Ever since the release of the three tier model with version 2009, Dynamics NAV has been running on C#. Internally and partly hidden. But it is C#.
And ever since the rumors has said that Microsoft would drop our “beloved” Object Designer and replace it with Visual Studio.
Except for the Report Designer, which partially is using Visual Studio to design the layouts of your reports, then there is no indications from Microsoft, that the Object Designer will be replaced by Visual Studio any day soon.
But the question is still interesting.
Should Microsoft replace the Object Designer in NAV with Visual Studio and a full blown C#/Visual Studio experience?
If we assume that Microsoft will solve the issues described here in Mark Brummels blog post, would it then be a good idea?
Personally I think not.
What is and has already been the strength of Dynamics NAV is its “beauty of simplicity”. Even though this old “slogan” from the days of Navision Software is no longer used, then it still describes the product fully. Despite the development environment is no longer as simple as it was in the mid-90’ies, then it’s still quite easy to learn. Even for “non-programmers”!
And I think that this is one of the reasons why Dynamics NAV has gained the success it has. It has allowed companies and partners to hire people without an actually programming background and successfully turn them into great NAV developers/consultants. The structure and code in NAV is simply easy to learn and use. You don’t need too much of a developer background to add a new field, apply some new business logic or what ever you need to do.
I have always said that I would rather learn an end-user (who already understands the business logic and and processes) to develop in NAV, than take a “real programmer” and learn them to develop in NAV. Processes and business logic are more important than actual programming skills. It’s more important to get a solution that does what the users needs, than having some beautiful streamlined code. Functionality is more important than the platform.
With the arrival of DotNet interoperability, web service consumptions and more advanced integration to 3rd party application. We, the old fashioned C/AL developers, are met by a large wall. Now the “real development skills“ are suddenly required. We can either learn C#, or we have to find less beautiful ways to do the same things from within NAV (often not possible at all).
So it’s no longer an either-or. Right now most parts can still be done in the “Development Environment”, while more and more needs to be done in Visual Studio.
I cannot see how Microsoft would be able to replace the “beauty of simplicity” in the “Development Environment”, with a full-blown Visual Studio-experience. But I do read the signs.
So my suggestions to all NAV developers is, that you better start learn to use Visual Studio and C# now, or you will stay a dinosaur for ever.
A good way to start is to study Mark Brummels blog series, starting with Dynamics NAV in C# - The Differences.
Thanks Erik. Good blog.
The general feedback I got on my blog is about the same.
There are some considerations and methodologies that a lot of NAV partners are not yet aware of like distributed development and versioning in systems like GIT.
I am very inspired to write more about this. Give me some time during this next winter. ;-)
Would love to read more about it. But what I think that Microsoft should consider is maybe an update of the development environment, so that it would be a "template" (or whatever they would call it), where you would get the Development Environment running inside Visual Studio. Still C/AL and our object way of seeing things (and no projects etc.). And even easier to build and integrate NAV "C# add-ins". Initially Visual Studio actually scared me a little, and I think that many NAV developers feel the same.
c#: yes please
a new designer: yes, but not necessarily visual studio (overloaded). better the new navgate editor of idyn.
NAVgate? Never heard about it.
navgate from idyn (OM-Tools) is a new editor for c/al and would be a big, big step in useability. so it is not very probable, that microsoft changes the programming language, this would be a great help for developers.
Thanks, tried that link, but very limited information there... And I didn't participate in NAV Tech Days, so I didn't see it here either. But what I could find about it sounds very interesting. Would love to know more about it.
good news about a demo version of navgate!
For ones, who want to test this great new tool, here is the download link:
A trial key can be requested with the Control Panel. A user guide is included.