Current word on the general availability date for NAV 2009 is 12/1/2008. After this date, the only new licenses that will be available from Microsoft will be NAV 2009. The version includes both the classic and the new role-tailored client, and the code base is theoretically identical to version 5, Service Pack 1. This applies–of course–only to the classic client.
Unmodified reports, forms, etc., will require no data conversion, modification, etc. (because you’ll just use the NAV 2009 version of the code). Modified forms will need to be put through a conversion process to appear as “pages” in the new client.
Although the conversion tool can be run with minimal effort on an existing form, to make the new “page” really usable will take several steps. My guess is that future versions of NAV (perhaps a service pack?) will automate and combine these steps. They just seem too cumbersome to support the development process.
Some developers are already developing their own tools to handle some of the more time consuming steps. Eventually Microsoft will turn attention to this.
The good news is that the new client looks really good. In this release, I think most businesses will run both the classic and the new (role tailored) client.
If you look at the “role center” for sales order processor, you’ll notice a portion of the screen that shows data from Outlook. View image. You can actually click on the number of emails and launch Outlook.
For those of us familiar with SharePoint, this begs a question: Can we do this with other applications? Or can we develop our own “parts.”
Turns out that the answer appears to be “Yes, but…” Yes, it WILL be possible, BUT it’s not documented in the (first) 2009 release. We have to wait for that.
I’m not holding my breath.
This week is Directions 2008, a conference put on by the Microsoft Dynamics NAV channel. Actually, a group of volunteers from a dozen or so Microsoft partners collect the money and host the event, which is limited to Microsoft NAV Partners only.
First thing this morning, we took a look at the integration between MOSS (Microsoft Office Sharepoint Services), InfoPath (a form design language), and NAV. The general plan was this: A user without a full NAV license, and without the permission to add a customer into NAV needed to request that a customer be created (think outside sales force). The user fills in an InfoPath form published on a MOSS server (which means that the user doesn’t need any software other than a browser). The MOSS server is set up to go through an approval process (using SharePoint Workflow), and when approved, the customer winds up in NAV. Very sharp!
This also allows for workflow on the SharePoint site, which might be very helpful in an organization of any size.
Of course, I can think of a lot of ways to use this kind of functionality:
- Payroll benefits
- Vacation requests and records
- inventory items
- prospect credit approval (converting to customer)
- vendor approval
And since the processing in NAV was done by dumping the data into a temporary table, then reading the table with a codeunit (if you’re not a NAV techie, read it this way: “Since the processing of the data collected was done INSIDE NAV”), the possibilities are literally endless for poking data into NAV where it needs to go.
Also, since MOSS licenses are MUCH cheaper than NAV client licenses, this is a potential cost saving measure as well.
More from Directions 2008 soon…
Click on the link below to see a screen shot of the NAV 2009 Role Center.
This new interface sits inside a browser-like container. It’s not quite a browser, but it has a lot of similar characteristics. For example, the back and forward buttons you see.
The idea of the role center is that the user interface that an Order Processor needs (the one in the screen shot is for this role) is different from the UI that a Warehouse Operator needs. One of the things that this interface does quite well is put operating information (like the number of released orders, partially shipped orders, and delayed orders) immediately in front of the operator.
This information has always been available (filter the Order screen, or print an order status report), but the grouping of the information as show on the Role Center makes it much more accessible. AND….clicking on the icon opens a list of the orders in that particular status. Nice touch!
All of this can be customized, and the underlying technology is not rocket science for an experienced programmer. Best of all, these are created in the traditional Dynamics NAV development tool (C/SIDE), so changing and updating the screens is pretty straightforward.
Interestingly enough, this interface is also user-customizeable. Note, for example, that the current settings have status information at the top and a summary of outlook at the bottom. This can be changed. In fact, parts can be removed or added. By clicking the customization button in the upper right hand corner (see below), and selecting the appropriate menu item, you get a customization interface.
The customization interface looks like the screen shot below.
If you think this looks something like SharePoint, you’re right. I suspect that eventually this will migrate into SharePoint web parts. They look suspiciously similar as they are. And that’s not a bad thing!
The preview of Dynamics NAV 2009 we can show to the public is finally out. The version I’ve been testing to now has been the Partner Technical Preview. It had a few features that I wasn’t able to make work, so I’m interested to see if the new version resolves those problems.
I’ve been looking for the installation version (what we have so far is a Virtual PC with the software preinstalled). The installation for NAV 2009 is supposed to be a thing of beauty.
For those worried about changes, let me reiterate: there are no new features since 5.0 Service Pack 1, and the new interface (role based) is optional…but I think ultimately that many people will choose the role based interface over the classic client.
As soon as we’ve unwrapped the Virtual PC, I plan to post a few screen shots, some commentary, and a few comparisons to the classic client.
Also, it’ll soon be time to think about re-recording our video training. I probably need to post a quick entry later in the week to describe what we’re doing with the new training.