Monday, February 18, 2008

Arrays in BizTalk Orchestration - Part I

I really don’t know why but I often hear from BizTalk developers that XLANG/s does not support arrays. The truth is that arrays in BizTalk orchestration are not an issue at all. XLANG/s does fully support arrays. More than that, XLANG/s fully supports indexing within arrays.

Here's some links:

"BizTalk Server can consume one dimensional and jagged arrays exposed by Web services that are not BizTalk Web services" (Support for consuming arrays exposed by Web services)

"XLANG/s supports single-dimensional arrays, but does not support array literals"

How to Consume Web Service Arrays:

I suppose the reason to this mistaken is because of the following downfalls:

  1. You can’t declare typed array (like string[]) variable in the Orchestration editor.
  2. You can’t initialize typed array using 'new' keyword (arr = new string[4] is not valid)
  3. XLANG/s considers Array as primitive and not as an object. This means you can’t use useful methods and properties like Length (arr.Length is not recognized)

On the other hand, BizTalk 2006 was designed with Xml web services in mind – this means that every serializable object is accessible from inside BizTalk orchestration. If you need to consume a web service that returns array, BizTalk will serialize the web message part into the appropriate CLR object and not just into general System.Array object.

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