On occasion we have had messages suspend on the ALL.Exceptions send port with the error:

Error 115004: An unexpected error occurred while attempting to retrieve the System.Exception object from the ESB Fault Message.

The source of the error is the pipeline component Microsoft.Practices.ESB.ExceptionHandling.Pipelines.ESBFaultProcessor, part of the ESB Toolkit’s custom pipeline on the ALL.Exceptions port.

Some suspicions and hunting through code using .NET Reflector led to an explanation.

The ExceptionMgmt.CreateFaultMessage() method, which is used to create a fault message in an orchestration exception handler, automatically locates and stores the exception object that was previously thrown.  It stores the exception by binary-serializing it, Base64 encoding it and storing it in a property on the first message part of the fault message.  Later on, the ESBFaultProcessor pipeline component attempts to de-serialize the exception.

The trouble arises when the thrown exception contains a non-serializable inner exception more than one level deep.  The method ExceptionMgmt.IsExceptionSerializable() only checks the root exception and the first InnerException.  If a non-serializable exception happens to be nested further, the code does not detect it.  As a result, the ESBFaultProcessor fails while attempting to de-serialize it.

In our case, we are pulling a flat file down from a web service and disassembling it inside of an orchestration using the XLANGPipelineManager class.  If there is a problem with the file format, an XLANGPipelineManagerException is thrown.  It contains an InnerException of XmlException, which in turn contains an InnerException of Microsoft.BizTalk.ParsingEngine.AbortException – which has no serialization constructor.

To solve this issue, I wrote a short helper method in C#.  I call it immediately after ExceptionMgmt.CreateFaultMessage() and pass it the newly created fault message and the caught exception’s Message property value.  It checks whether the stored exception can be de-serialized, and if not, replaces the stored exception with a special exception class.  This is the same thing that would have happened had the IsExceptionSerializable() method correctly detected the situation.

I submitted this bug to Microsoft Connect.

To use this code, you’ll need a C# class library with references to:

  • Microsoft.Practices.ESB.ExceptionHandling
  • Microsoft.Practices.ESB.ExceptionHandling.Schemas.Faults
  • Microsoft.XLANGS.BaseTypes

For convenience, I added a couple of using statements at the top.

using System;
using Microsoft.XLANGs.BaseTypes;
using ExceptionHandling = Microsoft.Practices.ESB.ExceptionHandling;
using ExceptionHandlingSchemas = Microsoft.Practices.ESB.ExceptionHandling.Schemas.Property;

namespace BizTalkHelpers
    public static class OrchestrationHelper
        /// <summary>
        /// Work around a bug in the BizTalk ESB Toolkit 2.0 related to
        /// non-serializable exceptions. When
        /// ExceptionMgmt.CreateFaultMessage() creates a message, it
        /// automatically locates and stores the caught exception. If the
        /// exception contains an InnerException more than one level deep
        /// that is not serializable, the ESBFaultProcessor pipeline
        /// component will later fail when it attempts to deserialize the
        /// exception, resulting in the error:
        /// Error 115004: An unexpected error occurred while attempting to
        /// retrieve the System.Exception object from the ESB Fault Message.
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="msg">
        /// Message created by ExceptionMgmt.CreateFaultMessage()</param>
        /// <param name="exceptionMsg">
        /// Message property value of the caught exception</param>
        public static void FixNonSerializableExceptionInFaultMsg(
            XLANGMessage msg, string exceptionMsg)
            // Incoming msg must have been created by
            // ExceptionMgmt.CreateFaultMessage()
            XLANGPart p = msg[0];

            if (p == null)

            // Extract the Base64-encoded string representation of the
            // exception serialized by CreateFaultMessage().
            string str =
                typeof(ExceptionHandlingSchemas.SystemException)) as string;

            if (str == null)

            catch (Exception)
              // If an exception is not serializable, the correct behavior
              // is to store a serialized instance of
              // SetExceptionNonSerializableException.
              ExceptionHandling.SetExceptionNonSerializableException ex =
                new ExceptionHandling.SetExceptionNonSerializableException(
                  0x1c13e, new object[] { exceptionMsg });