These posts are about Biml (Business Intelligence Markup Language), BimlScript, BimlExpress, BimlStudio, BimlOnline, the BimlHero Certified Expert Program and events by the Biml community or Varigence. Older posts may mention BI Developer Extensions, BIDS Helper and Mist.
Say 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 BI Developer Extensions (previously known as BIDS Helper), you will see that BimlExpress works the same way and includes all the same Biml features as in BI Developer Extensions – just with a new and improved code editor. No more squiggly red lines, yay!
Which versions of Visual Studio / SSDT does BimlExpress work with?
Should I use BimlExpress or BI Developer Extensions?
Both! :) BI Developer Extensions 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 BI Developer Extensions. When BI Developer Extensions is updated it will include the latest Biml engine. Keep using BI Developer Extensions, 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!? :)
Do you use C#/VB classes and methods in your Biml projects? One solution is to create class nuggets <#+ … #>, but they can only be used in their containing Biml file. You can move class nuggets to separate files and include those files, but a more elegant solution is to use C#/VB Code Files.
In addition to using C#/VB Code Files, there are four other main ways you can avoid repeating your Biml code:
Are you using Biml so you won’t have to do the same tasks over and over and over again in multiple SSIS packages? If so, you probably don’t want to write the same Biml code over and over and over again either. Instead, you can move common code to separate files, centralize and reuse these files in many projects, and update code in one file to make changes to all projects. One of the ways to apply this Don’t Repeat Yourself software engineering principle in Biml is to use Include Files.
In addition to using Include Files, there are four other main ways you can avoid repeating your Biml code:
If you are using BIDS Helper or BimlExpress to generate SSIS packages in the Project Deployment model, you have probably noticed that it is not possible to create project parameters from Biml. You can write Biml for the project and project parameters, but BIDS Helper / BimlExpress will only generate the SSIS packages for you and not the SSIS project parameters. The recommended solution is that you create the project parameters manually before you generate your SSIS packages from Biml.
However, if you are a lazy developer like me, you probably don’t want to create and update project parameters manually. Perhaps you want to automatically create or update project parameters based on some metadata? You can do that!
Let’s take a look at a (semi-hardcoded, semi-hack) solution for creating SSIS project parameters from Biml in BIDS Helper / BimlExpress :)