Kayxo BizTalk Exchange Adapter Tips

Introduction

I have been working on an effort to add some automation around processing of emails. In the past I have worked with the built-in POP3 adapter and also the N Software mail adapters found here: https://www.nsoftware.com/products/biztalk/adapters/emails.aspx. The built-in BizTalk mail adapters are not secure because POP3 and SMTP send cleartext passwords. In organizations that use mail functionality in BizTalk it is very important to implement this securely. N Software provides secure receive email support over POP3 and IMAP but these options are not always enabled on Exchange servers.

Today I renewed my search for a good MAPI/Exchange adapter solution. In this post I am going to look at the Kayxo (MAPI) Exchange Adapter and attempt to aggregate some information that is just not in a very good form on the web right now. I will also give some details on some so-far undocumented configurations and how well they are working.

Downloading the Trial

I have been down this road before and find it is typically very hard to get good information about the available BizTalk MAPI adapters in the marketplace. One of the vendors, Kayxo has a very bad website (www.kayxo.com). On many occasions I have not been able to get the site to work at all. Most of the time the home page just gives you a few email links to get more information about the company. If you do some more search engine investigation, you find there is more information, just not linked off the home page. A good overview page is here: http://www.kayxo.com/products/keab_biztalk_partners.php. If you click on the free trial it brings us to a page that looks like an old table of contents: http://www.kayxo.com/downloads/downloads.php. Here is the link to the install guide in case their site dies again: http://www.kayxo.com/downloads/keab_docs/KEAB_InstallationGuide.pdf.

If you try these links you notice PHP errors all over the page – like they have not updated their site in a while. This kind of spotty experience does not fare well if you are looking for a custom adapter, but keep reading, the story does get better.

On the download page there is a link to download the BizTalk adapter (it has a black background) but when clicking on it you just get another PHP/MySql error message (http://www.kayxo.com/downloads/kayxo_exchange_adapter_biztalk.php):

Warning: mysql_connect() [function.mysql-connect]: Lost connection to MySQL server during query in /home/content/k/a/y/kayxo/html/kayxo/includes/configuracion.php on line 8
Could not connect: Lost connection to MySQL server during query

Apparently they are not very good at working with PHP. 🙂 So I tried clicking on the other links and noticed a naming convention for the downloads. So I tried a few attempts at figuring out the download path. Here it is: http://www.kayxo.com/downloads/keab.zip. I was able to download the 8 MB file and this was the start of a fairly good trial experience.

Installation

After downloading the file you can then open the installer and it loads for a while. Back on the overview page (mentioned above), there is a link to the install guide for the adapter. Be sure to download this – it helps make the install process go smoother. The install guide mentions supporting BizTalk 2006/2009. So far in my experience, I have been able to install it successfully on BizTalk 2009 where CU 1 existed. My other config specs were W2K8 [R1], SQL 2008 SP1 CU 1.  On my VM I have Office 2010 installed. The install guide for the Kayxo installer says Only Outlook 2003 and 2007 are supported but I was able to get everything in the trial to install successfully with Office 2010.

[Important!] One of the steps of the configuration is to specify the credentials to login into Exchange with. It seems like this would be easy, just specify the domain\username and password, but the wizard has the domain\username part grayed out and just pulls it from the current thread. You actually have to login with these credentials in order for it to pull the correct credentials. So this means you should only try out this adapter on a computer that is part of the same domain as your email server.

There are a couple steps during the installation that seemed a little odd, so my tip for the install is to be sure to read every word that appears on the screen. Right before the install there is a wizard that has you specify a few setup options. One of the screens asks for the database information. Here is the screenshot from the install guide:

The default value given for server is localhost. So if you do not read the heading (very easy to miss), it looks like you are specifying your IIS server name. The first time through here I missed the heading and what do you know, it cannot find a SQL Server at localhost. This is actually the page you specify the database name. So remove “localhost” and provide the SQL Server instance name here. Then you will get to run the installer. The installer creates the program directory, registers 2 adapters with the BizTalk administration console, and adds some extensibility inside Visual Studio. There is actually quite a bit of functionality provided with the trial but you do have to discover some of it on your own.

If you open the install folder at C:\Program Files (x86)\Kayxo\KEAB you will see the installed files. There is an SDK folder which gives you a good idea of what the BizTalk messages and schemas will look like. For example, if you then open SDK\KEAB_Sdk_KeabSampleMove\Folders\Inbox\MailSample_PutInsideInFolder.xml, you will see a sample file. Here is this same sample file. If you look at the file it is based roughly off of a name/value approach with a little bit more structure. The format basically revolves around the MAPI properties. One tool I have found helpful to understand these is called Outlook spy: http://www.dimastr.com/outspy/. In MAPI there are hundreds of properties for the different objects in Exchange. You need to know quite a bit about the MAPI properties in order to effectively use the Kayxo adapter.

To explain more of this, you can open some files within the Kayxo install folder to get a better handle on some of the details. Open C:\Program Files (x86)\Kayxo\KEAB\MapiProperties.xml to find a listing of all of the different MAPI properties that the adapter knows about. Each has a tag associated with it. I am guessing the parsing engine creates a sort of keyed dictionary for the MAPI properties and then can serialize the properties as part of the message. The tool found in the start menu known as the KEAB Write Message Creator is helpful too for generating a message structure based off the MAPI properties.

After the installer finishes, there is a tricky configuration wizard to work through. Unfortunately the install guide does not really help us that much from a diagnostic perspective. You have to read the install guide word-for-word all the way through to find out enough tips to work through the configuration wizard.

Configuration

If you have Outlook already loaded on your computer and you can connect to your mail server then you will need to be sure that your profile is not in Cached mode. I am not sure what this means, but it is important to know. Here are some directions for disabling this in Outlook 2010:

  1. Open Outlook 2010, authenticate
  2. Click File\Account Settings\Account Settings button
  3. Find your profile and then click Change…
  4. Under your Server find the “Use Cached Exchange Mode” checkbox and be sure it is cleared.
  5. Click Next, and then Finish

You should right-click “Run as administrator” to run the “KEAB Configuration” start menu item to start the configuration wizard. Not doing this will result in you getting some access denied error messages. Then you just have four pages of a wizard to fill out. These pages are documented well in the install guide.

I will be trying to expand this content with some more screenshots and will provide other tips here as well.

Additional Documentation

I did some more search engine investigation and found some good YouTube videos on the adapter: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=keab+biztalk&aq=f. The send and receive port ones show a very rich adapter experience so be sure to check these out.

Thanks,

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