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Thursday, August 16, 2012

AX 2012 - Understanding & Extending the Organization Model

I wanted to take the time today, and point out some great resources around the concept of extending the Organization Model in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.

Before we dive right into the mix of common task that are typically associated with customer implementations of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, I would first like to point out a great learning webinar around the topic of Modeling Your Organization with AX 2012. What I'm speaking about can be found here.: Modeling your Organization: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

The above link will take you through a nice webinar that really gives you a feel for the thought process of modeling an organization with AX 2012. This is the 'unified natural models' that Microsoft speaks about a lot. I should correct that really and say one of the unified natural models. See.: Enabling Agility through Unified Natural Models

When we start to think about extending the organizational model that comes out-of-the-box in AX 2012, there are two common task that are typically done for customers. The first task is around adding custom Operating Units. Microsoft has a done a good job at creating the following walk through.: Walkthrough: Create and Use a Custom Operating Unit Type [AX 2012] I will add that this walk through does leave out specifics, for example if you want the new Operating Unit to appear under the GL > Setup > Organization for management of said new custom operating unit.

The second most common extension that takes place for customers is around the creation of custom purposes. The following resource from Microsoft is a nice walk through as well, for this topic.: How to: Create a New Purpose [AX 2012]

Adding a new custom purpose for organization hierarchies helps further shape and allow customers to truly model AX as they run their business. Purposes for hierarchies can help relate policy and reporting needs.

With all of this one of the best resources for understanding how to implement and extend the organization model for AX 2012 can be found here.: Implementing and Extending the Organization Model in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

Update: I wanted to take the time and update this post, to include the fact that InformationSource located at InformationSource.Dynamics.com has some good resources on this topic as well. This includes some video's, which the webinar is based on. Further a specific PowerPoint artifact that I would like to point out.:

The above PowerPoint has some good information around understanding the concepts of organization modeling, as well as common task involved with the process. Further it has common task typically associated with extending the organization model offering for AX 2012. It mentions further task around Security with XDS, and relating Master as well as transaction data.

Now With the above information and resources, someone familiar with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 can extend the organization model(s) for a customer. Further, if your an ISV there could be good reason to include in your IP offering extensions to the organization model offerings. Keeping in mind that a customer could have a need for several organization hierarchies in their instance. Powering everything from Operations, reporting, relating to security, workflow approvals and more.

That's all for this post, but check back soon as I will continue with my focus around BI for AX, extending the reach of AX with Office 2013 and more! Till Next Time!
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Microsoft Dynamics AX -Technical Conference 2012

I hope everyone is having a productive Dynamics AX filled week so far. We have so many great things to be excited about in the Microsoft Dynamics Ecosystem. One specific event that I wanted to bring to your attention is the upcoming Microsoft Dynamics AX Technical Conference 2012.

Want to know more? Then check out the following resource page.: Microsoft Dynamics AX Technical Conference 2012 - Home Page

From the page.:
"Take advantage of this unique chance to see how Microsoft Dynamics AX can help provide you with innovative solutions for your business at the Microsoft Dynamics AX Technical Conference 2012. Whether you are new to Microsoft Dynamics AX, or are looking to keep your edge by going deeper and staying up-to-date on the new capabilities in the upcoming release of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2, there will be content that fits you!

Not only will this be a release with significant extensions and new capabilities, it also introduces several new and optimized scenarios. Additionally, this will be the introduction of the groundbreaking Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 into 11 new countries: Brazil, Czech Republic, China, Estonia, Hungary, India, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Russia."

The focus of this technical conference with be around all the great things coming for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 release that is set to RTM between Dec 2012-Feb 2013. This release will add a lot of focus, specifically around storefront & catalog management within Retail. As well as "significant advances" in Manufacturing, Public Sector as well as Project Management for Professional Services based companies.

The registration for this event is set to open this Thurs. 8/16/2012. I can say, that in my attendance of the Technical Conference for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 in January of 2011 was a critical path for understanding everything that is new and improved for AX. This includes, but is not limited to architecture, design patterns, approach, workflow, BI, etc. This is an amazing event and if your working with AX either as a customer or partner, both types of organizations and all the variations that exist within each can benefit from attending.

For those of you who are looking to get a great understanding around the technical aspects of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 then this is the conference to attend. I myself will not be able to attend, but would highly recommend this event from my past experience attending it in the past.

That's all for this update, but check back soon as a lot more to come, including a focus on retail, continued focus on creating a system of engagement with AX 2012, and a lot more! Till Next Time!
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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Developing Content Apps for Excel 2013 & AX 2012 (Part I.5)

Well I hope everyone is having a great week thus far! There is a lot to be excited about in the Microsoft Dynamics Ecosystem. I recently started a series, that plans to show off the value, by example, of creating content apps for Office 2013. SpotLight: Developing Content Apps for Excel 2013 & AX 2012 (Part I)

I left off that post, stating that the next focus would be around the consumption of AX 2012 services via REST. I honestly feel like however we need to save that for part II, and why this is titled Part I.5. We first need to get a better understanding of the Anatomy of apps for Office. With that, there is an amazing post that was recently released that covers this very well.: Anatomy of apps for Office

The above image is from the reference blog post, that is listed as the "[T]he canonical architecture of a "real-world" app for Office."

It's important to understand a few key architecture parts around Apps for Office. Specifically as I highlighted before, the technologies being used are items like: OAuth, REST, HTML5/CSS, JavsScript. These enable the development of the app for office.

Further, the above image also comes from the reference blog post, and shows off the diagram if the flow from developer, to private or public catalog's, through to the end user and their use of said app.

With that, we need to look at starting our first project that targets a Content App for Excel 2013. We do this, via Visual Studio 2012. To start we must launch Visual Studio 2012, and then select a new project.

You will notice there is a difference from the video's that are listed in the previous post targeting developer training. In the training VS2011 Beta was the target and there are some differences. Specifically you select either an App for Office, or an App for SharePoint.

In selecting an app for office, as you can see from the screen shot above, you then make a choice of the target app type. We are targeting content apps, which can only be used with Excel 2013.

In doing so, we see our App has some already existing artifacts, including a working example of getting values from the currently selected data area, or cell that is highlighted within the Excel workbook.

Now that we have a better understanding of the Anatomy of an app for Office, and we have clear instructions for starting our targeted content App for Excel 2013, We can truly focus on how to enable RESTful consumption of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 services.

That's all for this post, I hope your enjoying seeing the true power of the full stack Microsoft brings - and it's possible value for customers who have or are investing in Microsoft Dynamics AX. Through this series, the power of the cloud, interop of AX 2012, and the new Office Suite should come to light. Till Next Time!
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Monday, August 06, 2012

AX 2012 - Data Migration Framework - Recap

I hope everyone is off to a great start for this new work week. To help kicks things off this afternoon, I wanted to create a recap post focused around the recently released Data Migration Framework for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.

I covered the release of this new framework, released via InformationSource, from Microsoft. The following list the post in which contains my full coverage of this topic, to date.:
From the above I dove into the specifics around the release, a step-by-step setup as well as a usability report on the framework. There were some great questions, and issues that people ran into - which were captured as part of these series of post.

The following are some critical points, that need to be made in relation to the above series of post.:
  • AX 2012 R2 & MDS Support - A question was posed to me about integrating Master Data Services with this framework. Though it's technically possible, Microsoft has made it clear that the upcoming release of AX 2012 R2 will have native support for MDS.
  • SSIS 2008 Installed on AOS - We learned through the community testing that SSIS 2008 is required. Further this requirement is for having this installed on the AOS that will execute the code.
  • SQL Server 2012 No Supported - Further around SQL Server technology, it was stated that SQL Server 2012 has not been targeted or tested for use with DMF.
  • Microsoft is listening! - Microsoft is paying attention to anyone trying to successfully use this new framework. Please make sure to use InformationSource to submit any suggestions, or official feedback around the DMF.

Further, the following is a recent post from Munib that covers the topic Creating a custom entity for migration. Resource link.: Create a custom entity mapping using the Data Migration Framework [AX 2012]

It's a high level coverage of the topic, but still valuable to have, in order to help complete the current picture, understanding and use of the Data Migration Framework.

As previously stated, I will circle back around on this topic as we have new information, news or releases that relate. Further, I invite anyone to a leave a comment here on any other resources you find useful for this topic and I will review / include them. That's all for today! Till Next Time!
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Thursday, August 02, 2012

SpotLight: Developing Content Apps for Excel 2013 & AX 2012 (Part I)

I hope everyone is having a great week thus far! I wanted to continue my spotlight series this morning on Developing Apps for Office 2013. Earlier this week, I started this spotlight with a focus around the developer training videos that are currently released around this topic. You can find the link to that post here.: Spotlight: Apps for Office 2013 - future value add for Microsoft Dynamics AX Customers

For me, as I stated in the first post, this is going to be a place where a lot of value added solutions will start to form for Microsoft Dynamics AX. Being that Office will continue to be the UX of choice for many processes for AX 2012 instances and use cases. We see this already with items like Budgeting in AX 2012, as well as the development and use of the Office Add-in.

Because of this fact, I wanted to start a series around developing office apps that interact and work with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, as well as the cloud. The idea, at first is a focus around how such Office apps can communicate with AX. In order to understand this we need to get a lay of the land, for the development approach and model for such apps.

With that in mind, my first focus was the type of apps that can be developed for Excel 2013. This is why I highlight the above, 4. Develop Content apps for Office 2013 with Visual Studio 2011(demo).

There is a couple of points to make right away, in that first off it's now Visual Studio 2012 RC. These videos were made with beta versions of both Office 15, now known as Office 2013, as well as Visual Studio 2011 beta, now known as Visual Studio 2012 RC. Further Office Apps, in these video's, specifically on the project types were called project Agave.

With these semantics understood, in watching this video and some of the others that build up to this point, it's clear that the types of technologies that will be used for developing such apps are.:
  • HTML / HTML5
  • CSS 3.0+
  • JavsScript

This really should not be much of a surprise, seeing as how these targeted apps are meant to work with OnPrim versions of Office, as well as being easily ported to cloud based versions of Office. This fits into the published model Microsoft has for software development in their new world. That being of either XAML + C# or HTML5 + CSS + JavaScript.

The video is a nice Hello World, for content apps for Office 2013. Which I will further point out, at this time only Excel 2013 can be targeted for content apps. Further there are a few different types of app templates that you can target, and in due time we will get to those.

Having this knowledge, and understanding the next step is connecting AX 2012 to a content app for Excel 2013. Being the focus is around HTML/CSS+JavaScript this means that we need to consume services from AX via REST, or RESTful service consumption. In doing so, then we can target specific content apps, that add value to Microsoft Dynamics AX customers.

That sets us up for the next part in this series, consuming Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 services via REST from within a content app for Office 2013. Before I close out for today's post, and the start of this series, I want to point to you one last resource on this topic. The following has a host of examples already for this focus, and something that I myself will try and reference as we continue down this path. Further, I will take the example that we create during this series and make sure to add to the following.: Apps for Office and SharePoint Samples

Well that's all for this post, I hope your as excited about the value added proposition of such app possibilities as I am. It's a brave new, app focused world - Office and Microsoft Dynamics are apart of that model. Till Next Time!

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