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BizTalk Server Schemas Now Available as Open Source Code

Microsoft today announced that the schemas used with BizTalk Server are now open source code.

BizTalk Server 2016, released last year, is Microsoft's "enterprise integration server" for orchestrating various applications and services. All of the schemas used with the product, representing 3,539 files, are now housed in this GitHub open source repository. They are accessible by anyone.

The product group for BizTalk Server at Microsoft plans to manage the open source code. However, Microsoft is also accepting open source code contributions, and not just for the schemas. Developers can also contribute code for BizTalk Server's "Samples, Adapters, pipeline components or anything else you feel the community can take advantage of," Microsoft's announcement explained.

Microsoft likely will not make all of its proprietary code used in BizTalk Server available as open source code, though, explained Saravana Kumar, founder and CTO of BizTalk360, a Microsoft partner supporting BizTalk Server. He offered a lot more detail than Microsoft's terse announcement in this blog post.

In particular, Kumar noted that while Microsoft is accepting contributed code, it won't officially support that code in BizTalk Server products, even if it gets shipped in the next product release:

Microsoft is only open sourcing certain components code and it will not support the modified version by end users. Microsoft will only support the version of the components that ship with the product, either out of the box or via Feature Packs or cumulative updates. Microsoft is also planning to accept community contributions, which might then get released as part of "Feature Pack" or in the vNext of the product. However, only officially shipped components will be supported. This is something the end user needs to be aware of.

Contributors to BizTalk Server have to sign a Microsoft Contribution License Agreement, which gives Microsoft a "perpetual, worldwide, nonexclusive, royalty-free irrevocable license" to the code.

Microsoft took to the open source route in order to sell more licenses of BizTalk Server, according to Kumar. The use of open source code will make it easier for organizations to customize the product or even fix software flaws before a feature pack gets release, he contended.

Currently, there are a lot of contributors to BizTalk Server, so that's why enabling open source code will be valuable, according to Kumar. The Microsoft partner community on BizTalk Server, on the other hand, remains small, he noted:

Whereas for some reason even though BizTalk Server is a perfect candidate for a thriving partner ecosystem to buil[d] adapters, maps, and pipeline components and so on, for some reason the partner ecosystem didn't take off. There are very few companies like BizTalk360, nSoftware, Active Adapter, etc., who tapped into this market.

In April, Microsoft release Feature Pack 1 for BizTalk Server 2016, a new approach for updating the product. It perhaps borrowed from the SharePoint Server feature-pack release model. So, while it appears that Microsoft intends to continue with the server product, which gets installed at the customer's premises, the cloud-enabled version is getting deprecated. For instance, Microsoft gave notice back in June that it planned to end Azure BizTalk Services in about a year's time.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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