Before we learn about Biml development, we need to setup our system with the software necessary to write and build Biml code. Presently, there are two primary tools that you can use to author and compile Biml solutions. The following sections describe those options and provide instructions for installing them.
BimlExpress is a free add-in to Microsoft Visual Studio that adds Biml functionality to BIDS and SSDT. In other words, if you are already using Microsoft BIDS or SSDT, all you need to do to start using Biml is to install BimlExpress
BimlExpress only includes a subset of Biml functionality (see below for a full comparison chart), but that subset is very generous and includes almost all SSIS functionality. In short, especially for SSIS development, BimlExpress is a great choice to get started using Biml in your data development projects.
BimlExpress offers a VSIX installer so that you can use the add-in even if you don't have administrator privileges on your machine. To install, download BimlExpress for your version of SQL Server from Varigence.
Once you've installed BimlExpress, you will find new menu options in Solution Explorer. Right-clicking on the project root node in Solution Explorer will now give you an option to add a new Biml file. Right-clicking on one or more Biml files will now give you the option to build those Biml files into packages, connection managers, and other assets that are added to your solution. Here is a screenshot of what this looks like:
Varigence BimlStudio (formerly known as Mist) is the first and only integrated development environment made specifically for Biml development. BimlStudio offers all features available in BimlExpress Biml, plus relational modeling support, SSAS, support, visual designers, build automation, Biml transformers, and much more.
For those building enterprise, large team, or automated solutions, BimlStudio is usually a better choice than BimlExpress.
You can obtain a free trial of BimlStudio at the varigence.com website: https://varigence.com/BimlStudio
Comparing BimlExpress and BimlStudio
Though we've covered some of the main differences between BimlExpress and BimlStudio above, it usually helps to have everything conveniently laid out in an easy-to-read table:
|Model relational database objects|
|Produce DDL for any ANSI SQL compliant RDBMS|
Whichever tool you choose to use, you'll find that Biml development offers tremendous advantages over traditional SQL Server, SSIS, and SSAS development tools. And now that you have one of the tools setup on your machine, we can dive head first into learning about Biml and how to write our own Biml code!
Complete the lesson Biml Tools: