These days are the birthdays of the Dynamics User Group. 17 years! That means that the teenager is about to be considered an adult here in Denmark. That makes me feel almost like a father look at his child. Also in regard to what this child is going be come when it grows up.
Ever since I started the Navision Online User Group (NOLUG) with our mailing list back in 1995, over navision.net, mbsonline.org to dynamicsusers.net, I have loved what I have been doing. Providing and foundation for a community of now Dynamics users and professionals to meet and share and help each other.
I created this website simply because I needed at that time. I was working in the US in 1995 and when I was over there waiting for my visa, I had nothing else to do than to start create one of "those web sites" which was just starting everywhere. I then joined BMI in New York, one of the first partners in the US, they needed a developer and that was very difficult to find, so many Danes were working there at that time. I soon learned that what I missed was the little BBS (Bulletin board system) that was run by Navision Denmark. But as I now were no longer with a Danish Partner, so I were not allowed. Also it was very expensive to use, as it was not based on the internet, but via old expensive international phone lines.
Too bad! Then I simple decided to create some over the internet. I had my local Internet Service Provider Openix set up “mailing list” and invited everybody I knew was doing Navision to subscribe to it. Navision.net was known by almost everybody working Navision at that time, who had an email. It was 1997, so that still wasn’t everyone. Not even close.
When we started getting 30-50 emails every day (some days even more) it was time to make the first “web based” version. Not that it sounds scary to anyone today, but back then it was a lot of mails, and nobody really used “inbox rules” to automatically put them in sub folders. The first web “forum” was based on Microsoft Frontpage (their entry level web editor) and a “discussion template” it included.
Not a very good period. The discussion list was used by a selected few, basically a lot who had been using the mailing list, basically everybody hated it. Me included. But it did the job.
In 2000 I was able present the first database based NOLUG site. It had taken me almost two years to find the right way to do it. Over trying to build my own, until I found “ASP Forums”, the same “open source” but ASP based packages used by Microsoft also. Many people still call it “the original forum”. It was great and I learned a lot of about database based web programming.
But already 2001 I updated the platform again. This time move to what basically was an upgrade, technically a new product. “Snitz 2000” was created by the same people, but much more a “product” than a forum template, some websites more or less called it. Like ASP Forums, Snitz 2000 was also based on Microsoft’s Access database.
In 2001 was also the change from the Navision Online User Group, into Microsoft Business Solutions User Group, or MBSOnline.org as the new website was called. Microsoft had taken over Navision, and we followed and expanded with Axapa (had happened when Damgaard “joined” Navision two years before) and now Great Plains and Solomon.
We grew 50-100 users every day, and by 2005 we were 20000 members. And it didn’t look to stop. Then the performance of the website started to causing problems. This old Snitz and Access database was not really happy about accepting all the users. The many issues was driving me and the users more and more unhappy. And in these years I lost many users to Mibuso, who at that time most were known for their Download section.
In June 2006 I were able to present the new Dynamicsuser.net – the Dynamics User Group. The fifth generation of the website and an all new identity. It was a big step, away from APS and Access, hello to ASP.NET, Microsoft SQL Server and Community Server. Here at least there were a where performance shouldn’t have been an issue. It was used by Microsoft for most of both their forums and blogs. And it was “partly” open source. We went live in June, but I wasn’t able to get all the old posts and members fully converted until January 2007. And due to the fact that all this ASP.NET and SQL Server host was sort of new both to me and the internet service provider(s) I had been using, then we continued to have minor problems all the way until 2009.
And as I wrote in my The State of the Community in 2009 then at that time we were number 2 in terms of the most used 3rd. party (non-Microsoft) Dynamics NAV and AX community site.
Today October 2012 we are again number one. According to both Alexa and Compete then we have a much higher number of unique visitors. Almost 100,000 members, of which 40,000 were active the 6 months.
What to come in the future
The first you’ll see is the invite to the Dynamics Users Community Survey 2012. Everybody who have been logged in the last month will start by reviving it, but you can also access through this link:
Dynamics Users Community Survey 2012
So my birthday wish for the website is that you all will be clicking on the link about and help tells what you think.
Next you will start seeing a slow change in the layout of the site, going to make a few changes in colors and layout and so. Web design changes, but no actual change in the functionality as such for now.
Then by Q1 2013 you will see more changes, which I will be able to write much more about soon.
Erik P. Ernst