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I'm trying to install BizTalk Server 2009 on one of our servers. I am reading through the installation guide and I can't believe the Microsoft Office Excel 2007 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 are listed in software requirements.

I'm new to BizTalk server and I am just wondering do I really need to install Excel & Visual Studio on a server before I can install BizTalk?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

BizTalk uses bits of these applications itself when certain features are installed. (To my mind, this lack of "re-inventing the wheel" is good, albeit it does feel a little strange to load Excel and Visual Studio on a server computer.)

The Visual Studio components are used to provide user interface functionality for writing code. According to at least one document I've read, if you're not going to develop code on the server computer (in Microsoft parlance a "production-only system") you can install w/o Visual Studio.

Excel is used in the "Business Activity Monitoring" client (BAM client). The libraries for the BAM functionality have always been "tightly coupled" to Excel. I expect that this is because they wanted to give users Excel's charting and pivot table functionality w/o having to code something Excel-like. If you're not going to use BAM on the server computer, I believe you can get away w/o having Excel installed (though I think you'll have to deselect the feature during install).

There's a handy (but poorly rendered) "Feature Dependency Matrix" here:

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Excel is even used to build the BAM definitions (activities and views) via an Excel macro. if you are not using BAM, you don't need Excel.

Visual Studio is used to develop BizTalk artifacts (schemas, maps, pipelines, orchestrations). It is need by developers, but not on a target environment (such as QA/Production). [Just found out today that you have to open VS in Admin mode in order to Deploy BizTalk applications from within it - sigh...]

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