Microsoft Dynamics GP Development & Customization perspectives

By: Andrew Karasev

Microsoft Business Solutions or current name is Microsoft Dynamics subdivision of Microsoft is on the way of very rapid and substantial changes.  In earlier XXI century Microsoft purchased Great Plains Software (Great Plains and Solomon), then a bit later Navision Software (Navision & Axapta).  Then it produced very nice idea on standardizing the ERP modules: Financials, Manufacturing, Supply Chain/Distribution, Human Resources with the following seamless blocks interaction and integration.  Imagine – you have Financials module from, say Great Plains, then you integrate it with Supply Chain modules suite from Axapta.  Plus users (and consultants) will be prepared to future Dynamics through unification of interfaces.  This seems very logical and nice for consultant, however if you develop customizations – you may raise a lot of questions.  Let’s look at the reasonable questions and possible answers:

  • Native Programming Languages: Microsoft Dexterity in the case of Dynamics GP or MorphX/X++ in the case of Axapta or C/SIDE in the case of Navision.  If in your customization you would like to have full spectrum of Microsoft Dynamics GP objects and tools, you have to use something very close to Microsoft Dynamics GP original source code.  Microsoft reopened Microsoft Great Plains source code program for MBS partners.  Source code program allows you to see dexterity scnscript code and so deploy it in your customization via analysis and imitation.  However the fate of native languages is not very clear.  As you may say – Microsoft will have to move all the code to .Net (or its successor), something like C# or VB.Net coding
  • eConnect and XML Web Services.  As more and more objects are exposed through eConnect and XML Webservices (abstraction of eConnect classes and methods) – these seems to be natural tools.  However we would be very conservative in the sense of Microsoft Dynamics module future.  Imagine – you are deploying custom logic and in a few years Microsoft Dynamics replaces your database structure or the whole module, just leaving the interface similar.  You customization might be coming deeper than interface level.  Then what would be the implication to recode or upgrade it?  Obviously if you program on the SQL level then – database restructuring by MBS itself will make your customization non-functional, but even if you work on XML web service level – it is not quite 100% guaranteed that XML Web service interface will not change or if the set of XML web services will be replaced with new set
  • Dexterity – it will probably be in place till 2011 or something about 5 years.  And all these years we, as software developers will have to keep our eye on the Microsoft plans.  .Net tools are subject to .Net evolution and its pace.  SQL scripting will probably be always good if you are lucky that MS doesn’t change database structure in the scope of your custom logic

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