NAVTechDays 2015: Final thougths

Time for the traditional wrap-up of NAVTechDays. This has become a tradition, so let’s not break this tradition and let’s share some thoughts about the conference of what I have been calling “the best NAV conference there is” ;-). Well .. is it still? 😉

As every year, NAVTechDays was held in one of the biggest movie theaters in Belgium: the Metropolis (from Kinepolis) in the “beautiful” city of Antwerp. Yes, I do use quotes, because for me, it’s just the city closest to me – nothing really exciting anymore for me ;-). But for many people, it’s the city of diamonds, or beer, or chocolota, or .. the city where they throw hands (I admit, that sounds somewhat less appealing .. ).

Great tradition, because let’s be honest – for all the years of NAVTechDays – the location was one of the main factors which made NAVTechDays typically “NAVTechDays”:

  • The best speaker infrastructure
  • The best seats ever
  • The best food
  • The best .. Uhm .. everything!

So why change a winning team.

I wouldn’t want to be in Luc’s shoes. You know – Mr. MiBuSo. He just has such big expectations to live up to. But I guess – it’s because these expectations – these series of perfections – that NAVTechDays is a growing success. I mean: as far as I understand, Antwerp is a disaster to travel to (the worst traffic ever, far from the airport, …), but still the number of attendees is growing e-ve-ry year! This year: about 950 attendees from 42 different countries … THAT’S ALMOST 1000. I’m sure we’ll hit it next year ;-).

Pre-Conference Day

For the third year, there was a pre-conference day. This is a training-opportunity for the attendees that want tot spend an extra day, and learn “from the best” (I need to put this between quotes, just because I was one of the people that were giving a workshop ;-)). This year, 180 people attended one of these workshops:

Power BI for Dynamics NAV Steven Renders
Working with PowerShell and NAV waldo
Document Reporting in NAV 2015 Claus Lundstrom
Troubleshooting Essentials for SQL Server and Dynamics NAV Jörg Stryk
Let it build! Kamil Sacek
NAV ALM using TFS Luc Van Vugt
Implementing the Role Tailored client with Success Peik Bech-Andersen
installing and configuring SQL Server for Dynamics NAV Alain Krikilion
Developing controll add-ins for Dynamics NAV Vjekoslav Babic
NAV on Azure & in Office 365 Arend-Jan Kauffman
An introduction to Scrum Vincent Bellefroid
Generic, Repeatable & Low Footprint coding techniques Soren Klemmensen & Gunnar Gestsson
Microsoft Dynamics NAV Application Architecture and Design Patterns Mark Brummel

As you see, I had my own little workshop about PowerShell (duh, what else ;-)), and this year, I had the pent house:

A meeting room with its own kitchen, restrooms, … everything .. and .. with this view:

Conclusion: PowerShell rewards you in many ways ;-).

Unfortunately, I had the impression again that doing PowerShell for one day just isn’t enough. PowerShell needs a lot of excercise, lots of practice .. like any other new language you come accross. So it’s just very difficult to be very efficient in one day. Now, good news – Luc is thinking about having 2 pre-conference days next year! That would be great news for PowerShell! 😉

The conference

The next two days, it was time for the conference. And as every year, it’s quite a “different” event as all others .. In many ways. Just because it’s in a move theatre, the infrastructure in all aspects is perfect: the biggest screen ever (I mean: look at this picture)

.. the best seats, presenter-infrastructure like cloned screens, switch for multiple laptops, … and recordings! All sessions are recorded and made available on mibuso here. Only at NAVTechDays ;-). Everyone can download and benefit from all the sessions that have taken place this year .. more then 18 hours of video!

The nice thing at NAVTechDays is that Luc tries to invite knowledgeable people. And really – may be except for myself 😉 – he really succeeds in that. People from the field, lots of MVP’s shared their experiences in their main expertise. Me personally liked very much the Web Services session from Arend-Jan and Mark. AJ had the best examples to illustrate web services. Really useful .. do check out the presentations on Mibuso!

One downside at this year’s NAVTechDays was the WIFI. I think we can all agree. There hardly was any WIFI – or even wired internet connection for that matter – in the rooms .. and even during some sessions. This makes sessions somewhat challenging – especially when they’re using (or are about) the cloud. But then again, speakers should prepare for this (screenshots on slides for example) as this is not a very uncommon thing to happen on a conference with 1000 attendees. Luc did all he could to provide the best infrastructure – dedicated speaker network, even dedicated wired network. But sometimes Murphy isn’t playing very fair, I guess..

My Session: Thinking Outside the box with NAV Development

Luckily, during my session I didn’t have one problem with internet. Then again, I really didn’t use it that much. My session was about “Thinking outside the box”. I came up with the idea when I was watching “Bear Grylls” on Discovery Channel, as he mentioned that he needs to think outside the box when surviving any remote environment .. . Luc loved the idea and he gave it a shot.

I must say, I was very surprised with the amount of people. They kept pooring in – I had a room capacity of 750 people, and I heard that many couldn’t find a seat, and had to sit on the stairs and stand in the hallway.

What was it about. Well, the topic can be about anything, right .. so I decided to talk about:

  • Using PowerShell in daily life
  • Do’s and don’ts about NAV Extensions
  • Some hacking-abilities with NAV (to point down a big security risk when you configure NAV in the wrong way)
  • A small tip on how you can generate online help from a word document – useful for CfMD
  • NAVMgt: an internal tool at my company that we use to manage all our installations: internal and external

The only comment I got was “there was a lot of PowerShell”. Well, I guess that’s true .. and somewhat unwillingly but not surprisingly… There is no way around, guys. PowerShell is something you’ll need to look into, because a lot of problems can be solved with it .. It makes your life so much easier if you want to. So when talking about best practices, it’s normal PowerShell pops up regularly.. . Anyway .. that was just in my defense ;-).

During this session I “released” my PowerShell scripts that I’ve put on GitHub. I already blogged about it here. Use them – really. This week for example I have been doing 6 upgrades with my company (including data) .. and I must admit, the scripts work! During the next few blogposts, I will guide you through the functions that are in the scripts .. a lot to come ;-).

The recording of my session can be downloaded here. And Luc has made it available on the MiBuSo channel on Youtube as well:

Hope you enjoy ;-).

If I’m getting the chance to do a similar session next year, I’ll sure look into the PowerShell-topic, and make sure there is a better balance between PowerShell and “something else” ;-). But I do want to thank Luc for this opportunity. It’s a lot of work, but it’s so rewarding to do sessions for NAVTechDays. The best audience ever! 🙂

Some impressions

So, I think we can speak of another successful NAVTechDays! And yes – it’s still the best NAV conference around in my opinion! Can’t wait for next year, to be honest. Here are some impressions of the conference. First of all, the traditional video of a fellow MVP Kai Kowalewski (hope I have his name right).

And of course some of the pictures of the event …

The speakers (don’t know what Gary was doing though.. :-))

A LOT of MVP’s (there are a few missing that also attended NAVTechDays though):

Me during my session .. NOT talking about myself 😉

Me with a small part of my team :-):

Wall-e and Eve:

Daniel enjoying a “bolleke” from Antwerp .. and even taking pictures of it:

42 Countries, 953 attendees!

The people in my session …

And the unavoidable PowerShell:

Arend-Jan doing is Web Services thing:

My best picture on the session room – look how gigantic it is!

Speaker’s shirts:

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