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Have you ever found yourself in a position where you
needed to understand how a particular BizTalk solution works? And to make
matters worse, the majority of the solution is implemented based on content-based

Routing Messages in BizTalk

So first, what is this: Content-Based routing?

Don’t get me wrong the definition that I will provide because there are several Message Routing Patterns that you can implement in BizTalk Server. For example, you can implement in BizTalk Server a:

But the reality is that in BizTalk Server:

  • a message is always composed by the message itself and the metadata associated with it;
  • the architecture is based on Publish and Subscribe;

So in his essence, the subscriber will subscribe to
the messages based on Content-Based Routing.

And you may say: yes, but I can route a message without examining is content.

And you are right. The problem is the default
definition of this pattern:

  • As the names
    describe, Content-Based Router examines the message content and routes the
    message onto a different channel based on data contained in the message. For
    example, routing a message based on specif values of specif fields, or based on
    some criteria like existing fields.

However, as I told you before, a message in BizTalk
Server is always composed by the message itself and the metadata
associated with it. And for that reason, you may found other variations or
other names like:

  • Context-Based
    : Context-Based Routing is similar to the previous
    one, but instead of analyzing the content of the message, it will analyze the
    metadata of the message. This information, in BizTalk Server, is normally
    created on the receive port by the adapter and pipelines.

    • Remember that I
      can promote messages to the context of the message and route them;
  • Message-Based
    : that is normally defined when:

    • a message is
      routed by BizTalk only based on the message type;

      • But this is
        metadata associated in the message, and you need to inspect the message to get
        is type;
    • or in pass-thru
      scenarios when you are just redirecting the message to other systems, i.e.,
      BizTalk is a broker and don’t “touch” or modify the message;

      • But these
        filters are also associated with metadata of the message;

The problem of managing these

If you have found yourself managing solutions, that
majority is implemented with content-based routing, which is usually associated
with not using orchestrations. You know that is not easy to understand the solution:

  • What ports are subscribing
    to the messages?

    • In which
    • In which application?

But that’s not all. Even worse if you have
orchestrations using filters based on the content/context of the message in the

This kind of analyze is hard because BizTalk Server
Administration Console doesn’t provide an easy way out-of-the-box for you to
see these subscriptions for example in a central place or in a visual diagram

BizTalk subscriptions diagram prof-of-concept

This picture is actually from BizTalk360 Graphical Message Flow, but it serves well here as prof-of-concept.

The default solution

So the default solution that you have out-of-the-box
with the product is to query the subscription from the BizTalk Server
Administration Console by:

  • In the console
    tree, expand BizTalk Server Administration, and then click the BizTalk group.
  • In the details
    pane, click the New Query tab.
  • In the Query
    Expression group, in the Value column, select Subscriptions from the drop-down
    list box.
BizTalk Administration Console Subscription query

But then you need to go one by one and see what the
filters are.

You can minimize this by filtering more the query
using the following filters:

  • Maximum Matches:
    The number of matches to display.
  • Service Instance
    ID: You can filter subscriptions by service instance ID.
  • Service Name: You
    can filter subscriptions by service name.
  • Subscription
    Type: You can filter subscriptions by Activation Subscription or Instance

But that will not solve all your problems also. In conclusion, this is a hard and time-consuming task.

And sometimes what I need is just to have a quick
overview of all these filters.

BizTalk Filter Finder Tool

“BizTalk Filter Finder Tool” is a simple tool that
aims to simplify the process for better understand and maintain solutions based
on content-based routing. By allowing you to have a quick overview of all the
artifacts, send ports or orchestrations that have filters associated.

BizTalk Filter Finder Tool

This tool will extend default BizTalk Server
capabilities transforming this tedious and sometimes complicate analyze a
little simple, easy and fast.

It way not be an amazing tool; it may not be beautiful
but for me is a timesaver tool.

Credits also to my team member at DevScope, Pedro Almeida that collaborated with me in the development of this tool.


You can download BizTalk Filter Finder Tool from:
BizTalk Filter Finder ToolBizTalk Filter Finder Tool

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