployed into a managed assembly as a DLL. This is done by building the solution and then deploying it using the E-Business Web Services Wizard. This wizard provides the option of deploying either an orchestration or an enterprise schema as a Web service. When deploying an orchestration, the wizard starts with the compiled DLL and generates the necessary namespace, Web service name, communication patterns, and request/response objects to build and deploy an ASP.NET Web service project. The wizard identifies the defined ports, location, and schema within the compiled assembly to generate the necessary WSDL file that provides the Web service definition.
Any orchestration that uses only a single Web port is published as a single ASMX file that defaults to the orchestration name. The orchestration that we created used more than one Web port, and the default naming context is the name of the orchestration with an underscore followed by the Web port name. For example, once the NewPatientOrchestration was deployed, the Web port names NewPatientOrchestration_Outbound.asmx and NewPatientOrchestration_Inbound.asmx were assigned. It is important to keep these in mind within InfoPath as these are the service names that that InfoPath will bind to. Once bound to the specific Web service InfoPath has the ability to directly submit and receive data from these defined BizTalk Services.
In this article we developed a fully functional BizTalk process that was deployed as a Web service. We have covered many of the features of BizTalk Orchestration and deployment within the managed environment of the .NET Framework. The real benefit of this architecture was the creation of a Web service that offered workflow and integration capabilities that were easily accessible within the InfoPath environment. Throughout these two articles we have only covered the basics of InfoPath and BizTalk Server. There are still many more features that my health care customer found compelling. I challenge you to take the time to explore these and see the power of InfoPath to help reduce the mountains of paper that we have and BizTalk Server 2004 as a way of providing workflow and structure around existing business process.
A pipeline is a new feature of BizTalk Server 2004 and defines a .NET or COM component that implements a set of predefined interfaces that interact with the BizTalk engine. The default order of the pipeline process for each of the components defines the default set of interfaces and processing order.
Default component order in the XMLReceive pipeline:
Default component order in the XMLTransmit pipeline:
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
Oct. 9, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 285
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Oct. 9, 2015 08:00 AM EDT
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context w...
Oct. 9, 2015 07:30 AM EDT
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Oct. 9, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,880
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
Oct. 9, 2015 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,411
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll share tips on how to speed up business initiatives, harness Big Data and remain one step ahead by apply...
Oct. 9, 2015 05:15 AM EDT Reads: 511
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
Oct. 9, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 570
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
Oct. 9, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 500
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
Oct. 9, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 293
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, will introduce the technologies required for implementing these ideas and some early experiments performed in the Kurento open source software community in areas ...
Oct. 9, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 728
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Oct. 9, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,220
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
Oct. 9, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 167
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Oct. 9, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 209
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Oct. 9, 2015 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 7,028
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
Oct. 9, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,135
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.
Oct. 8, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 597
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Oct. 8, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 119
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Oct. 8, 2015 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 233
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT.
Oct. 8, 2015 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 7,474
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Oct. 8, 2015 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 499