Here is your reporter back with more news about the Belgian MSDN/Technet evenings .
This time, the topic was "Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007 and Employee Portal in Microsoft Dynamics™ NAV". The agenda that (again) Steven and Roel from plataan handled, was not really what I expected. I expected a deep dive into the combination between EP and Sharepoint, but what we got was actually an overview of what is possible with all the Office, IW, BI, SharePoint , ... products in combination with NAV. It was an overview, no deep dive, but in a way, I have a good picture now of what I can do with the products, plus, what they can mean for Dynamics NAV. So in my opinion, I got more out of it.
I will try to give you the same overview added with some of my comments.
They started with Outlook Synchronization. This is not a new feature in 5.0, but a completely redesigned feature. Now you can synch any data, it's role based and it has got a flexible configuration. The main differences with the version version are:
Based on Events
Based on periodic Activities
Few Customization options
Very flexible and configurable
Based on settings for specific salesperson
Based on USERID and settings in synch setup
Error handling in Outlook
Technically it's very simple:
Pressing "Full Synchronization" resultated in the "planning" of the service orders in an outlook calendar. This way, he created some kind graphical user interface for service order planning... In no time. Cool, isn't it?
My comments on the Outlook Synchronization is the fact that it doesn 't work in Belgium for the Dutch version of Outlook. Some Outlook items seem te be wrong translated. You have to ask Microsoft for a hotfix before implementing.
Furthermore, Stylesheets. This was already covered in a previous MSDN evening. Plataan wanted this on the agenda, because it fitted into the complete "story". He just went over it very quickly. He demoed how to export a Customer Ledger Entry, and save it on his desktop. He also showed how to change the stylesheet with the downloadable stylesheet tool from partnersource.
My comments on this tool is the fact that there is an update you can download from mibuso. With this update, it is possible to use headers and footers as well .
Next topic: Record links. Also quite known already in the public. Just that you can link an URL, file, ... Whatever to a record in NAV, and open it from within NAV. Furthermore, there are a few data flows where the links "follow" the data. e.g. from order to invoice.
My comments: this feature includes a real disadvantage. The record links are loaded in a table (with ID 2000000068). Every call to the database has now an extra call to see whether this records has got record links or not (to show in the status bar at the bottom). This causes quite much extra load on the server. This extra database call is only needed for showing "LINKS" in the statusbar if the record got record links... . I hope Microsoft will do something about this.
And then, the topic of the evening: Employee Portal. Roel started to explain how the webparts technically "talked" with NAV. It just uses MSMQ to talk (via NAS) with NAV.
One of the most interesting things about EP (Employee Portal) is that most of the configuration is done with NAV. Steven showed us how to configure a "Web Part Request Template".
In Sharepoint, there are 4 new webparts available for EP: a List, Card, Header-Line and Search webparts. You recognize them immediately. He started to build a brand new page in Sharepoint, and used a list webpart for Service Headers (if I'm not mistaken) and a card webpart for a customer card. He linked the service header with the customer so that you could see the details of the customer from the record of the Service header.
My comments: Nice to see what is possible with EP, but still ... I find it very difficult to sell EP. Definitally knowing what is coming, but also because Sharepoint has got some limitations as well (mainly design).
After this, it went a bit fast. I have difficulties with products like MOSS, Groove, IW, InfoPath, .. Because I'm not really familiar with them. Therefor, for what's next, it could be that I'm using the wrong terms in the wrong place - but double negative is positive, right?
Roel (who did the 'blabla') started off with a very short explenation of following (and more) products:
Anyway, the Demo of Steven cleared some things up. This is what he did:
Roel concluded with a peace of InfoPath. He exported XML from Dynamics NAV (using XMLPorts) into a folder, and used these XMLs in his infopath document. This document intended to be some kind of timesheets. You could build something like:
This way, it is relatively easy to build an application in InfoPath, publish this on Sharepoint, let the users create XML's that can be imported in NAV again... . I think you get the picture.
So, that was it. It wasn't really a session that was "on topic", but it was interesting nevertheless.
Oh, before I forget ... and this is between you and me ... someone told me that they have some devices now that can record the sessions. So, probably the next session, I will be able to add a link to the video of the presentation .
Indeed, we have such a recording device and I really hope that we'll be able to record all the next sessions. In the near future we should also get a second device so if there are more sessions at the same time, we'll record them all. See you next time.