Monday, February 26, 2007

ArchCamp 2007 Field Report (part 2)

Like I said previously, each team presented their solutions to the Region President and his Assistant, who later asked questions about each approach. All the approaches were very high level, and the view of Architecture was perhaps that of an Enterprise Architect, very close to the business needs. Hugo Ribeiro is posting some pictures, and the event's blog will contain both the problem statement and the proposed solutions.

The Design Lab ended with an open space for questions by the audience to each of the groups, and the event was wrapped up with a final Debrief and evaluation. Some interesting suggestions were presented to future events, like doing a continuation of the Design Lab to further detail the technical approaches of each team. Also, analysing how each team self-organized to work on the project is something that is worth sharing. If you have a team of 6 Architects, several of them used to being team leaders and point the direction, it's certainly interesting to share how did they work together.

A final word of thanks to the event's sponsors, starting with Microsoft which again supported the event, but also Agilior, Create It, Primavera BSS, and PT.COM/Sapo.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

ARCHCAMP 2007 Field Report

Great experience! The event started Saturday morning with a keynote done by the main meeting's organizer, Hugo Batista, setting out the rules and agenda. After this, I did two presentations, on the past and future of GASP - the portuguese Architecture Group. Open presentations, with lots of space for discussion and exchange of ideas, it was extremely fruitful and a lot of valuable feedback was presented. Three things will be defined in the next few months: the group's Mission, Growth Model, and Objectives. The presentation also included IASA's 2.0 chapter model, and the big news: the creation of a chapter in the Center Region of Portugal, based around Coimbra/Leiria/Aveiro/Viseu. There will be news on this soon, and the leadership team was identified and participated in the ArchCamp.

After this, Nuno Costa presented ideas and criteria about a proposed system to measure and value the participation of each member in the community. More exchange of ideas ensued, and alternative or complementary ways of evolution were thought out. Some questions remain open, clearly, but several opinions were expressed that now gives us a more precise idea of where to go in terms of the group's future.

At the end of the day, 4 teams of 6 were formed and Mr Region President Tiago Pascoal, aided by his assistant Mr Hugo Ribeiro, presented a challenge to the groups, around the notion of a fictional regionalization happening in the country, and the need to provide local infrastructures and essentially support the region's economical growth. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this problem was the context, meaning that this is a problem being issued by the region's President, who is being roleplayed as a purely politic person. In this view, if the President is the one doing the selection, the way the solution is presented must take this in consideration, and technological detail must be limited.

I teamed up with Nuno Costa, Miguel Madeira, Denis H., Pedro Lopes and Ricardo Teixeira (of Coimbra), in the Penguin Team. :-)

The complete problem statement will be posted soon, and also all the solutions.

The teams worked for the rest of the Saturday and Sunday morning, and will each present their solutions/proposals to the President and his aid. There is a space for questions about each approach, and an open discussion at the end. Regardless of the proposals and their merits, this has been a valuable process, with lots of ideas and different points of view. As to Penguin Team's work, we decided to completely avoid technical terms (including terms in english and acronyms), and design a 20000 feet high level view, complemented with a series of structural projects surounding ours, to create a web of actions.

More details later.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

BizTalk 2006: Tool to add application and references from the command line

BizTalk Server 2006 allows us to use the concept of Application to logically organize the artifacts in our solutions, such as orchestrations, schemas, send and receive ports, etc. Further, you can add references from one application to other applications, which allows you - for example - to bind an orchestration logical receive port to a receive port defined in some other (referenced) application, or create a Send Port filter using a property defined in a Property Schema included in other application.
You can use the Administration Console to add these references manually, by simply selecting an Application's properties and the "References" tab.

I am a huge fan of scripts and automation, so I quickly developed a command line tool to help me a) create applications and b) add references from one application to other application, which I use further automate my deployments, which sometimes are not easily done with MSI's.

Sample usage is:

BizAppManage -AddApp nameOfAppToCreate nameOfAppToReference1 nameOfAppToReference2 nameOfAppToReference3
BizAppManage -AddRef nameOfExistingApp nameOfAppToReference1 nameOfAppToReference2

I've used Carlos Medina's BtsHelper class to avoid hard-wiring the BizTalk connection string.