Here at the Microsoft MVP Summit in Seattle and it’s been fun bumping into old friends and putting names with faces. Had a chance to hang out with Scott Colestock, Charles Young, Brian Loesgen, Stephen Thomas, Tim Rayburn, Alan Smith, Paul Somers, Tomas Restrepo and Bill Chesnut. It’s pretty wild to be around some of the smartest BizTalk folks on the planet.
Today’s MVP Summit sessions were intentionally unfocused and meant to be conversations among folks with similar technology interests. I spent my first session in a WCF roundtable moderated by Michele Leroux Bustamante where I walked away with lots of ideas and items to research (WCF null channels, security token services, etc).
I next sat in on a “patterns and practices” discussion, and quickly realized how fortunate BizTalk developers are to “get” many concepts that other developers may struggle with. I asked the group how they handled asynchronous design patterns, and that spawned a 30 minute discussion on the challenges of asynchronous designs (specifically on the UI) and how many developers are leery to embrace it. There was further discussion the challenges around exception management, logging and transactions. Charles Young and I were chatting and agreed that many of these areas which plague “regular” developers are things that a BizTalk developer has encountered and conquered years ago. For instance, any reasonable BizTalk developer understands the value of asynchronous messaging, and is adept and dealing with callbacks and correlation. For exception handling, the BizTalk engine itself handles exceptions fairly well by suspending instances, without the developer explicitly telling it to please not discard the instance or messages.
If I take a step back and ignore any features I WISH BizTalk had, I still have to admit that the evolution from BizTalk 2002 to 2004 is one of the greatest software engineering feats that Redmond has produced. Think about all the well constructed architectural changes ( messaging engine, adapters, .NET assemblies) and new features (SSO, BRE, BAM, VS.NET integration) that were included in a single release cycle, and still hold up today. Impressive, well thought out stuff. Not that everything’s perfect, or close to it, but BizTalk developers are exposed to a lot of broad architectural principles that benefit them even in non-BizTalk solution scenarios. And yes, the Kool-Aid is flowing in Seattle this week.