BizTalk Server 2016 Admin console improvements

April 13, 2016

Beginning of this month Microsoft announced “BizTalk Server 2016 CTP”, a community technology preview version, that gives access to early adapters to play with the product and understand the new features. The official release is planned for sometime this fall. This is a very important news for existing and future BizTalk server customers, because it implicitly means Microsoft is committing another 10 years to support BizTalk Server. Any new release of Microsoft product has 5 years normal support and another 5 years extended support.

You can read the official announcement and what’s new in BizTalk Server 2016, there were different buckets of improvements and new features in BizTalk Server 2016 like development, platform alignment, industry standards alignment, administration improvements etc. In this article let’s take a look at the some of the improvements that’s been made on BizTalk Server Admin console, we will also highlight similar or advanced features that we have in BizTalk360 if applicable.

Import and Export improvements

One of the improvements that’s been made in this area (import/export binding files) is the ability to choose whether you wanted the tracking properties of the artifacts to be imported or not.  In your BizTalk solutions, you have the option to set tracking for artifacts like send ports, receive ports and orchestrations but depending on the environment you may or may not need tracking. Example: You might want to have full tracking (including properties, message body etc) in your development and test environment whereas you do not want to enable tracking in your production environment.

As you can see from the below screenshot, there is an option called “Import Tracking Setting” on the binding file import wizard.

BizTalk Admin Console 2016 - import/export - tracking

if you unselect the option of “import tracking setting” and import the binding file, then none of the tracking settings will be configured as shown below.

BizTalk Admin Console 2016 - import/export - tracking

Our view

Even though this is an improvement from previous versions of BizTalk server, we don’t think this will solve the problem in a practical way. This option is a boolean (yes/no) setting, either you have to track or not, in reality, customers will want the basic events/properties tracking and disable message body tracking for performance reasons.  This can only be solved by having some sophisticated screens, where users can choose the level of tracking they want to set during or after import.

If you are interested to see such feature in BizTalk360, please comment/vote for this in our feedback forum – Tracking manager – complete configuration option.

Basic Search Artifacts capability

One of the new additions in the BizTalk admin console is a little search box on top of the artifacts list screen as shown below. This box is available in multiple places like Send ports, Send ports group, Orchestrations, Receive ports, Receive Locations, Schemas, Maps, Pipelines, Resources, Policies and Role Links.

BizTalk Admin Console 2016 - search artifacts

The functionality is pretty basic at the moment, you can simply search for a keyword in the name of the artifact (ex: crm as shown above) and the view will get filtered. Once filtered then you have the option to take appropriate actions from the right-hand side actions pane.

What’s the equivalent in BizTalk360?

About 3 years ago (March 2013, version 6.0) we brought a sophisticated “Search Artifacts” functionality in BizTalk360 (updated 8.0 UI version here), which is very advanced when you compare to the search functionality in BizTalk Server 2016. In BizTalk360, you can search and filter on various parameters not just on the name. ex: You can construct a query like this as shown below where you are searching for receive locations that have URI “c:\”, that belongs to certain application and host and the status is enabled.

BizTalk360 Search BizTalk Artifacts

Simultaneously configure multiple host/host instances

In a BizTalk environment, generally, you’ll have multiple hosts and host instances. From time to time, you may want to set up some settings across multiple host/host instances identical. In the previous versions of BizTalk server the only way you can do it was by manually changing the configuration one at a time. This is a painful process for a BizTalk administrator, especially when you are working on things like fine tuning the throttling settings.

This issues in now addressed in BizTalk Server 2016, you can simultaneously change settings for multiple host and host instances as shown below. The UI is intelligent to disable things that you cannot change in common. If there is an option to change the settings, you’ll see the color coding in gray and once you change it, it will turn to white as shown in the below pictures.

BizTalk Admin Console 2016 - host/host instance simultaneous configuration

BizTalk Admin Console 2016 - host/host instance simultaneous configuration

Simultaneously save multiple suspended messages

One of the pain points for people who are supporting the BizTalk solutions at the moment is the ability to store context and message bodies of multiple suspended messages at one go. The administrators need to manually store one instance at a time.  In the previous versions of BizTalk server, if you choose multiple message instances, then you’ll not have the option to “Save to File” in the context menu.

In the new version, this limitation is fixed. When you choose multiple message instances and right-click, you’ll see the option to “Save to File” as shown below, which dumps the context and message bodies in the selected location.

BizTalk Admin Console 2016 - save instances simultaneous

What’s the equivalent in BizTalk360?

We introduced this feature in BizTalk360 few versions ago, where users can select multiple message instances and choose it to store at one go. In addition to storing it to disk, we also have the ability to email someone directly as shown below. A pop-up screen will show up where you can enter the email address of relevant people and send it. BizTalk360 will zip the content and attach it to the email.

BizTalk360 download/email message instances

Import and Export EDI parties

In the previous versions of BizTalk server importing and exporting EDI parties were very limited, you can only import/export at global (environment) level. Often times you may want to just choose a few parties in the environment and export and import them into a different environment. Support people used to do things like exporting the global binding, and manually deleting the parties in the XML binding file and importing them into relevant environments. As you can see this is really error prone and not a productive solution.

This limitation is now addressed in BizTalk Server 2016, you have the option to import/export selected parties. In the below screenshot I’ve selected “Contoso Party” and chosen to export it. You can also do multi-select by pressing the Ctrl key and there is also the search option at the top for parties.

BizTalk Admin Console 2016 - import/export edi parties

Ordered delivery on Dynamic send ports

In the previous version of BizTalk server ordered delivery was available only to static send ports if you go to the advanced configuration of dynamic send ports there was no option to configure any properties related to ordered delivery as shown below (BizTalk Server 2013 screen shot). This created a big limitation in using dynamic send ports when you need the ability to make sure the messages are delivered in the order they have been received.

BizTalk Admin Console 2016 ordered delivery in dynamic send port
This limitation is now fixed in BizTalk Server 2016, as you can see on the below screen, there are a couple of new check boxes that provides you the option to enable ordered delivery. All other characteristics and limitations that apply to ordered delivery still applies, the new functionality is the just ability to use ordered delivery on dynamic send ports.

BizTalk Admin Console 2016 - ordered delivery in dynamic send port

Hope this article gave an insight into the BizTalk Server admin console improvements introduced in 2016. We are also working harder to improve BizTalk360 constantly to increase the productivity of BizTalk administration and support people. If in case you haven’t tried BizTalk360, give it a try and I’m pretty confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised with a number of features in the product.

You can download BizTalk360 trial version from our website.

Author: Saravana Kumar

Saravana Kumar is the Founder and CTO of BizTalk360, an enterprise software that acts as an all-in-one solution for better administration, operation, support and monitoring of Microsoft BizTalk Server environments.

  • Some nice features there for configuration via the GUI. Has there been any improvements in the way of automation or scripting?
    Most other major products are now launching with detailed and rich API interfaces that allow for scripted installation and usage. Would be good to see BizTalk head down that path more!

    • that’s the gap we fill with BizTalk360 by exposing our entire API layer as Swagger meta data. Now you can pretty much do anything in your BizTalk environment with our API’s things like retrieving applications, restarting host instances, stopping send port, accessing BAM, ESB etc. A bit of documentation here http://assist.biztalk360.com/support/solutions/1000129750

      • Leonid Ganeline

        Saravana, if you announce a free version of BizTalk360 with very limited functionality, BizTalk360 still be the best BizTalk Admin Console. With this free version in existence Microsoft could concentrate on the core BizTalk features. Win-win scenario. What do you think?

        • Leonid, the problem with free software is one people don’t respect it and they don’t acknowledge the fact they got it for free. Instead they will shoot support tickets towards us asking all kind of questions. If we wanted to maintain a level of quality both in product development and support, we need to get paid.

          • Leonid Ganeline

            Hmmm… I respect Linux, BTDF, Visual Studio Express, etc.

            Questions are good for a product. Product owners frequently pay for for questions and bugs 🙂

            Closing free accounts for support is natural. No money = no support, right?

            More people try BTS360 = more purchases. Why? It is hard to work without BTS360 after trying. It is so hard, you cannot imagine 😉

          • For some products freemium version route will work eventually converting them into paid customers. In some cases like BTDF people have time to build and give away their work for free. For BizTalk360, we decided free version is not sustainable. I agree questions and feedback are good for product owners, however it will depend on type of questions/feedback you are getting. “No money = no support” is easy to say, but hard in reality.

          • Leonid Ganeline
  • Mikael Sand

    Seach!!! Finally!

    • Yeah, it’s limited but will be useful if you have 100’s of artifacts.

  • sandeepc chugh

    Creation of multiple host instances in one go would be a big plus 🙂

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