Suppressing attributes in a map

by eliasen 14. October 2008 01:11

Hi all

Today, a former customer of mine called me and had a question. She is using updategrams to insert rows into a table in SQL Server, and she had a problem with dates. The input CSV sometimes had an empty string for a date.

This would translate in the XML to an element with an empty string inside it. This would then get mapped to an attribute for that column in the table, and when SQL Server read the updategram, the 01-01-1900 was inserted into the date field because no other value was specified.

The customer wants null to be inserted instead. She asked me how to do this, and I said that that was easy - I would send her an example later this night.

So I started preparing my example, and it turns out, that my approach only works for elements and records - I have never before had to suppress an attribute, so I wasn't aware of this. My approach being, bye the way, that I connect a logical functoid to the destination node that I don't want created under some circumstances. But a logical functoid can not be connected to an attribute in the destination schema. Bummer.

So I eventually went with a custom scripting functoid, and my example ended up like this:

Input schema:

image

Just a plain schema with three elements, all required.

The output schema:

image

This schema has three attributes to simulate the updategram and also an element just to show the approach for elements.

The map ended up like this:

image

Element1 goes to att1 and Element3 goes to att3. No magic there.

As for element2 in the output, I have used to functoids to get it to be created only when a string is present in the source. The first functoid (the red one) is a "String Size" functoid, which returns the length of a string. The green functoid is a "Not equal to" functoid, which has the string length as one parameter and the constant "0" as the other parameter. The order of these parameters do not matter. So basically, at runtime, the element2 element is created if and only if, the length of the string in Element2 is larger than 0. For this particular customer, I could have used the "Logical Date" functoid instead of the combination of these two functoids, since that will return true if the input string is a date, which is exactly what I want. But the above solution is more general and applies to a lot more scenarios. Downside being, of course, that the above solution will accept a "abc" as a string, and since the length is larger than 0, it will get to the output.

Anyway, the customer didn't have elements, but attributes. for this I had to use a custom scripting functoid with this code:

image

Basically, this call template takes one parameter, being the element in the source that might be empty. It then check the value to see if it is different from the empty string, and if it is not the empty string, an attribute is created and the value for the attribute is set to the input parameter.

 

Now, as a side node, the input my customer has is a CSV file, so actually, in this case you can also take advantage of a nice little property on the schema. To demonstrate, I have created a flat file schema for a CSV input:

image

As you can see in the properties window, I have set "Suppress Empty Nodes" to "Yes". When BizTalk parses the flat file, the nodes that would be created as empty nodes now aren't created at all. This means, that the map can just look like this:

image

No functoids required, and it will give the exact same output as the above map. Do notice, that this only works with flat files where you make BizTalk suppress empty nodes.

So, that was all... feel free to ask questions :-)

You can find my demonstration project here

I hope this turns out to be helpful to someone.

--
eliasen

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Positional flat files with empty records

by eliasen 29. September 2008 23:01

Hi all

Today i read an email from a guy who had a problem with optional elements in an input giving problems in a positional flat file output. The issue being, of course, that if an element in the input of a map is optional, it might be missing. If the element is missing, it will not be created in the destination of a map, and therefore, the flat file assembler will complain because it needs the element to create the correct positional structure.

I seem to have it working, and will here walk through my solution to explain it.

First of all, I have a Schema for the XML input:

All elements are 1..1 except Element2, which has minOccurs=0.

Secondly, I have a schema for the flat file output:

All elements are mandatory. The record delimiter is 0x0d 0x0a and the two subrecords to the root are positional records.

The map is pretty straight forward:

Just plain connections between the elements.

For testing purposes, I have two test instances, that validate against the input schema. They are exactly the same, except one doesn't have the "Element2"-element in it.

If I try to test the map with the input that has the "Element2"-element, and turn on validation of both input and output, and let the output be "Native", then it will work. If, however, I test the map inside Visual Studio .NET with the example that does not have the Element2 element, it will fail. It will report that:

Output validation error: The element 'FirstElements' has incomplete content. List of possible elements expected: 'Element6'.

So basically, the map does not create the Element6 element in the destination schema, and since the Element6 element is required, it fails validation.

BUT, here comes the surprise; It works if it is deployed. So basically, there must be some inconstency between how the map tester in VS.NET works and how the stuff works when running.

 

I tried changing the schemas to include an element inside the first record as the last element, such that the input has a "SomeElements" record with three elements inside it, of which only the second is optional. Likewise I added a new element in the output schema and updated the map. You can see all three here:

 

Still, I only get errors when testing inside Visual Studio .NET and not when things are deployed and running... Which actually bugs me a bit, but that is a whole other story.

So, to sum up, I only have three explanations as to why it works for me and not for the fellow with the issue:

  1. He is using a BizTalk version that is not BizTalk 2006 R2
  2. He hasn't tried deploying it, and is relying on the map tester
  3. He has some bogus values for the two properties I will mention below

At the end of this post, let me just quickly mention to properties that are available for flat file schemas:

The "Generate Empty Nodes" and "Suppress Empty Nodes" properties might be helpful. They are defined here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa559329.aspx

Hope this helps someone.

You can find my project here: FlatFileEmptyElements.zip (27.55 KB)

--
eliasen

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Patrick Tisseghem is dead

by eliasen 5. September 2008 19:04

Hi all

I have just been informed by my MVP Lead, that Patrick Tisseghem, a very excellent SharePoint guru and co-founder of U2U has passed away a couple of days ago.

I have had the pleasure of listening t Patrick talk only once, but he left an impression of a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic professional, as well as a great guy who is happy to meet people and talk to them about what ever is one his/their minds.

My thoughts go to his wife, his children and the rest of his family.

--
eliasen

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The Bloggers Guide finally has a permanent space

by eliasen 2. September 2008 20:44

Hi all

I am probably the 234'th blogger to write about this, but just in case...

Alan Smith has decided to maintain two bloggers guides for now... One is the commonly known Bloggers Guide to BizTalk. The new one is the Bloggers Guide to Oslo, which deals with the oslo related technologies, such as WCF and WF.

Alan has had the guide on gotdotnet earlier, but now he has created the http://bloggersguides.net/ site, which I highly recommend you monitor closely :-)

That's all, folks.

--
eliasen

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Aalborg .NET User Group

by eliasen 1. September 2008 20:01

Hi all

I am happy to announce, that a couple of great guys are planning to start a .NET User Group here in Aalborg, Denmark, where I am happy to live.

Information about the group can be found at their web site at http://www.aanug.dk/ - no information yet, though. It will appear soon, they promise :-)

Looking forward to seeing what it will be about. Hopefully, I can spread the word about BizTalk and learn more / tell about Oslo.

Anyway, if you are in the Aalborg area, consider emailing the guys and join the group. Lets get a good start!

--
eliasen

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Colours

by eliasen 17. August 2008 20:02

Hi everyone

Yes, I know that my web page is in blue colours. Yes, I know my blog is in blue colours. Yes, I know my new BizTalk site is in blue colours. And yess, I know that my sons web page is in blue colours.

Yes, I like blue colours - quit whining! :-D

--
eliasen

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New collection of BizTalk artefacts

by eliasen 17. August 2008 19:41

Hi everyone.

I often realize, that I need some information, but can't really remember what the thing was called or where to get it.

So I decided to keep track of all the BizTalk stuff I find on my way at http://biztalk.eliasen.dk - which is now officially launched :-)

Until now, not much information is there, but it will grow eventually.

Please, always also use the http://biztalk247.com website, since it really has a great collection of data... But feel free to use my new site, if you want :-)

Hope this is useful for someone...

--
eliasen

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Microsoft Most Valuable Professional

by eliasen 1. July 2008 20:03

Hi everyone!

A couple of hours ago, I received a mail from Microsoft stating, that I have been awarded the MVP title!

I cannot begin to describe, how happy I am with this, since I made it a personal goal of mine a couple of years ago, to get the title back. I had it from July 2004 to July 2005, as some of you know.

I have even danced a little bit in our living room with my hands above my head, I must confess :-)

I truly am happy to get the title back, since it means that Microsoft values my skills within the BizTalk field and that I must have helped a lot of people in the online communities.

To learn more about the MVP program, you can click here.

--
eliasen

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Upgraded dasBlog

by eliasen 4. May 2008 19:24

Hi everyone.

I have just upgraded the software on my blog to dasBlog version 1.9.7174.1.

I hope it has been smooth for you all, and if you notie any difficulties, please let me know.

Later, I will upgarde to dasBlog 2.0, which has been out forquite some time, but one step at the time, ight? :-)

--
eliasen

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Personal

Goodbye thy:data, hello Logica (WM-data)

by eliasen 18. March 2008 20:00
Hi everyone

Well, after 7 months at thy:data it seemed clear to me, that thy:data wasn't the place I wanted to work. Luckily at the same time, my old employer WM-data, that has changed its name to Logica, was searching for someone exactly with my skills. So it didn't take long for us to reach an agreement, and therefore, on the 1'st April, I am starting at Logica.

I am really looking forward to this - I will be going back to all my old colleagues, and my assignments will vary much, going from presale, writing quotes and promoting Logica to Microsoft to actual design and development of large integration projects, based on BizTalk, .NET3.0 and stuff.

Just 2 weeks to go...

--
eliasen

Tags:

Personal

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.

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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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