Intended audience and purpose of this post
This post gives an overview of a number products and features related to Biml on a high level.
Therewith it is a starting point for further learning and investigating.
11 Things you should know about Biml – an overview
- Who invented Biml?
- What is Biml?
- What are BimlExpress and BIDS Helper?
- What is BimlScript?
- What is BimlFlex?
- What are Mist and BimlStudio?
- What are BimlBundles?
- What are BimlTransformers?
- Is the free part of Biml a way to get me addicted to it?
- How do I know that Biml is a proven technology that is going to stay?
- Where can I find more information on the internet?
1. Who invented Biml?
Biml and all tools around it is created by Varigence, a company with CEO Scott Currie, a former Microsoft Employee.
2. What is Biml?
Biml – the markup language – is an XML dialect to describe Microsoft SSIS Packages and SSAS Cubes.
Everything you can do with SSIS, you can do with Biml (quote of Scott Currie, done during the Biml usergroup NL kickoff on May 7, 2016).
The goal of Biml is to improve productivity of Data warehouse development.
But the biml ‘ecosystem’ consists of more than only the Markup Language. Other components are:
- Biml Script
- BimlExpress and BIDS Helper
- BimlStudio (also/formerly known as Mist)
3. What are BimlExpress and BIDS Helper?
BimlExpress and BIDS Helper both are Add-ins for Business Intelligence Development Studio (actually the Visual Studio version with the project types needed for Business Intelligence).
BimlExpress is the successor of BIDS Helper and one of it biggest advantages is syntax highlighting and intellisense.
It is really worth checking them out, because they can improve your productivity, especially when you use metadata and design patterns for SSIS packages.
You can download and install BimlExpress. You have to register but can use the product at no cost.
4. What is BimlScript?
BimlScript is what makes Biml (the markup language) even more interesting. With BimlScript you can write .NET Code (C#) and do all kind of interesting stuff, like accessing your metadata, using for each loops, and generate SSIS packages using a design pattern.
I have generated packages to load dimensions of a star schema, and I intend to blog about it later this year in more detail.
5. What is BimlFlex?
BimlFlex is a datawarehouse automation framework of Varigence. It can greatly improve productivity when building data warehouses.
It uses Predefined patterns for data warehouse automation and Extension Points that you can use to change the standard automation patterns on certain ‘change points’, or can build exceptions for the pattern of this one very special table.
BimlFlex is part of BimlStudio and therefore a commercial (paid) product.
6. What are Mist and BimlStudio?
Mist and BimlStudio are the same tool. BimlStudio is just the new name, due to strange associations with the “Mist” name in different languages, for example in German (What does the German word “Mist” mean?). This is why they changed the name.
Also the names for all products and techniques associated with Biml now start with Biml, which makes them more recognizable.
BimlStudio has a number of extra features when compared with BimlExpress.
BimlStudio is a paid product, you can buy a perpetual license or a monthly subscription.
7. What are BimlBundles?
BimlBundles are part of BimlStudio and protect your source code while your customer still can make changes at framework extension points.
Koos van Strien did a very good job at explaining BimlBundles in more detail here.
8. What are BimlTransformers?
With BimlTransformers you can define and store changes on Biml code, instead of changing the Biml code itself. If you have worked with Visual Studio/.NET before, you can compare it with changes you make for your config file for different environments.
Koos van Strien did a very good job at explaining BimlTransformers in more detail here.
9. Is the free part of Biml a way to get me addicted to it?
Nope. Although Varigence works sales model is a Fremium model (a free product that can be extended/enhanced with paid products), the promise of Scott Currie, done during the Biml usergroup NL kickoff on May 7, 2016, is that all features that are released for free will stay for free. You can count on that.
10. How do I know that Biml is a proven technology that is going to stay?
Biml already exists for about 8 years and has proven itself already. Varigence is a global player and steady company that does not suddenly disappear. I am not concerned if Biml will exist 10 years from now, and you should not have to be either. Even in the utterworst case, you would still have the SSIS packages that Biml has generated for you, and you can edit/maintain them without Biml.
11. Where can I find more information on the internet?
To read more about Biml, here are a few interesting web sites, blog posts and Linked In Usergroups:
- BimlFlex information page
- Varigence BimlFlex data warehouse automation framework overview (on Youtube)
- Notes from the Biml usergroup NL kickoff
- Biml User Group (World Wide).
- Biml User Group Netherlands.
- Biml Express download page
- Biml Online Editor
- BIDS Helper on Codeplex
Conclusion / Wrap up
Biml is here to stay and adds a lot of value, even if you use only the free parts of it. Varigence can only be praised for that.
In this blog post I shortly described a number of products and techniques that are part of the Biml ‘ecosystem’.
I do not have a commercial interest in promoting Biml, I am just a Business Intelligence Consultant who likes Biml a lot.
(c) 2016 hansmichiels.com – Do not steal the contents – spread the link instead – thank you.