Santosh Benjamin's Weblog

Adventures with AppFabric, BizTalk & Clouds

Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

WSCFblue on Endpoint TV

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The latest episode of Endpoint TV now features a demo of WSCFblue and an interview with lil ol’ me 🙂

Its the first time a trans-atlantic webcast has been attempted and that too with video chat and desktop sharing via OCS so there are slight lags in the audio sync to the face to face bits. However, the video is primarily an on-screen demo so audio sync doesnt appear to be much of an issue.

Check it out and post your feedback on the episode and the tool.


Written by santoshbenjamin

November 10, 2010 at 6:30 PM

Posted in WSCF, WSDL

Tagged with , ,

WSCFblue- Get Voting

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I had previously written about the WSCF Roadmap. These have now been entered into the IssueTracker on the workspace. WSCF vNext is underway but we need to know what features to invest in. What additions to the toolset would help your productivity and delivery. 

The main items are listed below. Which of these would ‘rock your world’ 🙂 and which of these do you not give 2 figs about? Have a look and then head over to the workspace and get voting.

  • T4 Templates
  • DataContractSerializer support
  • Contract First Workflow Services
  • Re-platform with FeatureBuilder
  • Merge ‘Classic’ and ‘Blue’
  • Externalized API
  • Persistence & Reload of settings
  • New command line
  • Other bindings
  • Multiple SVC files
  • Custom Behaviors
  • Incremental code-gen
  • WS-Addressing Support
  • Flexible Naming conventions
  • Integration with ServiceFactory
  • New/additional UI

If there are other items that we could consider, let us know on the forums or add items to the IssueTracker.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

Written by santoshbenjamin

September 17, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Posted in WSCF

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WSCFblue- Walkthrough

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We’ve now published a walkthrough for WSCFblue v1. In the walkthrough the following areas are covered

  • How to model your data
  • How to model your messages
  • How to model your interface (build a WSDL from a set of XSD files)
  • How to use advanced options such as Fault Contracts as part of your interface
  • How to generate a service side stub from the WSDL
  • How to generate client ‘proxies’ from a WSDL
  • How to work with the auto-generated code and fill out your implementation
  • How to generate data contracts from a WSDL 

The walkthrough applies to both VS2008 and VS2010 as the steps are the same. The only difference is the config files for WCF4 and if you run  into any problems in this area please let us know and we can update the content.

We hope you find this to be useful.

Written by santoshbenjamin

September 17, 2010 at 12:17 PM

Posted in WSCF

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MockingBird Videos

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I’ve taken my first foray into the world of producing videos with a set for MockingBird.

Take a look and let me know what you think of the quality and content (and also if these links all work for you. SkyDrive has been giving me some problems in sending links around). I will work on doing more videos if there is a demand for them.  Looking forward to your feedback.

Written by santoshbenjamin

August 15, 2010 at 4:41 PM

Posted in MockingBird, Tools, Videos

Tagged with ,

MockingBird v2 RTM

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I’m delighted to announce that MockingBird v2 has finally hit the RTM milestone. Whew! That was a long RC !

So, what’s new in this release ?

  • First off, there’s a brand new Service Configurator module which makes it dead simple to create a mock service. Just pick a WSDL,  click through a couple of menu options and it generates a complete service with all the default settings. You can then edit the config (manually) if you want to tweak the behavior further. Watch this space for enhancements to the tooling.
  • The Service Studio app (of which the Configurator module is a part) has been completely rewritten and the GUI now employs the (free) Krypton Windows Forms Control Toolkit.  That is simply an awesome piece of software and the fact that its free is mindblowing. I’m no GUI expert so any help in this area is a plus. I think you’ll agree that the new UI is way better than the old. (What’s that? you dont like it ? Hmm, if you know WPF/Silverlight, how about helping me write a better one? 🙂 ) . Studio now is a full fledged management application for the Simulator. Tr
  • Configuration has been given a complete overhaul. The config system no longer expects all config files to be siblings of the system config, which frees up the app to have centralized configuration (shared by the console host and the web application). I have even got rid of the EntLib config gunk from the app.config and kept it totally separate. I’ll write about all that separately. The next step in this is to externalize the WCF service and client config (which I know how to do but just havent had time) so again, watch this space.
  • Tracing has now been added in so you can launch DebugView and happily monitor whats going on in the system. So you dont really need the log files (although you can always choose to use Log4net or EntLib additionally).
  • Multi-Part WSDL support in the Configurator and the Message Instance Builder (formerly called WSDL Browser). Thanks to some cool metadata parsing code that Alex put into WSCFBlue and kindly allowed me to copy out, the system can now handle WSDLs on file and from any live service endpoint.
  • Installation And Configuration is now made pretty much single click (3 clicks – 1 for each host and 1 for the studio) with a Powershell script to give permissions.
  • RollUp of some functionality that the team put into the code-base post RC such as XsltResponse (to dynamically generate a response by applying XSLT to the request), a Soap Header aware message handler and various other fixes. The handlers now come with a proper MessageHandlerBase class so if you want to extend MockingBird with your own handlers, you can simply inherit from that and write your specific code.

Things to watch out for

  • WSDLs are generally a minefield, so i wont claim that MB can handle any metadata you throw at it. It will choke on some WSDLs (notably Amazon web services) but under the covers I’m using stuff like MetadataExchangeClient and WsdlImporter from the core .NET framework so there’s not a lot I can do to handle weird WSDL. Anyway, if this is an area that gives you grief, let me know and we’ll see if we can start to support custom ‘import extensions’ like svcutil.
  • Windows 7, 2008+ and IIS7.x : Limited time = limited test surface. I extensively tested on Windows Server 2003 R2 but not on anything else although the team does use Win 7 and Windows 2008 when they code MB features. I have included some notes on troubleshooting in the guide. The number 1 area that you are likely to fall a victim to (in IIS 7.x) is that the AppPool running MockingBird should be in Classic mode.

So, what’s next ?

  • Some time to sleep I hope 🙂 (although with baby no. 2 due shortly, that’s not going to happen is it?
  • REST support
  • Azure anyone?
  • More in the configurator GUI

Sound appealing ? think you can help  (except with the sleep !!) ? Let me know.

Written by santoshbenjamin

August 12, 2010 at 10:07 PM

BizUnit Snippets Redux (and BizUnit 4)

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BizUnit meets XAML

So, Kevin has got round to making an alpha release of BizUnit v4. This time the steps are all in XAML which i think should now faciliate new tooling. I’m getting my grubby hands on it now.

BizUnit (3.x) Snippets

This is sooo like me. Always late to the party.  🙂 . Just this evening, before i found out that v4 had been released (although i knew it was in the works for sometime) , in the latest code drop for BizUnitExtensions ( , I’ve included some snippets that i wrote quite a while ago and just never got round to uploading. Take a look. I know its rather late and probably completely out of date now that v4 is released but hey, v4 is still alpha so i have some time to catch up.

BizUnitExtensions Futures

So what of the BizUnitExtensions project itself? As you may have seen, there hasnt been any updates or releases for many  months now. The reason is that although for the past 18 months I have been involved in a major BizTalk gig, we have been required to use a custom test framework which has left no scope to use BizUnit at all. Consequently,  I let the codebase languish with only one or two minor updates.

Although project-wise nothing has changed, just today I decided it was time to give BizUnitExtensions some attention. I have recompiled the sources (after the codeplex TFS upgrade) and added the snippets in. I have also started to do some major restructuring of the code-base and recompiling against .NET 3.5, EntLib 4.1 etc which I will make available shortly and possibly include some fixes that folks have described in the forums.

Beyond a minor release, I dont think I will continue to maintain BizUnitExtensions as a separate project. I’ve had discussions with Kevin Smith about merging the steps from this project into the main BizUnit distribution and v4 is where this will happen as soon as i get the go-ahead from him. With MockingBird and WSCFBlue  taking up the majority of my limited spare time, I have to let go of some projects. But i think merging the code into BizUnit (core) will be good for the community so it becomes a one stop shop. Most of the steps complement the core nicely by supplementing it with missing features and with the XAML foundation, efforts can now be directed towards tooling.

Check out the snippets and let me know if they add any value to you. If this is of some value, then I can try and do the same for v4 so when we merge we have a full set of new snippets. If you are an early adopter of BizUnit v4 and want to use Extensions functionality and can help with porting to XAML and/or writing snippets, do let me know.

Written by santoshbenjamin

August 12, 2010 at 9:35 PM

Posted in BizTalk, BizUnit, Tools

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MockingBird Futures – Mock BizTalk Adapters

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MockingBird v2 has almost reached RTM. Just a few more days to make some final touches and it will be ready. The team has been discussing how to take it further and one thing that’s been on my mind for a long time is the topic of mock BizTalk adapters. What I would like to do is write some adapters with the WCF LOB Adapter SDK that link up with MockingBird’s simulation engine so we can then simulate various protocols such as SQL, Oracle, MSMQ, MQSeries etc.

The first question that anyone would ask me is “Why? “. Currently MockingBird works decently as a receiver from BizTalk in one way and solicit response mode. (It also supports duplex channels). If you have a one way message from BizTalk or a solicit response, then all you need is to replace the URL of the endpoint with the MB url and with the right config, the system will send back the messages you were expecting. So, why do we need to mock an adapter when we can simply avail of the WCF-Custom adapter?

While the first thing that comes to mind is that MB only handles the send side and does nothing on the receive side, i do think that there are many other reasons to go down the adapter route (on both the send and receive sides)

For the send side

  1. Adapters will allow us to manipulate & use context properties. For situations where transport level correlation is being used (MQSeries, MSMQ etc), the adapter will let us force copy correlation identifiers to the response. Without this, we would need to have a queue listener that understood the MQ/MSMQ protocols and set properties accordingly.
  2. Adapters will allow us to simulate transactional behaviour.
  3. Minimizes the ‘intrusion footprint’ of the tool. Currently even if you were targeting SQL you would need to switch to WCF Custom and make a lot more binding changes. If we could adhere to the SQL adapter properties, it would reduce the amount of work. In fact all we should require is a change of url (eg: mbsql:// )
  4. If an application interface doesn’t support web services, then piggy-backing on WCF LOB adapters will allow us to mock that system (assuming we are wrapping that system with the WCF LOB Adapter, we could potentially leverage that adapter to direct messages into mockingbird). So if there is a SQL/Oracle database, because we can connect to that via WCF-SQL , WCF-Oracle etc, we can just add the mock flavors of the same otherwise we would have to mock the entire SQL/Oracle protocols which is not feasible.

For the receive side

  1. Although we can always create a test receive location with the file adapter, this is limited to ‘unit tests’. We cannot simulate other transport protocols (for example, polling sql. Also with queues (MQ/MSMQ) we would need an app that could send to the queue to activate the receive location.
  2. We could extend an adapter to use the ‘Submit Direct’SDK  sample to send messages into BizTalk directly and configure this.
  3. The context properties argument also applies here. A lot can be set artificially on the message. Similarly transactional behaviour could also be applied.

So, what about other current tools in this general area ?

  1. Some of this kind of testing can be done with BizUnit (example : sending messages to a queue or reading from a queue). BizUnit could also be extended (example : a correlation aware queue listener) but BizUnit’s focus is on distinct steps that verify behaviour rather than on causing/forcing some behaviour which we can do via the adapters. The adapter approach also keeps this testing ‘within the boundary of Biztalk’ . while BizUnit will complement this nicely from the outside.
  2. LoadGen can also help on the receive side. Again, LoadGen’s focus is on load/stress testing rather than functional behaviour. I think it may be possible to use LoadGen with Mockingbird (maybe as part of these adapters).
  3. BizMock is another tool that is in similar territory. But having discussed MockingBird with Pierre Milet Llobet, the author of BizMock, I don’t see any overlap here. BizMock is focussed on providing a fluent interface to help with a TDD approach to BizTalk testing and on providing a mock adapter that is used within that test scope, but MockingBird’s adapters will be ‘proper’ infrastructure and integration test faciliators rather than a unit test tool.

Okay, so these are my thoughts on extending MockingBird into the arena of mock BizTalk adapters and I would really like to get feedback from the BizTalk community on this. What do you think of the idea? If you have some experience with the WCF LOB Adapter SDK (which I’ve only played with briefly) perhaps there’s some suggestions you can make or tips/gotchas you can make us aware of ? Is this an area you could get involved with (not necessarily have to contribute code, there are bandwidth constraints on all of us, but potentially send us suggestions, design ideas , maybe be an early tester etc?) .

Let me know. All feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Written by santoshbenjamin

June 20, 2010 at 1:28 PM