Download new functoid

by eliasen 13. November 2008 19:51

Hi all

I have had on my to do list for ages, that I should start developing some functoids that might be nice to have.

Well, finally I have started, and my first functoid can be downloaded from http://www.eliasen.eu/DownloadSoftware.aspx.

Note, that the eliasen.eu domain has just been moved from one hosting company to another, which means that the link might not work for another day or so.

Comments, bug reports, suggestions, and so on are very welcome.

--
eliasen

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Comments need approval

by eliasen 12. November 2008 23:07

Hi all

I have changed the config of my blog software (dasBlog) so all comments have to be approved by me. I hate to have to do this, but apparently, the upgrade to a newer version has made it easy for spammers to write silly comments with links to all sorts of weird web sites (I guess they are weird - naturally, I have never clicked on one...). I have already delete 5 inappropriate comments to posts, and they seem to come faster and faster.

I will ask the programmers of dasBlog to see what is happening, and then disable the approval flow once I have it solved.

I apologize for the inconvenience.

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eliasen

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Using BizTalk to integrate to Excel spreadsheets - Part II

by eliasen 12. November 2008 00:08

Hi all

So, it is time for the second part of the series about using the FarPoint BizTalk adapter for Excel spreadsheets. You can find my first post in the series, which was about the installation of the component here.

So, this post is about the wizard that guides you through creating a schema for an Excel spreadsheet.

I created a simple spreadsheet to test with. It has two sheets, which you can see here:

spread_1

spread_2

Basically, two sheets - one with order lines and one with comments. So, firing up the wizard:

spread_wizard_1

The first thing to do is to add a new item to your project, and choose the new schema type "Spreadsheet Schema Wizard". The wizard fires up automatically, when you click "Add".

spread_wizard_2

The first screen of the wizard isn't really a surprise :-) It wants to you tell it which file to use as a base for the schema, and give a target namespace and inform it about what code page to use.

spread_wizard_3

When browsing for files, I noticed that the components apparently not only deals with spreadsheets (Excel 97-2003 as well as 2007) but also delimited files. So note to my self: Look at that functionality later on - maybe it is better than BizTalks built-in support for that, or perhaps more suitable in some situations. Maybe that's a blog post that will appear at some point :-)

spread_wizard_4

So, a few more settings to set, all of which are described in the documentation.

spread_wizard_5

Now, it shows me the data in the first sheet of the spreadsheet. It has removed all cells that it has decided are not used for data. Now, I need to select the cells with data in them, like this:

spread_wizard_6

and when I click on the next sheet (Comments), I get to select data from that sheet as well:

spread_wizard_7

Notice, that I can only select rows - I can not select single cells or leave some columns out.

spread_wizard_8

The next step is to select names for the columns, choose whether they should be elements or attributes and also the data type of the columns.

spread_wizard_9

There are four data types available, double, float, datetime and string.

spread_wizard_10

Just to find the difference between the float and double, I chose one of each in my example and clicked "Finish".

spread_wizard_11

The resulting schema looks like the one above. For each sheet, there is a sheetname attribute, a header record and a record for the data, which is reoccurring. The double and float elements were translated into the xs:float and xs:double types... not really surprising, you might say :-)

spread_wizard_12

Looking at the properties of the schema, the path to the base spreadsheet has been pre filled for you in the "Input Instance Filename" and the type is set to "Native".

spread_wizard_13

When validating the instance, I get this XML, which looks like I expected it to.

So, to sum up, the wizard is really simple to use and it takes basically no time to create the schema.

The major thing I would like to see improved is that I can only have one type of data in one sheet, meaning that the data in all rows must be for instance order lines, inventory items, or something like that. I can't have an order header and the order lines in the same sheet, and I can't have a sheet with an order header which spans multiple lines. This really restricts the spreadsheets that can be parsed.

My next post in the series will be about the runtime, where I will setup a running instance of my project and see how it functions at runtime.

You can dowload my project here.

--
eliasen

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Danish language version for Togi

by eliasen 11. November 2008 01:27

Hi all

For those of you, who use Togi as a Twitter client, there is now a Danish translation of it available for download... and, as you will notice on the page, I did the Danish translation :-) Although... I use the English version myself... but that is besides the point :-)

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eliasen

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Using BizTalk to integrate to Excel spreadsheets - Part I

by eliasen 10. November 2008 22:49

Hi all

So, I finally decided to try out the FarPoint BizTalk adapter for Excel spreadsheets. It's always nice to have tried as many adapters as possible, so I can use this knowledge when talking to customers.

This post is the first of a series of posts about this product. The first post is about installation and the basic functionality. The next posts will go deeper into separate functionality.

Let me just make one thing clear before I begin: I am not in any way affiliated with FarPoint Technologies, nor are they paying me anything to write these posts.

So, to begin; The installation was easy. Just a next-next-finish wizard. All the information needed from you is the product code, a serial number, and the installation folder, if you want to change that.

After installation, I have the functionality I would expect from this kind of product:

  1. Pipeline components to use in pipelines
    excel_disassembler_component excel_assembler_component
  2. Schema extension for the schemas
    image
  3. Wizard to help me create the schemas
    add_schema
  4. Documentation
    spread_documentation

So, to sum up:

  1. The installation is easy.
  2. The architecture of the solution seems to be exactly what I would expect, ie. pipeline components, schema extensions and a wizard.

My next post in the series will take a deeper look at the wizard for creating schemas for use by the pipeline disassembler and assembler.

--
eliasen

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Transactions giving you a headache

by eliasen 10. November 2008 18:28

Hi all

In almost all multiple server installations of BizTalk I have encountered, there has been issues with MSDTC. MSDTC is Microsofts product for handling distributed transactions, meaning transactions that span multiple servers. BizTalk uses this in high scale, when running transactions against SQL Server, to maintain consistency in BizTalks databases.

All issues with MSDTC are solvable - sometimes it is just hard to figure out what is wrong.

First of all, always use the DTCTester tool at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/293799 to test your MSDTC installation. If this tool reports no errors and you are still having issues, then most likely, MSDTC isn't the cause of your issues.

If something is wrong with MSDTC, I have encountered four major issues:

  1. MSDTC doesn't run on either of the server. Solve this by starting MSDTC. Steps to start MSDTC (Note, that the MMC snapin is buggy, and it might appear that the "Component Services" node has no children... but it does, trust me :-) ):
    1. Go to "Administrative Tools" => "Component Services"
    2. Go to "Component Services" => "Computers" => "My Computer"
    3. Right click "My Computer" and choose "Start MS DTC".
      start_msdtc
  2. MSDTC isn't configured for network access on both servers. Solve this in "add/remove windows components" here:
    install_msdtc_network_access
  3. The two servers have the same MS DTC ID. This ocurs if both servers are clones of the same server or if one of the ervers is a clone of the other server. Usually, when cloning servers, sysprep is used to clear out those errors, but in case it hasn't been used, here is how you fix it:
    1. Run "msdtc -uninstall" from a command prompt
    2. reboot
    3. Run "msdtc -install" from a command prompt
    4. reboot
  4. You can't ping the servers by hostname, which is required. This basically means, that from both servers, you need to be able to ping the other server by hostname - pinging by IP address isn't enough. If you can't ping by hostname, you have two options:
    1. Get the network administrator to update your DNS
    2. Enter new information into the hosts file in c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc

Hope this helps.

--
eliasen

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BizTalk 2004 | BizTalk 2006

Upgraded blog software to 2.2.8279.16125

by eliasen 9. November 2008 01:28

Hi all

Finally, I have managed to end the upgrading-hell it has been. I am now up to version 2.2.8279.16125 of dasBlog, and this is currently the latest release. I didn't have the guts to upgrade directly from 1.9 to 2.2, so I went over 2.0 and 2.1 to get there.

To me, everything looks ok - let me know if you discover anything else.

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eliasen

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Upgraded blog software to 2.1.8102.813

by eliasen 9. November 2008 00:15

Hi all

I have just upgraded dasBlog to 2.1.8102.813.

I hope this hasn't introduced weird behavior. Please contact me if you encounter errors or issues.

Thanks

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eliasen

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Upgraded blog software to 2.0.7226.0

by eliasen 8. November 2008 23:47

Hi all

I have just upgraded to dasBlog version 2.0.7226.0.

I am hoping it went without issues, but would appreciate an email if you discover any issues.

Thanks.

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eliasen

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Survey about Business Rules Engine

by eliasen 23. October 2008 18:57

Hi all

The CSD/BizTalk Product Group is conducting a survey to assess customer usage of the Business Rules Engine (BRE).

They have sent a link to us MVP's to get our opinion, but would also like the opinion of BizTalk consultants, BizTalk customers, and so on.

If you can spare a few minutes, please take the survey at https://live.datstat.com/MSCSD-Collector/Survey.ashx?Name=BRE_Usage_Survey_Blog

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eliasen

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About the author

Jan Eliasen is 37 years old, divorced and has 2 sons, Andreas (July 2004) and Emil (July 2006).

Jan has a masters degree in computer science and is currently employed at Logica Denmark as an IT architect.

Jan is a 6 times Microsoft MVP in BizTalk Server (not currently an MVP) and proud co-author of the BizTalk 2010 Unleashed book.

BizTalk Server 2010 Unleashed


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6 times: July 2004, July 2008, July 2009, July 2010, July 2011, and July 2012. Not currently an MVP.

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