Get started with BimlExpress

BimlExpressSay welcome to BimlExpress – the newest, shiniest and completely free Biml toy! :) I first mentioned BimlExpress at SQLSaturday Vienna and have been waiting for the official release since then. I’m very happy that I can now send you all over to Varigence’s website to download the Visual Studio Extension!

What is BimlExpress?

BimlExpress is a free Visual Studio add-in for working with Biml in your SSIS projects. It allows you to add and edit Biml files, generate SSIS packages from Biml, and the code editor is fully featured with syntax coloring, error highlighting, intellisense and a preview pane.

If you are already using BIDS Helper, you will see that BimlExpress works the same way and includes all the same Biml features as in BIDS Helper – just with a new and improved code editor. No more squiggly red lines, yay!

Should I use BimlExpress or BIDS Helper?

Both! :) BIDS Helper is a fantastic, free add-in with a ton of useful features for your Business Intelligence projects. The release of BimlExpress simply means that Varigence can update the add-in and the Biml engine with new features more frequently and separately from BIDS Helper. When BIDS Helper is updated it will include the latest Biml engine. Keep using BIDS Helper, and install BimlExpress as well for the latest Biml features.

And all of you Biml fans agree with me that the new code editor is worth it, right? Right!? :)

How do I get started with BimlExpress?


Download and start the installation. Select which versions of Visual Studio you want to install (or update) the add-in for, wait a couple of seconds, and you can start writing Biml!

Install BimlExpress - License Agreement Install BimlExpress - In Progress InstallBimlExpress - Finished


After installing, you will see a new toolbar menu:
BimlExpress Toolbar Menu

If you click on Learn Biml you will be taken to, and About BimlExpress will show you things like the Build version and product key information:
About BimlExpress

In the solution explorer, you can right-click on a Biml file to see a similar menu:
BimlExpress Right-Click Menu

Help! I see double!
Do you see both the BimlExpress and the BIDS Helper menu items?
BimlExpress and BIDS Helper
Just go to the toolbar menu and click Toggle BIDS Helper Menus :)

Code Editor

If you have been working with Biml and BimlScript using BIDS Helper, you know how painful it is when the syntax coloring stops working, the intellisense stops working, and you get a ton of squiggly red error lines that aren’t really errors when mixing Biml and BimlScript. Not anymore! Look at the pretty BimlScript code nuggets highlighting and functional intellisense :)
BimlExpress Code Editor


If you need to uninstall or disable BimlExpress, you can do so by going to ToolsExtensions and Updates:
Uninstall BimlExpress 1/2

Then choose to Disable or Uninstall BimlExpress:
Uninstall BimlExpress 2/2

(You can also uninstall from the Control Panel.)

Happy Bimling! :)

Biml Express All The Things
Biml All The Things – Express Version!

(Thank you so much for this release and the great support, Varigence :D)

Who is Cathrine Wilhelmsen?

Cathrine is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP, BimlHero, author, speaker, blogger and chronic volunteer who loves teaching and sharing knowledge. She works as a consultant, technical architect and developer, focusing on Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence projects. She loves sci-fi, chocolate, craft beers, ciders, cat gifs and smilies :)

23 thoughts on “Get started with BimlExpress”

Pingback: BimlExpress – Curated SQL

Hi Cathrine, I have just installed BimlExpress for Visual Studio 2012 successfully but it is not working. When I click on Check Biml For Errors after adding one BIML script which works in BidsHelper. I got following error “Could not load file or assembly ‘Microsoft.DataWarehouse.Interfaces, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=89845dcd8080cc91’ or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified.”
I have Office 2013 and SQL 2012 installed on my machine. It looks like BimlExpress somehow looking into Excel 2016 assembly but I am not sure. Do you have any comments on the same?

Hi Manish, I have not encountered this error. I’d recommend posting your question and code to the official Varigence Biml support forum :)

Thanks Cathrine :-) I will do that right away.

Hi Manish, I getthe same error, were you able to resolve it?

I received the same error. I resolved it by doing the following:

1) Install VS 2013 Isolated:
2) Install VS 2013 Integrated:
3) Install SSDT for VS 2013:

Afterwards, I was able to compile Biml in VS2012

Hi. Since Varigence won’t reply to my mails I’ll try here as well.
Trend micro (my company’s anti virus solution) blocks BimlExpress because of malicious behavior and virus/Malware which makes it impossible for me to install it on my work laptop. I did download it directly from Varigence.

I’ve also seen a post on the Varigence forum stating that Symantec Enpoint protection also blocks it.
This is, as you can understand a show stopper for me, and the fact that Varigence isn’t responding is not a good sign. Have you encountered this problem or heard anything about it?

Hi again.
I just received an answer from Varigence. They have been in contact with Trend Micro so hopefully the problem will be resolved shortly

I have the same problem – cannot install on my machine because it is blocked by Trend Micro

Since last week i have googled about BIML & BIML script and try to implement with BIDS helper ,as a beginner it was difficult to code with BIML SSIS syntax bcoz till now have built ssis using GUI shape provided by Microsoft and it’s easy.

All the articles i have read till now in my opinion are little bit messy if a user implement demo by them.
If there is any e-book or any other stuff to learn basic of BIML for SSIS please share.
I also tried MIST it also too complex to understand .

I have installed BIML express as per the screenshots and I dont get the options from the Drop down menu in VS 2015. It only offers 3 options: Learn, About and Toggle, am I doing something wrong??

Hi Nathan, have you created or opened an SSIS project? If you don’t have an SSIS project open (or have a different kind of project open), you will only see the Learn, About and Toggle options.

I’m having the same issue. I do have an SSIS project open and I still don’t see the additional menu items. I’ve tried removing the DB project from my solution so it only has the 1 SSIS project. I’ve also tried creating a brand new SSIS project and the menu items still aren’t there. I’ve even completely uninstalled and reinstalled BimlExpress and still no joy.

The machine has no internet access so I’m using an offline key for activation. It is also just running Visual Studio Shell (integrated) rather than the full blown Visual Studio. Could either of those be an issue?

Hi Mike,
I’ve installed BIMLexpress on a machine that has no internet connection, that worked well. Are you using a pre-existing solution (created before the second BIMLexpress install) or a brand new one?

I initially tried with my pre-existing solution that I created before BimlExpress was installed. However, I also tried creating a fresh project and the menu items still wouldn’t appear.

Do you know if BimlExpress works with Visual Studio Shell (integrated)? That is the version you get when you only install SSDT and not the whole VS Community Edition.

Hi Mike,
I’m working with VS Shell as well… I don’t know what would be causing the issue, then.
I recommend you contact varigence support directly. In my experience they are very quick to respond to questions :).

Thanks heaps for your help Laurens. You’ve ruled out the couple of things I don’t really have control over.

I’ll dig around a bit more later and see if I can get to the bottom of it.

I did finally end up fixing the problem but the solution was a bit extreme. I basically uninstalled BIML Express, SSDT, and Visual Studio. Then I installed VS 2015 Community With Update 3, SSDT, and BIML Express. After that everything works fine.

There are more details on this thread:

Hey Cathrine,
Just watched your SQLBits XIV talk. Thanks for that, it’s given me a much better handle on what I want to do with BIML.
I went down a bit of a rabbit hole :-P figuring out tooling, found BIML Express and BIDS helper, and ended up at this blog post trying to figure out which one to use. I’m a little hesitant about building up a workflow using BIDS helper, since it hasn’t been updated since March 2015. What are your thoughts on this?

Hi Cathrine,

I am getting the same error anyone able to resolve it.

Hi Northave1990,
The above comments thread mentions several errors. Which one are you referring to?

I installed the latest BIML express for my Visual studio 2015… dont see anything on the menu that says “BIMLEXPRESS”…. not as straight forward as i thought :(

I downloaded BIML express, after i installed it, I DONT SEE “BIMLEXPRESS” on the menu, i checked also on the list of add-ons… you are missing a step.

Share Your Thoughts?