Dynamics 365 Business Central – Full Menu

One of the things that seemed to be missing from previous versions of Business Central was a full menu. If you’re looking for a report, as an example, it might be a bit hard to find. Now there’s a way to get back to a menu similar to what we had previously. First of all, from the home screen, click the three bar menu (circled below).


Once you click this, the screen below opens. If you click the circled explore all, you’ll see the last screen on the page. The areas on this screen expand and contract allowing you to find features that you might otherwise miss. If you don’t know what something is called this may be an easy way to find it in the system

Microsoft Azure SQL backup update

Photo No More. Stop Gesture. Man with raised opening hand making No more gesture.I mentioned a couple of posts ago that we were having trouble backing up a database from SQL on Azure to a local machine.

One of the problems was that we didn’t have access to the Azure portal, so we asked the CSP with access to do the backup and send us the BACPAC file. We assume that backing up to Azure storage would permit the backup, and get around the issue we were having with timeout.

As it turns out, even this doesn’t work. The backup still times out. Microsoft (and the other CSP) are still working on it.

Misery loves company! At least I’m glad someone else had the trouble.

Next time you think about creating a database with 50,000+ tables on SQL Azure, think again.

Dynamics 365 Business Central – October 1 2019 Release

Wave 2 of the 2019 Release of Dynamics Business Central is out. There are a host of new features; check here for more information as we dig in. There are a few changes in this release that impact current on-premise users, and one of them has a deadline in 2020, so we thought we would discuss them first.

Here are the changes:

  • First, the Windows Client is no longer available as of this release. The March 2019 release is the last release with the Windows client.  More detail is below.
  • Second, the C/Side development environment is no longer available. All modifications must be converted to extensions.

If you have followed (as we have) Navision to Dynamics NAV and now to Dynamics 365 Business Central, you’ve seen changes to the user interface. The “Classic” interface that ended with the 2013 release to the “Role Tailored Client” that 2009 and following supported, there were changes. In the midst of this, Microsoft released the Web interface. Until the 2018 release of Business Central online, the Role Tailored Client (Windows client) and the Web client looked as much the same as possible.

Business Central changed the look of the product. The home screen from the Online Version of Business Central (as of today) is shown below.

The Current Home Screen of Dynamics Business Central

For me, it is a change, but for production users, it will take some getting used to. The old interface (2015 version) is below for comparison.

Backing Up SQL Azure Locally

If you haven’t read my previous post on this subject, you might want to. Otherwise, you’ll be starting this hopefully-not-an-epic-saga in medias res, as they say.

Azure SQL Database Export FAIL

After a bit of digging, I discovered the probable cause of my trouble: the way SQL Azure works. Here’s the link from Stackoverflow that finally turned the light bulb on for me.

The key phrase is this one:

When an Azure SQL Server gets overloaded or goes down, it will disconnect a number of connections and when you reconnect you will get sent to another SQL Server.

Yep. That’s it. And the nasty things about that are (a) you don’t know when it might happen, and (b) since it’s internal load-balancing and redundancy behavior, you have no control.

It’s great for apps running on Azure, because it evens out response time and avoids down time.

But in the case of backing up SQL Azure locally, it throws a monkey-wrench into things. This can also beat you up if you’re writing code against Azure, but that’s the subject of another saga.


Backing Up Azure SQL Locally

Azure SQL Database Export FAIL

Let me begin with the moral of the story: Azure isn’t the answer for everything. The cloud is still new, and the closer you get to the bleeding edge, the more time you’ll be spending trying to work all of this stuff out.

We have a client who started with another consultant. Over the past few weeks, we’ve evaluated where they left things, and decided that the path the previous consultant took may not be the best long-range path. So we need to grab their database (which is an ERP database with about 50,000 tables spread across about 125 companies) from SQL Azure.

Thus began the saga.

The “easy and complete” way to do this is using SQL Server Management Studio. Select the database, go to Tasks > Export Data Tier Application… Fill in the blanks (where do you want the bacpac file? What tables to do you want? Then start the process. And Wait. And Wait. And Wait.

Eventually, you get a timeout error. When you look this up the first time, you’ll see an option to edit the registry and increase the timeout. That was two weeks ago, and I’ve forgotten the registry key, but Google the error and you’ll go right to it after a page or so of results.

Try again, and you might be lucky. I wasn’t. I even tried selecting only a few hundred tables. Same result. I increased the timeout. Same result. By the way, there were some 4-8 hour waits before the timeout occurred, so you’ll be spending a week or so with this solution.

After you try that a time or to, you’ll decide to go to SqlPackage, a command line utility that allows you to do the same thing, with more control.

Here’s what my final try of this command looked like:

sqlpackage.exe /a:Export /of:True /sdn:DATABASE_NAME /su:USER_NAME /sp:PASSWORD /ssn:asm-srv-azsql-01.database.windows.net /tf:c:DataMY_FILE_NAME.bacpac /p:CommandTimeout=6000

Yep, that’s a 6000 second timeout (default is 30).

Connecting to database ‘DATABASE_NAME’ on server ‘SUBDOMAIN.database.windows.net’

Unlike some of the other tries, this actually produced a (small 25K) file on my desktop. I let it run 72 hours before I stopped it, and stopped it when I noticed that nothing had been written to the file in 48 hours. Over the weekend, I tried again.

Here’s the message that was waiting on me this morning:

Azure SQL Database Export FAIL

Messages from SQLPackage.exe when trying to export Azure SQL Database

Note that time elapsed. That’s 18 hours.. It seems like that’s where we came in.

And now to figure out another way to get the data…

You’ve been hacked, change your password

If you have a corporate email account that you use much, you’ve probably seen an email something like the following in the last few months. It seems to have ramped up in the last few days:

Thinking that someone might actually have access to your system and the ability to record your screen and use your web cam can be scary.

Why I Know This Is False – #1 – No Web Cam

I know this email is false because the computer I use this email address on doesn’t have a web cam. The server is a corporate email server, so it is protected by our firewall. In fact the ***BULK*** you see in the subject line was added by the firewall. So I have a couple of reasons for suspecting that this is bogus.

Another Reason – Email Properties

If you use Outlook, you can click on the file tab, then on properties to see the “Internet Headers.” If you use another email package, you can get to them, just Google the name of your email package and add “View Internet Headers.” For example, if you Google, “Thunderbird View Internet Headers,” you’ll get several pages of helpful articles and several more pages of unhelpful articles on the subject.

Here’s the header for the Bogus message from Outlook:





You’ll notice that the second line says:

“Received from esyi.com…”

If it were from my email server, it would say:

“Received from <servername>.dgginc.net”

<servername> would be replaced with the name of my mail server.

No bitcoin for the bad guys

So don’t send any bitcoin to someone who claims to have your personal browsing history and threatens to reveal your innermost secrets if you don’t. If you just have to send some bitcoin, send it to me. Oh, wait, I don’t have a bitcoin wallet. If you want to send me some bad enough, drop me an email; I’ll see what I can do.



Legacy ERP and Accounting Software

How old is the version of ERP or accounting software that runs your business? Did you load last year’s update? The year before? It’s not unusual to talk to businesses that haven’t upgraded their software in 5 or more years. Some businesses are still using the same software version they installed 10 years ago.

Old Software Versions Cause Problems

an old computer from 1980. 4K memory for $900

In today’s environment, software more than a couple of years old can cause technical problems. New versions of operating systems (like Windows 10) can break old software. If the new Windows version completely breaks your software, that’s really good news. Bad news is when the new version just corrupts data and you do not discover it until after the damage is done.

The Cost of Old ERP Software

But the real cost of old software is in features unused. We were finishing an upgrade yesterday from a software version that was over 10 years old, and doing quick data checks to make sure the data converted correctly. Customer balances and vendor balances in the old version compared to the converted data is a good test. In the new software version, we had an easy-to-use list that exported to Excel for comparison. In the old version, we had a report. Using these, we verified the first eight or ten balances manually, then went to the last page and verified the total. The upgrade worked fine, by the way. But I’d forgotten how much more difficult simple things were in the old version vs. the new version.

Not only that, but to finding a report in the old version took digging around on menus. We knew the name of the report (Trial Balance), but it wasn’t in the first few places we looked. In the new version, typing “trial balance” in a search box brought the report up on a list.

These two items are the real cost of legacy software: features that you give up because the old version didn’t have them, and features that are hard to find because of the construction of the old software.

I know upgrading can be expensive, but be sure to count the cost of NOT upgrading.

The One Key to the Right ERP: Selecting ERP Software – Best Practices

I met with a client the other day. He said, “You’re different from the other ERP salespeople we’ve talked to: you actually know something about the software!”

I’d like to think that’s because I’m not an ERP salesperson…but anyway…ENTERPRISE RESOURCE PLANNING (ERP)Business team hands at work with financial reports and a laptop

And that’s the key in a sentence to selecting the right ERP. You must get the technical ERP employees (consultants, implementers, developers, trainers, etc.) involved BEFORE you buy the software. 

How do you do that? First, take a look at the suggestions we’ve made over the last year about needs analysis. Start with a good needs analysis. From your needs analysis, divide your needs into three categories: (a) Features every software product should have (you have to know something about ERP or accounting software to do this), (b) Features some, but not all, products generally have (again, you need to know the market), and (c) Features that may be difficult to find or are unique to you. The third option can also include sets of features that need to be in the solution that are unusual to find in the same product. I’m thinking about something like Point-of-sale, warranty management, service, and property management all in one product.

Now here’s the key: focus only on (c) items during the RFP and demo process. You can address (a) and (b) items later in the process when you have narrowed the field.

One last thing: the salespeople probably won’t like this approach. It means you’ll control the demo and the selection process. But it’s the way I’ve helped clients select ERP for 30 years.

More on this in later posts.

On the Heels of WannaCry, Petya: Same Windows Vulnerability

Computer hacker silhouette of hooded man with binary data and network security termsAfter the news report, the first email we got about Petya was from our antivirus software company. “You’re protected,” was the message.

Here’s the bottom line: If your Windows is out of date (XP or 7), upgrade. Use Windows Update to make sure you are fully patched.

Here’s more info from Wired.

Dynamics NAV 2017 – US CRONUS Account Data Needs Help

CRONUS is the sample data company for Dynamics NAV. Several months ago, when I installed the first version and started looking at the new features, I noticed something interesting: the system-generated financial statements were out of balance! Ok, let me back up a second.

Until 2017 version, there wasn’t a utility in NAV to generate a set of financial statements. Even simple statements required more than pushing a button…not a lot more, but more. So I was excited to see that NAV finally had a feature like a lot of other mid-range software. In 2017, there was a function that created rudimentary financial statements: Balance Sheet, Statement of Income, and a Cash Flow Statement. But…and it’s a big but…the financial statements were out of balance.

By the time I realized this, I had already dinked with the Chart of Accounts, so I thought I’d done something and just left it. After all, financials are financials. Nope. They were out of balance.

I realized that the way the system was generating the statements was based on the classifications of the accounts on the Chart of Accounts (COA). That was when I noticed that the classifications on the COA were wonky in the sample data. Depreciation classified as Sales, or was it Sales classified as Depreciation.

Anyway, once you fix the wonkyness in the COA, the financial statement generator is pretty cool. It at least gives you the “vertical” dimension of some standard financials.

Be sure to fix your sample data if you’re going to take a look at this feature.