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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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Friday, June 01, 2012

My Big Fat Dynamics Book Review Post

Well here we are, June 1st everybody! Longer days, and more Sun - which is the best thing for me about summer time. All the extra time the Sun is out, gives me a chance that I can actually see it, and enjoy it. That is, when I can break away from focusing on client projects, or coming up with topics to write about for this blog. With that in mind, I wanted to kick off June with My Big Fat Dynamics Book Review Post!

I mean, this time of year - at least for me, increases my study and focus. There is a break in the summer, sure - but before and after it's when I do a lot of reading. So with that, lets get to our first book up for review. The book I'm referring to is: "Food Products Manufacturing Using Microsoft Dynamics AX" - By Dr. Scott Hamilton.

Dr. Hamilton's books have been reviewed, highlighted and posted about in the past on this blog. Further Scott himself has given a few quotes, as well as interviewed for us in the past. See.: Managing Process Manufacturing using Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 by Dr. Scott Hamilton as well as Managing Your Supply Chain Using Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 - Book Review.

Let me start my review of Dr. Hamilton's latest book with a comment on the title. That is, Don't let it limit your expectations of what you can get from this book. Though the case studies used throughout the book are focused around FPM scenario's like Beer Manufacturing, or Orange Juice - the knowledge and content inside for processes, and conceptual thought for design scales beyond such focuses.

Easily throughout the book, topics that are covered for Sales Order Processing, Purchase Order Processing, or even parts if Item Definition, could apply across multiple verticals that an AX customer might exist in. That for me speaks not only to the power and flexibility of the product Microsoft Dynamics AX, but as well as the value of this book.

Dr. Hamilton, has given some insight through a series of articles he has written at MSDynamicsWorld.com, which you can locate here.: MSDW: The AX Solution Architect

Further, it should be mentioned that this book has no screen shots. Dr. Hamilton clearly states what level this book is meant for, as well as on page 6 of his book, where he refers to another book that is focused more on screen shot approach for AX product knowledge.

Finally, Dr. Hamilton clearly states the target reader for this book, and I agree with him. Both Consultant & Customer alike, or prospect to become a customer - all would benefit from the knowledge in this book. Specifically, for those customer's using the Process Industries Functional Model for AX 2012. I recommend this book, and that's why it's apart of today's Big Fat Dynamics Book Review Post!

Moving right along here, our next stop for this post is a walk on the Social Side, with fellow Dynamics Community contributor, Jon Rivers Microsoft Partner Channel Manager for Data Masons. His latest eBook, "Solving the Social Media Puzzle for Microsoft Dynamics End Users" is actually a counter part eBook to an earlier release focus on Social Media for Partners: Social Media for Microsoft Dynamics Partners.

With his latest entry into the social fray, Jon takes the time and talks to the value of social media, how it's being used within the Microsoft Dynamics Community, and helps answering questions like: “How can I leverage LinkedIn to connect to others within my vertical also using Microsoft Dynamics?”

Jon goes through, and creates an as-is chronicle of the current Dynamics Ecosystem landscape, for the majority of high value social tools that exist today. Further, Jon takes the time and touches on other tools on the rise, as well as an important point I try to do, in that "Personally, I like to keep my personal social media activity separate from business" - page 27.

Granted some might argue with the point of Facebook being low on the value metric, as there can be driven community marketing through it's network. Looking however how fast Facebook's stock has been dropping, Jon might be on-to-something. I will also acknowledge Jon including this blog, as well as some of my other social contribution's - and of course thank Jon for doing so - however the bigger point is back to the chronicle nature of the content around blogs. There are so many out there, just within the AX space along now, honestly I did not realize how many people where contributing to the body of knowledge for Microsoft Dynamics.

So, I recommend this book for those end users, new Customers, prospects and the alike who want an understanding of the social landscape that is the Dynamics Community - as well as how you can join in the conversation! Finally, Jon has been gracious enough to give this blog, and it's readers, a special coupon that will give you 100% Discount if used before June 30th. The discount code, for Smashwords is.: HJ87A

Make sure to visit the following link, so you can place your order with the 100% discount code today: Solving the Social Media Puzzle for Microsoft Dynamics End Users

Now we have two book reviews down for My Big Fat Dynamics Book Review Post, and you say could there be more? Yes there is! The body of knowledge that represents Microsoft Dynamics continues to grow, and we are seeing that more and more everyday. Now we have a new type of book even to review. That's right, the first ever iBook for the iPad focus on Microsoft Dynamics AX has been released.

This first milestone for the Dynamics Community, and yes I think it is one, was authored by Joel Leichty. You can find Joel, on the twitter-sphere located: @AXManuals.

Let me say, this book is a great introduction to "Trade" for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. It covers topics like Products, Items, Sales Order as well as Purchase Orders - from an introductory point-of-view. Joel does a great job of using some of the awesome features that makes iBooks on the iPad stand out. In a typical text book style, Joel takes us on a progression that will have any novice, feeling pretty confident when they see and use some of the common forms that make up basic trade & logistics for AX 2012. Further, what makes iBooks awesome, is the ability to have rich media content as part of the iBook itself. In this, Joel takes and walks through clearly voiced how-to's for the topic and area of focus he is covering.

All-in-all, Joel breaking Dynamics into the iBook world, is well worth anyone who has an iPad and is needing introduction level functional use and knowledge for "Trade" with AX 2012. You can purchase Joel's iBook, from iTunes as the following location.: Dynamics AX 2012 Trade

Well, I was not kidding that was one Fat Dynamics Book Review Post. I would like to thank each of the above authors, and everyone else, who continues to help grow the Dynamics Community as a whole. What's also amazing to me, and for sure a sign of the times, is I started this post with a traditional paperback book, and then moved into the generational shifts of sharing knowledge from eBook on to iBook. All three are great ways to share knowledge, and for you to gain it!

Well that's all I have in store for this Big Fat Dynamics Book Review Post. This should help fill up your reading list, and give you or your customers some value-added books, in all three of the current popular flavors! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend - and check back soon as next week we continue to dive into the Dynamics World we all live in. Till Next Time!
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Monday, March 07, 2011

Dilip Delivers his review of the Latest AX 2009 Admin Book

Well I hope everyone is off to a good week! I know it's a Monday, but lets put a good positive thought into being a new day, a gift, a day in which God has given us!

I must say that I am feeling much better myself, I was really down and out last week, but should get a lot more in this week.

To help kick this week off, I wanted to highlight Dilip's recently posted review of a new Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Administration book.: Dilip's review of Dynamics AX 2009 Administration Book

From the review.:
"This book is an excellent resource for Dynamics AX Administrators to install/configure Dynamics AX 2009 components into a company's environment topology.

The best thing I like about this book is it has covered the complex topics of installation and configuration of AX Components in a simple and lucid manner with screenshots wherever applicable so that any layman who follows the steps with screenshots can do the installation/setup without much of a learning curve. Also, the chapters are arranged in a logical manner." - Dilip

I would like to thank Dilip for taking the time to give a good review, 4/5 for this new book. He makes some good points on his wish list for such a book as well, so make sure to check it out.

I was actually contact by the Author as well, and so plan on reading the book and giving my own review. Also, Dilip points out he loves the pic on the cover, and that's of downtown Singapore! Awesome building design that is as much art, as it is function.

Well that's all for now, here's to a good week and a lot more post! Till Next Time!

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Managing Process Manufacturing using Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 by Dr. Scott Hamilton

On Sept. 1st of this year, Dr. Scott Hamilton's new book, Managing Process Manufacturing using Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 came out.

This is the next book, in a line of Dynamics AX focused books that Dr. Hamilton has been writing about for years. The focus for this book is the Process Manufacturing Vertical.

Past books have always gotten high marks, and this one is no exception. Dr. Hamilton once again takes his knowledge of AX, and dives into deep functional dive with Dynamics AX and the Process Vertical.

The Process Vertical is one of the key core verticals that Microsoft now develops for 'out of the box'.

If you are in a process vertical company, using the process vertical solution for Dynamics AX 2009, or thinking about doing so I would recommend this book. It targets the area's specific to process industries like Formula's vs. BOM's, Shelf Life, and many other concepts that such companies need from an ERP package.

I 100% recommend this book for those looking for outside help, and functional knowledge about Dynamics AX 2009 and the Process Vertical Solution it offers. Thanks Dr. Scott for another great title!

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Book Review: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Programming: Getting Started

Recently I was asked by Richard Dias, of PackT Publishing to review their latest book Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Programming: Getting Started.

This book's target's developers that are familiar with the Microsoft platform, and need to dive into Dynamics AX development and customization. This book also targets Dynamics AX functional consultants that would like some technical abilities to get some task completed.

Let me say, after reading this book, going over the details, and what the target for this book is I give it 4.5 stars out of 5. This book really is put together very well. It's has an easy flow, it covers a good bit of technical ground for Dynamics AX, and it's well thought out.

For someone that has worked with Microsoft products like Office, of done any .Net Development with Visual Studio, and needs to start developing Dynamics AX, this book is a great resource.

If you have already been on at least one Dynamics AX project of some size, most likely you have touched everything that is in this book, and you will be best served making use of MSDN resources.

Still this book does cover a wealth of topics, including.:

  • MorphX IDE

  • Version Control

  • Working with Data inside and outside of AX

  • Basics of Reports

  • Integating with Dynamics AX

  • Much more!

A example chapter can be downloaded from the publishers website, located here.: Searching Data Chapter

This book also has two nice sections, that go over integrating with Standard AX. In that chapter, the Inventory, Ledger, AR and AP are covered in very good detail. These are some of the most common functional area's touched. This was a very good chapter for someone new to AX. Because being able to write X++ code, and not knowing the functional area your in, can really mean some bad mojo.

Then, as an example of how the book flows well, this chapter is placed, before the chapter on creating a new module inside Dynamics AX. The creating a new module chapter is also pretty good, covering most things needed for creating a custom module inside Dynamics AX. The example in this book being a car rental module.

I also liked how the book does touch on the latest technologies and how-to for working with .Net, including working with service references, how these work from a basic understanding, and good examples of making use of these. It does lack in the AIF, or Application Integration Framework area of integration. Making use of AIF, however I would consider AIF a more advanced topic, that most likely would not be suited for a getting started book. Still AIF is not even mentioned in this book, and the basics of AIF is at least worth a mention for sure.

Now, why do I not give this a 5 out of 5 stars? Three main reasons. One, I believe the reports section does not go over enough detail, for even a getting started section. Maybe that arguement can be made about other topics as well. But it seems, for example the EP section has more coverage, and with SSRS as an option, including Ad-hoc reports, SSAS, OLAP, etc. not enough is covered. Plus I don't agree that MorphX Reports should be the default used, or they are easier to create, if a report is going out to a customer. There is nothing wrong with these reports being created as SSRS based Dynamics AX - Visual Studio reports.

Also I would say, that the total lack of AIF from the book, is a minus. There should be some basic understanding of AIF, when and where it's typically used, etc. Espically since in the next version of Dynamics AX, AIF will be used even more.

Third, the price is a little higher than I expected. I believe Amazon has this at $44.00 dollars. Though, could be that I always expect a little lower on this. I would expect more of a $35.00 range book. But that's my take on the price.

Those are my three real complaints with the book. Other than that, the code and examples seem correct, the details are for sure enough to give someone and once complete, that person have confidence to move forward with Developing and learning more complex details about Dynamics AX.

The only other thing I will mention, and this is more of a vain thing to say on my part, but I noticed the links section did not have my blog here. :-( Oh well, I guess I can't be inlcuded on every Dynamics AX list.

So, as a re-cap, 4.5 out of 5 stars, really an overall great book and for the target, worth investing even though it's a little higher priced than I expected.

To find out more details about the book, including where to purchase it, visit PackT publishing page for this book here.: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 Programming: Getting Started

Well that's all for now, check back soon as more post are coming!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Managing Your Supply Chain Using Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 - Book Review

Recently I had the pleasure to receive a copy of Dr. Scott Hamilton's book, ' Managing Your Supply Chain Using Microsoft Dynamic AX 2009.'

This book is by far the best attempt, to give what could be considered an MBA level of knowledge for actually managing a company's supply chain with the functionality that lives within Dynamics AX 2009.

Several use cases are the vehicle in delivering proven techniquse and strategies throughout the entire book. There is a great deal of looking into vertical add-on's as well.

What first struck me about the layout of this book was its role centered approach, so people could jump right into the roles that they best fit into. This was a great move in how this book was structured, as this is exactly how the user experience is meant to be in Dynamics AX 2009, with the Role Center.

As part of my book review, I emailed Dr. Hamilton some interview questions, about this book, and his experience in creating it. Below is the questions and answers from that interview:

i - Scott, this latest edition of your book of “Managing Your Supply Chain with Dynamics AX 2009” has a wealth of knowledge, focusing on several different roles. Did you find it easier to develop this role focused approach to your book, with Dynamics AX 2009 itself introducing Role Center, and Role Focused Experiences for information workers?

A: A role-centered viewpoint builds on the foundation of well-designed business processes that reflect the conceptual models embedded in the AX software functionality. The book directly addresses these conceptual models for handling common and unique varia tions in business processes, which helps define the tasks for role assignment. Each participant in a business process should have a mental model of “how it all fits together in AX”, as well as in-depth knowledge for using AX to perform tasks for their particular role(s). The book supports a role-centered viewpoint by helping to structure these tasks and highlight relevant information for each role.

ii - Did you find yourself wanting a lot of screen shots and how-to steps for actually setting up Dynamics AX based on the theories and knowledge you are sharing in your book? What kept you from doing that in this book, or even creating a companion document / booklet, etc. that did such things?

A: The book’s objectives and desired book length precluded the use of screen shots and step-by-step instructions. These are best covered in one or more separate training guides. Too much detail can obscure an understanding of “how it all fits together in AX”, especially if you attempt to cover every field/parameter or every step.

The book’s content represents the information covered in my training classes. It also represents many conceptual topics that should be part of the AX user documentation for “application and business processes”. These conceptual topics could then provide the foundation for improvements in field/form help and in training materials.

iii - What big ticket items in this book would you have liked to have spent more time on, or felt driven to spend more time on? Did you find it hard to balance the topics out, spread across so much knowledge?

A: A critical issue in writing this book involved the choice of topics, and the sequence and level of detail for explaining these topics. The topics focus on key software functionality that supports the dominant business practices in manufacturing and distribution environments, based on my observations of use cases across more than a thousand firms. The topics reflect those use cases actually tested and proven to work within AX; not all use cases could be tested or proven. The linear presentation sequence was shaped by what worked most effectively in previous writing, teaching, and consulting efforts for the target audience.

You asked about big ticket items not covered in the book. Lean manufacturing using Dynamics AX will be covered in my forthcoming book. Additional topics about Professional Services using AX, or about Accounting/HR/CRM using AX, would best be served by a separate book, written by a relevant expert.

iv - What your take on the current release of Dynamics AX? Going back over the past several years and versions from AX 2.5 to today, what are some of the greatest improvements that have taken place, that you believe have had the most impact on Dynamics AX as an ERP platform?

A: The biggest changes have been the improved quality of training materials and user documentation, especially in comparing AX 2.5 versus today. We still have a ways to go, but the olden days were a nightmare and prompted me to write the first AX book.
It is difficult to cite a laundry list of the improvements in software functionality. The improved functionality has provided more out-of-the-box solution approaches while minimizing increases in system complexity.

v - What future road map item are you most excited about for the next release of Dynamics AX?

A: Lean manufacturing.

vi - Do you plan on continuing to create / develop the next editions of your book with each release of Dynamics AX, and are you already working on that next version?

A: Yes. I plan to write additional editions for each major AX release with significant functionality enhancements. My forthcoming book covers lean manufacturing using AX.

vii - To give the readers of this post a little bit of personal side to you, what your favorite sports or outdoor activity?

A: Most of my favorite activities involve spending time in wilderness areas, whether it is hiking in the Rockies, kayaking in Alaska, or canoeing through the BWCA.

Also, here is Dr. Hamliton's closing statement:

When reviewing or learning any ERP software package, it is important to understand its underlying conceptual models and how it supports variations in business processes. It is easy to get bogged down in the details. Many of the key design factors that differentiate Microsoft Dynamics AX have been covered in the book. These design factors influence how the system fits together to run a business, especially for managing supply chain activities in manufacturing and distribution.

Given Dr. Hamilton's admitted love for the outdoors, it's not suprising that his books are similar to path finding guides for exploring Dynamics AX.

Just look at some of the objectives that this book covers, listed in the below table:

This was truly a pleasure for me to review, and I recommend anyone looking for some proven, deep functional knowledge of Supply Chain management with Dynamics AX 2009, to consider getting this book.

The price of: $29.95 over at Amazon (Click for direct link) is well worth the knolwedge that you can gain from this book.

I would like to thank Dr. Scott Hamilton for contacting me, and for all the hard work he has poored into sharing this knowledge with the Dynamics Community.

Make sure to check back soon, as I have more great post coming out. See you then!

Dr. Scott Hamilton’s Bio:
Scott Hamilton consults and teaches globally on SCM and ERP issues. He has consulted with more than a thousand companies and conducted several hundred seminars, and also taught SCM/ERP as an MBA professor at several leading universities. He authored Maximizing Your ERP System and several books on Microsoft Dynamics AX and NAV. Scott has won the rarely-given Microsoft MVP Award for Dynamics AX, and Microsoft’s Excellence in Innovation Award. He can be reached at ScottHamiltonPhD@aol.com.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Book: SQL Server 2008 - Administrator's Pocket Consultant

Recently I got the SQL Server 2008 - Administrator's Pocket Consultant book from Amazon.com.

I have reviewed it, and it's just a great handy book to have for anyone that does work with SQL Server 2008. It covers a great amount of topics, including the new Policy Based Management that was introduced with SQL Server 2008.

I recommend having the around, for quick, easy access of exact how to's on SQL Server 2008 DBA related tasks. I mean, know one can recall every little thing about SQL Server, and this helps you get the task done fast.

Check it out, and check back soon. A lot of great post coming up...

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Book Review: Quality Assurance for Dynamics AX-Based ERP Solutions

Well Recently I was sent a copy of a new book geared for Quality Assurance in the development and customization of Dynamics AX. This book was sent to me, to review by the books publisher, PACKT Publishing.

The books title is: "Quality Assurance for Dynamics AX-Based ERP Solutions" and the targeted audieance is entry level to mid level professionals.

So to kick this review off, let me start with saying it gets: 3 out of 5 stars. I have to be honest I wanted to give it 2 stars, but because of it's target level, I will get it a 3.

There is some good content in this book. Great structures, and wonderful information around what one could call the Quality Assurance space. Still the content, you can tell was rushed to publishing. There is much lack of supporting content, walk throughs, examples, images / screen shots, etc. etc. Also the cost is way to high, for the content that you get from this book.

All in all, if your a newbie to Dynamics AX stretching to get your hands on material that you can carry around with, then you might want to look at this. But beyond that, I would not recommend this book. Maybe if it had more supporting content, and the price was about $10-12 bucks cheaper than it's current price of $39.00, then it would be a nice buy.

A direct link to this book can be found here, with a 10% discount: Link to book

Check back soon as I plan to pick back up on posting!

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