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ErwinAI - Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) blog on BizTalk 2004, Visual Studio, and application integration

Recently, we upgraded the messages exchanged with one of the business partners. The partner used the opportunity to change a few other things on his side as well. We transport the messages back and forth using HTTP. We prefer HTTP (and SOAP) when there is no good reason to choose any other form of transporting the messages.

When we tested the changes, some problems arose on the partner's system, receiving the messages over HTTP. It took some testing effort, before we asked the partner to return to the old webserver. We still don't know what was exactly causing the problems. Even though it is most likely not a problem caused by BizTalk, there is a fair chance that anyone trying to setup HTTP-type communications runs into something comparable.

Some things we checked and found out:

  • HTTP comes in a few versions. BizTalk 2004 comes with version 1.2 by default. This is hard to influence. For another version, another HTTP-adapter would be required, if available.
  • When defining ports that use the HTTP-adapter, hardly any HTTP-property can be controlled. - The encoding of the outgoing message can (independent from the HTTP-adapter) be set using a send pipeline.
  • In an orchestration, an assignment shape can be used to control a few HTTP-specific properties of the message (context).
  • BizTalk 2006 is said to have more options to control HTTP-type communications
  • BizTalk 2004 sets the HTTP-headers of the HTTP-session in a specific way. The recipient can determine that the sender is a BizTalk-server, based on the HTTP-headers.

Finally: our partner tested his new HTTP-server using web-forms (a web page containing input fields and a post-button). This is comparable to what BizTalk uses when it sends a message to a remote HTTP-server. However, there appear to be big differences as well. The layout of the full HTTP-transmission when sent by BizTalk differs considerably from what a web-form post operation does! Be warned.

Posted on Thursday, February 23, 2006 4:18 PM BizTalk 2004 Hints, Tips & Tricks | Back to top

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