Show of hands, who has opened up a map created by someone else and been filled with dread at the concept of modifying the map, even for something relatively simply.  I'm willing to bet the answer is nearly everyone who has ever done mapping.  It usually starts when you open a map and see something like this:

[Yes, that is from a real client.  No, I won't say who.]


As if that alone wasn't enough to make one cry, layouts like that lead to property dialog boxes like this:

So to help you avoid leaving wonderful presents like these for someone else who follows you onto your projects, I'd like to suggest the following guidelines to follow when you are working with the Mapper.

  1. Organize on Pages - The Mapper will allow you to create an infinite number of pages on which to organize your maps.  You should use this to great advantage.  Find a system of organization that works for you and stick with it.  The two most common systems are a "destination structure" approach where a page is used to organize the contents of a particular element on the destination schema and the "mapping concepts" approach pages tend to get names like "Direct Links" and "Looping" to indicate that type of mapping that is occuring on that page.  Personally I like to mix the two depending on the problem in front of me.
  2. Label your Links - If you select a link (a line) in the mapper and look at the Properties window you will see that it has a property named "Label".  This is the most under used property in all of BizTalk.  If you label a link (and a label can be any string value) then when you open the properties dialog box of your next functoid you will see the label next to the icon, rather than the above property box you'll end up with something like this: