Microsoft Talks BizTalk Server 2000

REDMOND, Wash -- At the SQL Server 2000 Reviewer’s Workshop here late last month, Microsoft Corp. said it would issue a Technical Preview of BizTalk Server 2000 (BTS) by the end of this month. The company also provided a near-term road map for the product.

The server is designed to connect internal and external business processes with the aim of enabling companies to create business communities.

"[The release] is called a technical preview because it’s feature incomplete, but we have people who want to move forward with it now," says David Reed of the application server technology group at Microsoft’s developer division.

Reed says companies moving ahead with the Technical Preview will deploy the server in pilot settings. A feature complete beta version is slated to ship this summer.

The technical preview includes support for the BizTalk Framework 1.0 and document interchange tools. This release is focused on independent XML document interchange services.

The BizTalk Framework 1.0, available at www.biztalk.org, provides guidelines on how developers can create their own schema.

BTS 2000 uses an agreements and pipelines model, Reed says. Agreements are a specification of a business document, and pipelines are the engine that provides interchange of the document and the mapping of that interchange.

The document interchange tools include a management desk user interface, schema editor, schema mapper, and document tracking and activity logs.

The management interface includes an agreement editor and a pipeline editor.

The schema editor can be used to define document structures, import modules, build document templates, and generate BizTalk syntax. The schema mapper is an XSLT compiler component that administrators can use to create maps. This rich mapping zone is extensible, as defined by the user or scripts.

BTS 2000’s Web-based document tracking tools lets users view activity logs, such as document status, native XML format for inbound and outbound documents, and captured fields. The tool is user-extensible through Data Access Pages, Reed explains.

He says Microsoft is on track to ship the final version in the second half of this year.