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How to Import Existing SSIS Packages into Biml With BimlExpress

I’m asked the same question almost every time I present on Biml. “How do I import my existing SSIS packages?” Well in this post, I’m going to show you how to do it with BimlExpress 2019 for free.

This post is part of a series, Short Cuts to Biml Mastery which shows you how to learn BimlScript through a series of short cuts and remain productive while doing so.

What is BimlExpress?

BimlExpress is a free Visual Studio add-in created by the good folks at Varigence. Its a full featured Biml editor which allows you to dynamically create SSIS packages. It was first released back in 2017, and the latest version is 2019 (of course). The current version supports Visual Studio 2010 through 2019 as well as SQL Server 2005 through 2019.

Prior to it’s release, Biml was written with Bids Helper, now known as BI Developer Extensions. While BI Developer Extensions has many nice features, you should no longer use it to work with Biml as it is no longer being updated/supported.

How do I use it?

Well, first download the BimlExpress VSIX install file, run it, and follow the prompts. Next, please download the Northwind sample database and restore it to your development machine. Finally, download this VS Sample Project. As I mentioned previously, this simple package forms the basis for the next several blog posts. Open the package, you can see that it exports from a SQL Server table to a csv flat file. Edit the connection details if necessary, and create the location for the export file. The default location is C:\FileExport\.

SSIS Data Flow
Flat File General Tab

Flat File Advanced Tab

Most of the functionality of BimlExpress can be found in the custom toolbar. For our demo, make sure the Export Orders.dtsx package is selected, and then choose “Convert SSIS Packages to Biml.”

You can also right-click either the package or the entire project in the Solution Explorer to import as well.

Import Packages

This is the Import Packages window. There are four options for SSIS Asset Location:

  • DTProj from File System
  • ISPAC from File System
  • DTSX from File System
  • Project from Project Catalog

Select “DTSX from File System” since we are importing a single package. There are all sorts of Import Options which I don’t want to take the time to go into. Most often, I leave all of them unchecked anyway.

Imported Assets

Select Import and examine the imported assets. Everything looks correct, so click “Add to Project”.

Imported Biml

As you can see in the above screen shot, BimlExpress has made great strides in usability. Not only can you import packages, but you can edit BimlScript and see the results immediately in the Preview Pane. Notice that all of the Biml is imported into one file. We’ll examine and simplify the imported Biml in my next post.

To test your Biml file, edit the Package name to something different like “Export Orders Biml”. Save the change, right click on BimlScript.biml, and select “Generate SSIS Packages”. The package should generate and execute without error if you have the correct connection strings and such. Feel free to run the package and examine the resulting csv file. After the successful test, generate the package a second time and you’ll receive the following confirmation request to overwrite an existing package:

Confirm Overwrite

Next Steps

In the next article, we’ll examine our imported Biml code, clean it up, and start down the path of dynamic package generation.

Stay Tuned!

1 comment to How to Import Existing SSIS Packages into Biml With BimlExpress

  • Peter

    This was a really welcome change for BimlExpress. It helps a lot to see what an existing package looks like in Biml when trying to learn how that all works.

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