Will this be the last place on the web that trumpets the BizTalk 2006 beta? 
Likely not, but I did see it in quite a few places today.

Head to http://beta.microsoft.com with your
passport and ‘BizTalkBetaTeam’ for a guest ID, and then wait patiently.  (While
you’re waiting, consider building out a VPC image with VS2005 beta 2 and, presumably,
the latest SQL 2005 bits.  SQL 2000 would be fine as well, as BizTalk 2006 will
not require SQL 2005.)

This…is going to be a great release.  Nothing so revolutionary that you can’t
leverage all the skills that you (or your staff) have already learned. 
Yet, there are many, many important feature additions and “rough edges” removed.

Rattling off a few of the new items:

  • In-order delivery for any adapter that supports it (i.e. MSMQ, MQSeries, etc.) 
    In 2004, only MSMQ/T supported this.  (Of course, a faulty orchestration can
    break first-in-first-out – more on that in a later post.)
  • The introduction of an “Application” concept for grouping BizTalk assets
    – which extends to orchestrations, role links, send port groups, send ports, receive
    ports, receive locations, policies, schemas, maps, pipelines, other resources
    (e.g. soap proxies),  you name it!  Just as importantly, the management
    infrastructure understands applications – so health/management views can be narrowed
    down appropriately.
  • The management infrastructure has been completely encapsulated in an MMC – HAT is
    largely hidden.  More interesting is that the MMC can manage multiple BizTalk
    – and can do so remotely (by definition…)
  • A packaging/deployment solution that looks good – we’ll have more to say about that
    in the coming weeks!  The developer experience in particular looks to be quite
    good.  Likely still some value-add to be done on the server side.
  • Ability to route failed messages – and subscribe in your orchestrations.
  • Calling pipelines from within orchestrations (no more loopback adapter or similar
    solutions needed…)
  • Zoom and expand/collapse-state-preservation within orchestrations.  (So when
    you collapse that big group or scope shape, it will stay collapsed across
  • BAM integration with SQL Notification Services.
  • “Operator Role” has been defined to make allocating administration tasks a bit easier
    from a security perspective.
  • Pipelines can have per-instance configuration – saving you from recreating what were
    essentially a lot of duplicate pipelines!  (This was possible in 2004, I believe
    – but not exposed cleanly.)

This will be fun…I look forward to exploring the beta bits (man, the CTP was pretty