by August 1, 2010 0 comments

In this increasingly connected world, no application is an island anymore. 
If you look at any typical enterprise, it will have multiple applications each
having different sets of data. When these applications are created, they are
designed to operate independently. For example, an enterprise will have an
application to manage employee details. The enterprise will also have a pay
processing system. When a change is made in the employee database, the
information also needs to flow into the pay processing system. When such a
requirement comes, an enterprise can’t just throw away current applications and
build new one.

The first time an enterprise needs two such applications to talk to each
other, they create a proprietary interface to integrate them. Now as the
integration needs keep on increasing, they keep adding these proprietary
interfaces till in becomes a messy spaghetti of such interfaces. To solve this
problem, a class of platforms were designed. These platforms work as integration
brokers between all the different applications in the enterprise. These
platforms translate the message format of one application to the data and
message format of other application. Microsoft’s BizTalk Server connects
heterogeneous systems – that means you can use BizTalk Server to not only
connect application on Microsoft platforms and also to connect applications
which are on third party platforms.

Direct Hit!

Applies To: Solution architects,
USP: Mapper enhancements in BizTalk Server 2010 dramatically
enhance developer productivity in creating and maintaining maps.
Primary Link:

Search Engine Keywords:BizTalk, Transformations, Mapping

A key challenge in all integration products is to translate messages coming
from one application into the format understood by the other application.
BizTalk Server has solved the problem by introducing a visual tool called
BizTalk Mapper.  BizTalk Mapper enables developers to define transformations
between two messages interactively. In BizTalk Server, messages are handled as
XML Schemas (XSD). BizTalk Mapper generates Extensible Stylesheet Language
Transformations (XSLT) that is used by BizTalk Server’s runtime engine to
transform messages.

Mapper basics
In BizTalk Mapper, you start with an incoming schema representing the
message needing transformation and destination schema representing the message
which will be generated after transformation. Some of the transformation can be
done by assigning elements from one schema directly to the elements in other
schema. You can do this in the BizTalk Mapper by just drawing a line (called
link) between these schema elements. BizTalk Mapper also provides tools for
scenarios where a whole structure is to be mapped from one schema to another.

Not all transformations are straight forward; some require manipulation of
input data for generating the correct output. For these manipulations BizTalk
Mapper provides some out of the box shapes called "functoids." Functoids take
inputs either from the input schema or other functoids and perform specified
operations on them. For example, you can use a "String Concatenate" functoid to
combine two strings. This functoid can be used when, let’s say, the first name
and last name coming in from the input schema needs to be combined because the
output schema only takes a full name.

BizTalk Mapper provides a wide variety of functoids – logical operations,
string manipulation, mathematical operations, date/time manipulation, scientific
operation, database operations, scripting, etc. Apart from these functoids,
BizTalk Mapper also provides an SDK that allows you to easily create your own
custom functoids.

BizTalk Mapper provides a wide variety of functoids –
logical operations, string manipulation, mathematical operations etc.

After creating the map using the graphical tool, you can compile it to
generate XSLT, which BizTalk Server uses to transform the messages. You can also
validate the map to ensure that the correct output is generated. You can also
test maps against sample input messages.

What’s New in BizTalk Server 2010
The complexity of maps created in BizTalk Mapper has been increasing at a
rapid pace with the increasing size of messages being processed and increasing
complexity of the integration solutions. The complexity of the maps made it
difficult for users to create maps in graphical tools and a nightmare to
understand/maintain them. Because mapping is the biggest development work in
typical integration solutions, improving the usability of the mapper was a key
focus area to enhance developer productivity for BizTalk Server 2010. The
BizTalk Server team collaborated with Microsoft Research to identify
improvements and features that can have great impact on developer productivity.

One of the problems in big maps was the amount of background noise that
distracted you from task at hand. BizTalk Mapper solves the problem by first
hiding and/or dimming out the links that are not relevant to the page area of
the map you are currently viewing. The links where both ends are not currently
in view are now hidden. Even the links where only one end is currently in view
are dimmed out by using a thinner dashed line types. When you select any schema
node, link or a functoid in the map, BizTalk Mapper also brings that in
prominence along with all the relationships associated with it. This in turn
allows you to focus on the selected object and its relationships while reducing
all the background noise. If the relationships are not in the current view,
Mapper scrolls the mapping grid surface to bring it in view. This drastically
reduces the amount of scrolling you had to do previously, to view end-to-end
relationships. After the relationships are in view, you can now hover over
different functoids and links to understand the end to end transformations.

"Relevance View" for schemas is another improvement that makes it easier for
you to focus on only the relevant schema nodes when looking at a map. Because a
map developer is only interested in nodes that are actually part of the map,
hiding the other nodes makes it easier for the developer to understand the full
map better. You can turn on this feature on either the source or destination
schema using toolbar buttons. When the unused nodes are hidden, they are still
easily accessible through tooltips. You can also expand a collapsed node to
override the default collapsing of all non-relevant nodes.

Moreover, all the configurations and settings related to a functoid have been
consolidated at a single location making the configuration task much easier and
understandable. BizTalk Mapper also provides visual cues similar to IntelliSense
for functoid configuration errors.

The new incremental search will help you find the relevant object quickly.
You can not only search through the schema nodes, but also through functoids.
You can also select which properties of functoids you would like to search.

When you have big schemas and are looking to have direct links from the
source schema to the destination schema, one of the biggest issues is to find
the relevant nodes in the schemas. Now in BizTalk Mapper if you select any
element in the source or destination schema and invoke "Indicative Matching"
mapper, it will suggest you the possible matches in the other schema. These
matches are generated based on a complex algorithm, which was developed in
collaboration with Microsoft Research. This algorithm looks at various
parameters like how words are shortened by dropping alphabets, relative position
in the schema tree, etc. to generate possible matches.

The enhanced mapper will be released in BizTalk Server 2010. BizTalk Server
2010 comes with other features like a centralized Setting Dashboard for easier
maintenance of configuration, an enhanced Trading Partner Management, new out of
box components like FTPS, etc. BizTalk Server 2010 was released for public Beta
on May 20th, 2010. You can download it and get more information on other new
features from

Deepak Jain, Senior Program Manager, BizTalk Server, Microsoft India
Development Center, Hyderabad

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