Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Using PowerShell to remove all old files in a folder structure

A common task when working with BizTalk installations is to clean out old data from folder structures. May it be old log files, automatically saved messages from a send port, database backups or any other sort of data that is obsolete after a certain period of time.

When I started working with BizTalk, the norm was to use bat files or VB Script. These can still be seen in many places since they a) work just fine, and b) the developers/administrators hasn't learned a new way to script these kind of things, mostly because a) they work just fine.

I myself as mentioned earlier prefer to use PowerShell nowadays.

In order to recursivly delete old files and folders, one line of PowerShell script is all that is needed:

get-childitem -path 'c:\temp\test' -recurse | where -FilterScript {$_.LastWriteTime -le [System.DateTime]::Now.AddDays(-30)} | Remove-Item -recurse -force

This script simply traverses the specified folder (why not change it to take the folder and date as a parameter) and does so recursivly. All files older than 30 days in this case is then deleted. By using the -force parameter, locked and hidden files will not cause an error.

In order to have this run automatically on a server, it needs some adjustments. Add a Scheduled Task and set the Program/script to run to Powershell and then add the arguments as so:

-noninteractive -command "& {get-childitem -path 'c:\temp\test' -recurse | where -FilterScript {$_.LastWriteTime -le [System.DateTime]::Now.AddDays(-30)} | Remove-Item -recurse -force}"

Set the security options for the task to "Run whether user is logged on or not" and also check the "Run with highest privileges" checkbox.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why I created my own PowerShell scripts for BizTalk deployment

Most of us working with BizTalk has at one point or another started scripting our deployments instead of doing them manually. I have during the years seen many variants of automating the deployment process. At one place the "old" way of using bat-files calling BTSTASK where used extensively. At another, a custom .Net program with a GUI was developed that would call the different API:s available. I myself resorted to using PowerShell to create a fully automatic deployment routine.

My scripts has two parts. One with different functions that I wrote and one part that encapsulates the functions and executes them in the correct order. As input I create an XML file that specifies which .msi packages that are to be deployed, which applications to remove/update/add, settings for the IIS virtual directories and so on. Since it is quite common during complicated deployments that something will err, I added functions to test run the scripts in advance. The test run simply checks for dependencies in the BizTalk configuration, making sure that applications can be modified as configured. It also checks that all files needed are provided in the setup package.

When creating the scripts, I briefly looked at using the BizTalk Deployment Framework and other extensions to PowerShell, but opted on developing it all in my own scripts. This due to several reasons, each quite strong in my case:
  • I would learn more about PowerShell as well as the API:s and tools found in BizTalk
  • I would know exactly where things could go wrong and what to do about it.
  • It allowed me a greater flexibility since nothing was hidden in dll files or needed installation. As long as PowerShell was installed on the servers, the scripts would work. Nothing else is needed. This is also something that administrators liked. Some of them are a bit weary about installing "some stuff I found on the net". 
This post is the theoretical background to posts that are to follow that will showcase and explain my scripts in individual blocks. I have already started in advance with the post Recycle IIS application pools using PowerShell, and more snippets are to come.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

BizTalk Map Viewer: Graphical interface for the BizTalk Map Documenter

Quite a while ago during an assignment we needed a way to display the logic in BizTalk maps for developers that didn't have BizTalk installed on their workstations. We quickly turned to the BizTalk Map Documenter which simply is an XSLT file built to take a standard BizTalk map file (.btm) and output it in a human readable format as an HTML page.

In order to use the XSLT file you need to execute it, preferably with the utility msxsl.exe which can take the .btm file and XSLT file as arguments and then output the result to be viewed by the user. However, this caused a bit too much command line hacking in our case and I took an evening in the hotel bar to quickly whip together a GUI for it and thus, the BizTalk Map Viewer was born.

The application is very simple and in it's basic form simply allows you to open a BizTalk map file which then will be parsed by the BizTalk Map Documenter XSLT file and the result will be shown in the application window. I added functionality to save, print and copy the result. I also added functionality to register the application as a valid right-click option for .btm files. If enabled, you will get the option to "Open with BizTalk Map Viewer" when right-clicking on BizTalk map files which then will open the selected file in the application. Just be sure to have placed the application executable in a good folder before registering it since the current path will be used.

Feel free to download the code and executable.

Use it as you please.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A take on documenting integration platforms using Visio

Earlier this year I wrote a post about having Visio update a field on a shape automatically when editing any other field, making it possible to always know when the metadata was last changed. In the comments I was asked to share the Visio sheet which it now is time to do. This is the result of that request, in some way documenting my attempt to use Visio to document an integration platform. Hopefully you can gain some ideas to use in your documentation endeavours.

In almost all of my encounters of different integration platforms at various companies, there has been a high level view of the entire integration setup showing the various message flows available. This map has usually been constructed in Visio. There has also been two types of layouts, lets call them the structured layout and the unstructured layout.

The following is an example of the unstructured layout. It's common and does a fairly good job at describing the full environment. It is often seen when there has not been a true approach to working with integrations.
Most of the time they are filled with objects, with varying descriptions, showing the entire network.You can see that two systems interact, but you do not know in which way. It is also often hard to see how everything is connected if you as in the example has an integration hub in the middle, doing some message routing.

Hence we get the structured layout as is seen below. In this case, there is a very solid structure with the integration platform in the middle, and the integrated systems on both sides with arrows showing each and every message flowing through.

These maps are good at showing the message flows as every message is entered, but it doesn't give you the overall picture that the unstructured layout gives you since a lot of fluff is stripped away. Usually there has also been an improvement from the unstructured layout in that each message flow has been given an identity which then maps to more detailed documentation in a file archive or document portal.

So, earlier this year I did a test with a variant of the structured layout, seeing if I could document the current state of integrations at my current job. The map I was given from the beginning was according to the unstructured layout. A lot of information was out of date, systems had been taken out, others taken in, versions changed, message flows altered and so on. I had to create an up to date picture of the integrations, so that I could commence working with them.

I took a brand new Visio document and started documenting. I created a "system" shape that had the following shape data:
  • System name
  • System name 2
  • System version
  • Server name
  • Database
  • Database version
In my Swedish Visio it looks like this:

In order to make it easier updating and changing these properties/metadata for all shapes, I changed the Shape Sheet to make the form data window open when doubleclicking on the shape. You can do this by editing the Shape Sheet property "EventDblClick" under "Events" to read "=DOCMD(1312)".

I then did the same thing for the arrow shape adding metadata that I want to know for each message:
  • ID
  • Object name
  • Status (i.e. Planned, Under development, In use, To be removed)
  • Transport (i.e. Web service, File, FTP, WCF...)
  • Type (i.e. Xml, Flat file...)
  • Frequency
  • Automatic (i.e. a drop down giving the option of Yes or No, indicating whether the message transfer is completely automatic)
  • Sync/Async
  • One way/Request-response
  • From system
  • To system
  • Comment

Many of the fields are defined in the form data editor as dropdown menus as to make the data more consistent and easier to edit. I also added the "From system" and "To system" in order to get good documentation automatically created by exporting the form data to Excel. As with the System shapes, I added the doubleclick event to the shape.

I also altered the shape so that the choices made in the form data will be visible in the shape. Depending on the "Status", the arrow will be yellow (planned), green (under development), black (in use) or red (to be removed). This is done by editing the Data Graphic and setting that each value will match a specific color.

Also, setting the "Automatic" to "No" will show a little man besides the ID and Object name. This can be set in the Shape Sheet as well under "Text fields" and "Value". In my case, the formula is: =IF(STRSAME(Prop.Automatic,"No",TRUE)," 웃","")&" "&Prop.ID&". "&Prop.Objectname&" ". But is of course dependent on the name you give each property in the form data.

In the same manner, I have a setting that will change the arrows on the shape so that I get an indication if it is a one way transfer or a request-response one, by adding a little unfilled arrow in the other direction of the data flow.

I have also adjusted where the text appears on the connector according to this post from the Visio Guy, so that the text is always at the end of the line instead of in the middle.

So, is this a good way of documenting message flows?

Well, in this case, it has been very helpful. I have a single document that shows me quite a lot of the current setup and state. It eases on the job of manually editing shapes to indicate whether it is a planned message flow, if it is request-response, a manual job and so on. Instead, I just select the desired property and let Visio format the shape accordingly, giving me a neat view of the state.

After documenting all message flows in this Visio document, I will most likely strip it down. I will remove a lot of the metadata in the connection shapes, and have this solely in the integration specification document that I will create for each message. I do not like to have duplicate information in my documentation, and I feel that that sort of data will belong better in the written documentation than in the Visio sheet. I will still keep the color coding depending on Status, as well as some other visual cues that is helpful when looking at the overall view of the integration platform.