Dynamics AX in the Field

Microsoft Dynamics AX from the Premier Field Engineering team at Microsoft.

Efficient Dynamics AX Application Lifecycle Management approaches with Team Foundation Server in the cloud

Efficient Dynamics AX Application Lifecycle Management approaches with Team Foundation Server in the cloud

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Premier Field Engineering is delivering many Code Review for Dynamics AX all over the planet. One thing we often face is the fact that a real Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) approach is not in place. Real application lifecycle management and even a proper version control with Team Foundation Server (TFS) is still a mystery for lots of Dynamics AX development teams.

Most of the customers which don't utilize TFS for their complete Application Lifecycle Management process, including Version Control, have some kind of 'fear of contact'. Often this is due to the fact, that hosting, installing and configuring TFS mean additional resources and readiness effort for the IT staff. If you are in the middle of an implementation project, this kind of short term investment might not be easy to 'prioritize'. Therefore I want to show you how to utilize TFS while minimizing your 'fear of contact' powered by the cloud. 

 

Version Control

Please note that a Version Control is only one small part of ALM. MorphX, the Microsoft Dynamics AX Integrated Development Environment (IDE), can integrate various Version Control Systems (VCS). You can integrate:

  • Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (TFS)
  • Microsoft Visual SourceSafe* (please note it will be deprecated in next release)
  • MorphX VCS
  • Another third-party VCS

Here you can find a comparison of these different VCS. With ‘MorphX VCS’ AX has an ‘out of the box’ version control system, with clear limitations when it comes to a real ALM approach. To leverage a complete ALM you need a tool to support it. Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) is our recommended toolset for Dynamics AX.  

 

Losing the 'fear of contact'

Visual Studio Online is a cloud based service. It was released in November 2013 and is free of charge for up to 5 users. Therefore it is the perfect first step to get in touch with the power of TFS Integration with Dynamics AX. There is nothing stopping you from testing the capabilities of this integration for your Dynamics AX 2012 development.

Figure 1 provides a high level overview of the Visual Studio Online features.

Figure 1

 

-Note- Here you can find details about Pricing: http://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/products/visual-studio-online-overview-vs

 

In Figure 2 we can see a screenshot of the team's home page in Team Foundation Server. It provides an overview for example of the burn down rate of work items, and it can be adjusted to the project needs.

 Figure 2

 

Tips to avoid pitfalls

Once you've registered an account on www.visualstudio.com try to connect AX to the URL related to your account (e.g. 'YOURACCOUNT.visualstudio.com'). You may run into the following issue “resource cannot be found”:


 

The reason for this is that AX 2012 is only supported for TFS 2010 and 2012. (For more information, see Supportability Matrix)

 

 

So we need to achieve TFS 2013 client compatibility. "Visual Studio Online always runs the latest version of TFS. [...] To connect to a server that’s running the current version of TFS, use any of these clients. This includes connecting to Visual Studio Online." Source: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd997788.aspx

 

Following is needed:

Visual Studio version

Team Explorer version

Required software

Visual Studio 2010

Team Explorer 2010

Requires SP1 and Compat GDR.

After you've applied the KBs you will be faced with the following login prompt inside Dynamics AX. Just login with your Microsoft ID and you're good to start your TFS experience!

 

Supportability Matrix

This possibility to get in touch with TFS from Dynamics AX development is not officially supported, here a list of fully supported combinations:

AX Version

TFS Version

Requirements / Comments

AX 4.0

-

No TFS Integration, only Microsoft Visual SourceSafe 2005

AX 2009

TFS 2008

Team Server is required.

AX 2012

TFS 2010, TFS 2012

TFS 2012 requires Cumulative update 5

AX 2012 R2

TFS 2010, TFS 2012

TFS 2012 requires Cumulative update 1

 

  • Nice to see an article on this, but you have it wrong. It's not installation effort or cost, but rather an inability for customers and partners to see the value. You would think any developer would jump on the opportunity to use source control - but for some reason that is not the case with Dynamics AX.

    I blog about TFS frequently but the negative comments and emails I get sometimes reflect one and the same issue: customers and partners don't "get" the benefit, they think it's overhead in all possible directions.

    We have to do a better job of showing the community what's in it for them, as that is the hold up for a lot of people, unfortunately.

    Also, we use TFS 2012 with all versions of AX 2012 and AX 2009, regardless of update level, without any issues or special installations. I believe the CUs shown here may just reflect the point at which it was certified by Microsoft.

  • Hi, i've already worked which a tfs scenario. The issue is NOT the TFS. The issue is, that you have to have a separated environment per developer in this scenario (or do some really crazy tricks, see DeGruyters Blog).

    Even if you had one environment per developer the scrap cost is to big.

    (When the customer of project A calls you, you have to checkout the whole application of that customer and compile it on your environment. Then you have to sync the database. In total this takes 6 - 12 hours.)

    So there are to much cons than pros for tfs and you can go with the morphx version control to have at least some kind of history.

    Kind regards

    Andi

    Andreas.Rudischhauser@inway.de

  • @Joris & Andi: I really appreciate your feedback. I agree that for some reason the value for utilizing TFS is not clear for all customer and partners and I'm happy that you mention the need of providing more information to our community as this was driving me to provide our first AX TFS blog post. As I’ve mentioned utilizing TFS for Version Control is only a small part of the Dynamics AX application lifecycle. There is much more value on top of pure version control. And thanks a lot Andi for giving me inspiration for one of our next blog posts as there are ways to decrease the ‘scrap costs’.

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