New Statement of Directions: Where is NAV '7' going to …

Since the hassle I got with my previous post, I'm not sure anymore what I'm allowed to post, and what not... . Sometimes, I've got the feeling that it's not a "straight border" or how do you call it in English .. it's not clearly defined. It's seems more like .. "It doesn't feel appropriate, so you're not allowed to".

Anyway, same with this post. The Statement of Directions (SOD). We're not allowed to distribute the document, but we ARE allowed to share the contents with customers and prospects (so I read this as: EVERYONE). Now, my previous post about SOD wasn't a problem, so I'm sure this isn't a problem either :-).

When you read the document (which partners can download here), you'll notice that everything that's in it, is "what they are focusing on", which means they will try to get in the next release, but every topic is subject to be removed from the scope. This seems obvious to me, really. This is common sense. There isn't a definite release date for NAV '7' (which is a codename) yet, and why and how would they be able to clearly say what's definitely going to be in it?

So, read this article as: they are putting every effort in getting this into the next release, but it could be that it's not going to make it... .

Welcome to the "Statement of Directions" :-).

If you read through the document, you'll find there is a lot they are focusing on. As I'm not really into the functional part of NAV, you have to excuse me that the things I'm going to mention, could not make sense to you, as they definitely make not much sense to me either ;°)

It's a good thing Microsoft still focuses on the right things:

  • Simplicity
  • Productivity
  • Interaction with Microsoft Technology
  • User Experience
  • Rapid Time-to-Value

This doesn't say much to you, does it? Well, I will try to go into a more concrete level. Here we go:

On functional level:

  • Connect with Dynamics ERP. I don't know if you ever heard about it. You can see it as some kind of cloud services. Dynamics NAV will connect with the cloud services that Microsoft is going to build. More about this when more about this is available Wink.
  • Financial management. People are going to put a lot of work into:
    • creating a solid foundation on which to build and deliver environmental management accounting and compliance capabilities.
    • enhancing electronic Payments
    • creating electronic Invoicing
    • ...
  • For Sales & Marketing it seems that the most important new thing is going to be a "NAV-CRM Connector". I hear you know thinking "FINALLY" :-). Not unimportant: you're going to be able to extend this connector.
  • What about Service Management? It's clear that in general, they will focus on a closer integration with other application areas such as Jobs, Resource mgt, Warehouse, Distribution and MS Dynamics CRM (via the connector)
  • The Manufacturing-granule is also something they are going to put a lot of work in in following areas:
    • Production planning overview
    • Tracking and analyzing of plans,
    • Prioritization
    • Subcontracting
    • Integration with the job module

      --> one planning for all resources

    • Increased client extensibility and visualization capabilities (is that a visual planning?)
  • On top of these functional areas, there will be some improvements in these as well .. where I'm not going into detail (because I was bored with the functional stuff, and wanted to get into the technical stuff Wink - there wasn't much more, believe me .. just read the document):
    • Warehouse & Distribution
    • Jobs and Project Management
    • Resource Management
    • Business Intelligence

On Partner productivity (which is mostly "Technically Speaking"):

  • Improvements to the Page Designer.
    • More graphical page designer. When I read this, I guess there is going to be some kind of preview or whatever. Something where you can clearly see what consequences will a particular change have on a page (visually).
  • Discontinuation of forms. This is stated more then once in the document, so I really think this is a strong focus of the development team. This also means many things:
    • You'll HAVE to go RoleTailored
    • You'll HAVE to go on SQL Server
    • ...
  • Ability to debug on the NAV Server in C/AL. Is this a new debugger? Yep, it is! And this one is going to show you the C/AL code, not the C#.
  • MS Dynamics Sharepoint Integration Framework. This can mean a lot of different things. But let's just think they're going to create a framework where it's possible to publishe pages into a sharepoint web part ;°).
  • Adminstration from within the RTC. Now, it's not possible to e.g. Create users within the RTC. You have to use the classic for that. They will put a focus on "not having to do that anymore".
  • .NET interoperability: allowing .NET to be accessed from C/AL. Now, isn't THAT cool?
  • Query designer. Now, Finally: Now, building a report meant, building a data set, then, building a RDLC. But what if I want to reuse that dataset? Or what if something changes? Multiple datasets had to changes. In next release: they will try to create a query which you can use for multiple reports. On top of this, you will get a RDLC-wizard. This is less useful in my opinion, because RDLC is quite easy to do.
  • Improved client extensibility: Easy deployment.

So, what about User productivity:

  • Improved integration with sharepoint is obviously a very important part of "user productivity".
  • Extend integration with office 2010
    • Timesheet mgt
    • Customer report generator
  • Support for unified communication. Cool. Although I don't have customers yet that use UC ... .
  • Easier reporting for customers by SSRS & Report Builder. Are they going to foresee something in this Area?
  • Ability for ad hoc reporting in Excel. Hm. And what about JetReports? Is it going to be useful after this?
  • More charts and KPI's.
  • Improved page layout options and other enhancements that make it easier for the user to enter and view data. Whatever that's going to be....

Other Technical Improvements. Not unimportant and definitely worth mentioning:

  • No support for C/SIDE Databases. Isn't that a ***? That means: guys, get yourself migrated to SQL Server!
  • Support to easily consume web services. True. Consuming web services still is a b***h. Apparently, they're working on a solution :-).
  • Improved integration with outlook (large synchronizations would go easier and faster)
  • 64 bit service tier. One word: YES! :-).

So, dibbededibbede, that's all, folks. That's all I would like to share with you concerning the SOD. Again, there are NO PROMISES. There are FOCUS points. And if you ask me: there is a LOT to look forward to, so Microsoft, keep up the good work, and try the get everything in Smile!

For partners, it's always a good idea to follow the focus and strategy of Microsoft. For example, don't go building you own solution to consume web services, or at least, don't put too much work in it, because Microsoft is going to provide you a solution ... or at least ... is probably going to provide you one. Now you know the strategy and directions of Microsoft, so try to build your own strategy around it: the discontinuation of forms and no support for native databases are quite clear points in this.. .

Enjoy!

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