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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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