In Chapter 10, I mentioned factors that you might consider when writing or selecting a BizTalk Framework Compliant (BFC) server for your environment. Remember that the only real requirements of a BizTalk server are to understand the BizTalk framework tags and then do something intelligent with a document based on those tags. Microsoft BizTalk Server 2000 goes way beyond the basic XML processing capabilities I outlined in Chapter 10. This server combines several services that allow you to integrate business documents into your current system. The product also provides new components that you can use to manage your data and exchange information, as well as components for server management and maintenance. Microsoft has been behind the BizTalk initiative since its inception, and the product features what you need in a server designed—at the business-document level—to integrate your office with the offices of your trading partners.
BizTalk Server 2000 is a data-translation and application-integration server used to exchange business data. BizTalk Server 2000 uses XML to allow you to conduct your business partner relationships across industries and between business systems regardless of platform, operating system, or underlying technology. The server provides a standard gateway for sending and receiving documents across the Internet, and it offers a range of services that ensure data integrity, delivery, and security.
BizTalk Server 2000 functionality includes the ability to receive incoming documents, parse the documents to determine their specific format, extract key identifiers, identify specific processing rules, and deliver documents to their respective destinations. Also included are services for data mapping and services for ensuring data integrity, delivery, and security.
BizTalk Server 2000 provides tools for defining the structure of your business documents (schemas) and for transforming data between these documents by using XSLT. The BizTalk Server documents refer to this transformation as mapping.
The system uses XML for all data transfer but also accepts and creates other formats, most notably electronic data interchange (EDI). The tools in BizTalk Server 2000 offer the data translation necessary for an application-integration server.
This chapter uses two hands-on examples to examine a couple of the tools you can use to create and convert XML documents: the Microsoft BizTalk Editor and the Microsoft BizTalk Mapper.