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Nav is has a lot of options to communicate with external systems and the correct solution will depend on the environment you are deploying in. The standard options are:
1. Dataports - used to import/export text file. Can handle fixed length records or delimited records
2. XMLports - used to import / export XML files
3. API calls to the external systems using C/OCX or C/FROUNT
4. ODBC for both native and SQL databases
5. SQL replication for SQL databases.
As you can see there are a load of options - each with their merits / drawbacks. It will come down to which you think is the best fit (and the most economical normally)
Hope this helps
I've worked on one that uses message queuing. The CAD system sends the XML docs into a Microsoft Message Queue. We wrote a NAV component that checks the message queue for new XML docs and processes those into NAV. It can also work the other way. I've also worked on one that uses TCP/IP Sockets, also sending XML docs back and forth. I've also worked on one with SQL Server views. I've also worked on one that uses staging tables, and NAV had a timer that checks those staging tables using ADO.
SQL Server views are very limited and cumbersome, and requires users to be set up as dbo on SQL Server, which is not very nice. ADO works REALLY well too, very fast, but I don't like having to write code with SQL strings that are not compiled at design time. TCP/IP Sockets was good too, but not very nice for two way communication. We had to develop an additional .NET component to make that work properly.
My advice would be to use message queues, to me that is the cleanest way to communicate from NAV to an external app. Of course the next big thing is XML web services, which comes out with NAV2009. It might be good to explore options to use webservices in your current version, that you could upgrade easily.
In reply to Daniel Rimmelzwaan:
You might want to take a look at our CAD-ERP data integration system:
Hope this helps,
Ricardo TalbotElmo Solutions