BizTalk360 version 7.1 released

|  Posted: January 23, 2014  |  Categories: BizTalk360

After nearly 2.5 years since the first launch, we are still continuing the moment of bringing regular product updates to BizTalk360 every 3-4 months once. You can see the full release history here. We believe that’s the only way to address the modern day challenges, listening to customer feedback and bringing incremental releases.

We launched 7.0 back in November 2013 with the major upgrade rewriting the complete UI in HTML5, moving away from Silverlight. In a way that’s kind of version 1.0 release of the UI. Most of us think the browser war is over, you write it once and it will work everywhere, unfortunately that’s not the case. In some ways we are still seeing similarities we have seen in year 1998-2000 between Netscape and IE. We still need to fight with browser compatibility to great extend.

The new release of Version 7.1 addresses various UI issues reported by the users since the launch of 7.0. We have also added some new features, enhanced few areas and rewritten from scratch certain areas. Here are the list of things in this release

  • BizTalk360 for Managed Services
  • Dynamic UI (width) layout
  • User access policy administration screen improvement
  • Message Box Viewer integration rewrite
  • Most of UI bug fixes reported since launch of 7.0
  • What’s still missing and what’s coming next in 7.2?

BizTalk360 for Managed Services

This is one big feature we are adding in the 7.1 release. We have already written a detailed blog post about the capabilities, architecture and working example in this blog post “BizTalk360 for Managed Services“. As an end customer you may not see the benefit directly, but if you are a consulting company, or customer with multiple locations or simply you wanted to access your environment via public internet in a secure way, this feature will be interesting to you. Currently we are running a private pilot program to test various things with selected partners, if you are interested to get in the program please contact us.

Dynamic UI (width) layout

One of the biggest feedback we received after 7.0 launch was regarding the fixed width layout of the UI. These days people use larger screens, fixing the UI width to 950 pixel resulted in lot of screen real estate wasted on the sides. So we now switched to dynamic width using all the screen area. Dynamic width is harder, since you need to adjust the screen layouts to various screen dimensions. At this stage it’s pretty basic (we covered few screens), but over the next few releases we will enhance screen by screen to make maximum usage of available screen area. Example showing more columns in grids, expanding the description area etc.

Old Screen Design

BizTalk360 version 7.0 screen

New Screen Design

BizTalk360 version 7.1 screen

User Access Policy Administration Screen Enhancement

This is one of the important screens in BizTalk360, in the previous versions we had 5 different links/screens to configure add new users, modify user, add super user, modify super user, and default policy. Now this is all cleaned up, made it simple and consistent with other UI layout (one single pop-up wizard). You can now add/manage/delete normal and super users in a consistent way. We also made enhancements to user access policy screens to support our new “BizTalk360 for managed services” offering

Old Screen Design

BizTalk360 version 7.0 UAP Screen

New Screen Design

BizTalk360 version 7.1 UAP Screen

Message Box Viewer Integration Rewrite

This is a classic example of an integration problem. We had MBV integration in BizTalk360 for a very long time, I believe it’s from version 3.0 onward. From time to time this will get broken, whenever there is a new version of MBV is released and Microsoft didn’t tell us what’s been changed. We had some challenges integrating the MBV natively for various reasons. Our original implementation was using a wrapper console application on top of the existing MBV dll’s to overcome some path issues calling the MBVConsole directly. With our 7.0 release we also broken the MBV integration from our side, because we moved to .NET 4.0 but MBV is still in .NET 3.5 resulting in problems accessing some of the embedded resources inside MBV. MBV didn’t give us enough exception details and it pretty much resulted in some unknown errors like “object reference not set …value s“. We worked with Microsoft on this and managed to resolve the problems.

Now BizTalk360 v7.1 integrates natively with MBVConsole, without any intermediate wrapper.

UI Bug fixes

As I mentioned in the beginning BizTalk360 version 7.0 was in a way version 1.0 release of the new UI and there were few browser compatibility issues, date time handling issues between JSON and .NET, etc. I would personally like to thank all of our customers and community members who helped to identify those issues. Certain things it’s not practical to test by the product company, things like strange firewall rules, custom corporate group policies etc. We are determined to address anything that gets reported to us. You can see the release notes for the bug fixes.

How can we upgrade?

As usual upgrade is very simple and intuitive, simply download the latest version from our website and running the MSI will work. Here is the more detailed upgrade instruction.

What’s still missing and What’s coming next?

We are already working on version 7.2 and expect to ship it before March. We are still relying on our Silverlight version for few functionalities which we couldn’t port to HTML5. Our top priority at the moment is to focus on those areas and bring it into HTML5 version. Here are the list of things that will come in 7.2

  1. Throttling Analyser
  2. Graphical Message Flow Viewer
  3. Date time handling across the board
  4. Bugs: Any bugs reported after 7.1 release
  5. UI: Any subtle UI changes

We need to acknowledge, we have broken throttling analyser completely. We made lot of backend changes for throttling analyser to make it efficient in terms of data collection and error logging and we couldn’t complete the front-end UI. This is something our team is actively working on.

Date time handling especially around globalisation/localisation across three tiers (front-end, web services and database) is not very consistent at the moment. This results in errors in scenarios where you have environments and users in different time zone. This is another top priority for me personally, which will be addressed in 7.2

Download and try the new version for yourself: Download Link

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.

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