Friday, October 18, 2013

BizTalk 2010 Tools of the Trade

Having worked with BizTalk for several versions now, I've collected a number of "Tools of the Trade" that I thought I would share.  These tools cover a wide variety of aspects within BizTalk 2010 but have all contributed to increased productivity and stability in the environments I've worked in.

Administration

  • BizTalk360 - The most recently added tool to my repertoire, it must be said that this is much more than just a tool.  Saravana Kumar has developed a formidable application that covers a number of topics the most important being monitoring.  No more logging into production environments for discovering problems, the pro active monitoring that can be configured within BizTalk360 can notify interested parties of problems, and it's all configurable via a web interface.  There might be other monitoring solutions out there, but I think Saravana's team has one of the best solutions.
  • BizTalk Deployment Framework - I can't recollect how I deployed my BizTalk applications before this utility, but one thing I know is that before this tool, the process was time consuming and stressful.  Thomas F. Abraham and Scott Colestock have put together a tool that allows a developer or admin to build an .msi file which contains all artifacts associated with a BizTalk application.  Huge kudos to these guys for this tool is a huge time saver in many areas, the most important being deployment.

Development

  • Pipeline Component Wizard - Need to create a custom pipeline component?  Trying to remember all the different methods required of a custom pipeline component class can be difficult.  Let this wizard do the heavy lifting.  Not the best documentation and a little buggy, but a big time saver in this area.

Testing


  • Pipeline Testing - Need to unit test that new pipeline component you just created with the Pipeline Component Wizard?  Tomas Restrpo has a testing library that can help.  Before I even think of leveraging a custom pipeline component, I'll test it with this library.  This library can save you an enormous amount of time when troubleshooting pipeline components.
  • WCF Storm - Working with Web Service or WCF Services?  This app can test your endpoints whether they are associated with BizTalk or not.  Since my current work environment uses the Pub/Sub Message pattern extensively, this tool has worked for unit testing our endpoints.

Debugging

  • Fiddler - The go to standard for web debugging in general, I use Fiddler for all web service troubleshooting.  I love the tools ability to inspect the raw XML.  Especially useful when failures on BizTalk send ports.
This is just a start to the list, and I plan on including more tools as I discover them.  If you have any suggestions for tools in any area within BizTalk, please let me know.
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