API Apps 101 for BizTalk Developers at Integrate 2016

By Nick Hauenstein

I’m happy to announce that I’ve been asked to speak at the BizTalk 360 Integrate 2016 conference May 11th-13th in London. When brainstorming for the session topics I had lots of ideas of fun things that could be accomplished with Logic Apps and API Apps, but decided to take things in a slightly different direction.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen BizTalk Server developers who are skilled as general .NET developers, but who may not have the time or energy to keep up-to-date with the evolution of Logic Apps, API Apps – and all of the things that come with them Web API, node.js, Swagger, etc. That is perfectly understandable because as a developer building enterprise integrations exchanging X12 or EDIFACT data using BizTalk Server, you might not have needed to interact with JSON serialization in the past.

This Will Make Your Dreams Come True

This last year, my team and I have been working hard to stay on top of changes to Microsoft’s cloud-based integration technologies. Time and again we’ve fallen, and seen others do it as well, into the trap of looking at a tool and then trying to figure out how it can solve all of our problems – even to the point of searching out problems (imagined or otherwise) that it could tackle. It happens anytime there’s a sufficiently impressive tool, or sufficiently impressive salesperson (or both). Go ahead, click the link, I’ll wait. But if you do click that link, you will end up trying to find how you too could buy a 10 pack of vegetable peelers. Then you would be trying to figure out how to incorporate zucchini strands into dessert.

Getting Back on Track

Whenever that happens we’ve been able to course correct by forgetting about the tool and focusing on the problem we want to solve, or even better, the ideal solution to the problem. When describing the solution using Enterprise Integration Patterns as our vocabulary, we can quickly model an answer that works without assigning a particular tool or technology. Maybe a given solution needs a content enricher, or a resequencer, or guaranteed delivery, or whatever – not necessarily a specific technology applied.

As a BizTalk Developer, I know how to implement these patterns using BizTalk; the real question that we keep running into is can we implement these patterns using API Apps and/or Logic Apps – and better yet should we?

Can != Should?

My session is designed to help BizTalk Developers learn how to answer those questions for themselves. Specifically, identifying the capabilities of the new additions to our toolset, and then showing how to use them without assumptions of in-depth knowledge of the underpinnings. In the talk, you will see API App that creates promoted properties from an XML document (just like BizTalk Server) so that we could then potentially reach out to other Azure capabilities and implement publish-subscribe in concert with content-based routing and correlation.

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