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Friday, January 18, 2013

My Review of "Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Services"

I hope everyone has had a great and productive Dynamics week thus far! I know it's a busy time of year for projects, and changes that a new year brings with it. I wanted to take the time and focus this week on a book I was asked to review. What I'm talking about, is the "Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Services" book that was recently released.

This was a book I was ready to see released, and one that I wanted to put to the test. It's a topic that needs understanding by anyone implementing Dynamics AX 2012. What is learned when truly diving into services with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 is a foundation for the future.

To help frame the importance of this topic, lets look at an Interview from the past. Doing so will help give meaning to the mention of how services are the foundation for the future of Microsoft Dynamics. Here, you will find my interview with Lachlan Cash from Microsoft.: Microsoft's strategy and vision for Dynamics AX and SOA.

This interview took place in March of 2009, nearly four years ago. However what is laid out in this vision interview is what we see today with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 & R2. The vision has become reality, and now it's time to embrace the changes that this foundation of services represents.

From the interview.:
"SOA has been about connecting systems together, we think that it has more a place with-in the application as a fundamental shift in the way business logic is written and designed. This is a long term strategy to make it easier for our customers and partners to adapt the business application to their needs and integrate with other line of business applications." - Lachlan Cash, Microsoft

With this understanding, and a blast from the past, lets look at the amazing job authors Klaas Deforche & Kenny Saelen did with this book. From start to finish it is well thought out, easy to find specific information about topics, and can take a newbie on a journey of services enlightenment.

Starting off, the concepts are covered very well, including basic concepts like "What are services and SOA?". Klass & Kenny advance the reader through a what's new section, and how this section is so important to grasp for those that have been working with Dynamics AX for many years.

All possible service types are covered very well, including the needed understanding for working with Collections, via the infamous AifCollectionTypeAttribute. The reader is throw into great examples that enforce basic concepts, while introducing the 'to-become' services jedi master!

As further proof of Klass & Kenny's understanding what services are in AX 2012, they devoted the entire Chapter 5 to the explain & explore the SysOperation Framework. The following is an excerpt from the that chapter.:
"The SysOperation framework is new in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, and is the preferred way of creating batch jobs. It replaces the RunBaseBatch framework, which remains available for backwards compatibility. When Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 was released, the SysOperation framework was known as the Business Operation Framework or BOF."

Image from book comparing RunBase vs. SysOperation.

The authors also cover well the system services, uses of the system services, and giving full, tested examples throughout the book.

Like any book review, there is always something that can be added. A book, like a house, as any author or architect well knows, is never really finished. It's just a static version, or a version release for consumption and use. With that, there are a few area's that I would like to have seen including in this.

First one, which is near and dear to my heart, is the ODataQueryService. You can find out more about OData and Dynamics AX at the following.: AX-OData Queries.

This, is a very useful system service, that saw much improvements with the release of Dynamics AX 2012 R2. Further this service will continue to become more and more important to fully help complete the vision that was laid out by Lachlan Cash, in the above referenced interview.

Finally, the other area that is the biggest hole in this book is Debugging Services in AX 2012. The referenced link there, covers just the steps needed for getting started, but honestly this is a topic that needs some deep dives, to cover it well and understand the nuances of debugging services for AX 2012.

With this, I give the book a 4.25/5 possible score. Overall this is a really great book, and I would recommend anyone implementing Dynamics AX 2012 to have this as their go to services book.

Well that's it for this week. I plan to get back into the serious side of business insights next week! Check back soon, as more to come. Till Next Time!

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