Bridging the BizTalk-Web services divide

While Microsoft aims to incorporate BizTalk into its .NET family, observers have noted that the company needs help to achieve true Web services functionality -- and it appears that help is on the way.

Montreal-based Codagen Technologies Corp. has brought out a tool that company officials said can quickly bridge the gap between BizTalk and Web services. Representatives said the tool, Codagen for BizTalk Server, is designed to solve problems for a technology that pre-dates Web services.

'In BizTalk there is no such concept [as] SOAP, Web services, UDDI or WSDL,' said Yan Locas, Codagen's senior systems engineer. 'Right now, if you take the BizTalk server engine there is not much way to interact through Web services. To do that, you would have to manually code your Web service and call the API of BizTalk server to launch, send a transaction or interact with the business process running on top of BizTalk server.'

There is a need for the link to Web services, Yan added, because the kinds of applications business analysts develop with BizTalk tend to be multicompany interactions that fit into the B2B framework.

'When you model a business process, most of the time the business process will span across the boundary of a single company,' he said. 'If you do B2B, you will interact with other companies.'

The new Codagen tool can work with Rational Rose to model business interactions and determine what XML documents, such as invoices, will be required to complete a transaction, Yan said.

'What our product does for BizTalk Server is to enable the business analyst to discover their business process requirements while modeling scenarios with all the interactions involved between their different roles and departments,' explained Codagen CEO Richard Borenstein. 'Each interaction is mapped to the appropriate Web service.'

Once the business analyst has completed the B2B model, including how documents -- such as purchase orders -- need to be exchanged and how information -- such as credit verifications -- needs to be gathered, an IT professional could then use the Codagen tool to generate the Web services interfaces.

'Using the Codagen architecture, you can model the big picture and then have the XLANG [Microsoft's XML specification for documents in a business process] workflow generated for the BizTalk server engine automatically based on that,' explained Codagen's Yan. 'And for that business process, which will be running on top of BizTalk server, we automatically generate the glue or the additional layer that will make the business process available from Web services.'

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About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.


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