Programming Microsoft Great Plains

By: Andrew Karasev

This article intended to be orientation session for IT people and internal software developers. ?In the best case scenario you should balance external GP consultants and internal programmer and project managers to realize your projects. ?Let’s begin:

  1. Great Plains customization tools.? GP similar to other MRP and accounting applications is the combination of proprietary and open technologies. ?Main proprietary technology is Microsoft Dexterity, which requires special license and Great Plains Dexterity certification is recommended to do Dex programming. ?Dexterity is core technology, however as Microsoft .Net platform advances, open technologies open the GP customization door. ?Open technologies typically require MS Visual Studio development skills plus ADO.Net and some SQL scripting expertise. ?These tools are: eConnect, Modifier with VBA (this one is not a .Net based – it is rather legacy but should be considered open platform as VBA is popular for MS Excel modifications). ?There are other enablers, opening Great Plains Dexterity objects to MS Visual Studio C# or VB developers – use them at your discretion
  2. Programming GP Integration Manager.? IM could be considered as end-user tool however it is very powerful and customizable, so if you are VBA programmer you can consider IM as custom integration platform.

    ?VBA modification can intervene IM events: before document, after document, etc. ?Plus you can do incoming records translation – create your customer or vendor translation table in Excel and then import it to Integration Manager
  3. SQL Scripting.? This technique requires advanced familiarity with GP tables structure and records distribution. ?You should be aware that SQL insert statement simply populates SQL tables, but it doesn’t validate GP business logic. ?So, SQL scripting may cause data integrity problem and typically requires longer Quality Assurance (QA) and debugging cycle. ?As a hint for you – eConnect does validate GP business logic, so if you could deploy eConnect and not SQL stored procedures – you will be on the safe side of the programming project
  4. GP reports design.? There are several tools and you got to get the idea on their usability. ?First of all – GP ReportWriter.? This tool is integrated in GP workstation interface – you can modify such popular reports as SOP Invoice, POP Purchase Order, GL trial balance, AP historical trial balances to give you few examples. ?RW is Dexterity application and it has Dex limitations, so if you get to break through, you should consider FRx for strictly financial reports (linked to General Ledger GL), Crystal Reports (unlimited in theory, however you have to do all the work in SQL views or stored procedures from scratch) or Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Service or SRS (at this time we are inclined to consider SRS to be catching up in competition with Crystal, especially considering Microsoft plans to promote its own report design tool)

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