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The Future of Dynamics NAV Extensions

Last week, there was a call from Microsoft (a so called “Directions Webinar”) all partners could attend. It was a public call, with about 400 people – which kind of means: the information is considered to be public.

Now, I’m not good in expressing my opinion. I never felt that it was my job nor obligation to tell Microsoft what they have to do, or what not. May be for some details, but not for major strategic decisions. Let’s just say I’m a sailor, not a boat-manufacturer, nor am I the wind ;-). So I’ll drive my boat to wherever the wind takes me – and I’ll update my boat as much as possible whenever new features come along .. and learn how to use them .. and even think about best practices on how to use them ;-). How’s that for a metaphor :p?

So this blog is not going to be about my opinion on Extensions. It’s merely to share the content of the Microsoft’s webinar about Extensions. The webinar is already shared on the Dynamics Learning Portal here.

The webinar was mostly on “the future of Dynamics NAV Extensions” (hence the title :-)) lead by Kurt Juvyns.

One of the first statements was quite powerful:

Extensions in Microsoft Dynamics NAV are quickly becoming more capable. It should be a fundamental part of your go to market strategy. It is your way to enhance NAV and to differentiate.

Well, hold on, Microsoft. Let’s be honest. There just isn’t enough possible with Extensions just yet to just drop everything that we’re used to, and start doing all with Extensions. The development capabilities are just not there yet.

True .. all that Microsoft tries to say here is that you should start diving into it – because they are moving fast, and before you know it, Extensions ARE fully capable, and you might not be …

Business Apps Marketplace for Dynamics NAV Extensions
This is very premature information, and Microsoft is still working on a lot of details. So there are a lot of questions and details to fill in. But one thing is for sure: Microsoft is working on a Marketplace for NAV Extensions.

You all have read about Project “Madeira”, right? There has been a LOT of posts about that, like my two blog posts:

When you think of it, some kind of Marketplace, where customers of Project “Madeira” can buy small additions – let’s call it Extensions – to their software, makes a lot of sense. And it’s exactly that what they (Microsoft) are working on.. . And we are going to be able to develop Extensions to put in the Marketplace .. oh yes we are :-). Talking about new opportunities…

Can anyone just upload stuff to the Marketplace?

Well, no. There is going to be a validation process. Microsoft will guarantee that only Extensions with a certain quality on numerous areas will make it to the Marketplace.  It’s not a CfMD process, but “something that happens before you upload”. Let’s call it a “quality assurance”. Something customers will want before they install your Extension ;-). So we need to be serious, people…

When you look at Project “Madeira”, you can see a page “Extension Management” which Kurt said that at a certain point would evolve in a “Business Apps Marketplace”. So my guess is that we will be able to see and add (and buy?) Extensions from within NAV .. but that’s only my personal assumption (and you know what is said about “assumptions”).

Licensing

I can imagine you have loads of questions about licensing. Well – no details there yet, as far as I know. All we know, is that “Extensions” needs a completely new licensing model .. and Microsoft is still “whiteboarding” to make it what they think you would like it to be ;-). All we know for now is that the Licensing model (if I can call it like that) for Project “Madeira” is going to be “CSP”: Cloud Solution Provider. You should already get yourself familiar with it .. and you can do that here: https://partner.microsoft.com/en-US/Solutions/cloud-reseller-overview

Extensions in Microsoft Dynamics NAV are quickly becoming more capable
Well, that was what that powerful statement above was saying .. but what does that mean? Let me answer very easy with a slide from the webinar. Here, you can see what NAV Extensions can do with NAV2016, and what the capabilities will be in the fall – with the next release of NAV (NAV “Madeira”) and Project “Madeira”:

That’s quite complete, right? Sure, we need to wait a bit for it .. but it’s coming nevertheless! We got a demo of it, where Microsoft showed an Extension that facilitates a “Rewards program” (something like air miles or whatever). They showed that it was possible to add an Add-In, reports, queries, an ODATA service based on the query, translation files .. all stuff that isn’t possible today with NAV2016, but stuff we need for Extension to make sense..

Here you see a screenshots on the AppFiles that needs to be included in the extension, like obviously the delta files .. but also an Addin.zip, translationfile.txt, queryWebservice.xml, … and more:

So .. NAV is getting all over the place. We have NAV on premise, we have NAV in the cloud on some kind of private SaaS either on Managed Services or our own hosted platform .. and we will have some kind of public SaaS offering from Microsoft with Project “Madeira”. You might wonder how Extensions come in to all of these offerings .. .

Well, do know that the Marketplace will first be available for US customers only, as there is quite a big focus for Project “Madeira” now, which will be released in the US first. But that doesn’t mean that Extensions are not interesting for the other offerings. Let’s review this slide:

I have been thinking for my own company on what we are going to do with Extensions. And at this moment, we don’t do anything with it in production. As mentioned, NAV 2016 is just not capable at this point. But we ARE:

  • Making ourselves aware
  • Exploring
  • creating best practices
  • deep diving
  • sketching design patterns
  • improving what we have now to facilitate extension later

And so should you! And here is how you can start making yourself familiar: http://aka.ms/navextensions .

So, this is all I have to share about the “Directions Webinar” on Microsoft Dynamics NAV Extensions. Again, you can watch the webinar here. Great job, Kurt Juvyns. 🙂

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.waldo.be/2016/05/18/the-future-of-dynamics-nav-extensions/

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  1. davmac1

    I wonder how they will solve the duplicate field name problem. I think they need extensions to use their own tables to keep them unique and also not to overflow tables like the sales header or job, and provide a way to have more than one source record for an individual page or an easy way to link one to one tables.
    Plus I expect a solution very soon on having to rebuild tables twice any time you have an update to an extension that uses custom fields or custom tables.

    1. waldo

      Well, there are issues .. but then again .. we have the duplicate name issues as well with fobs, right? Why does this need to be handled – just give me an error while a field with the same name already was added – this make the extensions not compatible.

      Just mho.. .

      But your suggestion would work as well ;-). Wouldn’t it “solve” the upgrade-problem as well? Don’t know .. just thinkin’ out loud :-).

  2. Erik P. Ernst (@EPErnst)

    Hi Eric,
    Thanks for sharing this. The statement in the webinar I found most powerful was “Extensions are the only way forward enhancing NAV in the future. No matter the customer scenario.”! That really sounds like NAV as we know it will change completely!

  3. Christian

    Hi!
    Will you say that after the October upgrade extensions are capable of doing most of the customization a customer needs? And most importantly, will the extension technology be good enough for Project Madeira to be a realistic choice for customers that have more needs than just basic accounting?

    Best regards,
    n00b / potensial customer

    1. waldo

      Well, it will all depend on the scenario, I guess. At this point, I don’t see that I would ever use Extensions for day-to-day customizations for my on-premise customers. But I do think it will be mature enough to meet quite “big” business needs on Project Madeira.. do know that extensions are the only way to customize project madeira, and in the next release, it’s clearly going to be a lot more mature ;-).

  4. Ouddai Mohamed-Inel

    Good morning,

    I do not think extensions are the right way to make mofications to native nav code.

    Example, a customer wants to change the posting of a sales order.

    This can not be done with extensions.

    Regards,

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