Understanding and demystifying the Scope of the Table Looping Functoid

Let’s have a look at a little of inside information that will be in my upcoming Book about maps: demystify and clarify some features about the Table Looping Functoid.

First of all this functoid requires at least 3 inputs and a maximum of 100, in which the official documentation states that:

  • Parameter 1: A link from a repeating node in the source schema. The number of instances of this structure that occur in a particular input instance message defines the number of times that the associated table looping grid is processed.
  • Parameter 2: A constant input parameter that defines the number of columns in the associated table looping grid.
  • Parameters 3 – 100: A link from a node in the source schema or from another functoid, such as a Value Extractor functoid, or a constant input parameter. The relative order of parameters 3 – 100 is unimportant.

I think, at least for those who know the minimum about functoid, the last parameter(s), from 3 to 100, does not present any doubts. They are the values that we want to map from the source to the destination. And the order is not important because we need to define the Table Looping Grid property where we will define the order of appearance of these values.

The Table Looping Grid is basically a configurable table containing an arbitrary number of rows, configurable while editing the table, and a number of columns specified by the second input parameter of the Table Looping functoid. Each table cell is configured by using a drop-down list where the entries in the drop-down list are the values from to third through the last input parameters of the Table Looping functoid. These input parameters consist of a combination of the links into the functoid and any constant input parameters that have been defined. If link input parameters have been given a Label property value, that value is shown in the drop-down lists; otherwise, the value of the Link Source property is shown (generally, the former is friendlier than the latter). Constant input parameters are shown according to their constant value.

Important note: However the number of rows present in the Table Looping Grid are not defined in any input parameter from the Table Looping Functoid and in under no circumstances they are dynamic. The number of rows is statically defined during developing in order to apply a specific transformation rule and resolve a particular transformation problem.

Although people use this functoid correctly, especially if we are using it with a repeating record in the source schema, we will see in more detail further on in this chapter, is went we are trying to use this Functoid to transform a flat structure to a recursive structure that we realize that many developers don’t properly understand the first input parameter of this Functoid and to be honest, neither the explanation present in the official documentation will explain it correctly.

Although the Table Looping Functoid states that the first input must be a scoping element linked from a repeating group, that is not really true, in fact, for me, this description is completely false!

  • A link from a repeating node in the source schema – most commonly used but not entirely true, you can also make use of a constant value, a simple node or an element.
  • The number of instances of this structure that occur in a particular input instance message defines the number of times that the associated table looping grid is processed. – I understand and in a way, yes, but sometimes developers understand that this as the number of rows that they have to define in the table Looping Grid, with is not true, or that this input requires a number and in fact, this is also not true.

So to be more clear, for me the best description of this parameter is:

  • Parameter 1: the first input parameter defines the action scope of the Table Looping Functoid and it can be defined by a link from a source tree node, repeating record, simple records or even elements, or by a constant value. This means:
    • If the scope is defined by a repeating record or repeating element, the Table Looping functoid will be created/execute in each occurrence of the record or element (in each iteration over the node). We can define this as multiple scope action.
    • If the scope is defined by a simple element or record (only occurs one time), then the Table Looping will be executed only one time. We can define this as simple scope action.
    • If the scope is defined by a simple constant value, regardless if it is an integer, alpha-numeric or string, then the Table Looping will be executed only one time. Again this is a simple scope action.
Table Looping Functoid Scope defined by a simple constant value

Both these options are valid! More details will be found in my upcoming BizTalk Mapping Patterns and Best Practices free eBook.

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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