Readings, Review

Book Review: Microsoft BizTalk 2010: Line of Business Systems Integration

If you are looking for more information on understanding the WCF LOB Adapter SDK and how to build adapters with it and how the pre-built adapters available in the BizTalk Server 2010 Adapter Pack can help getting data in or out of SQL Server or with handling IDOCs, RFCs and BAPIs in SAP then this is a book for you. If you are also interested in integrating with Dynamics CRM or Ax, working with Sharepoint Documents, Forms and Lists, and connecting to the cloud in the form of AppFabric and Salesforce then even better.

At first, from the title, I had expected this book to cover the Adapter Pack. It covers the parts in the first paragraph. This means it does not cover the full content of the Adapter Pack, but on the other hand it covers a lot more, which is a good thing.

This book contains detailed walkthroughs and step-by-step instructions. Not only will you learn how and what to do, you will also learn what no to do and share the authors real world experience. The book is sprinkled with tips and tricks from exposure to the technologies and products involved. And the book is just the beginning. Throughout you can find additional references to blog post, msdn pages and other resources.

I love getting that level of detail, especially accompanied with good visualizations and screenshots so there is no mistaking what a textual description means. Perhaps sometimes the level of detail might be unnecessarily high and the books intended target audience shouldn’t need a screenshot of how to deploy a BizTalk project, or the full context menu that you get when you right click a project to get to the Add… menu item, or the welcome screen of the Consume WCF Service wizard. But that only goes to show that nothing is left to chance and the reader wont be left guessing what was intended. I also like how a good mix of text and pictures make you feel that you are doing good progress reading the book.

My experience is, that of the time spent developing an integration, a large part is spent understanding how the systems you need to integrate work. Most BizTalk books don’t capitalize on that. Instead they use all of their space to explain how the BizTalk technology works in some aspect. This books differs in that respect in that it spends a large part explaining how the LOB systems work, and how you go about setting up and developing the integration components needed inside those systems before continuing on to BizTalk and the integration solution developed there. That to me is the real value add of this book. The day that you feel you don’t have to learn that is the day you can’t do integration work on your own but need someone else to do half the work for you.

Overall, the books content is still really fresh, even the chapters on cloud and AppFabric are still valid, which is always a risk when covering that kind of a rapidly evolving technology. Later releases has complemented some of the techniques presented with other options, but not necessarily replaced them.

I can highly recommend this book if the topics and systems it covers are part of your system integration landscape. I learned plenty and I know I’ll return to read parts of it again more closely as additional systems enter my landscape.


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