‘unknown system exception’ error when working with orchestrations

Every now and then I run into the most annoying of BizTalk errors – ‘unknown system exception’ – when working with orchestrations. Sometimes this would be fixed by a restart of Visual Studio, but today I hit the problem and it just wouldn’t go away.

It seems this error can occur if you have unreachable Call Orchestration shapes in your orchestration. Specifically if you have a Decide shape where the conditions are hardcoded boolean literals. For example if one branch has the condition ‘true’ and the other branch is never reached, but the other branch contains a Call Orchestration shape. I often do this kind of thing when working on an orchestration, if I’m putting together the flow but haven’t yet worked through the logic.

 I can only presume that compilation is attempting to optimise away the other loop, but getting in a twist somewhere along the way. Nevertheless it’s easily fixed by replacing the literal with a boolean variable.

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