Biml Online beta – Biml without the software

Earlier this week, Varigence, the creators of Biml, BimlScript and Mist released the newest tool for managing your Business Intelligence & data solution : BimlOnline

Anyone who has been working with Biml knows that it could be done in one of two ways :

  • Using BIDSHelper fra Codeplex and creating Biml files from within SSDT – limited to SSIS
  • Using the Biml IDE : Mist from Varigence – Unleashing the true power of Biml

BIDSHelper is freely downloadable on Codeplex whereas you need to buy a software license for Mist and unleashing the full capacity of Biml. I guess the price of the license has been a showstopper in some cases when working with Biml hence limiting the productivity gain that Biml adds to Business Intelligence. If you don’t know what Biml can do for your BI solutions, I encourage to read the description here.

There is quite a gap between what you can do with Biml in Visual Studio and what you can achieve with Mist. This gap is now closed with the creation of BimlOnline.

Webbased IDE

BimlOnline is a webbased IDE for creating ETL solutions based on Biml. You can much more than in Bidshelper but not as much as in Mist. With BimlOnline you can create Biml projects to work with directly in your browser.

In this case a Biml project is a set of file which results in a set of SSIS packages.

You can either create projects from scratch or import existing packages to work further on it in BimlOnline.

Once you are working with a project you get a fully featured online editor with intellisense, you can share your projects with others and generate documentation. Furthermore you are not limited to only building SSIS objects as you are when using BIDSHelper but you can create SSAS objects, use the metadata features of MIST and also generate documentation. There is an online documentation showing you the properties of the Biml objects that you can use.

Create, Edit, Document and Publish

BimlOnline lets you :

  • Create and edit Biml projects and files
  • Document your projects
  • View Biml documentation
  • Build and deploy projects and solutions locally

One of the usabillity problems I often hear when working with BIDSHelper is that when you mix code snippets with Biml code Visual Studio messes up code formatting, resulting in less readable code with a lot of wiggled lines and no color coding, like in the example below.

Figure 1 in BIDSHelper

Figure 2 in BimlOnline

Using BimlOnline you get rid of these problems and intellisense makes the learning curve much less steeper.

Once you’re done building your Biml project you can publish it to a Visual Studio data tools project via a Google Chrome extension, the BimlChromeBuildAssistant that will allow you to create local content from the browser.

You can even choose which version of SQL Server you are building for, and yes it even let you build for SQL Server 2016 😀

There a some minor flaws in this beta 0.1 version that I’m sure will be corrected with future release:

  • When adding content it doesn’t show until you’ve refreshed your browser
  • I’m having a hard time generate documentation
  • Renaming files is not persisted

Another thing that is not possible with BimlOnline and which I understand as much as I miss is the ability to connect to local data source for grabbing a list of tables from a database or getting columns on the fly to generate packages tasks and components based on the content of a local database. I know that it is probably really difficult to achieve but it is IMHO one of the coolest features of Biml.

Anyhow, I think that BimlOnline really fills a gap between BIDSHelper and Mist. Thanks for a great new product and keep up the good work !

Happy Biml’ing

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