A couple of days ago, I got to play with BizTalk 2006 and Windows Workflow for the first time. I know of the capabilities and features, but I was amazed on how quickly one can generate results from them.

For BizTalk, I had to create a POC that would convert a delimited flat-file to a COBOL copybook format. Sounds pretty straight forward, doesn't it? Well, it was! After playing around with the Flat-File Schema Wizard and creating a simple orchestration that executed a transformation from Schema A to Schema B, I was done in about an hour (that is, after I had spent a day reading documentation, asking for help and getting intimate with BTS)!  I know that BizTalk is more than an ETL tool, but I will say that it’s pretty neat how quickly I was able to produce an output (and working installation) for people to evaluate.

As for Windows Workflow, I had to create another POC that would show how easy it can be to create a workflow and components for buiness people to use.  In about an hour, I had created a workflow runtime host that loaded workflows dynamically and executed them based on interaction from a Windows Form.  WOW!  I’m not sure about you, can you imaging writing all that code back in the day?  Sure it can be done, but you had to spend most of your time writing the workflow engine!  Kudos to the WF team!

In all, I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with the type of results one can produce with two hours of work.