Administration, BizTalk, Maintenance

Redeploying a schema assembly…

If I ask you upfront: Can I redeploy an assembly to BizTalk (that contains a schema) that is referenced by (and used in) another assembly? – What would you say?

Some of you might say yes, some might say no. And you’d both be right! It all depends on what it is being used by and how it’s deployed.

Redeploying a schema referenced by a map in another assembly

Yes. This will work – provided you specify overwrite when redeploying or updating the resource, and regardless if the resources are placed in the same or different applications. The behavior is the same in all relevant tools, whether it is Visual Studio, BizTalk Administration Console or the BtsTask tool. For the remainder of the discussion I’ll use BtsTask only, since it has the easiest (or at least most verbose) output to follow.

Sidenote: If you don’t specify overwrite, you’ll get something like:
Error: Failed to add resource(s).
Resource (-Type=”System.BizTalk:BizTalkAssembly” -Luid=”SchemaProject, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=0a220f093608cb3f”) already in store.
1) Use BTSTask’s overwrite flag or
2) Set redeploy flag to true in BizTalk Project or
3) Click overwrite all checkbox in Admin MMC to update if the resource exists in the specified target application “SchemaApplication”.
Overwrite flag will be ignored if the resource is associated with another application.

Redeploying a schema referenced by an orchestration in another assembly in the same application

Yes. This will work. It assumes that the orchestration is unenlisted (which may be a huge problem in some cases), or you will get an error. If it is however, and as long as you specify the overwrite flag, BtsTask will happily inform you of it’s progress telling you exactly what it’s doing – which is to find the referencing resources, save their binding information, removing them, then doing the same with the thing you want to redeploy, then deploying the thing you are deploying and applying it’s bindings, and finally deploying the referencing resources and applying their tucked away bindings.

The tools does all this for you, in a controlled manner under one transaction that can be rolled back if something fails. BtsTask output is here.

Redeploying a schema referenced by an orchestration in another assembly in another application

No. This is where the fun stops. You cannot do this with the out of the box tools. The Application boundary will stop you. To be frank: WTF!? For someone approaching BizTalk Server 2006/R2/2009 from a 2004 (single/no application) perspective this could invalidate their whole deployment strategy. BtsTask output is here.

In Summary

Why is this happening? If we use Reflector to disassemble BtsTask and the Deployment API’s it uses it’s apparent that the whole things is built around an Application and it’s around an Application that everything revolves. So… If you are faced with this kind of requirement for your deployment scenarios – the tools won’t do it for you – you have to do it yourself. Mimicking the steps taken by BtsTask, but without the dependency on Application, is my recommended approach. But the implementation of that is for another post…

Has anyone already done this and have or know of a tool developed for this purpose?

Update: The odd cases

I want to add that I make no claim to cover all scenarios in the above write up. I only wanted to highlight the Application boundary as one of the things that will have a big impact on redeploying schemas. We have for example come across scenarios such as when an orchestration within the same application is “specify later”-bound to a port, on which there are maps, for which there are no referential relationship with the orchestration assembly, though there are with the schema assembly being redeployed. This scenario may fail, depending on your luck, where BizTalk is unaware of the correct order to re-deploy these things. This may result in the orchestration (and the port) being re-added before the assembly containing the maps is in place. Which in itself will fail since an attempt to add a binding containing a port that has maps configured that are not deployed will of course not work. There are more scenarios, and it would be unfair to expect any tool to cover them all.

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