AddBizTalkHiddenReferences error in TFS build when installing ProjectBuildComponent via a command line setup

I have been trying to script the installation of all the tools and SDKs we need on our TFS Build Agent VMs. This included BizTalk. A quick check on MSDN showed the setup command line parameter I need to install the build components was


/ADDLOCAL ProjectBuildComponent

So I ran this via my VMs setup PowerShell script, all appeared OK, but when I tried a build I got the error


C:\Program Files (x86)\MSBuild\Microsoft\BizTalk\BizTalkCommon.targets (189): The "AddBizTalkHiddenReferences" task failed unexpectedly.
System.ArgumentNullException: Value cannot be null.
Parameter name: path1
   at System.IO.Path.Combine(String path1, String path2)
   at Microsoft.VisualStudio.BizTalkProject.Base.HiddenReferencesHelper.InitializeHiddenReferences()
   at Microsoft.VisualStudio.BizTalkProject.Base.HiddenReferencesHelper.get_HiddenReferences()
   at Microsoft.VisualStudio.BizTalkProject.Base.HiddenReferencesHelper.GetHiddenReferencesNotAdded(IList`1 projectReferences)
   at Microsoft.VisualStudio.BizTalkProject.BuildTasks.AddBizTalkHiddenReferences.Execute()
   at Microsoft.Build.BackEnd.TaskExecutionHost.Microsoft.Build.BackEnd.ITaskExecutionHost.Execute()
   at Microsoft.Build.BackEnd.TaskBuilder.<ExecuteInstantiatedTask>d__20.MoveNext()

The strange thing is, if I run the BizTalk installer via the UI and select just the ‘Project Build Components’ my build did not give this error.

On checking the Biztalk setup logs I saw that the UI based install does not run


/ADDLOCAL ProjectBuildComponent



/ADDLOCAL WMI,BizTalk,AdditionalApps,ProjectBuildComponent

Once this change was made to my PowerShell script the TFS build worked OK

Microsoft SOA Conference Day 1

After a couple of days in the Washington state my body has caught up to a manageable time zone (somewhere east of Denver I think, but that is close enough) just in time for for the start of the Microsoft SOA 2007 conference.

The keynote for me highlighted that Microsoft see the future in the cloud, the Internet Service Bus (ISB) as opposed to silo’d Enterprise Service Buses (ESB). Now this assumes customers have gone down the SOA route already, which I would say is not the case in the SME market I work in. I still see many monolithic legacy applications where migration to SOA has not been considered yet.

Anyway that aside, I see storage in the cloud being the big question – yes Microsoft are throwing services out there such as:

Time will tell what the uptake of such services will be, and I think issues of trust will be a major factor – will you trust Microsoft, or Google or Yahoo to store you personal and/or corporate data? And what about the cost? At present these services are free; I expect them to remain free for the home user, but corporate users will expect better defined SLAs and these will no doubt costs. Is this another journey down the Application Service Provider style of business model?

To get the seamless application integration of the systems, as we see in demos, we will also need a better uptake of federated security models else you will spend all your time entering passwords. Now this can be mitigated by making the connections behind the scenes (within the ISB), however most of the demos seem to use the desktop client as the central point to access these various ISB services, which is sensible as this the point the data is needed.

In the keynote Oslo, the next wave of BizTalk and related products, was announced. This will address some of these cross silo connectivity issues, specifically by providing BizTalk Services, a Microsoft hosted set of routing and workflow services using BizTalk V6 (vNext) that will allow easier firewall traversal between corporate silos, but even CTPs of these products is a way off.

Anyway enough for the morning session off to lunch.

ps. Just done a sound bite for Ron Jacobs of Channel 9 on Oslo – I wonder if it makes the cut?