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The Lies I Tell At Work

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I’m glad you are here, gentle reader. I hope you’ve arrived in an understanding mood, because I feel compelled to unburden myself at your expense. For the last four months, I’ve practiced the art of deception at work.

You see, every few weeks our CEO brings up the topic of BizTalk Server 2004. We talk vaguely about how BizTalk might help us deploy solutions for our clients. A discussion ensues about XML and healthcare schemas. Eventually, someone will ask me if I’d had a chance to investigate the technology more thoroughly.

“Well”, I say, “the Canadian project we picked up has required more of my attention then I originally thought. I have not had a chance to dig into BizTalk yet”.

Not exactly true.

Other times I say: “I’ve been working with the statistician on algorithms for severity adjustment of patient diagnoses, but I’ll try to squeeze BizTalk into the schedule real soon”.

A little fib.

My dear reader, I’m about to give you the truth of the matter. Here is the real reason I have not devoted my research time to this marvelous product known as BizTalk Server.


There. It’s off my chest. It’s in the open.

Ok, technically, it “installs”, but I’m impotent when it comes to running the configuration wizard. I’ve tried on multiple machines. I’ve tried with fewer features. Not once have I made it through ConfigFramework.exe without a severe error. BizTalk hates me, but I have a plan.

One week from today, on October 27th, will bring a full moon. I know where I can buy some chickens, and I found a 1-900 hotline with virgins who say they will do anything. In the evening of October 27th - I will try once again to install BizTalk Server 2004.

I’m feeling better now, having admitted my hideous ruse to you, dear reader. I hope you don’t think any less of me than you already did.

October 27th.

Stay tuned for details.

Anil John Thursday, October 21, 2004
LOL! You forgot the incense and the candles :-)
John Thursday, October 21, 2004
Perhaps this will help?
Lee Thursday, October 21, 2004
<br> I am sorry to hear that you are having problems getting the product to install. While I believe that the virginal moon on the 27th is a good omen, hopefully I can help you out before hand. First, and I am sorry to have to ask this, but I have to, did you look through the readme with the product which walks you through the installation process? If you haven't take a look. :) Sorry, I don't think you are a dimwit, but I have to ask. :) Okay, after that, what are the errors you are getting? Some parts of our product have dependencies on things like SPS or such and often, as a first time user, it is simply easier to not install these pieces so that you can just play around with the base product. Perhaps I can get you there, quickly. Let me know more specifics. You can reply through my blog site to get to me. We will get the product installed for you so that you can have pleasant conversations with your boss. :) Talk to you soon.
Justin Pitts Thursday, October 21, 2004
maybe this guy http://blogs.msdn.com/scottwoo/ could help.
Nick Thursday, October 21, 2004
I wish you luck. Some folks have had some luck posting questions to the Biztalk newsgroup on UseNet. Install problems are fairly common. Biztalk has to be installed fairly carefully... there are a lot of dependencies.
Luke Nyswonger Friday, October 22, 2004
Scott, check these two items out and if you still have problems, ping me!
<br>QuickStart Guide to Installing BizTalk Server 2004
<br>Troubleshooting BizTalk Platform Builds
Scott Allen Friday, October 22, 2004
This is great to have such support turn up. I've tried to be diligent and to follow all the readmes and instructions. I'm going to try again, with Undo disks on a VPC, and I'll be pinging if anything goes amiss :)
<br>Thanks for the help everyone.
Bill Saturday, October 23, 2004
Scott - the real fun starts AFTER you get it installed. I have a VPC image I can send you - it's big though but drop me a line if you need it.
Scott C Reynolds Sunday, October 24, 2004
oh look, I'm you now. This weekend I'm supposed to be evaluating BizTalk to see how useful it would be to us, regarding healthcare data, HL7, blahbity blah blah, and what not.
<br>I hate open-ended research...too much information. Found any good BizTalk blogs?
Scott Allen Monday, October 25, 2004
Hey, Scott. Luke and Lee both run pretty good blogs about BizTalk. Luke's quick start guide seems to be working pretty well for my install, too.
Happy Larry Thursday, January 6, 2005
Haha. It doesn't get any easier either. I have been using biztalk for a few months now, currently on my second solution (don't ask why), and am getting really fed up with it.
<br>It's a resource hog (along with mssqlserver). Either that, or it decides it doesn't need to use all the resources you provide for it. I remember reading one post where a guy had a totally tricked-out dual processor box with max memory and simply couldn't config biztalk to use even part of that power, despite recommendations from msft.
<br>It's flimsy. Despite what some who say they've tested it under difficult circumstances say (I seriously wonder what drugs they're on) it has problems with heavy loads. I dunno maybe I need to run it on a cray or something but often when I hammer it, it just stops processing messages and shits itself into a coma without recovering. Fixing this normally involves stopping the service and manually pruning the messages from the database.
<br>It's a REAL pain to develop for :
<br>1. Modify project in visio
<br>2. Stop deployed project
<br>3. Undeploy deployed project (normally done using a script you've written)
<br>4. Compile + Deploy new project
<br>5. Set bindings for new project (can be scripted too)
<br>6. Start new project
<br>This applies for a live scenario where you want to update a project too. Can you imagine offlining a live integration so you can update one of the schemas?
<br>One positive - the development interface looks nice. It's the sort of thing you can show a phb or client and lead him through, but as a developer I find it more a hindrance than a help. I believe it was done this way to allow non-developers to modify mappings and orchestrations. What the fuck. This is not lego. I'm not a kid, don't give me tools designed for the lowest common denominator.
<br>The mapper is also really nice. Unfortunate that it produces code that is accepted to be inefficient even by biztalk supporters, and all it really does is save you writing your own xslt.
<br>It's hard to troubleshoot - tracking down errors can be a fucking nightmare. You're removed from the system (you're using the pretty interface) while the code is compiled and encased in the shitty engine.
<br>Even though I've put a lot of time into making my second biztalk project now, I found myself today seriously thinking about switching to something open-source that just did what I need. I don't need all these extra ms adapters, or extravagant but apparently impotent 'load handling' functionality. I just need to receive some xml messages, do some transforms on them, then send them on their way.
<br>Basically, it's like a lot of MS stuff. It's bloatware that does a lot of stuff you don't need. It's nice on top, and easy to do simple things with, but hard as to get under the covers of. It has a lovely interface. It still feels like it's in beta. But it has a nice logo, so you can sell it to people who are afraid to use something that's not microsoft.
<br>Save yourself, now. I was reading about how a guy used apoache cocoon and berkeley db xml to make something like what I wanted, here
<br>Shop around thoroughly before you look at xml, and present it to your manager in an unbiased fashion. Look at exactly what you'd like to do.
<br>Here check out the biztalk user group :
<br>and have a look at the problems people have, and what they might indicate about the product.
<br>I'm sure MS guys will read this, and feel bad, and think some of it is unjustified. I'm sorry. I know you guys put a lot of hard work into this, and you sound like a decent bunch. I want to like biztalk. I really do, it would make my life so much happier. I want to create good solutions with it, and be happy, and be saying &quot;this was so easy to use and it never failed me&quot; but I can't. Maybe I just need some of those drugs I assume the other guys have ... amd a chicken.
Happy Larry Friday, January 7, 2005
Sorry to spam your blog Scott but I re-read my above post and think it was a bit over the top. Biztalk's not really the piece of shit I was feeling (key word there - was pretty pissed off) it was last night, but it does have some problems.
<br>I think most importantly, it just takes a lot of time to work with, and is more complex than I require.
<br>Anyway best of luck if you do decide to go with it. Mind posting those virgins' phone numbers?
Scott Friday, January 7, 2005
Larry: I think I lost the phone number! Good post :)
Chuck Thursday, April 21, 2005
I have spent the last ten years working in Healthcare with several interface engines including OpenLink, Datagate, Hublink, Cloverleaf (QDX), and Egate.
<br>I believe it is FAR more difficult to build a Healthcare type of interface (HL7 or X12) in BizTalk then it is in the those I mentioned above.
<br>Luke has a good blog on the install; when coupled with the BizTalk Install Doc, it makes for a long, but relatively painless install. Make one mistake, and plan on spending some time recovering, a few grey hairs, and lots of frustration.
<br>Luke, how about a nice blog dedicated to building interfaces in BizTalk using the HIPAA and HL7 Accelerator. I am just as frustrated and disappointed with BizTalk, the Hl7 Accelerator, and the HIPAA Accelerator products as Happy Larry sounds. I've read blogs by Luke, Scott Woodgate, and Scott Colstock. They make it sound like the product is the best on the market. I just don't see that yet.
<br>My boss loved the price, regardless of my opinion of the product; so now I gotta make it work. I am not having fun doing it.
<br>Larry don't feel bad; there are others in your shoes.
<br>Scott, how is your install/development coming along?
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