Cool Tool: Visualizing the Orchestrator Web Service

One of our friends over on the Office365 team who does a lot of stuff with Orchestrator and PowerShell (and I mean deep stuff), Tim Bertalot, pointed out a cool Visual Studio add-on that lets you visualize the schema of a web service. The tool is called the Open Data Protocol Visualizer and is available… Read more

Quick Tip: New Implicit ForEach in PSv3

I saw this today in an email from and had to pass it on… seems like PSv3 is going to have lots of little handy additions: Implicit Foreach in PSv3 PowerShell v3 Beta is available for quite some time now, so every now and then we start tossing in some PowerShell v3 tips. We’ll… Read more

Quick Tip: Using Encrypted Variables in Orchestrator

Orchestrator 2012 introduced the capability to define a global Variable as encrypted. This now allowed admins to use variables to store passwords instead of typing them into lots of different places in runbooks. But if the variable is encrypted, how does it then un-encrypt the value to be used within activities? And, does the un-encryption… Read more

Quick Tip: Error Handling Across Parent/Child Runbooks

I got a question posed to me in the form of a design change request for Orchestrator. And, true to fashion for Orchestrator, I pointed out that what was being asked for as a feature could be solved by the existing product by just architecting the runbook in a certain way. The scenario posed was… Read more

Best Practices: Which is Better… Monitoring or Triggering?

One of the major pieces of functionality in Orchestrator and in many of the Integration Packs the ability to monitor something (a database, a server) and start a runbook when a certain condition occurs. The monitor activities are used extensively by customers in a wide array of scenarios. But is it the best way to… Read more

Speeding up Runbooks by Improving Activity Loading Speed

Even on the product team, there is a lot of information we don’t see that gets published about the product. Other arms of Microsoft like Customer Support are continually listening to customers and feed bugs and change requests to the product team, but they also publish KB articles and helpful tips about performance, security, and… Read more

IPs and Activities and How Those are Represented in the Database

Following some of my recent articles about how Integration Packs (IPs) are handled during registration, installation, and unregistration (see Understanding IP Installation: What Does Register/Unregister/Deploy/Undeploy Really Mean?), and as a precursor to a new tool I will be unveiling this week (trying to build the excitement a bit!), I wanted to talk about installing IPs… Read more

Quick Tip: Enabling Link Text But Getting Rid of “Link”

If you’re like me, you like to put descriptive text in a link to describe what it does. Perhaps it’s to indicate the conditions of a branching structure, like this: But what’s annoying is that when you turn on the Link text, every link has the word “Link” on it (as if you didn’t know… Read more

Understanding IP Installation: What Does Register/Unregister/Deploy/Undeploy Really Mean?

One of the most foundational activities an Orchestrator admin does is installing Integration Packs. After all, Integration Packs provide the real value to Orchestrator because they allow you to extend its capabilities and let you connect to virtually anything so you can automate and orchestrator across many different platforms. However, just because it’s one of… Read more

Quick Tip: Using the “Read Text Log” Activity

I had someone contact me recently with some confusion about the Read Text Log activity in Orchestrator. It seems that it wasn’t quite working the way they expected and they were left scratching their head. So I put together a quick demo runbook and tested it out. I thought I’d share my experience just to… Read more