Reporting from TechEd 2007

Today it started.

Just got of Bob's keynote's. The opening was pretty cool with Christopher Lloyd from Back to the Future in his Time Machine.

For me one thing was clear after the keynotes. This is the period of integration. Although TechEd is a Microsoft Classical event there are loads of information for business developers here.

In a couple of years from now it will not be just an easy answer to a question on what application you are running.

You can have Outlook information in Dynamics or BI information in Outlook. Webservices will connect everyone and share information through companies.

Fortunately they finaly are starting to use Dynamics in their presentations. The BizzTalk demo showed Axapta. Mr. Green

For me it is now off to the demo booth.

This afternoon there will be a session on NAV 5.0 for (Office) integration and wednesday on 5.1 and webservices. I'll keep you updated.

Session T-SQL

Just went to this session about advanced T-SQL. It made me realise how happy we need to be with C/AL.

First he showed how to transform a comma separated sting into an array, next was how to build a pivot table. Last on the agenda was how to make a unique sales invoice number.

And then this was an advanced session.

I did however get a really good idea on how to make a hack on the number series for numbers that my have a gap.

NAV 5.0 and Integration

The session was presented by Michael Rosenørn.

This was a chalk and talk session about NAV 5.0 and integration. Well, it should have been but Michael did most of the talking which he does pretty good.  :mrgreen:

One of the issues with the office xml interface is that the changing of the stylesheets is very difficult unless you like reading xml schema's.

Fortunately they have changed that and added a stylesheet manager that allowes you to create them in a wysiwyg way. Great! It will be released shortly but there is no official date.

After that he showed how easy it is to attach documents to every record and copy them from sales quotes to orders and so on.

Second part of the demo was about the outlook integration. One of the things I was less familiar with. It is very easy to set up synchronisation of e.g. Items and even have a special form for it in outlook.

Core issue here is that all end users who take NAV serious as their business product and want to upgrade in to the future 5.0 is the right version to go to TODAY. It will be mandatory for a 5.1 migration anyway and this is what you can do. It is also the perfect version to migrate to SQL server as it is pretty much pre-tuned out of the box.

Thank you very much Michael for this presentation and a great job!

Microsoft Dynamics Client for Microsoft Office

For me, this was one of the biggest question marks after the announcement at Convergence San Diego.

It seems now that it is a suite of add-ins for MOSS (Sharepoint) and Office.

Weird though is that it is not a real dynamics wide solution. They showed the sharepoint client for GP and SNAP add-ins for AX.

Now we know we are getting better sharepoint integration and webservices for NAV 5.1 so that whould cover MOSS.

What about the SNAP thingy? It is a pretty cool feature where you can pull your Dynamics data out from within Word, Excel, Outlook or InfoPath but it seems to be written only for AX. It could be very usefull to have in NAV also.

Pricing is between 195 and 395$ but then again, it has not yet been released for NAV so that may change.
 

Database maintenance in SQL Server 2005

Now this was a really interesting one, just to get confirmed that you are doing a good job.

This guy took us though all of the steps in creating a maintenance plan. He also advised to create your own in T-SQL instead of relying on the maintenance wizzards. I think this especialy counts for NAV databases.

Also the hardware is very important for maintenance because it is an expensive job, especialy if the timewindow is small.

One of the cool new features of SQL 2005 is the online reindexing. I am very happy that this will be supported in one of the upcomming releases of the SQL Perform Tools.

I am not going in dept about this session because it had a ton of slides so if anyone has a specific question just ask.

Now off to SQL 2008.

SQL 2008 - Beyond Relational

As the name says. More integration between relational databases and external data like photo's video's documents etc.

SQL 2008 will have better integration and better performance with regarance to BLOB's. I am not quite sure how this will reflect to NAV though.

One of the other new features is the introduction of datatypes for geological positioning. For example when you add coordinates to all of your customers you can do geographical analysis bases on ZIP code regions.

One of the cool things whas the mentioning of better performance with full text indexing. Planning on investigating how this will affect the funny queries NAV users are somtimes making.

Best practices for large datawarehouses

This was a really interesting session about handling large tables (50GB+) on SQL Server.

What you really must take away here is that it is very important to think about your index plan, clustered index and even datatypes.

One special thing they reccomend is to replace the datetime datatype with an integer like '20060215'. Also always put the date as the last field in your indexes.

My guess is this will become more and more important because customers databases are getting larger and larger.

Office Excel and Analysis services, an In-Depth look at integration

Analysis services for me is the future for reporting. Especialy if you have larger databases where you do not want spooky queries running around in your OLTP database.

Excel has some really great features to work with analysis services and show the cubes in either Pivot tables or you can work with the new CUBE functions. These functions let you exacly determine per cel what part of the CUBE data you want to see.

Imaging putting conditional formating over that and publish that onto an excel service.

Your management can view excel data as html and have real time data from the datawarehouse that is connected to the NAV backend system.

NAV 5.1 and Webservices

This was a very cool session about the new client and webservices.

This session was loaded! There were no more seats and people had to stand. That is so great for the future of Dynamics on TechEd.

I have spoken to more C/AL developers these few days than on all other TechEds together.

I have seen and played with the new client a lot the last couple of months and they are really doing an incredible job in stabelising the system and make it really friendly to work with. Once you know your way it is really easy to navigate and highly customisable. Users can change the look and feel of the pages and the menu's.

One of the cool things is that the menusuite also renders the same way as the old 3.x menu's.

One of the other cool things is the error pane which shows all of the error and you can swich to the error after you clicked on it.

Also the reports look so much cooler in SSRS. There are graphs and colors on them.

One of the cool things Micheal Rosenorn showd is the freezepane which you can use to freeze a couple of colums and scroll through the rest just like in excel.

Then there are the webservices.

This has really been done the Navision way, using the KISS model. Keep it simple.

Basicaly what you can do is expose both codeunits and pages as a webservice. Now codeunits may sound obvious but a page is a ui contol right? Well, a ui contol is for dataentry and modification and so is a webservice. The page definition will decide which fields you have and on what order the validation is done.

So how do I make a websevice, well this is very complex. Step 1 is to go to a new system table called webservices and create a line saying this page or codeunit is a webservice. There is no step 2. Mr. Green

Now you can use all the members of the object as a webservice from visual studio, office, or sharepoint, or other app's that can handle webservices.

All business logic is run and all validations are done just the way it would happen in the normal client.

Now this is also the reason to stress out why TechEd is so important for NAV partners and developers. This is the place where you can learn all about this technology and sharepoint, visual studio, SQL Server and more.

I could even make a list of session that are related to this NAV session.

That's all, long story. Please if there are any questions, just post.

Analysis services Best Practices

Now this was a real in-dept sesion about optimising MDX queries. Something every NAV partner with large installations should dive into.

Seems like even SSAS has performance issues, but at least your OLTP database does not suffer from it.

Visiting NetApp and EMC2

These are storrage manufaturors.

TechEd also has a huge expo where companies can promote themselves. Two of those companies are NetApp and EMC2. Since some of my high end customers (300GB +) are running on such systems I decided to visit them and ask all about their systems.

One of the issues I am having with a EMC storrage is that at one customer I have a responsetime of 2ms at the disks and at another 44ms. Very strage. But systems like these are just not simple anymore. There are nomerous ways to do mirroring and striping and setting up backup systems.

My guess it is either the fact that there are 2 filegroups on different luns or that the luns are spread over the same spindles.

An interesting fact about the NetApp is that they prefer to run on Raid 6 with double parity. They claim to have come up with a special pattented 3 layer system which can handle it on OLTP systems. Well, my customer will migrate from DAS to NetApp as soon as they have the ok for fibre connection.

Meeting the 5.1 UI guy

Although 95% of the meeting was under NDA I would lastly like to mention that friday, one hour before closing we had a guy comming to us who had worked on the orriginal project green and fenway.

He explained in detail about how every UI part was put together and why. Very cool.

One of the coolest things was though that after Microsoft took over he moved to Redmond and is now working for MS UI and was explaining to colleagues how cool the Dynamics UI was and what parts could be used for other microsoft products.
 

Back Home

For everyone who has been reading this post (there have been very few comments/questions) this is how it ended.

The last 1,5 days I have pretty much spent at the NAV booth. This is nice to do because it lets you talk at many people varying from dynamics experts to people who ask if it is a virus scanner. Anxious

On friday it ended and since I flew from Miami instead of Orlando I had to drive back.

My flight back had a 3,5 hour delay and my suitcase was lost, but fortunately they will bring it back tomorrow.

That's all folks for this year. I have to prepre my SQL Perform workshop for tomorrow.

Comment List
  • Hi Mark,

    I know the show is over, but it would be nice if you also added a small note in your report with a notice of what day the event took place, then it was easier to see what I had read and what I had not been reading....

  • Thanks Mark!

    Besides all the new MS-stuff...

    It must be exciting to see Christopher Lloyd from Back to the Future! ;-)

    greetings Tino

  • Hi Mark,

    Thanks for your report. Maybe that conference is too technical for a guy like me. And Microsoft's evangelist Michael Rosenørn always does a good job of presenting Dynamics NAV.

    If it's possible to make any "requests" for further topics to your blog, then I would love to hear what Microsoft has to say about Microsoft SQL Server 2008 (codename Stirling). Especially about what's in it for us (the Dynamics users)...

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