BizTalk Server: Basics principles of Maps – What are maps and where BizTalk can use them? (Part 2)

Posted: March 30, 2012  |  Categories: BizTalk Maps

BizTalk maps are graphical representations of XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformation) documents that allow us to perform, in a simple and visual manner, transformations between XML messages.

We can enumerate the following standards used in the BizTalk Mapper:

  • XML (Extensible Markup Language) – designed to transport and store data of messages;
  • XML Schema (XSD – XML Schema Definition) – describes the structure of an XML document;
  • E XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformation) – is a style sheet language for XML documents (stands for XSL Transformations), it defines the transformation rules of the messages;

To emphasize, that they all are W3C recommendations. W3C ((Worldwide Web Consortium)) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards.

We can define that there are two types of transformations:

  • Syntax Transformations: This type of transformations occurs in the receive or send pipelines and aim to transform a document into another representation, e.g. CSV to XML. Here the document maintains the same data (semantics) but changes the syntax that is represented. I.e. we translate the document, but typically we don’t modify the structure. Normally, this type of transformation is bidirectional, since we still have the same semantic content, we can apply the same transformation logic and obtain the document in its original format.
Syntax Transformations
  • Semantic Transformations: This type of transformation usually occurs only in BizTalk maps. Here the document maintains the same syntax that is represented (XML) but changes its semantics (data content). This type of transformation is typically one-way, since that when we added and aggregate small parts of the information, that compose the document into another different document, we may miss important details for its reconstruction.
Semantic Transformations

Note: In this article, we will talk only of semantic transformations, i.e., maps in BizTalk.

Where maps can be used?

Maps can be used for processing messages received at a receive port, inside orchestrations or for processing messages sent to a send port, as the following figure suggests:

Where maps can be used

The biggest difference between using maps in ports or in orchestrations is that when we use maps inside orchestrations we can have multiple messages inputs (transformations of many documents into one final document – transformations N -> 1) and ports only allows a single input message (transformations 1 -> 1).

Related links

Author: Sandro Pereira

Sandro Pereira lives in Portugal and works as a consultant at DevScope. In the past years, he has been working on implementing Integration scenarios both on-premises and cloud for various clients, each with different scenarios from a technical point of view, size, and criticality, using Microsoft Azure, Microsoft BizTalk Server and different technologies like AS2, EDI, RosettaNet, SAP, TIBCO etc. He is a regular blogger, international speaker, and technical reviewer of several BizTalk books all focused on Integration. He is also the author of the book “BizTalk Mapping Patterns & Best Practices”. He has been awarded MVP since 2011 for his contributions to the integration community.

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