Welcome!

XML Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Mike Kavis, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: XML

XML: Article

Introducing Microsoft InfoPath 2003 Part 2

Introducing Microsoft InfoPath 2003 Part 2

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:

  • Microsoft.BizTalk.DefaultPipelines
  • Microsoft.BizTalk.GlobalPropertySchemas
  • System
  • System.Xml
One of these references is to a new feature called pipelines. These define a .NET or COM component that defines and links to the various processing stages of either sending or receiving a message. Each portion of these components specifies a messaging stage. For example, these stages include encoding/decoding, assembly/disassembly, and encryption/decryption. The pipeline designer allows the developer to modify, change, or augment the specific order of these stages.

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').

Defining Messages
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.

Orchestration Design
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.

Summary
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.

Side bar

Pipelines
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:

  • Decrypter
  • Decoder
  • Disassembler
  • Validator
  • Party Resolution

    Default component order in the XMLTransmit pipeline:

  • Assembler
  • Encoder
  • Encrypter
  • More Stories By Thom Robbins

    Thom Robbins is a senior technology specialist with Microsoft. He is a frequent contributor to various magazines, including .NET Developer's Journal and SOA Web Services Journal. Thom is also a frequent speaker at a variety of events that include VS Live and others. When he's not writing code and helping customers, he spends his time with his wife at their home in New Hampshire.

    Comments (0)

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    @ThingsExpo Stories
    The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.

    ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

    "BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
    The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
    “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.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
    DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
    "People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
    The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
    "At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    "For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
    Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
    We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
    Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
    The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
    As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...