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Get Started with BimlExpress

Say welcome to BimlExpress – the newest, shiniest and completely free Biml toy! :) I first mentioned this at SQLSaturday Vienna 2016 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. You can add and edit Biml files, and generate SSIS packages from Biml. The code editor has 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 is similar. You will find 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 does BimlExpress work with?

  • BimlExpress 2019 was released in May 2019. It works with Visual Studio 2010 – 2019.
  • BimlExpress 2018 was released in June 2018. It worked with Visual Studio 2010 – 2017.
  • BimlExpress 2017 was released in July 2017. It worked with Visual Studio 2010 – 2015.

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!? :)

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 go to 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 BI Developer Extensions menu items?

Just go to the toolbar menu and click Toggle BIDS Helper Menus (Not yet renamed to Toggle BI Developer Extensions Menus) :)

BimlExpress and BI Developer Extensions

Code Editor

If you have been working with Biml and BimlScript using BI Developer Extensions, 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:

Uninstall BimlExpress 2/2

(You can also uninstall from the Control Panel.)

Happy Bimling! :)

Biml Express All The Things

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

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About the Author

Cathrine Wilhelmsen is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP, BimlHero Certified Expert, international speaker, author, blogger, and chronic volunteer. She loves data and coding, as well as teaching and sharing knowledge - oh, and sci-fi, chocolate, coffee, and cats :)


Hi! This is Cathrine. Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I'd love to hear your thoughts, but please keep in mind that I'm not technical support for any products mentioned in this post :) Off-topic questions, comments and discussions may be moderated. Be kind to each other. Thanks!

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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.

I’ve installed BIML Express and BI Developer Extensions, can compile ‘BimlScript.biml’
How do I get BIML to auto ‘Generate SSIS Packages’ ? , I don’t want to edit the file ‘BimlScript.biml’ and add each Control Flow, Data Flow, etc.

It is a little bit unclear what you’re asking. Are you wanting to create BIML scripts from existing SSIS packages?

If so, you can’t do that with BIML Express. I think the Varigence Mist IDE can do it but I haven’t tried it. BimlOnline can also import SSIS packages. But, again, I haven’t tried it.

It is a worthwhile exercise to recreate a known SSIS package in BIML when you’re first starting out. It lets you compare what you expected to get with what actually got compiled. I’m not sure how an automated tool could get the most efficient tier setup for the scripts unless it analyses the whole project but they could be smarter than I expect. I usually create a prototype by hand first in the SSIS designer. Then I recreate it in BIML scripts paying attention to which parts can be defined as re-usable templates or where I can add extra automation.

Hi Kevin, I’m not sure I understand your question. Are you asking how you can use Biml without writing any code? That’s like asking how you can develop SSIS packages without dragging any components on the design surface. I recommend that you start with the learning path on to understand what Biml is and how to use it. Thanks!

Hi Catherine, thanks for the prompt reply. Just added BIML express to Visual Studio (SSDT) a short while ago. I can add ‘Control Flow’ Task to BimlScript, don’t know how to add ‘Data Flow’ Task and it’s components to BimlScript. Is there somewhere an example how to add a few ‘Control Flow’ Tasks and a few ‘Data Flow’ Tasks to BimlScript ?

How can setup a connection to Microsoft Access using BIML

I have installed BIML , on vs2015.i have created BIML file, and i have click to generate package dtsx , but nothing has been created , any idea please

Hi Catherine, we use BIML since long, we had 2013 version of visual studio and were able to generate BIML packages, now we have installed VS 2019 and all the new components related to BIML in 2019, now we want to test whether we are still able to generate the packages, so 1. do i need to delete one of the ssis package and try to regenerate it through BIML? 2. when I tried to generate ssis package without deleteing or adding anything, i am getting errors realted to chnaging the precedence constraint. Please help this is really urgent please.

Hi! This is Cathrine (again). Just a reminder. I'd love to hear your thoughts, but please keep in mind that I'm not technical support for any products mentioned in this post :) Off-topic questions, comments and discussions may be moderated. Be kind to each other. Thanks!

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