Dynamics AX Manuals is Now JoelLeichty.com

I felt annoyed for the past year that AX is no longer called AX, and I no longer make manuals for the iPad; “Dynamics AX Manuals” needed a refresh. Unlike product names, which seem to change every six months, I will very likely never change my name. With consistency and future-proofing as my guide, I decided to get creative and go with joelleichty.com. Also find me on Twitter @joelleichty.

If you ever want to vent about marketing craziness, use the hashtag #MicrosoftBusinessSolutionsDynamicsAXapta365ForFinanceAndOperationsEnterpriseEdition.

More Great Content

Periodically I like to highlight other bloggers who are active in the D365O/AX community. 

Kelly Kane is a newly minted MVP who blogs over at AX Soup about a “hodgepodge” of AX relatated topics. No word on how a hodgepodge compares to a plethora or slew. Kelly also promotes Women In Dynamics 👍🏻👍🏻. 

Rachel Profitt and I go way back, having worked together on an AX 2.5 implementation in 2002! She blogs now at Dynamics 365 Lady. And apparently getting her autograph at a conference is a rite of passage.

So there you have it. Lots of free great content brought to you by a fun bunch of nerds. If you find any of our posts helpful, please comment and like the content – we all love getting feedback on what helps you. 

FastTrack (D365O Tech Conference)

Microsoft has a generic program called FastTrack which enables direct collaboration with customer projects and initiatives. The D365 Operations group has its own take on this program. The Operations program provides services via technical talks, customer specific workshops, and recurring status calls. Agust Bjornsson, FastTrack Operations EMEA Lead, shared some of Microsofts goals at the Tech Conference. 

The bottom line of the FastTrack program is for Microsoft to enable consistency of implementation across the partner channel, and for customers (and partners) to have a feedback mechanism back into Microsoft if they encounter questions or issues.

I think this is a fantastic concept – these types of programs are so crucial to knowledge and idea sharing between Microsoft, partners, and customers. It’s still a fairly new program, so I anticipate tweaks to the concepts going forward. And to be frank, part of this program’s purpose is for Microsoft to monitor for implementations going off the rails – thereby protecting their future revenue streams. But keeping the communication channels open is a critical part of any long term product investment.

The company I work for, SAGlobal, has participated in this program both for our internal implementation, and on customer implementations. We’ve been happy to have a go-to person for each implementation. Olaf Traustason, Senior Technical Lead, said about FastTrack

I enjoy the Technical Talks because they are to the point and on point. 

Analytical Workspaces (D365O Tech Conference)

Last year I blogged about Workspaces in Dynamics 365 as a concept. At this year’s Tech Conference, TJ Vasser talked about some of the newly available features on the reporting side. TJ highlighted his own blog post about the various reporting options available for Dynamics 365 for Operations.

Analytical Workspaces

Up until March 2017, the only option for bringing Power BI content into D365O was to publish content packs in PowerBI.com, and each user had to link a Workspace to that published content pack. With Platform Update 4, it’s now possible to embed Power BI content packs directly into a Workspace. Embedding Power BI into Workspaces should remove much of the effort from the end user, and shifts the work to reporting analysts and developers.

The major components of the embedded experience are:

  • Adding a new form, or adding a Workspace tab.
  • Defining the .pbix files that are embedded in the Workspace.
  • Writing a controller class that links the .pbix file to the form, manages filters and security, and defines drill-through experiences.

It’s Not All Rainbows

There are many caveats to this story – when investigating D365O and Power BI features, it’s always a good idea to prototype the entire process before building out any specific feature. Some of the caveats for the embedded reports include:

  • Currently only Entity store is supported; using your own database (BYODB) is unsupported.
  • Embedded Power BI requires a developer and code promotion; publishing to PowerBI.com is easier to make fast changes.
  • It is possible to drill through from the embedded report, but each drill-through experiences require an Event handler in code.
  • There are better options for dynamic filtering experiences, but these also require development.

 Summary

Simplifying the user experience and bringing reporting into the app will make embedded Power BI a powerful tool. I anticipate quite a bit of development effort to provide awesome experiences. I also suspect the change management process for embedded could be problematic. It’s a good step in the right direction and is worth exploring. 

New Configuration Copy Features (D365O Tech Conference)

D365 for Operations needs a simpler way to define and export groups of entities from a source environment, and transform and import data into a target environment.

Microsoft is building some brand new (and long needed) tools for importing and exporting configurations between companies, environments, and default/template data environments. Mike Falkner led the session demoing the new features.

Define and Export

The Data Management UI is getting a refresh to be more usable in a number of areas:

  • Better overall organization of Workspace
  • Lists instead of tiles
  • Easier picking of entities into a group, including mass picking
  • Manual and automatic sequencing improvements

Transform and Import

There weren’t demoable features ready on this side of the equation. The general approach is supposed to be hard coded rules that can transform specific entities. The import should be simplified by more quickly selecting and importing multiple Data Packages.

Summary

I’m very happy to see more features in this area. The current features are workable, but every step takes longer than ideal. Look for features to come out this spring, with a quick and iterative release cadence.

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