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Online Directory of Microsoft Dynamics Add-ons

Onlinedirectory A new site has been launched www.MicrosoftDynamicsAddons.com. This site is an independant listed directory of possible Add-on solutions, from ISV for the Dynmamics platform.This includes AX, CRM, GP, NAV, SL & RMS.Purpose is to assist the Dynamics community by having an online, searchable catalog of add-ons, complete with ratings and comments.  It’s only been up a month and already over 200 ISV’s have added their offerings. 

Dynamics NAV 5.0 Certification

A few months ago, I wrote an item on this blog on the new NAV 5.0 courseware and certification.

I guess that if you're a consultant, by now you should be implementing NAV 5.0 for your new customers. And if you're a consultant getting ready to certify in NAV, you should be thinking about certifying in NAV 5.0 (although the NAV 4.0 exams are still available). It's not that a lot has changed, but there are some new certification guidelines and roadmaps for NAV 5.0. And based on recent questions I got from customers, a lot of you out there are apparently not aware of the new certification in NAV 5.0.

Let me give you one example:

In NAV 4.0 and earlier, you had the popular "Financials in Microsoft Dynamics–Navision 4.0 Certification" Exam (#MB7-225). In order to take this exam you had to know your way around following modules:

  • Microsoft Business Solutions - Navision 4.0 Introduction
  • Microsoft Business Solutions - Navision 4.0 Financials I
  • Microsoft Business Solutions - Navision 4.0 Financials II
  • Microsoft Business Solutions - Navision 4.0 Fixed Assets
  • Microsoft Business Solutions - Navision 4.0 Resources and Jobs

This has changed completely in NAV 5.0. The "Financials" exam is now called "Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0 Financials Certification Exam" (#MB7-515), but not only the name and reference have changed. The roadmap to take this exam is:

  • Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0
  • Finance in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0
  • Application Setup in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0
  • Business Intelligence for Information Workers in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 5.0

So no "Resource and Jobs" anymore, no "Fixed Assets" anymore. Instead a couple of new courses are included. This is very important information for consultants wanting to take this exam. So keep this in mind.

The complete new certification guidelines can be found on the Plataan website (http://www.plataan.be/en/navision/it_pro/certification.htm). You will of course also find all info on new NAV 5.0 trainings which are marked:

    

    

Item Tracking Reclassifications in WMS

In previous versions of NAV (4.0 and earlier), there was a problem when using the Warehouse Item Reclassification Journal for items in combination with Item Tracking. So, what exactly went wrong? When using a Warehouse Item Reclassification Journal, NAV only created Warehouse Entries and no Item Ledger Entries. In most of the cases this was correct because reclassifying items never changes the inventory quantity. You only reclassify from for example one place to another or from one bin to another, … So in these cases, there is indeed no need to create Item Ledger Entries… in most of the cases, but… NOT always!

The Item Reclassification Journal is also used to reclassify Item Tracking in NAV. Let's say you want to correct a wrong lot number or change the expiration date of a serial number, … then the Item Reclassification Journal is also the place to be. If you want to do these things in a WMS setup, then you need to use the Warehouse Reclassification Journal instead of the normal Item Reclassification Journal. But because Item Tracking information such as serial numbers, lot numbers, expiration dates, … is maintained on the Item Ledger Entry in NAV. This means that if one of these things change, new Item Ledger Entries would have to be created in NAV.

And that is where things went wrong in previous versions of NAV. When registering a Warehouse Item Reclassification Journal in order to for example correct a wrong lot number, NAV did not create Item Ledger Entries, although he had to, because the lot number is maintained on the Item Ledger Entry.

In NAV 5.0 this has been improved. You will notice that NAV will create Item Ledger Entries when you register a Warehouse Reclassification Journal with Item Tracking in it. And also notice: in contrary with the Warehouse Item Journal where NAV will register the transaction on an Adjustment Bin and where you will have to empty this bin by calculating the warehouse adjustments in the Item Journal, NAV will create Item Leger Entries from a Warehouse Reclassification Journal straight away without having to use the Adjustment Bin procedure.

Maybe this not the biggest enhancement in NAV 5.0, but definitely a very useful one for companies working with Item Tracking in WMS.

Are you ready to (Pop)fly?

I remember it very well. It was back in March 2005, when I attended Convergence US in San Diego. There, Microsoft finally announced their new strategy on all the Microsoft Dynamics products. This was a huge step forward, because until then, each product had its own – unclear – strategy.

The strategy included the two "waves" that each product would go through. Also, the development strategy was laid out, focusing on User Experience and Integrated Innovation. Since then we've seen many new features and functions in Microsoft Dynamics NAV, including the Navigation Pane, Employee Portal, Export to Office and XML-ports. Although the release of NAV 6.0 has been postponed a few times, it is clear that NAV has a bright future!

One of the elements of the development strategy was the way applications will be build in the "near" future. Instead of writing code, it should be possible to alter business processes by a Visual Modeling Tool. And we're seeing the first steps of this happening now, albeit in the non-Dynamics environment.

It all started with Windows Presentation Foundation, which allowed you to create great-looking applications, with lots of animation. And now there is Silverlight and Popfly. During my time at Microsoft, I had the chance to "experiment" with those two products – and I must admit: this is COOL! J

Popfly is still in Beta-stage, but you can already try it when you register at the website. It's plain easy, drag-and-drop development, using (building) blocks to access different kind of webservices. Simply select a few blocks from the left-hand pane and drag them to your working environment. In my example, I have selected the block from Facebook, where I have selected the procedure "GetFriends". This returns the photo's of the friends I'm connected to in Facebook. To visualize these photo's, I have selected one of the many Display blocks, the Carrousel, which gives me a nice looking view on my pictures. All I have to do now is connect the two blocks and I'm ready!

It looks like this:

And when I preview my "Mashup" I've created, it looks like this:

There are plenty of blocks already available, like News & RSS-feeds, Image and Video, Maps, Fun & Games. Each block can be combined using the standard parameters. And if there is still a connection error between two blocks, you can go to the Advanced View to tweak the JavaScript a little bit.

OK, I must admit this is still lots of fun, but has no real business value. But then again, we're looking here at the future way of developing. Once Microsoft has acquired enough information on how to use this technology, it is a relative small step to integrate this into other applications.

I can already imagine to have different blocks per procedure in NAV. By selecting and combining different blocks, you can create a customized workflow for a specific person. When this is all combined using Silverlight, the era of boring code-writing is finally over!

I'm looking forward to this and am already learning to (Pop)fly! Make sure you don't miss this flight either!

MCT Community Summit Berlin 2008 - Part 2

Mct_summit_3

Today, day 2, I followed a couple of sessions. One of them was "Hosting Custom Web Services in Office Sharepoint Server 2007". We saw a demo on a Job Posting Sharepoint List. During this demo Tiffany Nguyen developped a webservice that returned the necessary information to an infopath form. Kind of intresting, but to be honest the demo that Roel and Steven prepared for integration between Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Sharepoint was much more exciting. Some thing that I learned was that standard out of the box sharepoint has KPI possibilities and that Performance Point can be easily integrated into Sharepoint.

The next session "New features in SQL Server 2008 for Business Intelligence Developers" by Matthew Roche provided much more input. He explained and showed us many SQL 2008 enhancements like:

- Better data compression resulting in performance increase on SQL Server 2008
- Better backup compression
- small demo on how to change data capture (identify what records have changed in the source system)
- Optimized bitmap features
- Partition enhancements
-T-SQL enhancements

He continued with enhancements on the Integration Services like:

- New dataflow theading model
- VSTA for script tasks& component
- enhanced lookup transform
- enhanced ADO.Net support
- ....

A lot of improvements on the Analysis Services as well with focus on the performance enhancement.
He explained also some data mining enhancements like improved time series algorithms, new data mining add-ins for Microsoft Office systems and the integration with reporting services (SSRS on DMX).

The biggest changes and improvements however are located within the Reporting Services. He explained the changed architecture: a native HTTP.SYS/Custom CLR host (which you can run without IIS). Most impressive (so a very good argument in the market) were the rich visualization tools which looked really great.

After that I followed a session about "Silverlight Basics in Sharepoint". It was made clear what you can do with Silverlight and how to integrate this in Sharepoint. It enables you to build a rich, visually stunning and interactive end-user webexperience. In Visual Studio a Silverlight tab is available and you can easily integrate Silverlight into your development (you can even include webservices into your silverlight project).

What does all this do to a Microsoft Dynamics MCT? Well I am quite convinced that we need change. This message is stressed out through the whole convention. We as a Microsoft Dynamics community must embrase and use all the new features of traditional Microsoft technologies into our projects, as far as they can serve the enduser organisation.

From what I have seen there are many many possibilities to make better solutions for the enduser by implementing these new technologies. Sharepoint, SQL Server, Performance Point, Silverlight, ... they can all be deployed when necessary. It's time for the Dynamics world to embrase the future!

What a challenge for all Dynamics MCT's!

MCT Community Summit Berlin 2008 - Part 1

Mct_summit_2

First report from your MCT reporter at the MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) Community Summit 2008 in Berlin. We are here with about 400 MCT’s, 400 people that spend their time in training other people on Microsoft technologies. Everybody in this conference is on daily basis active with getting the most in and out of their students ( or with the words of “top speaker” Richard Klees RIO: Result – Input – Output).

Our MCT efforts seem to have great effect on the efficiency of IT teams. Nearly 70% of all managers acknowledge the productivity increase because of certification and certified IT-teams are nearly 30% more efficient and productive than non-certified IT teams.  Imagine that in a Dynamics implementation…who doesn’t want to have that increase in his project?

Something that I didn’t know is that in Belgium we have 83 MCT’s for all Microsoft technologies. I really thought we were with much more. The Dutch have 311 MCT’s. Knowing that at Plataan we have nearly 4 MCT’s means that we have about 5% of all Belgium MCT’s working with us.

This first day started with a 45 minutes session on the Microsoft Global Product Vision by Frank Fisher.
The session started with a broad overview on the history of IT. Web 1.0 wave was discussed to get us to the point that we saw the difference with the current web 2.0 wave. Things like cheap technology, globalization and the internet were discussed. This leaded the session towards “green-it” (less power consuming IT infrastructure), Google (a corporate company founded on advertisement business model) and user generated content.

On his blog Frank Fisher writes this:

“In my opinion the definition of software platform is changing. While in the past software platform was first a collection of libraries, it evolved and added baseline service providers like databases or communication services. Today a software platform extends itself into the cloud (as Microsoft calls it). To all what we already have new services are added and extend what we have. Services like storage but also services like monetarization or a global identification system. Services that need extreme amounts of regularly updated data like mapping. Services that take the operation of common things like email into a central datacenter.”

Frank then headed towards the "Mashup" trend. He talked about it as a federation of enterprise and cloud services. You can have a server A generating specific services an a server B generating other services, a server C ... etc. A client can now take someting from the service from server A, passing it to server B, transforming it to server C etc.

As example he mentionned Popfly . Popfly is actually a showcase for silverlight but illustrates the mashup really well.

Popfly You can view a small funny video on what a mashup is actually doiing (and so for what you can use popfly).

http://www.popfly.com/Videos/

Once you have discovered this, imagine what you can do with this as a front-end for sharepoint ...

Frank also positionned office as a "door in the cloud".

During this session became clear that Microsoft's vision on software is : S + S: Software + Services.
S+S is the strategy for MS.

More reports about this convention to come.

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