All around NAV dev and test
On October 31, months after MS announcement at Directions EMEA 2011, Equisys shipped Zetadocs Express, a freely available and low entry, light document management module for Dynamics NAV.It allows you to Drag & Drop any file onto a record in the RTC to store it in SharePoint Online, start a SharePoint approval Workflow from within the RTC and Save & Send Dynamics NAV reports through Outlook and on SharePoint Online.Of course you can find more information on this dedicated web page.
After having been part of the beta program, for weeks we had been looking forward to get the final version and go ahead with our first customer. In this blog I wanted to share our experiences that partly are of relevance to any of you who have thought of using Zetadocs Express in customer projects.
As soon as we had heard of Zetadocs Express we reckoned that it would be of great help in our projects being a low entry, i.e. low investment, document management solution for a number of our small business customers. Indeed not a costless solution as you need to have an Office 365 subscription for each of your users. Office 365 Small Business $ 6,- / month or Enterprise E1 ($ 10,- / month), E2 ($ 16,- / month), E3 ($ 24,- / month), E4 ($ 27,- / month).Low entry and as such a first and easy step to a more complete/mature solution (see the Zetadocs for NAV product family).
The beta program had learned us that Zetadocs Express was easy to install, although I have to mention that it took a little while before I did get the SharePoint part working. On one hand this was due to having little SharePoint experience, on the other this was also complicated by the fact that, at that time, the installation guide was only available in English and my Office 365 was in Dutch including all SharePoint specific terms. However, do not despair, with the actual release of Zetadocs Express documentation is being provided in the following languages:
The beta program also learned us that we were dealing with eager and dedicated professionals. Thumbs up for that, guys!
But there was one thing , in retrospect, we ourselves failed to handle in this stage: to try and implement it into our own add-on. Ouch, this is were our 'love at first sight' was substantially diminished. We had skipped that part due to some other urgent matters and based on our own short sightedness; i.e. we hadn't read the documentation well enough apparently and assumed just an important bit too much.
So what did we ran into?
As soon as the final product was released one of our developers was set to task of implementing Zetadocs Express into our add-on. I.e. provide every relevant page with the Drag & Drop FactBox and Save & Send command. Not a big thing to do as it was just adding some lines to each page object using Araxis, etc.Drag & Drop working fine, but Save & Send not at all. So I got a mail from the developer informing about this including more detailed info onto the why (based on his debug results and analysis of the code behind). At first I couldn't believe my eyes, blurred by my assumptions and disbelieve.But it was clear that Save & Send was only enabled for Sales and Purchase documents. And actually we could (and should) have known as this clearly was stated in one single line in the (beta and final) installation guide.
Of course I blame myself for not having registered this initially and I will not try to cover that, but there are still some points that itch me to the bone and which I reckon to be missed chances for this product, and true, which I still do not fully understand why they have been missed. I'll list from major to minor:
The last 3 points are to us really minor matters and "part of the game" of setting a restricted scopes for a express product. The first was a real showstopper for us. Of course it's a nice feature on those sales and purchase documents, but that's only part of the need of our customers, so it's unfortunately worthless. You cannot make a car run on two wheels!
From product development point of view I still have a hard time to understand why the scope has been set like this:
As our product manager I had to decide , with 'pain in my heart' as we say over here, to abandon this potentially 'great' add-on and develop the Save & Send feature ourselves.Meanwhile I am still hoping Equisys, in close collaboration with MS, picks up the virtual gauntlet I am throwing at them now.
By no means I am trying to pull a leg to anyone, I am just sharing our experience and my thoughts hoping this will help you to make your own decisions.
As such I also asked Equisys to read this before this would go out and was responded by word of Gregory Cole, ZetadocsProduct Manager:
True to your word you have produced an accurate account of the situation. It is right to point out that there is an additional cost for Office 365, assuming the NAV customer does not already have a subscription, but the key point is that it’s a no cost solution from Equisys.In terms of the restrictions. We needed to keep the scope of Zetadocs Express tight to ensure the cost of supporting a no cost add-on was not going to be high. We have experience from supporting our complete solutions in the field that the cost of support rises significantly when troubleshooting custom NAV objects. Although we only provide Community support for Zetadocs Express, at this stage and I guess for many months Equisys staff will be the only people supporting it.
Recently I came across the following issue on RTC:
Everything is shown OK like in the following screen shot. All UI string (captions) are in DEU, which is what we expect to get.
For this experiment I have taken Page 9006, the Order Processor Role Center, as 'my' page and I have removed all ENU captions from it. Now running RTC in ENU I am getting this:
But this is not how it's handled on classic client (CC). On CC it will always show me some text based on the following algorithm as to be found in the What’s New in C/SIDE 3.01 document.
Whenever a caption needs to be displayed, C/SIDE searches for the caption in the current language. If this cannot be found, C/SIDE searches for the text in another language.
If, for example, the user wants to use German (Swiss) - i.e. DES - and the user wants to see a form that contains strings that do not exist with the language ID DES, the algorithm will tell the system to look for a string with the language ID DEU. This is because German (Standard) is the primary language for German (Swiss). Next to that English (US) - i.e. ENU - is considered to be primary language of all primary languages
The algorithm telling C/SIDE how to search for the right text uses the following order:
The previous steps, however, are not complete, as the algorithm can go beyond step 4 in two additional scenarios, and here is where CC and RTC clearly deviate.
If the current object/global language is ENU and no ENU captions exist, but , for example, DEU captions do CC will show the DEU caption and RTC will show some objects empty and others with the Name value.
To illustrate this I take the Customer Card and make sure I have removed all ENU caption from both the underlying table and the form/page.
Clearly DEU captions are used for fields, controls (including menu items not shown) and form.
Clearly page and fields show the Name value, but controls are shown empty (including menu items not shown and FastTabs).
This can be the case for any C/SIDE object like tables, fields, forms, controls and reports. If no captions are available, i.e. CC will always take value of the Name property which cannot be empty as this is mandatory to any object.
Aha, this is some special case as some controls, like the TabControl can not do without captions as this will throw a run time error, but apart from that all objects, fields, controls will show the Name value.
This shows same behavior as in case of "Captions in other primary language", i.e. page and fields show the Name value, but controls are shown empty (including menu items not shown).
CC and RTC do not act in the same way regarding the display of UI strings. Is this a problem? Not really, but it still feels awkward that on RTC controls are shown empty. What do you prefer?
Ever used the Problem Steps Recorder on Windows 7? Take advantage of it to show your customer how to solve an issue, to show your developer how so reproduce an issue, to ... what else you can make up to use it for.
I still recall the annoyance one of the first times I was going on the Internet having to enter some data, or more specifically having to select a check box. I was clicking on the label text next to it, but nothing happened. Having been raised on a Fat Mac (512 KB internal memory!) I was used to select it 'anywhere'; on the check box itself or on the label belonging to it.
The same emotion came to me working with Navision Financials (2.01) for the very first time. Using a PC was some kind of shock by itself. And then, on top of this, the immensity of the subject of this post: selecting a check box in Navision Financials. Having to move the mouse pointer into that perfectly square shaped control and click. Almost nothing worse for a RSI prone person.
Meanwhile I have become an almost full-time keyboard user, which indeed means entering data on a window like the Location Card without almost any mouse movements. Striking the keys with passion, I know how to navigate from one field to the other, between tabs and down to any menu item. Nothing special, but saving me the annoyance of trying to catch the check box. One major exception to the rule - deduced just now - seems to be request forms. On these I tend to reach for the mouse and hit the bulls eye.
Apparently my annoyance did never build up high enough to make me enter a suggestion on msconnect for improvement. And now, by some sort of coincidence, I only recently found out there is no need to anyway. Of course classic will disappear not long from now and RTC will rise to the zenith, having been holding the solution to my supercalifragilisticexpialidocious emotional burden.
Sitting next to Andy Zippel, my Add Freeze Pane guru , last week it was only then that the scales were removed from my eyes. Selecting a Check Box for Dummies! My prayers were answered; and long before I even realized. I saw a check mark appearing although Andy did not click his mouse pointer on the box itself. At first I could not believe my eyes. And it seems I am even worse than doubting Thomas still no fully convinced RTC has really come to my rescue defying every check box by clicking anywhere on the label.
The enlisting for the November 23 DDC event will close on Friday November 18, 2011.
At present already over one hundred NAV pros subscribed to the event! If you did not and want to join the event go ahead and subscribe here.
For more details on the event go here.