Biz Talk Messaging Services

The BizTalk Server framework is fundamentally based on messages. In any business process that is automated by BizTalk Server, messages must be received from their source, processed, possibly transformed into another format, and then sent to their destination.While BizTalk Orchestration services are responsible for much of the processing of the messages that arrive, BizTalk Messaging Services manage both the process of moving messages from their source to their destination and the process of converting documents between different message formats appropriate for each transaction.

BizTalk Messaging consists of several key objects that must be both understood and properly configured in order to correctly route messages. The main objects are document definitions, document specifications, organizations, channels, messaging ports, and distribution lists. Each of these objects depends on one or more other types of object, so it's important to understand their purpose. A

brief description of these objects is given here, and more detail is provided for each later in the chapter:

■ Document definitions provide information on the type of document used by a channel.

■ Document specifications describe the exact structure and layout of the document.

■ Organizations represent trading partners involved in exchange of business documents.

■ Channels are used to receive source documents from other organizations or other internal applications, and act as "gateways" into your BizTalk Server.

■ Messaging ports are used to route documents from a channel to another organization or application.

■ Distribution lists combine messaging ports into a single entity, allowing one message to be distributed to multiple ports.

Even from these short descriptions, you can see that these different objects rely heavily on one another, since BizTalk Messaging cannot perform its job without interactions between these different types of objects.While it might seem initially cumbersome to have so many different entities act in combination to provide these messaging services, it is this decoupling that truly gives BizTalk Server Messaging Services its flexibility and power. Business processes are rarely etched in stone and change frequently.This loosely coupled messaging services architecture allows you to build up your messaging system from smaller parts to accomplish your business needs.When some aspect of your business process changes, you can react by simply updating only those objects that require it (modifying a port to send an invoice to a different URL, for example), rather than redesigning your entire message transport process.The details of the interactions between the different types of messaging objects will become clearer in the sections to follow.

The BizTalk Messaging objects can all be created from the BizTalk Messaging Manager interface, which can be launched from the Start menu via your BizTalk installation. The interface is rather basic and mainly serves as a launching pad for various wizards and property pages from which you can configure your messaging objects.The Messaging Manager interface is shown in Figure 4.1.

Figure 4.1 The Messaging Manager Interface

Figure 4.1 The Messaging Manager Interface

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