Friday, 24 October 2008

New Zealand Box-biting Championships 2008

Our New Zealand Microsoft Dynamics NAV User Group had a fantastic two-day conference in Hanmer Springs this week.

Mason Robinson did a great job of organizing this event - which normally consists of a morning meeting with lunch, but this time comprised a coach journey to Waipara Springs Winery where we had a winery tour, tasting and lunch. We then journeyed on to Hanmer Springs where we checked in to our rooms and I gave a presentation on the upcoming Dynamics NAV 2009 release, focusing on the new RoleTailored client and the Web Service Enablement features.

The presentation was well received and I think a lot of the users are very interested in the new release. Rob from Fujitsu then did a demonstration of Demand Planner and Microsoft Forecaster and I finished the presentations with a short demonstration of the Reporting Services report viewer control in NAV 2009. The hard work sessions concluded with general discussions and information sharing from the many users that had attended this event and there was some very useful suggestions from many users and warnings about the differences in the NAV 5.0 Jobs module.

Our sessions finished and we had drinks, dinner and a quiz session in which our team came second (pah!) We finished the evening with a ridiculous box-biting competition that required us to pick up a cardboard box with our teeth without touching the floor with hands or knees. On each round the box was reduced in size until the final round had the last three contestants picking up a flat piece of cardboard from the floor with their teeth.

Here I am trying to pick up the box. This was as low as I could go and for some strange reason I thought that taking my shoes off would help me pick up the box by being lower to the ground.

After a few hours sleep we enjoyed a nice breakfast, a few recap sessions on NAV 2009 and a follow up on what we had learnt the day before and a demo from Sue from Microsoft which included the Edit in Excel feature. We had an hour or so in which we chatted and discussed issues on Reporting Services, NAV, etc. (and enjoyed a coffee next to the hot spas) followed by a coach journey back to Christchurch.

Thanks to everyone for such a fantastic time. I think we set the bar pretty high for this conference and I would be interested to know if anyone has managed to have a NAV user group meeting that tops this one.

NAV 2009 Edit in Excel

At our recent NAV User Group conference, I had the pleasure of seeing some new NAV 2009 functionality demoed by our local Microsoft ERP Expert.

In the demo, Sue set a filter on a list of records (I think it was a vendor list) and then from the Actions command menu selected a new option called "Edit in Excel".

This looked similar to the Send to Excel feature with one difference. There was a new button on a Dynamics NAV tab of the Ribbon that allowed the data to be updated.

In the demo, Sue deliberately set the Responsibility Centre in the spreadsheet to an invalid value and the update returned an error message that the Responsibility Centre was not valid. She then corrected the data in the spreadsheet, hit the update button and the data was updated in NAV.

This was a fantastic demonstration of the new NAV 2009 web services in action. I'm pretty sure this option is not available in the Marketing Beta Release that is available to partners and the image Sue had was based on Windows Server 2008.

It looks like there's definitely more cool stuff coming in the NAV 2009 release and this ability to edit data in Excel is going to prove extremely useful to many users.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Careful with those Captions!

On occasions I have needed a table that is similar to an existing table but with maybe some changes that I didn't want to have to make to the standard system (such as adding a field to the primary key).

One easy way to do this is to design the table you want to copy and use the File, Save As... menu option to save the table as a new table name and ID.

If you do this, make sure you change the Caption for the table to match the table name. Today I spent far too long investigating a problem with an error message telling me a record could not be inserted into table X since it already existed.

For some bizarre reason, the error was only being triggered when a commit was being called so there was some guesswork as to where the error was actually taking place. No matter what I tried it appeared that something really weird was going on. Eventually in a fit of frustration, I deleted the table in question and yet the error message still appeared.

The problem? Well the table had been created by copying another table and the caption had not been changed. As a result the error message was giving the wrong table name - causing great confusion.

Now here's a question for seasoned veterans. Does anyone know why the error was only appearing at the point of a commit or when all commits were removed after all other code in the transaction had executed? When you put a lock on a table, does NAV use SQL BEGIN TRANSACTION and then use COMMIT or ABORT if an error is thrown, or does it cache all transactions to the locked table and only send them to the database when the COMMIT is executed? I think I might do a little experiment and log the SQL commands to see what is going on. If this is the case then removing the LOCKTABLE command would have helped the debugger pinpoint my error.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

New MVP Award

Last week I found out that I have been awarded an MVP for Microsoft Dynamics NAV. This is a great honour and I am looking forward to the coming year with great enthusiasm. If you are at all interested in Dynamics NAV, you can't help but know that the new and exciting Dynamics NAV 2009 will be launched this year and with it there will be a heap of new challenges and possibilities. The great thing about Dynamics NAV is that there is always lots to learn. I will try to help others where I can by passing on what I discover.

I work with some amazing people and have had the pleasure of meeting many great programmers and analysts in my years of working with NAV. Big thanks to everyone that has supported me over the past few years. There are a number of cool things coming up from me and my good friend Vjeko Babic but I'll post more about that as the year progresses. Once again, thanks for supporting this blog.