We launched BizTalk360 Version 8.0 few months ago, and the release has received tremendous response from the customers. This was not a normal release as it involved a complete refresh of the user interface, and the inclusion of 7 – 8 new features that are considered to be game changers for the product. One such feature is the BizTalk360 Business Rules Composer. In this blog, we will explain the idea behind why we developed this feature, and a look at the different components of the Business Rules Composer feature.
Why Business Rules Composer in BizTalk360?
When we started conceptualizing the idea of BizTalk360 version 8.0, we did a research to understand the behavior of customers using Microsoft BizTalk Server. One key observation was that most customers were not too keen to utilize the Business Rules Composer functionality that comes with BizTalk given the dependency it creates while publishing/deploying rules for normal business users. For a business user to work with Business Rules Composer, he needs to get in touch with the IT department as he will not have the permissions to make changes to the rules. A developer from the IT department will make the changes to the existing business rule/create a new rule, and coordinate with the testing team to test the policy and deploy it into the production environment. What this means is that the business user is fully dependent on the IT department (developer) to make the changes to the business rules. This is a time-consuming process for both the developer and the business user.
To avoid this complexity and save time for the business users, we have developed the Business Rules Composer within BizTalk360. The composer is completely web-based and business users can easily change the rules, deploy and even publish them into the production environment. Keeping security in mind, BizTalk360 audits all the activities performed by the business user. Without permissions to perform operations on the rules, business users will not have the permissions to perform any rule activities.
The one other reason we wanted to develop a rich web-based Business Rules Composer was because of the rule engine that ships with BizTalk server had no major updates since 2004 and lacks a convenient user interface for users.
A Look at BizTalk360 Business Rules Composer
Let’s take a look at the user interface of BizTalk360 Business Rules Composer and how it is different from the current offering available along with Microsoft BizTalk Server.
The Business Rules Composer is divided into three sections to display the list of policies, vocabularies, and the workbench area to create the rules. You can create a new policy by clicking the Add New Policy button. This will automatically activate the Rules Workbench where you can configure your business rules. It’s very simple and works the same way as in the Microsoft Rule Composer – you have to set up the Conditions using the Predicates and Actions using the Functions under the Vocabulary pane. Once you have configured the rule, you can save, publish and deploy the rule directly into the production environment.
Creating, Publishing & Deploying a Business Rule
The process of creating, publishing, and deploying a rule is exactly the same as what’s available with Microsoft Rule Composer. The only difference is that everything is web-based in BizTalk360, and this eliminates the need for a business user to get in touch with an IT admin (developer guy) to make changes to the rule. All user activities are audited and users can perform the operations only with appropriate permissions. We’ve captured the entire flow of creating, publishing, and deploying the business rule in this short animated recording. We hope you enjoy it!
In addition to the existing functions, we have added one new function to the Business Rules Composer called “Where” that can be used as an argument to retrieve table information and to query the database tables. You can use this function within the Actions part of the business rule.
If, Else, Else If statements
During our customer survey, one of the main requirements that popped up from few of them was the ability to have a control flow logic in BizTalk360. We achieved this by building the Business Rules Composer as a superset of the existing Microsoft Business Rule Composer where instead of just being able to create If, Then rules, you can actually go one level deeper and create If, Then, Else Rules. In fact, you can also create nested “Nested If” conditions if there is a requirement. You will notice multiple rules with the suffix information under each rule.
Download Test Result
We have implemented the ‘Test Policy’ for XML values with utmost control and in a secure way. This is because if the rule matches with the input file, the values will be changed in the XML file automatically. Therefore, for security reasons and to maintain the integrity of the data, we provide an option to download the test result data in case of a rule match.
Governance/Auditing Business Rules Activities
With BizTalk360, we take security as the key aspect when it comes to developing new features or while enhancing the functionalities already available in the product. With Business Rules Composer, we wanted to make sure only business users who have access to the feature will be able to make any changes to the rules. Therefore, we built a rich security module for users to be able to create, deploy, and publish business rules into the production environment. And, we also audit these activities under a separate “Business Rules Activities” section, and the activities get listed in the Live Feed pane.
To know more about Business Rules Composer, we recommend you to take a look at this short video that describes the feature in detail.
If you haven’t tried out BizTalk360 yet, why not start and explore the capabilities on offer?