Great Plains Development: Dexterity, VBA, eConnect, SQLhighlights

By: Andrew Karasev

As many mid-size ERP GP has multiple customizing tools and you have to get some excurse into each one of them to select the best in your situation.? Before rushing into modifications overview, please think through the fact, that GP is owned and supported by Microsoft Dynamics subdivision (former Microsoft Business Solutions) and as such you should expect it to be tightly linked with such Microsoft technologies as .Net, MS SQL Server, MS Office, Sharepoint, SRS (or SQL Server Reporting Services).? Plus, you should know the history of GP design – it was originally designed by Great Plains Software in earlier 1990th with popular shell IDE and programming language approach: Great Plains Dexterity (compare to SAP ABAP or Navision C/Side – shells were believed to resolve computer platform dependence).? Now is the time to review:

1.?????? Microsoft Dexterity.? As we already mentioned this IDE was written in C programming language and so it is theoretically portable to any computer platform, however in practice Great Plains tried it one or couple of times (to translate Dexterity from Watcom C to Microsoft Visual C) 1998.? Dexterity is virtually all-mighty in GP customization and programming, however it is not really simple language and tool to learn, if you do not have previous experience.? We recommend Dex programming if your customization needs to be tightly integrated with GP interface and security realm.? If this is not a concern, and what you are designing is rather integration with third database or product, then consider eConnect

2.?????? eConnect.? This is SDK with encrypted stored procedures and it has exposure to various development tools: SQL developer (obviously can call stored procs directly), MS Visual Studio C# or VB – you should do your pleasant research as programmer

3.?????? VBA.

?This customization option typically comes together with Modifier Module.? In essence Modifier exposes GP screens as old-good-days OLE server.? Modifier uses Dex forms, however it is not obvious to VBA developer, until he or she has to refer to GP objects descriptions: tables, forms, variables

4.?????? SQL Stored Procedures.? Theoretically SQL can do everything on the database level (obviously it is lacking user interface, comparing to GP fat client or Dexterity).? If your objective is just integration routine, then, please review first GP Integration Manager and you do not find relevant functionality there (which is very unlikely event), go down to SQL scripting

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