BIML was a nice surprise at this year’s SQL PASS Summit. Microsoft of course had a big splash with their ‘Power’ self-service BI products, and demonstrated dramatic SQL 2014 in-memory capabilities; but BIML, BimlScript, and Mist from Varigence http://www.varigence.com/ was all the buzz, especially with the BI crowd. Originally called project Vulcan, along with BIDS Helper as a free community contribution (see Codeplex), this brain child from former Microsoft software guru Scott Currie is coming of age, and has normally calm BI developers downright giddy.
So what’s the big deal about BIML? After all this XML-based language not really new, and in fact has been sitting on Codeplex for a few years now. In short, I think we are seeing a ‘great idea’ colliding with the realization of BI developers that there must be a better way. Admittedly, this ‘better way’ does require familiarity with BIML and BimlScript, but a dangling carrot of 10x productivity is getting attention.
The sweet spot for BIML today centers around both SSIS package creation, and package maintenance. In fact, with the game changing BimlScript transformers, traditional SSIS frameworks are beginning to appear obsolete. This is because classic framework templates typically break down with the need to retrofit many existing packages (i.e., those built on an earlier framework template). BimlScript solves this problem with surgical transformations to previously deployed SSIS packages, all without ever opening-up BIDS or SSDT.
For those who want the comforts of an ‘Integrated Development Environment’ like BIDS/SSDT, Varigence offers Mist, which nicely integrates SSIS, SSAS, and SQL Server development. The magic is in the meta-data management, which can be leveraged across the Microsoft BI components in a single IDE. This truly results in a new way to think about Business Intelligence, but sometimes a paradigm shift is exactly what’s needed.
Well done Varigence – BIML will definitely be a big part of my next consulting engagement.