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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

X++ Team Blog Entry - SQL Imporvements in next version

In review of some other Dynamics AX and X++ blogs I came back across the X++ development team blog. When I did, I came across a very interesting article on improvements for X++ SQL in the next major release of Dynamics AX 5.0. Check out the link below:

X++ Team, SQL Improvements write up

With this, we can see some good moves, that will really help X++ developers work with more T-SQL like statements from within X++. The thing that is always a little scary about these types of changes is backwards compatability. So hopefully they are taking the time with these improvements to make sure that the upgrade takes care of this, or that it will still work in the old fashion. Either way though, I believe this is a good move, and a great resource of a blog!

check back soon!

Find a job at: www.DynamicsAXJobs.com

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 released to manufacturing this week

Microsoft said in a press release that Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 is being release to manufacturing this week. Here is the link to the post: MSFT Press Release

And from the post:
Strong Customer and Market Momentum

“Microsoft has developed and assembled and is launching a formidable business intelligence and performance management (BI/PM) strategy that will change market dynamics…,” said John Hagerty, vice president of AMR Research Inc. “Because of Microsoft’s ubiquitous presence within enterprises of all sizes, its BI/PM products will certainly have long-term impact on how buyers perceive and purchase information-based products across all areas of their companies.”

Greater Business Opportunities for Partners

“Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 has expanded our portfolio of custom solutions and now enables us to more easily meet the needs of our existing customers,” said Eddie Short, vice president and global lead of business information management at Capgemini. “There’s been such a growth in customers wanting solutions to truly help improve business performance, and with Office PerformancePoint Server 2007, the open platform allows us to create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and dashboards that are tailored to our customers’ needs, and helps us build a revenue stream around BI.”

For sure this is something that myself and more important Sunrise Technologies, Inc. [Sunrise Website] will be focusing on as an offering to our current and future clients. I am really excited to hear this news, and I am looking forward to implementing this.

Check back soon!

Find a job at: www.DynamicsAXJobs.com

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Need CAD with your ERP?

One of the topics of interest for a lot of companies is Product Lifecycle Management or PLM. In this topic of interest exist a hard topic, of what use to be a hard topic. That topic is CAD, and specifically CAD integration into ERP. Well the ERP platform of focus, and number one in my eyes, is Dynamics AX.

So when talking about CAD integration, and Dynamics AX, one needs to ask where best this would go? Well you would need a connection to Dynamics AX for BOM and BOM version management. Also a module for tracking changes to your products. For that matter a version system for products that bridges the gap between product and item basis. So where would you look for this? Sunrise Technologies, Inc. [Sunrise Website] implementing Dynamics AX and To-Increase's IEM vertical add on solution! Go to Sunrise and lookup the information for the IEM vertical offerings. [IEM offerings link from Sunrise website]

With this Sunrise can make CAD integration a part of your business workflows, along with having the needed modules for Engineering Change Management, Product Catalogs, and Product Verstions. Sub-products and variants that span multiple possible Item Master Items and BOMs. BOM configurations based on CAD drawings, and designed from within the CAD application itself. Integration with top CAD software packages, including AutoCAD.

This is one of the things that a lot of Project Based Manufacturing clients need. It's something that Sunrise Technoliges, can offer to you through Dynamics AX, IEM and SOA designed web services. Take a look, and make sure to fill out the contact us forms for more information!

Check back soon!

Find a job at: www.DynamicsAXJobs.com

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Interview with Steen Andreasen 2007

Well I took some time and sent Steen Andreasen, author of the Dynamics AX 3.0 Technical book MORPHXIT, some questions for an interview. Below are the questions and responses from Steen, which I hope everyone will enjoy:

1. Steen, what have you been up too since your book MORPHX IT has been released?
After MORPHX IT was released as both e-book and in print, I continued working on the translations. The Russian edition came out for a few months ago. The Dutch and the Spanish editions will follow soon.

In May 2007 I started out working as a Dynamics AX freelance developer where I primarily work on customer projects. Besides programming i am doing knowledge transfer to VAR’s and customers on AX programming, how to manage and getting started with AX development projects.

2. Since your release of MORPHXIT, Dynamics AX 4.0 has been in full swing. How have you measured the success of your book? How successful has it been by your measurement?
Writing and publishing MORPHX IT has been an amazing and a major challenge for me. I have never expected that my book would get that much attention and I am very pleased with the feedback I get – Thank you very much!

I had been programming in AX for about 8 years when I wrote MORPHX IT. I thought I had done it all, and that I just had to do a brain dump – that was so wrong. When putting you knowledge in to words I realized that I had to learn how to communicate using a media as a book. When I read a book I will like know more than how a feature is used, I want to know why I should use this feature and what the pros and cons are using that feature. I might have been using a feature for years but I couldn’t explain why I did as I did. To do so I had to dig in to the corners of AX, and that allow me to learn a lot about AX which I did not know before.

From AX 3.0 to AX 4.0 not much have changed from a developer point of view, so for a starter getting to know the development environment MORPHX IT is still very useful, and I guess this is why MORPHX IT is still popular.

I would say then, your book has been a great success for your measurement. Thank you so much for the insight on what took place in the course of writing this great Dynamics AX book.

3. In writing your book, the first time around, did you have times to actually work on other projects or were you totally focused on the creation of MORPHXIT?
No, not at all.

Writing a book is very time consuming, especially if you want to get hold of all the details. Before starting out writing I read a guide from another technical author writing for a publisher. I remember he wrote that before starting out you should spend time with family and friends as for the next very long time you will have to give up your social life and sleeping will be something you do during the meetings at work ?

This was why I took an 8 month leave to write and decided to publish MORPHX IT myself.

4. Do you plan on writing a follow up book for DAX 4.0 or 5.0, and will you still have the same focused level to dedicate to it?
I would love to write a new edition of MORPHX IT. In fact I have done research on an update of MORPHX IT. However the time does not allow me to sit down writing right now as even updating MORPHX IT to 4.0 is a matter of 4 months of work. It is a bit like programming. When completed programming you only part of the way as you still need to do testing and fault correction.

I will be writing in the future. At present time I am not sure whether it will be a 5.0 edition, or whether it will be in another form.

Soon I will start writing Dynamics AX articles on AX programming on my new blog www.steenandreasen.wordpress.com . My blog will focus on where MORPHX IT stopped: Knowledge transfer on how to get started with AX development, how to manage AX development projects. I will introduce some of the tools I use when programming in AX and when managing AX development projects.

I think there is a lack of information on how to get properly started with AX development projects, how to make the first projects a success and I would like to give my contribution to this.

5. What do you think of the current state of Dynamics AX 4.0 versus 3.0 in the market place?
I am not familiar with all the changes in the application so I can only speak about what I know.

A lot of interesting features has been introduced by 4.0. I think the transition of the Enterprise Portal to SharePoint has been a good for the customers. I don’t expect such a major change of the Enterprise Portal to go smoothly and in my opinion there is still room for a lot of improvements. I find it more time consuming customizing the EP 4.0 than in the previous version. I guess it takes more that one version to do a proper transition.

In 4.0 some of the features from 3.0 have been removed due to Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing. The HRM modules had some issues because of this:

- An ActiveX showing absence per calendar year has been removed. This calendar was in fact one of the reasons why the customers were using absence.
- When applying for a job on the Enterprise Portal it is not possible to attach a CV due to security reasons. Why then have the feature to apply for a job on the web?

4.0 is the first real release of AX since Microsoft took over. With that said, I wish that the people developing the standard modules once in a while attended a customer project at a VAR. This would in my opinion be a way of collecting valuable information for the upcoming releases, as you don’t actually knows how the product is used if you never get dirt on your hands.

6. What is your outlook on future releases of Dynamics AX and what do you think will be impact technologies / changes that we should all look for?

Sooner or later the development platform will move to the .net framework. I am not sure whether this will be in 5.0 or 6.0. Even though you are supposed to still be able to use X++ I think this will be the next major challenge for AX developers, as sooner or later you will have to learn to program in C#. For what if you are working on a project where some modules are written in AX and some in C#?

I find this transition exciting and I am looking forward to hear more about when and what is going to happen.

7. Any extra things you would like to comment on and leave us with?
I would like to thank you Brandon for this opportunity to get my voice heard.

Please subscribe at www.steenandreasen.com/axaptabook.asp to be updated on when the Dutch and Spanish editions of MORPHX IT will be available.

You can subscribe to my news feed at www.steenandreasen.wordpress.com to be updated on when new articles are available on how to get started with AX programming, reviews on some of the tools I use when programming or manage AX development projects. The articles will be based on input I get during workshops I held for VAR’s on how to get started, or how to improve the quality and speed of AX development projects.

Well Steen thanks for giving us all those details and your point of view in our Dynamics AX world. To touch on a few things myself. The trustworthy computing, implemented by Microsoft in Dynamics AX 4.0 was a big change. This in my thoughts was a very positive change, even though Steen did point out in the HR Module that it had some different, and even small negative effects. Still the gained benefit of a more secure business application platform, that Dynamics AX is, was worth the trade off.

Alright thanks again Steen, keep us updated and check back soon everyone!

Find a job at: www.DynamicsAXJobs.com

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Office Live Store Manager

Now here comes the curious cat, and in looking I came across something very cool. Check out this ZDnet Post: Office Live Store Manager link

From the post:
"“The store manager portion of Office Live enables this small business to have an online store tightly incorporated within their website with the minimum of fuss. Prior to this they had integration with Paypal and had some complicated ASP pages to get around the problem of selling online - hardly something a small business wants to be doing! This encapsulates what Microsoft is trying to achieve with Office Live: a one-stop-shop for all online activities for small business following the mantra of easy to use,” Senior explained."

So this is targeting small businesses who sale online possibly with paypal, and need a more tighly integrated way of doing commerce online. This is an amazing step forward, and a move that is placing more and more emphasis on Office as the "Front End" for the information worker. Now granted this is targeted at small business. The side affect though, is one can't help but think about this usage and how Office will further be integrated as the front end for many information worker processes / experinces in the not to distant future with Dynamics AX.

Check back soon!

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Friday, September 14, 2007

The Dynamics AX Ecosystem

In retrospect of running into people and clients that do not fully understand the model of Dynamics AX, I thought it would be worth while to write, and give a brief understanding of the Ecosystem that is Dynamics AX. So with that said take a look at the following:

Microsoft - Is the owner of the base software package / platform. The base package of Dynamics AX comes with given functionality. They also own and provide the use of the platform peices that help make up a given Dynamics AX deployment. In short they are the platform provider.

Dynamics AX VAR - Value Added Reseller - Sunrise Technologies, Inc. [Sunrise Website] Sunrise, like other VAR's, take and implements the Microsoft solution, platform for a given customer. A VAR will also talior the instance to a given customers needs. In short we are the implementer of the solution.

Dynamics AX ISV - Independant Software Vendor - Sunrise, To-Increase, and more all called ISV's as well. Like Sunrise, To-Increase develops functional add-on's that target given business verticals or micro-verticals. This is built using the Microsoft platform, and is meant to be deployed to offer more 'out-of-box' solution that is targeted to a given type of business. In short a software developer.

So for the customer, they would be contacted, and have contact with a Sunrise / VAR. Sunrise / VAR would then take and run a Dynamics AX implementation project on behalf of the customer. The customer in doing this would purchase software from Microsoft, and possibly an ISV like To-Increase. As part of the implementation Sunrise would ensure that the customers business needs where matched with what is offered out of the box, and develop the futher need specific to the customer.

From there Sunrise would drive the customer to a go live, and Sunrise would support the customer on going. Well I hope this helps, in brief, give some clarity to a world that we consultants assume everyone understands. This is the world we consultants live in, and sometimes we forget that our customers, or possible customers don't fully understand that. In understanding this, a better overall idea of the support, and breadth of knowledge and help that exists for a customer can be better understood and valued.

Check back soon!

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Role based experinces in Dynamics AX

For a little while now talk as been around creating and using roles inside Dynamics AX to define an information workers experince while using the solution. With this thought I wanted to spend a little time speaking about this with old, current, and future releases and the benefit.

Role based tasking, or UI grouping is not new by any means. With the furthering of UI controls, and ever connected states, the role based information worker concept will really start to come into play as being really a huge benefit. In AX 3.0 days, everyone saw everything in the main menu, out of the box, unless you limited by security. With To-Increase, the ability has been given for AX 3.0 to take and create custom menu's for roles information workers. This was all setup and configuration though, and could be by passed. With DAX 4.0, the same type of ability exist, but still it's more up to the user, and the user's configuration in this matter. With 5.0 security and role based workflows, and UI experinces will come to a could interestion, really for the first time. With Dynamics AX 5.0, role based information worker experinces will exist with designed flows, aligned security, and flowing UI that all focus towards an information workers tasks and goals. With the intro of Microsoft Dynamics Client for Office starting to be pushed more and more, the DAX 5.0 role based information worker experinces will truly take shape to something that flows well for a end user, and that will truly streamline down to the information worker task, vs. just business processes.

So to wrap up, looking ahead roles, and role based information worker experinces will really come about to mean something much, much more in Dynamics AX 5.0!

Check back soon!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mass Deployment of the Microsoft Dynamics AX Client

"This paper describes how to mass deploy the Microsoft Dynamics AX Client using Microsoft Dynamics AX Setup, a configuration file, and a mass deployment tool such as Group Policy or Microsoft Systems Management Server."

Mass Deploy for Dynamics AX Client White Paper link [requires PartnerSource Access]

The above white paper talks about deploying the Microsoft Dynamics AX Client via Group Policy and Systems Management Server for enterprises that would have a need to deploy and update the client from a central location. This comes in handy for small IT shops, or larger than 100 client machine networks that will use the client. I wrote about this some time back, and some comments where left about the details of doing this. Well here is the exact white paper that will walk someone in an enterprise that needs the ability to do this with! Hope it helps!

Check back soon!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Time to upgrade?

Right now one of the thing that AX 3.0 customers are asking themselves is upgrading, and when should it be done? Well what you have to look at is the gain from doing an upgrade, and then the cost associated with an upgrade. If your up to date on your service fee's, then you get the latest software. That's is part of the need though, next you need a good partner [like Sunrise Technologies, Inc.] to help you plan your upgrade path. The means taking a look at your custom code and modules. Seeing what upgrade paths will need to happen for it. Also taking a look at new out of the box features, and taking the time to further streamline your business processes to make use of more out of the box. Next is committing. This is a Big part to upgrading. An upgrade project should not be taking lightly, and should be planned throughly. If done right, it can go off without a hitch, and you are in the better with the latest software.

So the right time to upgrade is Always up to the business need, and the given current situation you have. What you don't want to get into is Not properly planning for upgrades, and fall to far behind on the latest software. You will find yourself in a much larger upgrade project, that cost much more if than doing it as the software comes out. This is the issue that clients must realize. Sometimes it makes sense not to upgrade right away as the latest comes out, but you should plan to upgrade for every major version release of Dynamics AX. The reason why this is, is because it is actually cheaper to perform such upgrades. It ends up being a much smaller project, than jumping major versions. So you spread the cost of upgrading out over smaller chunk projects, than upgrading and catching up for 2-3 major releases.

So the right time to upgrade is different for each company, but each company should have in it's plan as continued improvement of it's solution a planned upgrade project for every major release of Dynamics AX. In between all the majors would be the service packs. You need to also make sure your keeping up with them as well. This will feed into a smoother upgrade process as well. :-)

Alright check back soon and often!

Find a job at: www.DynamicsAXJobs.com

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hello 'tafiti'

Alright, not exactly Dynamics AX related, and I am not the first to post about it. But here is www.tafiti.com. It is a search portal that uses Microsoft SilverLight and Live search. And man, what a UI. It's fast, friendly, well thought out, and really gives you a great look into searching.

Truly something I will start using more and more. With that said, what I would like to point out is you can see how a SilverLight UI can be used... now picture this with Dynamics AX data and business logic running on EP?! :-) Part of the future possibilites!

Check back soon!

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