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Microsoft Dynamics GP 10.0 Customization Tools – speculation about the future

Microsoft Great Plains or former Great Plains Software Dynamics / eEnterprise /Dynamics C/S+ historically was designed in Dexterity, which is in turn shell written in C.  In the late 1990th GPS ported Dexterity to Microsoft C, now for version 10.0 it is created in Visual Studio, where it also uses some .Net assemblies to improve Dex graphical interface.  Dexterity so far, including GP 10.0 is recommended tool for customization, modification, integration and reporting. 

Let’s briefly review what is new and what is traditional in customization instruments:

  • Sharepoint in Workflow.  This seems to be cool opportunity.  We heard so many years about workflow in Great Plains, some developers tried to marry something like Lotus Notes with GP to produce workflow imitation via messaging and within Lotus and links to GP documents.  Now MS Sharepoint seems to do the job
  • Web Services.  If you are familiar with eConnect architecture, you can imagine how web services interface works with eConnect.  In this sense web services-eConnect tandem is restricted to eConnect functionality, such as limitation on posting batches, however you can combine eConnect calls in your web services with custom direct SQL Server programming.  It is also possible to use Albaspectrum posting server to supplement eConnect with posting logic – you can place approved batches via web service, calling simple stored procedure
  • Dexterity.  As Microsoft is referring, it can handle COM objects, however this feature was first introduced in Dexterity 7.0, so it is probably not overly new.  There are multiple publications on the web about Great Plains Dexterity, where you can find detailed answers on this IDE architecture.  You should be aware about Dex features: Dynamics.dic, Dynamics.set, Dex.ini, Dex.exe, DEX_ROW_ID, etc.
  • ReportWriter, Modifier – these two tools are in fact GP Dexterity applications, they exist over 10 years now and have numerous modification and reporting scenarios implemented in production GP ERP environments
  • Extender or even eOne (advanced version of) Extender – these are also Dex applications and eOne version allows you to include Dex Sanscript scripts to alter extended form business logic
  • .Net development.  You can use C# or VB .Net to add .Net assemblies to GP workstation interface, however they have to operate with Dexterity forms in turn, so we are talking about extension logic only
  • eConnect.  This SDK and tool was introduced around 2002/2003 to open GP backoffice to eCommerce developers.  Great Tool, you should consider to port customized logic to eConnect versus other tools
  • Business Portal.  If you remember old eXXX series of products: eOrder, eRequisition, eEmployee, etc – those were ASP applications, which you could modify with Visual Interdev (however upgrade would wipe out your customization and you had to reapply it to new version).  At this time BP 10.0 is Sharepoint application with great options to extend it with Visual Studio projects.  Some customers are trying to do the same that they tried to do with old eXXX products – modify existing screens in Requisition Management, for example – this seems to be not trivial and not really the right way to go
  • Speculations about the future.  Probably former Project Green, where Navision, Axapta, Solomon, Great Plains were considered to be reassembled and repackaged into Microsoft Business Modules: Financials, Manufacturing, Distribution, etc. is now deemphasized in order to preserve AX, GP, NAV IDE: Morph X, DexterityBusiness Management Articles, CSide.  In our opinion – it is probably good option to provide reasonably smooth migration tools in the future.  For example if you are mid-size business in the past and now you went public and internationally – you should get migration from GP to AX

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Andrew Karasev, Alba Spectrum Group 1-866-528-0577, 1-630-961-5918, serving client in Chicago downtown and  metro: Naperville, Downers Grove, Wheaton, Romeoville, Aurora, Plainfield, Joliet, Morris, Seneca, Marseilles, Ottawa, LaSalle, Oswego, Montgomery, Lisle, Bolingbrook, Winchester, Hinsdale, Willowbrook. Darien, Westmont. Lemont, Des Plaines, Villa Park, Plano, Channahon, Elgin, Batavia, Crystal Lake, DeKalb, Sterling, Rockford.  With reasonable travel we can serve you in Springfield, Peoria, Bloomington, Normal, St. Luis, Milwaukee.  Local service is also available in Houston and Dallas areas: Richmond, Rosenberg, Katy, Galveston, Sugar Land


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