This blog is a part of the series of blog articles we are publishing on the topic “Why we built XYZ feature in BizTalk360”. Read the main article here.
Why do we need this feature?
To be able to do his job, a BizTalk administrator needs to know what kind of processes flow through the BizTalk environment. This insight can be used for a number of purposes, like:
- analysis and/or debugging of issues
- learning/training purposes
- documentation purposes
One of the features which can be used to better understand the processes in BizTalk is the Tracking queries which can be accessed through the BizTalk Administration Console. These queries provide insight on which messages and orchestrations have been processed by BizTalk. From the Tracking queries, it is also possible to have some insight on the message flow.
What are the current challenges?
The major problem with the message flow which can be shown in BizTalk Admin console is that it is very textual and doesn’t allow you to show the entire flow. This makes understanding the processes in BizTalk a time-consuming task.
Another disadvantage is that when somebody accesses the tracking queries in the BizTalk Admin console, confidential information might be revealed to unauthorized people.
How BizTalk360 solves this problem?
BizTalk360 offers a lot of features to provide insight in BizTalk processes. One of these features is the Graphical Message Flow viewer.
As with the Tracking queries in the BizTalk Admin console, the Graphical Message Flow viewer depends on tracking data. So, to start using the Graphical Message Flow viewer, you start with creating a Tracking query in BizTalk360.
As you can see from the Build Query Expression part of the screen, you can create the same kind of queries as in the BizTalk Administration console. You can also save your tracking queries for later use. These queries are stored in the BizTalk360 database, so you always have them at hand. Whereas with the BizTalk Admin console, your queries are stored to the file system which can make it harder to retrieve them, especially when you have multiple BizTalk servers.
Details of the tracked service instances can be viewed by simply clicking the eye icon in the most right column of the grid.
The first column of the results grid shows the name of the service as a hyperlink. By clicking the hyperlink, the Graphical Message Flow for the service instance will be shown.
The Graphical Message Flow viewer shows the service instance as a shape and depending on the type of artifact, then it will appear under the Receive Port, Orchestration or Send Port label. The blue dot in the shape reflects the receive side of a message at the artifact, while the green dots reflect that the message has been sent out of the artifact. In the above screenshot, one message has been received and multiple messages have been sent out, depicting a debatching scenario.
Besides the graphical shape of the service instance, also all kind of properties of the service instance is shown. You can even directly navigate to the BizTalk artifact in its BizTalk application, by simply clicking the provided hyperlink.
Also, the related service instances can be viewed, depicting the complete message flow. This can be done by clicking the subsequent green dots.
Depending on the amount of tracking turned on for the artifacts and whether the user is authorized in BizTalk360, message context and content information can be viewed in the pane at the right of the screen.
The Graphical Message Flow viewer is a very useful feature and it is likely that BizTalk administrators will use it on a near day to day basis.
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