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White paper on XAML application navigation shells

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The team at Next Version has done over a dozen projects where we produced a shell for an application. We usually call this a “navigation shell” because it handles all the user navigation among various parts of the application. It loads modules, puts up views, handles authentication, and other capabilities needed by most applications.

However, a good navigation shell handles a lot more than that. For several clients, I created a document describing why a navigation shell was important, the typical capabilities it supports, and some notes on architecture and technology considerations.

I decided this past weekend to create a generic version of those documents, and offer it as a white paper for anyone who is working on a line of business application in XAML. If that describes you, I think you’ll find some useful ideas for your own shell development. You might also decide that you’d like to get some help on some capabilities from a team that has done them before, in which case you can contact us. Contact information is included in the white paper.

The white paper is in PDF. It is 13 pages, and can be downloaded here.

This is the first version, and I expect to update this document once or twice. So I welcome your comments and suggestions. The email is my first name –at–, and phone numbers are at the end of the white paper.


Interface engines – Iguana Vs BizTalk – A quick review

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Iguana versus Biztalk interface engines


Iguana was much simpler to install and configure than Biztalk. Iguana was much quicker and simpler to set up the first few examples. In Biztalk, the developer needs to switch back and forth between  VS2012 Biztalk project and the Biztalk Server Administartion during development whereas Iguana uses one browser environment to accomplish both. Iguana uses lua scripting language for internal logic versus a Orchestration visual designer inside of VS2012. I found the lua script easier to use than the Orchestration visual designer.


The developer needs to understand quite a bit of the Biztalk architecture before getting started. Iguana on the other hand has a simpler model which can be grasped quickly.  Biztalk and Iguana both can manage multiple machines from one console as needed for scalability.

I think that Biztalk would be a great fit for very large integration projects as it has an architecture designed for ultimate flexibility at the expense of added complexity. Many pre-built componenets are available for Biztalk and it is infinitely configurable. However each new task takes more effort due to this complexity. Iguana would be a better fit for other environments just due to it’s greater simplicty.

Market Size

Interface Systems is a smaller company than Microsoft of course, but commands enough share of the interface market to stick around. It has 18.1% organization usage versus 9.7% for Biztalk in the HL7 interface world according to the 2014 HL7 Interface Technology Survey( Most companies in that survey planned to stay with their current interface provider(s).


I didn’t’ find any benchmarks. For what little it is worth, interfaceware (Iguana’s parent company) touted iguana’s speed and presented a client who switched from BizTalk to Iguana.

Other Notes

  • Messages– Although not required, Bizttalk expects it’s messages to be converted to some xml schema for internal logic processing. Iguana passes the incomming message as string into the internal logic scripts which can parse, interrogate, transform as needed.
  • Scripting languages– BizTalk has its own scripting language and can also extended modules and functions can be written C#. Iguana also has its own scripting language (Lua). I found Lua to be easy to learn and use.
  • Processing Pipeline – BizTalk had a deep pre and post processing pipeline, which cuts both ways.  Good is some cases, but added to the complexity in most cases. Iguana had a more straight-forward and simply pipeline model.



My experience with Iguana was more favorable.  However, if you had a need for a more complex pre or post processing pipeline, BizTalk might be a better choice.


David Ogilvie

New Site Launched!

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We have revamped our site! (Finally) We have been so heads down on projects for the last 3 years that we haven’t had a chance to update our site very often. Finally we forced ourselves to take a little time. Take a stroll around.