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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Step 3: Agreeing on Process Specifications and Parameters

After the models have been created and the processes defined and agreed on, the next step is to agree on the dspecifications and parameters for the information interchange. This step gets more involved in the technical data formats of the information.

Specifications are created and can be based on industry standards, such as XML, X12 EDI, SAP IDOC, or UN/EDIFACT, or the information can be structured simply as flat files, such as delimited, positional, or delimited and positional formats. From this data format and specifications the appropriate filters can be applied to the fields of input and output information.

The parameters of the data structure typically define what information to expect within the specification format. This could be as simple as knowing that the first fields in the dataset include name, address, and purchase order number, or the parameters might specify that the first fields in the dataset are raw order data such as quantity and agreed-on pricing. It is important to know the data format and the structure of the data so that the right information is automatically extracted and processed properly.

BizTalk Editor

The BizTalk Editor is a graphical tool that comes with BizTalk Server that helps with the creation, editing, and management of document specifications. It allows for the creation of these document specifications by defining the fields and records based on the needs of the organization using BizTalk Server. The specifications can be created by manually defining the records and fields in the BizTalk Editor tool, or by using any of the built-in specifications for the support of standards such as X12 EDI, UN/EDIFACT, XML Data-Reduced (XDR), and the like.

By defining or modeling the format of the document in the BizTalk Editor tool, the BizTalk Server can parse and serialize the output data regardless of the type or format of the information. Additionally, after the format has been defined, an instance of the data can be tested to verify that the specification is correct.

Although transparent to the user, BizTalk Server represents documents in an XML Schema Definition Language (XSDL) format. The document specifications define the attributes for the data, whether data fields are required or optional, whether the data values are fixed length or variable, and the like.

Simply, the BizTalk Editor is used to create and validate specifications to be used for reference purposes. After the specifications have been defined, data can be tested on the server to ensure that the specification is correct.

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