Cannot use a prefix with an empty namespace error message when trying to compile a BizTalk Server 2004 solution

I know this is old stuff but sometimes we find customers with solutions running in older versions of BizTalk that need to be fixed or improved while the client studying the possibility of migrating this project to newer versions of BizTalk Server.

After the challenge of putting my BizTalk Server 2004 development machine running on my local Hyper-V, when I try to compile the solution I found this strange error since the solution I was trying to build was running smoothly in production:

“Exception Caught: Cannot use a prefix with an empty namespace”

This error occurred in an existing map in the solution and I found it a little strange because the solution I was trying to build was running smoothly in production… My first thought was that the existing version in the source safe was not the latest … but after some research, I found that the problem was in Service Pack 1 for BizTalk Server 2004


When you use the Transform shape in a Microsoft BizTalk Server Orchestration to generate a map file after you have installed BizTalk Server 2004 Service Pack 1 (SP1), you may receive this error message when you try to validate the map.

This problem only occurs when you provide multiple source inputs for the map and the source schemas do not have a Target Namespace property specified. Therefore, the generated map will contain a namespace attribute that is null. When the Target Namespace property is not specified, the map generation process should not put the namespace attribute on the map.


A supported hotfix is available from Microsoft to correct the problem that is described in this post.

You can download and see more information’s about this error here:


  • Microsoft BizTalk Server 2004 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is required.
  • You must restart your computer after you apply this hotfix.
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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