I recently read the Getting Started with BizTalk Services book and decided to blog about my experience with it. I have test drove earlier versions of BizTalk Services (blog, blog, and blog) and decided that I wanted to catch up on some of the more recent developments in this space. Reading this book was a great way to get this type of information from one source.
Let’s first start off with the authors; Jon Fancey and Karthik Bharathy. Both Jon and Karthik are BizTalk veterans and are both very well respected in the community. I knew picking up the book that the quality would not be a concern.
The book does not require a reader to possess extensive BizTalk Server experience. It does help when drawing comparisons between features in Server vs Services. Even without a lot of Microsoft Integration experience, a reader can be very productive working through the examples in this book.
Even though I have some experience with the BizTalk Services beta and its predecessors I did learn some things from this book. Probably most valuable chapter for me was Chapter 2 – Messages and Transforms. While I have used the new “mapper” in BizTalk Services, there were certainly some operations that I haven’t used before including:
- List Operations
- Get Context Properties inside a map
- If then else operation
- Transform Exception Settings.
Another useful chapter for me was Chapter 5 – Business to business Integration. Even though the BizTalk Services platform is rather young, the BizTalk Services’ EDI capabilities are known to be one of the strengths of the platform. Since I have not done much in the EDI space, this chapter acted as an EDI Primer and then was able to relate these EDI concepts to the BizTalk Services solution.
Lastly, the Management API chapter was interesting as well. I have seen Steef-Jan present on the topic, but it was nice to be able to read through some examples on how you can manage your BizTalk Services application.
In the final chapter; Chapter 8 – Moving BizTalk Services discusses some of the current gaps between BizTalk Server and BizTalk Services. The authors drop some subtle hints around what features are coming that will close the feature parity gap that currently exists. Based upon the agenda for the upcoming Integrate 2014 event, I suspect this gap will be closed rather quickly. Which means, the timing to pick up this book, to ensure you understand the fundamentals of the BizTalk Services, before some of these other features are announced provides a great opportunity to ensure you can hit the ground running.