A CrazyBizTalk confession

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Introduction

(This blog post was co-written by Pieter VandenheedeGlenn Colpaert, both colleagues at Codit)

We finally admit it… we both were the brains behind the CrazyBizTalk account. There… it’s in the open. After Integrate 2017, day 3, we were no longer able to keep it a secret, so there is no use of denying it anymore…

It was a fun ride, which started in 2013 already. We’ve written this post to give you some insights on how it all got started, the fun we had through the years and what the next steps are.

How it all started

In May 2013, both of us were very actively developing BizTalk applications. The Microsoft Integration community was starting to become a vibrant place and the #msbts Twitter hashtag (for Microsoft BizTalk Server) became a thing we both started following on a daily basis.

Now and then we were making fun of BizTalk items and the very first tweet Glenn sent out was the following:

It was also the birth of our very own hashtag: #crazybiztalktweets!2

We both thought it would be a great idea to start a Twitter account and several minutes later, Pieter registered the Twitter account CrazyBizTalk, a name inspired by the moment.

We thought of things to do and after a few days of brainstorming, we decided we had our first few memes and quotes we could start with.

The very first tweet from the CrazyBizTalk account was on May 27th, 2013:

It didn’t get a lot of love back then, but we felt it was funny, so we decided to amp things up and put up some more tweets in the days to come, this time including the meme pictures:

It was fun, but still it was something casual after those few first days. Thought to be forgotten at some point. However, it clicked with us. We discussed the next steps, proposed new quotes, confirmed or vetoed others. We had some good laughs and giggles, every time we came up with something new.

At some point we even created a DropBox shared folder, in order to keep up with the new ideas and memes we had… and yes, we even had some BizTalk lyrics…

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They were good times, but neither of us had thought we would keep going 4 years later.

Some “glorious” moments

Time went by and we started getting 100+ followers on Twitter and getting more every time we made up something new. People started liking, re-tweeting (RT’ing), we even had some private messages from time to time… you know who you were 😉

Some of our best moments were at Integrate 2013, 2015 and 2017.
Audiences hooked on Twitter with a single #integrate hashtag are all potential followers we discovered. Here’s a selection from the past years:

Admittedly, we sometimes made fun of our beloved BizTalk Server. Being anonymous gives you the advantage of being able to say what you want. We realized we had to be very careful in what to say, in order not to burn the account. However, we did notice that whenever we approached the acceptable line, we did get more likes and RT’s than usual!

Some other things to know:

  • We have amassed a 700+ followers. Not bad considering this is a parody account for a Microsoft Server product considered “dead” to some, and in such a specialty domain.
  • We had likes and RT’s from some interesting people/accounts.
    • Josh Twist when he was Program Manager for BizTalk Server for a while.
    • The official BizTalk Server account.
    • etc…
  • At some point, we owned a website: crazybiztalk.azurewebsites.net, but due to an error in the hosting, we had to close it again with a corrupt database.
  • Some of our colleagues knew who we were, but we made them vow not to tell anyone. We still have a lot of people in the company who don’t know.
    It’s so much fun having colleagues show you the funny tweet they just saw on Twitter, not knowing you just posted it a few seconds earlier! 🙂
  • At some points in time there were only one of us posting to the account.
  • During Integrate 2015 we were too busy writing blog posts for our company blog and didn’t feel we were able to post anonymously enough. We did not tweet during that conference.
  • During Integrate 2017, day 1, we actually won a book for having the most popular tweet that day. On day 2, we were about to do the same, but Nick Hauenstein won with a tweet from the day before 😉
  • At some point, somebody created a CrazyAzure Twitter account! Whoever you are, you are awesome! 🙂

Also, over time, people always tried to figure out who was behind the account…
A special thanks to the following people,  who made this a very fun experience:

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Also, people gave us some praise now and then, which was much appreciated!

The cover blown

A few years ago, Glenn was already considered as being the only person behind the account. A few months later however, speculation started again, as the account started posting at conferences while Glenn not being present. A few years later however, disaster struck.

Integrate 2017, day 3 will be marked as a black page in our book. The conference was a BIG HIT so far: we won a book on the first day due to the most popular #integrate2017 tweet. Appeared during a demo of SteefJan on the second day and tweets were getting a lot of likes and love.

During one of the last sessions however, while trying to appear in yet another demo, things went downhill when we used Tweetdeck to post (too) quickly. Pieter forgot to uncheck his own account and posted. Only to be followed by:

The damage was done and the secret identity broken… What a pity!!

Could you have known?

Is there any way you could have known it was us or related to us?

Sure, there were some clues we were not able to hide:

  • The first two followers of the account were both of our Twitter accounts. There was no option to remove them (unfortunately).
  • The first 7 followers were Codit Belgium accounts.
  • We always posted during hours comparing with the Belgian timezone

Conclusion: What’s next?

There is no next… unfortunately.

We have both decided to quit the account.
Although it is tempting to continue with the account, it would no longer be the same as it was. Now that we are affiliated with the account, we feel people may become biased by what we think is funny. It was very fun doing what we did however.

We will close the account and login now and then, to make sure the tweets are preserved for any new BizTalk developer that happens to stumble upon them.

We very much enjoyed doing what we did and truly hoped to have made you laugh, giggle or just sparked an interest into what we did. We did not spend a lot of time on it, but we felt like making things better by adding a little humor.

Let us know what you think!
What was your favorite one? How did you experience all of this?

CLOSURE

Cheers! #crazybiztalktweets

Glenn Colpaert & Pieter Vandenheede

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Azure API Management: subscription key invalid

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Azure API Management is awesome! The thought of API virtualization and the power, flexibility and ease-of-use it can bring, is impressive to say the least.

I have the chance to ‘play’ with the technology with a project I’m working on for one particular client. Starting to play with things you often miss the simplest details or take things for granted. This is such a story…

So, I went on to set-up an API, provided some operations, configured security, etc…

However, using Postman, one error I kept getting was the following:

{ “statusCode”: 401, “message”: “Access denied due to invalid subscription key. Make sure to provide a valid key for an active subscription.” }

No matter what I did, I kept getting the error. Removing the Ocp-Apim-Subscription-Key in the header, provided me with the following error:

{ “statusCode“: 401, “message“: “Access denied due to missing subscription key. Make sure to include subscription key when making requests to an API.” }

It was clear I needed to provide the Azure APIM subscription key, but I was providing the wrong one it seems.

It’s already tricky to find your subscription keys and I had to ask some colleagues more than once where to retrieve it.

To retrieve your keys, go to the Azure portal, select your API Management service, select Users (the below picture mentions Users – PREVIEW, since the transition to the current portal is not finished yet) and you’ll find your subscription keys for your “products” there.

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One of the things about Azure API Management is  that any developer can subscribe to start using your API. This can be a paying customer or a customer which you just need to register. For that, there is the Azure API Management developer portal. A completely customizable portal with developer documentation, test forms, etc… based on the settings you determine in the administration portal.

In Azure API Management, a Product contains one or more APIs as well as a usage quota and the terms of use. Once a product is published, developers can subscribe to the product and begin to use the API’s which are part of the product’.

This time, from the developer portal, I copied the subscription keys and added a new header “Ocp-Apim-Subscription-Key”, containing the key copied from the Azure portal.

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Still, I kept getting the same error…. it kept me busy for far too long… until I tried to call the Echo API. This is the default API, provided with any Azure API Management service.
I noticed, when trying to call this API from within the developer portal, that the header was already provided. I did not have to provide it myself for the Echo API

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Then it dawned to me: I didn’t bother to add my API to one of the (default) products! In the API configuration, you can see in which products your API is included:

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I quickly included my API into the Starter and Unlimited products and saved.

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Seconds later, refreshing the developer portal for my own API gave me the following result:

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Now, sitting here and writing this up, I still don’t have my API working, but at least some poor soul will perhaps some day have the same issue and find this page.

Lesson learned

Always add your API to your product()s, or you will not be able to call them.

 

Hope this helps at least someone, since I didn’t find this within the MANY Google searches I performed.

Cheers,
Pieter