This is the third in a series of posts on the new features included in BizTalk Server 2010 Beta. Enabling the BizTalk mapper and the BizTalk Adapter Pack in Windows Workflow Foundation is the starting point of Microsoft’s aim for a deep integration between BizTalk Server and Windows Server AppFabric.
The first added feature is a new ‘BizTalk’ section added to the workflow activities toolbox containing the mapper activity. The mapper interface is the same as the enhanced BizTalk Server 2010 Beta mapper. The code activity (from Program Files\Microsoft BizTalk Server 2010\Developer Tools\ Microsoft.ServiceModel.Channels.MapperActivity.dll) serializes the input object, performs the transformation, and de-serializes the output into the outbound object. This is a valuable asset for WF developers, especially when dealing with more complex interfaces/classes where visual mapping is more natural and easier to support.
The other added feature is the Add Adapter Service Reference option from the workflow project. This brings up the usual BizTalk Adapter Pack window to consume LOB adapters. Once you have selected all the operations you want to use from the LOB adapter new activities are created in your workflow toolbox for them (don’t forget to rebuild the project). These then allow you to call your LOB system directly from your workflow by using input and output messages. This feature allows WF service developers to expose LOB applications as services with little or no coding.
There have been a few posts about the new features added as part of BizTalk + AppFabric in the Beta including sample solutions. I have compiled the following list which I highly recommend:
- BizTalk + AppFabric: An Introduction by the BizTalk team: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/biztalk_server_team_blog/archive/2010/06/09/biztalk-appfabric-an-introduction.aspx
- BizTalk + AppFabric, Better Together by Trace Young (BizTalk Technical Writer at Microsoft): http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/biztalk-appfabric-better-together.aspx
- Using the New BizTalk Mapper Shape in a Windows Workflow Service by Richard Seroter: http://seroter.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/using-the-new-biztalk-mapper-shape-in-a-windows-workflow-service/
- Using the BizTalk mapper activity in AppFabric workflows by Sam Vanhoutte: http://www.codit.eu/Blog/post/2010/06/02/Using-the-BizTalk-mapper-activity-in-AppFabric-workflows.aspx
- Using the LOB Activity in AppFabric workflows by Sam Vanhoutte: http://www.codit.eu/Blog/post/2010/06/04/Using-the-LOB-Activity-in-AppFabric-workflows.aspx
- Several BizTalk related presentations at Tech Ed America 2010 http://www.msteched.com/2010
Final licensing details are still to be released by Microsoft. As Kent Weare has pointed out there were hints at the “Build Composite Applications That Include Line-of-Business Systems in 15 Minutes” presentation at TechEd 2010 America that hints at the following (still to be confirmed!):
- There will be an option to install the BizTalk + AppFabric feature by itself (i.e. no need to install the whole of BizTalk)
- The Developer edition will be free
- At least BizTalk Server Standard edition will be required in production
Enjoy the new BizTalk + AppFabric features. Let me know how you are using or considering using it on your projects and any issues you run into by adding comments to this post.