Remote Desktop Connection 6.0 Released

Microsoft have just released version 6.0 of the Remote Desktop Connection client to the wider community! This version allows users to leverage some of the great new functionality introduced in Terminal Services under Vista, including:

  • Network Level Authentication – a new authentication method that finishes user auth before you establish a full Remote Desktop Connection and the logon screen appears, reducing the number of resources before a full RDC connection is established. Also, NLA helps protect users from connecting to remote computers that are set up for malicious purposes.
  • Server Authentication – verifies that you are connecting to the correct remote computer or server, prevents you from connecting to a different box than you intend and from unintentionally exposing confidential information. This feature is enabled by default.
  • Resource Redirection – support for Plug and Play devices that allow redirection.
  • Terminal Services Gateway (TS Gateway) Server Support – RDC uses port 3389 which is normally blocked by a firewall if you are attempting to initiate a connection from the internet. With TS Gateway Server, an internet based Remote Desktop connection is initiated over port 443 through a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) tunnel, negating the need for a costly VPN or corporate network to send and receive data over the remote connection.
  • Monitor Spanning – support for high-resolution displays that can be spanned across multiple monitors, with a max resolution of 4,096 x 2,048. The monitors must have the same resolution. Additionally, the monitors must be aligned side-by-side.
  • Visual Improvements – support for 32-bit colour and font smoothing.

My personal favourite is of course monitor spanning, but I’m sure that the TS Gateway functionality will be a serious sweetener for the corporate market.

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BizTalk 2006 R2 Beta 1 Installation – First Look

Richard Seroter has just posted about the BizTalk 2006 R2 beta 1 installation experience and new functionality – it would appear there is lots of .Net 3.0 and WCF, along with Microsoft EDI/AS2 and BAM Evening goodies!

The installation experience appears to be along the same lines as BizTalk 2006, with added EDI/AS2 configuration options (which appears to be in addition to the Base EDI Adapter), this comes hot on the heels of the AS2 adapter gaining Drummond Certification. A new application (‘BizTalk EDI Application’) appears to be present following installation, along with the new LOB and a host of WCF adapters.

Roll-on the public release of R2!

BTS2006 Install – Pre-Requisite CAB File

I’ve just completed the Microsoft 2934 BizTalk 2006 Admin course and this was the first time I’ve installed BTS06 on an offline server instance (my UAT VPC machines always have an internet connection).

I was pleased to see that for offline installations, the BizTalk team have provided an option to install the pre-requisites from a local CAB file – great work!

Microsoft provide the CAB on their website, however rather than link back to Microsoft, Grant Holiday has all the details on his blog, including the internationalisation links for Windows 2003, XP and 2000.

Yet another great feature in BTS06 – BTS04 installations now take soooooooo long!!

The Service Orientated Architecture Hub

The SOA Hub website provides a handy tool for all things SOA. They have a browsable list of available web services and provide tools to publish and test your own custom services.

The detail for each published web service includes the average response time, costs, provider and service details and links to test the service.

Some of the web services of particular interest (here in the UK) are:

  • Credit card verifier (verify credit card checksums for valid Visa, MasterCard, American Express etc.);
  • Dun & Bradstreet Business Credit Check (perform low risk credit assessments and pre-screen prospects with D & B’s core credit evaluation data);
  • Currency rate converter (perform interactive foreign exchange rate calculations, using current currency rates updated every 10 minutes);

Schema Development: How to Identify Distinguished Fields

When developing schemas, it helps to identify all of the necessary distinguished fields before deploying the solution into production. Making changes to a deployed schema can introduce un-needed complexity and pain if used across multiple projects.

SUnlike promoted fields* however, it can be difficult to identify all of the necessary distinguished fields before deploying the solution (the business will always have a new requirement that needs you to subscribe to the one field you haven’t distinguished following the latest schema refresh…)

To help me identify distinguished fields I use the unique/constant rule:

  • Unique = unsuitable. Unique fields will always contain data that is likely to change with each message instance (e.g. an order reference, invoice reference delivery date) or data that may change on a frequent basis (e.g. order date, delivery date) – It is highly unlikely that you will be required to subscribe to fields that change with each message instance and if you do, ‘why?’ should start to crop up in conversations with co-workers!
    • Constant = suitable. Constant fields will always contain similar data (e.g. trading partner id, party name, routing id etc.), or data that could be considered as an enumeration (e.g. we are using a ‘message status’ field to identify how far through our core B2B process the message is, the statuses can be any one of MAPPING_COMPLETE, CONFIGURATION_COMPLETE or VALIDATION_COMPLETE).

    The image above is a screenshot of version 2 of our core order message showing distinguished (constant) elements and attributes. Fields that are unique (message tracking guid, message guid, original message reference and source filename) are not promoted.

    * In my experience, promoted fields are usually identified during the [orchestration] development phase.