Application integration is all about exchanging messages and messages can only be exchanged if both the sender and receiver know what to expect from each other.
In some branches the standardization of messages and their format is already going on for a while. Examples are:
- Financial (SWIFT)
- Automotive (EDI)
- Supply chain (RosettaNet)
- Medical (HL7)
If plain BizTalk would be used in those environments it would take quite some time to define the message types according to the existing branch standard. In case of EDI these schemas are already supplied by default when installing BizTalk. For the other standardized schemas, they’re available as a separate accelerator install.
In versions prior to BizTalk 2010 the accelerators were distributed as a separate download (from the MSDN subscriber downloads). In BizTalk 2010 it is no longer a separate download, but part of the BizTalk developer or enterprise edition. This blog post focuses on the installation of the HL7 accelerator, which contains standards used by a lot of medical companies and hospitals to exchange messages.
Want to know more about HL7?
The installation of the HL7 accelerator results in one or more of these items, depending on the selection during installation:
- Contains the XSD representation of HL7 messages which are in flat file format in version v2.x
- Converts HL7 messages in flat file format into XML on receive and XML to flat file when sending messages
- Validates the HL7 message
- Minimal Lower Layer Protocol (MLLP) adapter enables BizTalk to receive or send HL7-based messages, which BizTalk Server typically transports using the MLLP protocol. The MLLP adapter ensures that BizTalk Server and BTAHL7 are interoperable with HL7-based messaging applications.
- Generates acknowledgements for received messages
- Tools and Utilities
- Configuration Explorer
- MLLP Test Tool
- Logging framework (for auditing and logging purposes)
If you unpack the BizTalk Server install package (developer edition in this case), you’ll see the BizTalk installer and the accelerator items.
The accelerators folder contains the installer for SWIFT, RosettaNet(RN) and HL7.
Double click ‘Setup.exe’ to start the installation procedure.
The account you’re using during installation must be member of the BizTalk Server Administrators group, even if you’re using the administrator account you have to add this account to this group. Otherwise you’ll get the error message below (which is pretty clear by the way).
If that is fixed, you can move to the next screens, which show the license agreement and user information. Next the choice between typical and custom installation should be made.
In the installation guide from Microsoft, there is an overview of which features get installed for which option. The table below is copied from that document.
The custom type install shows this dialog, with only the items selected according to the table above.
For demo and development purposes, I selected all items. This is including the ‘Logging Framework’ and if selected, the next dialog will ask for an account to run the logging service under.
After specifying an account, the “logon as a service” right will be granted to the account to be able to work unattended.
The Logging Framework will install a Windows service named ‘HL7 Logging Service’ (in previous accelerator versions called ‘Auditing and Logging Service’), which runs in the end “<install folder>\Microsoft BizTalk 2010 Accelerator for HL7\Bin\AuditingLoggingService.exe”. HL7 data flowing through BizTalk is most of the time sensitive medical and/or private information. The logging framework takes care of logging errors, events and messages for auditing purposes. Logging data can be written to the Windows Event Log, WMI or a SQL Server database. After the summary dialog and install path dialog has been passed, the SQL server must be specified.
This is the last dialog of the installation procedure. The next dialog shows a button to start the installation, which will install and configure the accelerator.
After a few minutes the installation is finished and the artifacts, tools and utilities are installed.
There is one interesting button on this dialog: “Launch Tutorial'”.
This button launches a script which prepares your machine with an end-to-end tutorial, by installing schemas and orchestrations including configuring send and receive ports. Of course you won’t use this button when installing the accelerator on a production machine, but for development purposes this is quite handy to get a head start.
At the end of the installation you’ll find a set of files at the chosen installation location (by default C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft BizTalk 2010 Accelerator for HL7).
Have fun with HL7!
Didago IT Consultancy