BizTalk Server 2010, Book, Certification, Learning

Published: (MCTS): Microsoft BizTalk Server 2010 (70-595) Certification Guide

The book has finally been published. I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s been a fun ride but reaching the finish line is always sweet.

The book itself is targeted at the BizTalk Server certification 70-595. We have done our very best to be as brief and as focused on the areas of the certification as possible, while still keeping it far away from being verbatim or a cheat sheet. We want people to come away having learned useful pieces of BizTalk Server, not only be able to successfully answer the certification questions. The book does contain a healthy number of certification style (but not certification copied) question and answers, with a short explanation of why and why not the correct answer applies. All you need to know is there, explained and put into context. Hand in hand with being certification bound and focused also goes carrying a thread throughout and across chapters that will make the book an easy and time efficient read. I hope, in the end, that we succeeded in that.

You can read all about the book and it’s content, as well as making purchases 😉 on either Packt or Amazon (or if you prefer and are in Sweden from Bokus).


Authoring a book was more of a challenge than I anticipated. Not so much the writing in itself, but all the things that goes around it. All the editing and proof reading and keeping track of changes etc. The latter took basically half of the time if not more, both calendar wise and in number of spent hours. I would do it again if the title was interesting enough, but right now I have other plans for the summer.

Completing a book is a real team effort, and without the team at Packt and our reviewers the quality would not be at the level it is. Thanks to Kent and Morten, to all the people at Packt, Kerry especially, and to our reviewers, Jan Eliasen, Mikael Håkansson, Steef-Jan Wiggers, Todd Uhl among others.

Kent has written two post (1, 2) on the progress of the book as well.

Azure, Learning

To learn or not to learn – it’s about delivering business value

For a developer Windows Azure is an opportunity. But it is also an obstacle. It represents a new learning curve much like the ones presented to us by the .NET framework over the last couple of years (most notably with WF, WCF and WPF/Silverlight). The nice things about it though is that it’s still .NET (if you prefer). There are new concepts – like “tables”, queues and blobs, web and worker roles, cloud databases and service buses – but, it’s also re-using those things we have been working with for numerous years like .NET, SQL, WCF and REST (if you want to).

You might hear that Azure is something that you must learn. You might hear that you are a dinosaur if you don’t embrace the Windows Azure cloud computing paradigm and learn its APIs and Architectural patterns.

Don’t take it literally. Read between the lines and be your own judge based on who you are and what role you hold or want to achieve. In the end it comes down to delivering business value – which often comes down to revenue or cost efficiency.

For the CxO cloud should be something considered. For the architect, Azure should be something grasped and explored. For the Lead Dev, Azure should be something spent time on. For the Joe Devs of the world, Azure is something that you should be prepared for, because it might very well be there in your next project and if it is – you are the one that knows it and excels.

As far as developers embracing Windows Azure I see a lot of parallels with WCF when that launched. Investments were done in marketing it as the new way of developing (in that case primarily services or interprocess communication). At one point developers were told that if they were not among the ones who understood it and did it, they were among the few left behind. Today I see some of the same movement around Azure, and in some cases the same kind of sentiment is brought forward.

I disagree. Instead my sentiment around this is: it depends. Not everyone needs to learn it today. But you will need to learn it eventually. After all… today, a few years later – Who among us would choose asmx web services over WCF today? Things change. Regardless of how you feel about it. Evolution is funny that way.

Because of the development and breadth of the .NET Framework together with diverse offerings surrounding it a wide range of roles are needed. In my opinion the “One Architect” no longer exists. Much the same with the “One Developer”. Instead the roles exists for different areas, products and technologies – in and around .NET. Specialization has become the norm. I believe Azure ads to this.

I give myself the role of architect (within my field). Though I would no sooner take on the task of architecting a Silverlight application than my first pick of on boarding a new member in our integration team would be someone that has been (solely) a Silverlight developer for the last couple of years.

How is Azure still different though? Azure (cloud) will (given time) affect almost all of Microsoft’s (and others) products and technologies (personal opinion, not quoting a official statement). It’s not just a new specialization – it will affect you regardless of your specialization.

You have to learn. You have to evolve. Why not start today?

BizTalk Server 2009, Learning

BizTalk Server 2009 Training

During the fall of 2009 I teamed up with fellow MVP Mikael Håkansson and delivered internal training to Logica employees in Sweden. Training in part based upon existing training material from Microsoft but with presentation material that we made especially for this course. We have since developed this material even further.

Being a MCT I was contacted by one of the major certified learning providers in Sweden that through mutual contacts had learned of what we had done. I have the pleasure of being able to start this year by announcing that an agreement have been reached with AddSkills to deliver this course to the public.

So if you are in my part of the world (a.k.a. Sweden) you now have an additional choice to get quality BizTalk Server training that covers the latest version. See available sign-up details and dates here. Delivery of custom on or off site courses based on the same material is also possible.

General, Learning

Doesn’t everyone want to be the one that chooses?

Lazy? Perhaps. But bad? Unfair!

IT departments and consulting companies alike are not populated by bad developers, or lazy developers, or impassionate for that matter. The word passionate is appropriate for developers or architects that do keep in sync with all the new choices available to us. Pragmatic may very well be a good definition for the rest. But calling them bad developers wont motivate anyone, and, in my opinion, is unfair. Keeping that up to date is not a task necessary for all developers. But all developers could benefit and grow from doing so.

The developer isn’t the problem

However, as I see it, the problem isn’t with the developers, the problem is with management. Developers want to learn. I think that applies to most if not all developers. The problem however is two fold. One, Developers are not given the time need to learn by management to be able to make educated choices. You really have to be passionate to take that learning outside of your working hours, and push that passion onto your family and friends, to the point where it’s not just your job – it’s become a much bigger part of your life. That’s why I think the word passionate fits.

What choice is there?

So if you aren’t given time to learn as part of your job, you really have very little choice. The choice left is instead to do it in your free time or not. Two, even though Microsoft may sometimes claim that new choices are driven by business demand, and I’m sure it often is, it’s often not driven by the business that you as a developer are supporting. What I mean is – the people manning your business will not always (and do not often) see how the new technologies benefits the business. The use for the business is often visualized to them by the developers, and this is where the real issue and catch 22 lies… 

It will never be the same again

This increased flow of choices is in itself the root of the problem. Developers used to know it all. Management has gotten used to that. Today, the technologies to learn are so many more and diverse. We will never know it all again. But we can become fairly good and know enough to be good at our job. But we need to be given the time and possibility. Given that, I think everyone would choose to learn.

Focus on management

So, my call to action is to instead shift the focus from the developers, whom I’m believe in general want to learn, to management and the business, and make them understand how enabling people to learn new technology will help them realize their business goals. Because I do firmly believe they will benefit.

This post was my thoughts on the topic initiated by the duoblog done by Johan Lindfors and Patrik Löwendahl. Oh, and incidentally, we’ve been here before. I wrote about this topic, or one very close too it, as a result of things said or written by close to the same people a year ago, see here and here, if interested.

BizTalk Server 2009, Learning, SOA

Book Review: SOA Patterns with BizTalk Server 2009

Richard Seroter has a style of writing that’s… entertaining and easy to read. Some books or articles have a tendency to go on and on without really saying too much. Let me assure you, that’s not the case here. You can find that in his blog as well.

If after reading the book I would be asked to identify an audience for the book I would indicate that the people that would get the most value out of reading the book are the ones that are already familiar with BizTalk. You don’t have to be familiar with WCF, as I think it does a good job of explaining it down to a level where you can follow things being said thereafter. Again though, I would suggest that you will also get the most value out of the book if you are already familiar with the concepts of WCF. And it’s for developers, not administrators. From the BizTalk books I’ve read, there are really none dedicated to administrators, although most contain parts meant for administrators. This does not.

I understand why it contains introductory chapters of BizTalk – you don’t want to alienate a large segment of people. But… in my humble opinion, beginners will get more value out of reading Professional BizTalk Server 2006 first. This is not a beginners book.

I read it cover to cover, that’s how I read most books, but if you belong to what I would claim is the best target group to get this book, you will read the first three chapters quickly, or not at all. Don’t get me wrong, they are not poorly written in any way, on the contrary, but you probably know this stuff well enough anyway. The mother of all learning is repetition though so…

I would say that the next five chapters (4-8, pg 87-276) is the meat of the book. Even though you know BizTalk (and there really aren’t all that many people in my cultural part of the world that say they really know something), I believe everyone can pick up a thing or two, or at the very least be reminded of things you should do when building solutions in BizTalk Server. I would also claim that these things, although arguably more important in a SOA, are of interest to all BizTalk developers, regardless if you are using BizTalk to do EAI, SOA or ESB style development – although the focus of the book might be on SOA and WCF.

The following chapter on the WCF SQL Server Adapter is a really good read as well, and one of the few resources available explaining the new SQL Adapter in any depth. I mostly recommend reading the book from start to finish, but starting with chapter 9, the chapters 9-12 can be read independently from each other and the rest of the book. Although chapter 9 is called “New SOA Capabilities in BizTalk Server 2009: WCF SQL Server Adapter”, it is mostly applicable on BizTalk Server 2006 R2, as is most of the book. Some parts of the chapter covers SQL Server 2008 specific functionality though.

The next couple of chapters (10, 11) are BizTalk Server 2009 specific, but they are the only ones. You can get this book even if you do BizTalk Server 2006 R2 development today and in the foreseeable future. The last chapters (11-12) are about coming functionality. It’s always difficult to write stuff about the future (or pre-release software for that matter), since inevitably, it’s constantly changing based on actions in the present (kinda deep huh?), but it gives a good glimpse into how things stood at the writing of the book (and in the majority of cases still does).

Summing up my experiences I think that an alternative title that reflects my above thoughts could have been Advanced or Pro WCF in BizTalk Server 2006 R2 (following in line with Apress names of Pro Mapping/BAM/EDI/RFID/… – but SOA Patterns with BizTalk Server 2009 is so much cooler 😉 (and is just as appropriate)

To close, I highly recommend this book for anyone doing BizTalk development, specifically those matching the right crowd as described above.

Also BizTalk User Group Sweden looks forward to Richards visit in September when he will be speaking on some of these topics and beyond.

Additional links: