Ok, the product we thought of as 5.0 then 5.1 and now 6.0 (or just "The Three Tier Client") has been delayed. Ranting and raving won't change that, I don't want to comment in this blog about my opinions of the product delay itself, but I will say "Microsoft you really should have done a better job of communicating all this to your customers". So let's get back to business, and concentrate on 5.0.
Unfortunately 5.0 really has gotten this title. It was born out of some rather hastily released statements about the next version of NAV, and unfortunately has been very much misunderstood by the market in general. I have worked with every version of Navision (except 2.65) from 3.04 (DOS) through 5.00. I have upgraded to just about every version in that range. Often the next version of Navision is great, often its bad. But its rare that Navision get it right first go. In this case though, they really got it right. 5.0 is a very solid product. None of this nonsense of trying to release lots of new "features" (Features generally can be read to mean "new bugs" or "new things to sell") but this time lots of serious fixes. Inventory costing now does what everyone wanted it to do. At long last those ridiculous phase task steps are gone from Jobs. I can now hit a button and get my data to Excel just like every $99.99 piece of software on the planet can do. 5.0 finally got it right.
I mentioned that often they don't get it right the first time. When you look at solid version of Navision, (You can read more about NAV versions on the Dynamics Book Wiki http://wiki.dynamicsbook.com/index.php?title=NAV_version_history) you always see a 0.01 or B or SP attached to the name. for example 1.1, 2.01, 3.10, 3.70B, 4.00SP3 these are the solid versions. What this meant, was that Service Pack 1 was always the fix for all the newly introduced bugs. But this time the version is solid, so the service packs will be something different. This time service packs can actually deliver something useful. I think that if NAV can keep this up, they will have a much happier client base, since it will mean you can upgrade to the next version, knowing that its solid and reliable, and then wait for the service packs for all the nice stuff to come. So assuming that Service Packs are what we get between now and 6.0, what should those service packs cover.
The major feature touted to the public of 6.0 is the three tier client. But what is this. Well in reality its all about a new graphical interface, which in reality is nice and pretty, but not really the thing we need to run out business. We have seen so many far more important features such as Web Services and Reporting Services. Although we can sort of do Web Services in 5.00 using NAS, its far from being an ideal solution. So if I could add to my wish list just one feature I would like to see in 5.00 SP1 it would be Web Services. In fact everyone I have spoken to about what they have seen so far from 6.0, the one feature that stands out is Web Services, NOT the new graphical client. As a #2 I would say Reporting Services. Not because it's really needed now, but it will be great for companies to start now that huge transition of reporting as soon as possible.
Web services as a part of a service pack for 5.0 would give users the ability to start simple systems integrations using Share Point. This would make 5.0 the version to upgrade to. As a company would then be able to build its integration and future development paths now, knowing that they are working on a system that is moving into the future.
Please Microsoft, if you can give us just one thing in 5.0, make it Web Services.
The next step on the way to the next version is the upgrade path. The FAQ issued by Microsoft tends to cryptically reveal that the 6.0 table structure will not be the same as 5.0, but the FAQ did not clearly state whether a service pack for 5.0 will change to the new table structure, or if 6.0 will have new tables that will require data conversion. Either way its not issue, but please don't keep this a secret. Just tell us YES 6.0 will have new tables and the upgrade will require a conversion process. Then clients can work now to build their upgrade strategy.
Version 5.0 is a good solid product, and offers clients many reasons to upgrade. I am very happy with results so far of running older objects on 5.0 executables, so if you can't do a full upgrade, at least get on the latest 5.0 executables. (http://wiki.dynamicsbook.com/index.php?title=NAV_technical_upgrade ) But for many customers the new Inventory valuation tracking and reporting is worth the upgrade. Of course if you have been thinking about using jobs for a while, and putting it off, then look at how jobs work now, and you may find it time to start using them.
Either way, things seem to have settled now, and now does seem the time to plan an upgrade to 5.0.
Something else that would be useful, is an optimize that does ONLY a remove of the 0-SIFT-records, but NOT an indexrebuild. This is better done in SQL by a maintenance plan.
No Web Services.
I just got a very definitive answer to this question, and Web Services will NOT be released as a part of a service pack for 5.0. We will have to wait for 6.0
I definitely agree with you David. Web Services these days are becoming more requested by customers to integrate Navision with external systems. Unfortunately I doubt it can be released before middle tier is finished. Navision business logic must be moved to moved to middle tier to communicate with Web Server, must be eliminated single thread limitation of NAS, etc.
I can do nothing but agree with You David. Although Darren Laybourn is super excited about the new client, it's the web services (and the MOSS web parts) that is the realy big thing about the new architecture to me.
The #2 for me would be more SQL performance optimziation even though the 5.0 is a great leap forward in this area. The average NAV-customer does not have an DBA who can tune and maintain SQL. More optimizations out-of-the box and pre packed routines for index defragmentation and such would be of great value.