New Release: BimlExpress 2017!

BimlExpress 2017What day is it today? It’s the BimlExpress 2017 release day! Yay! :) I’ve waited for this release for a long time, and I know I’m not the only one. People have asked me many times if Varigence is still around. The answer is most definitely yes! It has been rather quiet from Varigence this past year, and I know we’ve all been waiting for news and updates. But don’t forget that they’re a small company, and that they’re actually giving us BimlExpress for free. They’ve focused on development this past year, and have been working like crazy to rewrite the Biml engine, add new features to BimlExpress, rebrand Mist to BimlStudio and make it even more powerful, and finish their BimlFlex framework. And today? Today we all get to enjoy the new releases! More yay! :)

Please note that as of January 2018, BimlExpress 2017 does not yet work with Visual Studio 2017.

Download and install BimlExpress 2017

You can download BimlExpress 2017 from the Varigence BimlExpress page:
BimlExpress Download VSIX

The new installer is a lightweight VSIX (Visual Studio Extension) Installer:
Install BimlExpress 2017 - License Agreement Install BimlExpress 2017 - In Progress Install BimlExpress 2017 - Finished

After installing, you will find BimlExpress in the list of Visual Studio Tools and Extensions:
BimlExpress 2017 Visual Studio Extension

What’s New in BimlExpress 2017?

I will show you some of the exciting new features below. Spoiler alert: there are some gamechangers in this release! Let’s take a look at some of the exciting new features in BimlExpress 2017 :)

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Create your own BimlExpress Keyboard Shortcuts

Are you tired of right-clicking on your Biml files to Check Biml for Errors or to Generate SSIS Packages? Did you know that you can create your own BimlExpress Keyboard Shortcuts? :)

Go to ToolsOptions:
BimlExpress Keyboard ShortcutsToolsOptions - Tools -> Options

Select EnvironmentKeyboard, then type Biml in the Show commands containing box:
BimlExpress Keyboard Shortcuts

Select a Biml command, click in the Press shortcut keys box, click the keyboard shortcut combination of your choice, and click the Assign button. In this example, I have used Ctrl+Shift+C, Ctrl+Shift+B (I chose C then B for “Check Biml”):
BimlExpress Keyboard Shortcuts - Assign Shortcut

Click OK, and that’s it! You can now use your keyboard shortcuts while having one or more Biml files selected. The shortcuts will appear in your BimlExpress menus in the toolbar and when you right-click on a file :)
BimlExpress Keyboard Shortcuts Menu

Why can’t I create SSIS Project Parameters from Biml?

Biml (Business Intelligence Markup Language) - Why can't I create SSIS Project Parameters from Biml in BimlExpress or BIDS Helper?BIDS Helper and BimlExpress does not support creating SSIS project parameters from Biml out of the box. There are workarounds (and I have previously blogged about my solution for creating project parameters from Biml), but why is this not a standard feature in BIDS Helper or BimlExpress? Many people have asked about this, so I sat down with Biml creator Scott Currie (@ScottCurrie) to get the full story.

Why doesn’t BIDS Helper or BimlExpress emit SSIS project parameters from Biml?

Well, technically it could, but it shouldn’t. The user experience would have serious issues, leading to confusion, frequent errors, and the potential for data loss. How can that be?

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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 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!

What versions of Visual Studio / SSDT does BimlExpress work with?

As of January 2018, BimlExpress works with Visual Studio 2015. It does not yet work with Visual Studio 2017.

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!? :)

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