I just got out of a really interesting session with Lars Hammer and Thomas Hejlsberg. For those of you who are not familiar with these names: they are the architects of Dynamics NAV.
The cool thing about their job is they and their team get to invent cool stuff that might eventually be in the product one day. And that is what this session was all about.
So the things I write in this post are not features in NAV 7 or 8, they are ideas of things that might possibly end up in the product at some form.
I will highlight the three things that impressed me the most.
Now this product has been demonstrated before at Directions EMEA and I had the privilege of playing around with it.
DevBase is a prototype of a tool that might allow us in the future to save modifications between objects rather than the complete objects.
The way it works is that it computes the Delta between two objects knowing the metadata and syntax of Dynamics NAV.
This delta or modification can then be reapplied to another version of the object and automatically implemented without manually merging the objects.
The possibilities of this concept are amazing. Imagine an ISV like Agiles or Lanham provide you with a package of modifications rather than a fob. You would be able to implement this package into a database that already has been customized or has other ISV solutions in it.
This might be the answer to all the merging headaches we have.
And it gets even better! The idea is to deliver DevBase as an application written in C/AL so you can modify it yourself!
Next thing they showed was a prototype of a possible future debugger for the RTC. Now for me, right now I would go for ANY debugger rather then what we currently have: NOTHING.
Now this prototype has some interesting features. First is that they would like to allow us to change the value of variables during debugging. So for example you can change the value of an integer from 1 to 2 during the execution of the code.
The second thing is conditional breakpoints. This allows you to say: only break here if the value of this and that is such and so.
Lastly and most cool was reverse debugging. You can record a transaction and play it backwards or have a customer send you a debugging file to analyze.
Last but not least they showed an idea they are having, also very much prototype, about a new object type called a query. Basically it is structured in the same way as a report with nested dataitems but rather than issuing the SQL statements record by record and dataitem by dataitem it will do a join based on the DataItemLink.
How cool would that be!
But it gets better. You can manipulate the dataset that SQL server returns by C/AL code. You can add columns with variables, delete lines and even YIELD in new lines.
Microsoft allowed me to blog about this session if I promised explicitly that these are PROTOTYPES of ideas that maybe in some form might be in the product in some version, or maybe never be.
But my suggestion would be to reply to this blog entry massively to have them give these cool prototype features a chance of a long lifecycle!
Another cool new feature that will be introduced in R2 is object locking. For some of us this is something we have been waiting for for a long long time.
So what does it do; basically they have added two fields to the Object Table: Locked and Locked by User.
It allows you to check in and check out objects and prevent other developers to modify the object while you are doing your feature.
Cool isn’t it?
Thank you Microsoft
This year Directions USA is held in San Diego California. You’d expect sunny weather but no, it is foggy and rainy. I hope we are not adopting the EMEA rain events.
You might remember the days when I and Waldo did a lot of blogging when we went to events like this and wonder why this is not that active anymore. I have been thinking about that and my guess is that the content is not as hot as it was one or two years ago.
Back then we had a lot of cool new stuff like RTC, webservices, RDLC reports etc. This has all been long released in most of the countries and most sessions here are repeating and more deep diving into the same stuff we saw as being new two years ago.
A good example I guess is that at this very moment I am in Waldo’s session about Webservices. Nothing new you’d think, but wait. It’s in the implementer track, so for functional people. This means that webservices is moving from a hot techies topic to a functional area where real world customers are working with it.
So what is new this year? Basically it is all about the cloud. MSFT will release 2009 R2 in some months and all new features are cloud features and integrations features.
With R2 you will be able to run the application as a App-v application over the WAN. This means that the service tier and the SQL box don’t have to be on your premise anymore. It also eliminates the use of citrix and/or terminal services. Isn’t that cool.
Another new feature that I was happy to hear is that .net interop will be included into R2. This feature was originally planned for v7 and has moved forward to R2. With this feature C/AL developers can use any .net dll and start coding against it directly rather than making com wrappers around it. COOL.
So what did I do this year. My session was about Tools/Tricks that make Development Easier and more Organized. It sounds easy but was more difficult than I expected. It was the first session of the developer track and I was happy to see over 50 attendees at 8am. The feedback I had was very positive and if you are curious, have a look at the slides I have uploaded here.
The other cool thing I did was signing my book during the expo. I will be posting pictures about that and it was nice to hear the compliments from people who are in the Dynamics NAV community for a long time.
So what remains is the party tonight with the C/Siders band. Looking very much forward to that.