How to Build Solutions with the Information Bridge Framework


The Information Bridge Framework (IBF) is significant.  It masquerades as a structured way to finally get meaning out of the Office SmartTag mechanism, which it does.  What it really is is the first prescriptive guidance and toolset Microsoft to begin implementing a Service Oriented Architecture.  Although you do not have to use web services as part of the IBF, it does require that all of your entities and actions be described as structured schemas.  By implementing an IBF solution, if you have not already described your business entities or actions with XSD schemas, you will have created them as a side effect.  Describing one's business entities in schemas is a non-trivial exercise and incites the need for alignment on vocabulary within your organization.  However, coming to alignment on key business entities and the actions that are performed around those entities is a gating step that must be accomplished in order to move towards the highly efficient agile world described to us in the vision of an ideal service oriented architecture.  An IBF solution not only requires this but also has prescriptive guidance and tools to build actual solutions with those schemas and provides a metadata repository to centrally store and manage those schemas.

Even if SmartTags and Task Panes don't strike you as the most compelling interface for a Services Oriented Architecture, there isn't anything that is stopping you from reusing the web services you produce for an IBF solution for say an InfoPath form, a SharePoint DataView web part, or even enterprise application integration (EAI) scenarios.

Building a Simple IBF Solution

Aggregating business entities and their actions in a consistent manner is difficult.  Enabling automated scenarios on top of that is overwhelming.  The IBF does a good job of enabling this, but it is still technically and lexically complicated.  After scouring MSDN and search results for a good deep technical introduction to the Information Bridge Framework, I found and went through Vijay Desai's 5 part series, which I am recommending:

  • Building a Simple IBF solution - For Beginners, Part 1

  • Building a Simple IBF solution - For Beginners, Part 2

  • Building a Simple IBF solution - For Beginners Part 3
    This article presents a description of the the steps involved in adding metadata that describes the User Experience for IBF application.

  • Building a Simple IBF solution - For Beginners, Part 4
    This article focuses on the creation of operations that are a part of an Action element in the Metadata and is a continuation of the STEP4 in the creation of an IBF solution.

  • Building a Simple IBF solution - For Beginners, Part 5
    This is the final article in the series of articles on "Building a simple IBF application - For Beginners". Here I wrap up this series of articles on demystifying IBF solution development by discussing the creation of smart document and developing the UI to render the results returned by our IBF compliant Web Service.
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