New EDI Features in BizTalk Services August 2014 Update
September 12, 2014 1 Comment
On August 12th, 2014, the BizTalk Product Team announced the release of the latest update to Microsoft Azure BizTalk Services (MABS), which includes the following enhancements:
- Ability to configure and manage agreements and bridges separately
- Ability to configure EDI delimiters at a Transaction Set level
- Enhanced digest and encryption algorithms for AS2
- Drummond Certification for AS2
- Support for advanced XML constructs in transforms
The enhancements to the mapper and the associated SDK certainly sound exciting, but this blog post will concentrate on the new EDI features. Support for B2B applications through Electronic Document Interchange (EDI) is one of the core capabilities and selling points of MABS, so Microsoft’s attention to this area is a well-placed investment.
The first change you’ll see when you log into the BizTalk Services Management Portal is on the Bridges page:
Note that instead of a static list, each bridge is now a hyperlink. If you double-click on an EDI bridge, you get a page like this one to open:
Here you have control over the items that aren’t agreement-specific, for example:
- Transport settings
- Promoted properties
You even have the option of specifying delimiters for EDIFACT messages:
Let’s now click on the Receive Settings and see what that presents to us:
Notice that you have everything you used to see in this view of the agreement, except for the Protocol page. This means that you can control all of these setting independently of the agreement itself.
Now let’s see what the Send Settings reveals:
Again, everything but the Protocols and the Batching views.
So what do the actual agreement views look like then?
The General page has not changed, however both the Receive Settings and Send Settings views (predictably) display the complementary Protocol and Batching pages that were missing from the bridge view – and nothing else.
What about those enhanced EDI delimiter settings?
Note that now we can choose different sets of delimiters for each schema type if we want. Before we were limited to a single set of delimiters for all messages in the agreement.
Finally, let’s have a quick look at the AS2 configuration and the new digest and encryption algorithms available:
Previously we only had DES3 and RC2 available for symmetric key encryptions, and MD5 and SHA1 for MIC calculation.
Lastly, what does AS2 Drummond Certification actually mean? Well if you read their website, you’ll see that it’s all about interoperability assurance. On this link from their website, the CEO of Drummond Group explains the value of certifications:
“Certified software applications and business practices drive greater interoperability,” says Rik Drummond, CEO of Drummond Group. “This also helps increase the openness of the latest products to create opportunity and choice across the IT community of developers, partners, customers and competitors. Working together with this one goal during these test events, these companies also meet mutual goals of driving global interoperability with the continuous adoption of technical standards such as AS2. Continued success for interoperable products strengthens a worldwide marketplace as it creates different product choices with varying price points suitable for all industries.”
It’s good to see Microsoft’s commitment to the BizTalk Services platform via these constant improvements. One of the great things about Azure services is the accelerated pace of release (usually quarterly) compared to server-based products. Looking forward to the next release!!