The last BimlExpress update was in 2019. BimlExpress is not compatible with the newest versions of Visual Studio, and there are also issues with BimlExpress in the last compatible version of Visual Studio. Varigence has not made any statements about the future of BimlExpress, and have not responded to any forum posts or support tickets for years. Because of this, my time as a BimlHero and Varigence Partner is over. In my personal opinion, Biml is dead, and I can no longer recommend anyone to use it. My old Biml content will be available, but archived.
These posts are about Biml (Business Intelligence Markup Language), BimlScript, BimlExpress, BimlStudio, the BimlHero Certified Expert Program and events by the Biml community or Varigence. Older posts may mention BI Developer Extensions, BIDS Helper, Mist or BimlOnline.
In a previous blog post, we looked at how to generate SQL using Biml. (If you haven’t read that post, you may want to start there and then come back here.) In this post, we will go through how to generate SELECT statements using the Biml column method GetColumnList.
Using Biml column methods
Biml column methods return code fragments. These code fragments can be used as building blocks to generate custom T-SQL statements. For example, the GetColumnList method returns a list of columns, separated by commas, that you can use in a SELECT statement. You can filter the columns and customize the output by passing parameters.
Examples of GetColumnList code fragments
If you have a table with three columns, the default output will look something like this:
[PersonID], [FirstName], [LastName]
But what if you don’t want to select all three columns? Or what if you want to use an alias for your table? No problem! The customized output can look something like this instead:
We will go through the different ways of customizing the output a little later in this post.
The first T-SQL Tuesday of 2019 is hosted by Garry Bargsley (@gbargsley), and the topic is “Automate All the Things”. Garry wants to know what this phrase means to each of us. What do we want to automate? What is our go-to technology for automation? To me, this was super easy. Surprise, surprise! It’s Biml, of course 🤓 Since this post is part of T-SQL Tuesday, I wanted to go back to the basics and write about how you can generate SQL using Biml. But first, a little bit of background for those who are not that familiar with Biml.
In a previous blog post, we looked at how to use C#/VB Code Files in Biml. There are several benefits to moving custom C# code into separate files. It allows you to reuse that code across multiple projects and solutions. You can maintain the code in your editor of choice, taking advantage of intellisense and syntax highlighting. And finally, my personal favorite: you can create custom extension methods.
In this post, we will look at how to simplify our Biml projects by creating and using C# extension methods. We will build on the examples from the previous C#/VB Code Files in Biml blog post.
As of July 2018, there is no built-in Biml support for OData. To work with OData in Biml, you have to create a custom source and connection manager. This requires more Biml code than built-in functions like OleDbSource and may look a little overwhelming at first. But don’t worry! You don’t have to start from scratch.
In this blog post, we will first look at the properties of the OData Connection Manager and how to script it in Biml. Then, we will do the same for the OData Source. Finally, we will tie it all together and create a complete SSIS package that you can use a starting point for your own projects.
Biml objects have many built-in attributes. For example, all Tables have SchemaName and all Packages have ProtectionLevel. When your Biml solution starts to grow, you will quickly see the need for adding additional metadata that can be used in other Biml files. A common use case in Data Warehouse Staging projects is to store the source schema and source table name on your staging table objects. This allows you to use the source metadata in a higher tier Biml file that generates the SSIS packages to load the tables. To store and use this additional metadata, you can use Biml Annotations or ObjectTags.
Biml Annotations and ObjectTags are both Key/Value pairs. Annotations are String/String pairs intended for storing simple text metadata, while ObjectTags are String/Object pairs that can also store more complex metadata in .NET objects.