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17

Dec

Navigating Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 R2

It's been well over a year since the previous release from the Microsoft NAV team but yesterday Santa came early and delivered NAV 2009 R2 to 43 countries in one night.

That’s a big deal. To put this in perspective, previous releases have gone to Group 1 countries first (which includes New Zealand and Australia) and have then been gradually rolled out to other countries in the following months. The previous release (NAV 2009 SP1) came to New Zealand in September 2009, but it was only due to hit some Central and Eastern European countries by the end of this year. Releasing to all countries simultaneously is a remarkable achievement and one which I hope will set a precedent for future releases.

This release contains four new application features, some little features, a bevy of programming tool enhancements for developers, and the ability to run the RoleTailored client securely over the Internet without the need for a VPN. It doesn't sound like much, but one of those four application features means out of the box integration to Dynamics CRM! In his blog post Dan Brown (General  Manager of NAV R&D) calls this a “release of agility” showing how the investments made in the architecture of NAV 2009 and NAV 2009 SP1 are really starting to pay off. There have been plenty of blog posts on the features in NAV 2009 R2 and we even covered them here in SMARTS 24. For those who don’t know, I'll give a quick rundown of what Santa Microsoft left in my sack.

 

Connector for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

It does what it says on the tin: out of the box synchronisation of customers, contacts, sales orders, and more, with the ability to generate new extension points. It supports Dynamics CRM versions 4.0, 2011, and CRM Online. We'll be setting this up and showing it off at a series of twilights, so keep an eye out for those in the New Year. From what I've seen so far, this looks like a quality addition to the Dynamics product set. It was built by the team in Fargo that brought us the Great Plains CRM connector. On the NAV side in R2 we have new fields on the synchronised entities, some new global database triggers, and some new Web service methods to make the synchronisation magic happen. The integration is done through Web services, so you must be using the NAV Server and three-tiered architecture to take advantage of this.

 

Running the RTC over the Wan

The RoleTailored client is not a thin client. It's in better shape than the fat old classic client but it still requires a decent network connection in order to perform well. A lot of the work done by NAV now happens on a NAV server that sits close to your database server which means network requirements are reduced and performance and scalability increases. A lot of people thought that this “RTC over the Internet” feature would be a web-based client similar to the one used for Dynamics CRM, but instead it's a way of connecting to the NAV server from the RoleTailored client securely over a Wide Area Network or the Internet. For one thing this will enable roaming users (such as sales people) to run the RoleTailored client without needing to use a VPN. In other scenarios, this means that hosting providers (such as Intergen) can offer a hosted NAV server that users connect to from their regular desktop. This will mean they get all of the rich interaction with their own printers and office applications without needing the staff to maintain the NAV Server and SQL Server back-end.

 

Payment Services for Microsoft Dynamics ERP

One of the technical enhancements in R2 is the ability to call .NET code directly from within NAV's programming language.  Apart from making geeks happy, this brings the potential for NAV to easily interact with online services. Using this feature, the team has provided the ability to validate and take payments from credit cards directly from within the sales module. Sadly we don't get this in Australasia yet, as the services being called only support North America. We are investigating how we can provide this feature for our customers in Australasia.

 

Configuring Printer Selections for three-tier reports

As Christmas presents go, the payment services feature is like getting an Xbox 360 Kinect, and CRM connector is like getting and an iPad. This “Configuring Printer Selection” feature is more like getting a pair of socks. It's useful, but nothing to get excited about. It's one of those features that was ‘missing' from the previous RoleTailored client versions but was available in the Classic client. Still, you can never have too many pairs of socks.

 

System Indicator

They say that good things come in small packages, and this feature appears tiny, but I think Microsoft underestimates just how good this feature is. I would upgrade for this feature alone. We now have the ability to display the Database, Company, Company Name, Company + Database, or any other Custom Message in the command bar of every window in the RoleTailored client in a variety of colours through configuration of fields on the Company Information screen.

 

Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 R2

 

When you have a live system and a test system (which everyone does) you don't want to get them mixed up. This is an elegant solution to a feature that I have personally been requesting for over eight years!

 

Filtering on subforms

Another pair of socks. If you have a document type page in the RoleTailored client (such as a sales invoice or purchase order) you can now apply filtering to the lines using the new Shift+F3 key combination. It’s a great feature but you have to wonder why it wasn’t there before.

 

Windows 7 feature Jump List and other bits

As stocking fillers, we get a new Jump List for RTC client users that are running Windows 7 or 2008 R2. This means you can right-click the icon in the task bar and go straight to common tasks such as creating a Sales Order, or Editing Sales Prices. It’s configurable of course.

We also get some new visualisation controls, such as an improved way of interacting with projected inventory via an Interactive Timeline Business Data Visualisation.

 

Where can you get your hands on this?

The good news is if you are on NAV 2009 SP1 and are using the RoleTailored client, you can take advantage of these features by doing an uninstall and re-install of your client and NAV Server software (but please talk to us first). To take full advantage of other features such as CRM integration and the System Indicator we’ll need to merge in some changes, but this shouldn’t take too long. If you’re running on an older version, you’ll need to go through an upgrade.

Please contact me if you'd like to arrange a demo or get an estimate for an upgrade.

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Posted by: David Roys, Technical Lead | 17 December 2010

Tags: Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 R2


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