|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 cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Jan. 19, 2017 01:15 AM EST Reads: 6,087
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jan. 19, 2017 12:45 AM EST Reads: 4,643
The security needs of IoT environments require a strong, proven approach to maintain security, trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vic...
Jan. 18, 2017 09:45 PM EST Reads: 6,513
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Jan. 18, 2017 09:30 PM EST Reads: 7,628
Big Data, cloud, analytics, contextual information, wearable tech, sensors, mobility, and WebRTC: together, these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Erik Perotti, Senior Manager of New Ventures on Plantronics’ Innovation team, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it m...
Jan. 18, 2017 09:30 PM EST Reads: 5,741
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Jan. 18, 2017 07:30 PM EST Reads: 3,146
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus o...
Jan. 18, 2017 06:15 PM EST Reads: 4,197
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
Jan. 18, 2017 05:30 PM EST Reads: 4,886
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Jan. 18, 2017 04:45 PM EST Reads: 4,596
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
Jan. 18, 2017 04:30 PM EST Reads: 4,801
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Jan. 18, 2017 03:30 PM EST Reads: 3,689
"LinearHub provides smart video conferencing, which is the Roundee service, and we archive all the video conferences and we also provide the transcript," stated Sunghyuk Kim, CEO of LinearHub, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 18, 2017 02:45 PM EST Reads: 1,597
Things are changing so quickly in IoT that it would take a wizard to predict which ecosystem will gain the most traction. In order for IoT to reach its potential, smart devices must be able to work together. Today, there are a slew of interoperability standards being promoted by big names to make this happen: HomeKit, Brillo and Alljoyn. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, will review what happens when smart devices don’t work togethe...
Jan. 18, 2017 02:00 PM EST Reads: 420
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
Jan. 18, 2017 01:00 PM EST Reads: 5,618
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Jan. 18, 2017 01:00 PM EST Reads: 5,106
Discover top technologies and tools all under one roof at April 24–28, 2017, at the Westin San Diego in San Diego, CA. Explore the Mobile Dev + Test and IoT Dev + Test Expo and enjoy all of these unique opportunities: The latest solutions, technologies, and tools in mobile or IoT software development and testing. Meet one-on-one with representatives from some of today's most innovative organizations
Jan. 18, 2017 12:15 PM EST Reads: 1,552
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
Jan. 18, 2017 12:00 PM EST Reads: 5,769
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
Jan. 18, 2017 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,962
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Jan. 18, 2017 12:00 PM EST Reads: 4,237
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Jan. 18, 2017 10:30 AM EST Reads: 3,120