Adapters are the communication interface for BizTalk to and from the outside world. They perform whatever communication semantics or protocols that the remote system requires, thus hiding any complexity that is required when interfacing with remote systems, particularly legacy ones.
Adapters are commonly referred to as bit shovelers because of the way they move the binary bits from the outside world into BizTalk and from BizTalk back out to the outside world, effectively feeding the BizTalk engine with work — like a fireman feeding coal into the engine of a steam train.
No conversion or translation of messages is performed by adapters; they purely bring the bits into BizTalk so that pipelines can then optionally perform any data translation, such as converting a flat file to an XML document.
This chapter begins with an overview of the adapter architecture along with features offered to adapters, and then the remainder of the chapter discusses each of the mainstream adapters.