Developing for Dynamics GP

by David Musgrave (Perth, WA, Australia) and the Microsoft Dynamics GP Developer Support Team (Fargo, ND, USA)

21 Reasons why every workstation should have the Support Debugging Tool installed

21 Reasons why every workstation should have the Support Debugging Tool installed

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David Meego - Click for blog homepageAs I perform my role in the Asia Pacific Microsoft Dynamics GP support team I am finding that more and more sites already have the Support Debugging Tool for Microsoft Dynamics GP installed. This makes my job much easier as there are many features of the tool that help a support engineer diagnose and resolve technical issues.

What we are finding is that many partners now include the Support Debugging Tool as part of their standard installation at all their customers. This is fantastic, but they often are still not using the tool to its full potential and are only using it when there is an issue. This post has been written to encourage all partners in the Microsoft Dynamics GP community to take advantage of what this free tool can do for you and your customers.

 

Installation

To get the most out of the Support Debugging Tool, you need to have the latest build installed on all workstations on a system using a centralized "Administrator Controlled" setup file location.

  • To check details of the current version and see the release posts and download links, go to the Support Debugging Tool Portal page. 
     
  • To set up a centralized "Administrator Controlled" setup file location, look in the Recommended Configuration section in the Support Debugging Tool User Guide Manual (Debugger.pdf). There is also a summary of the steps on the Support Debugging Tool FAQ page under the Recommended Configuration section.
     
  • To get a better understanding of the tool, have a read of the Common Support Debugging Tool Myths - Fact or Fiction? page.

         

        Below are 21 features that could make your life less stressful:

         

        Administration Features

        The features below are an example of some of the features which make administration of a Microsoft Dynamics GP system easier and more efficient:

        • The Resource Information window can identify any dictionary resource (form, table or report) or security object from whatever information you have and then return all the details such as Technical Name, Display Name, Physical Name, Dictionary ID, Resource ID, Series, etc. Check out an example.
           
        • The Security Profiler can display all application level security events and identify resources causing permission errors. Then the Security Information window can display how a user does (or does not) get access and what Security Tasks and Security Roles are needed to get access. You can also get a list of all resources that a specific User, Security Role or Security Task has access to. Check out example 1 and example 2.
           
        • The Dex.ini Configuration window can automate control of Dex.ini settings throughout your system. You can update settings on any workstation without having to physically visit it, for example: changing the OLEPath for Note attachments. You can also use this feature on a Terminal Server to hide the last user logged in (SQLLastUser) and remove all the printer winspool entries that get added. Check out this example.
           
        • There is a built in Email client, which can be used to send emails directly from inside the application. It can work with Outlook, a MAPI compliant email client or directly with a SMTP server. Using the SMTP server mode is great for a Terminal Server environment where an email client might not be installed and configured. This is great for reporting application issues to the system Administrator. Have a look at this example.
           
        • The Administrator Settings window allows each company in a Microsoft Dynamics GP system to have a different background color for its windows. This is perfect for providing a visual cue to which company you are currently logged into. It prevents accidental test data entry into the live company and vice versa. The Hot Pink theme can't be missed. Here is an example.
           
        • The Administrator Settings window also provides a feature to add the Company ID and User ID to the window title of all windows. When running multiple instances of Microsoft Dynamics GP, this provides a visual cue on the task bar to exactly which window belongs to which instance without having to open the when and look at the menu bar. Here is an example.
           
        • The XML Export and Import windows allow data from any table in any product to export as XML and then imported back. This can be used to backup data so it can be restored for testing, or to copy data between test and live environments. Check out this example.

         

        Support Features

        The features below are some of the functions of the Support Debugging Tool which can help consultants and support engineers resolve technical issues:

        • Using Manual Logging Mode, a user can capture SQL and Dexterity logs without exiting the application or changing Dex.ini settings. Have a look at this example.
           
        • Manual Logging Mode allows the captured logs to start just before the issue you are looking at and stop just after. This provides logs with a minimum amount of "noise" to be filtered out. Check out this example.
           
        • If running on a Terminal Server, because Manual Logging Mode does not need Dex.ini setting changes, it can capture the logs for a single user rather than all users on that server. Here is an example.
           
        • The ScreenShot utility can save or email screenshots of all open windows in Dynamics GP as well as the Dex.ini and Dynamics.set files. See the example here.
           
        • ScreenShot also includes System Information Summary which provides details and version numbers of the Operating System, SQL Server, ODBC Client, Dynamics Runtime and Installed Dictionaries. All the information a support engineer needs in one report. See the example here.
           
        • For more complex issues, the Automatic Debugger Mode can be used to automatically look for specific events and error conditions and capture logs up to the point that the error occurs. This provides pinpoint accuracy in diagnosing the cause of hard to reproduce issues. Have a look at this example.
           
        • The Dictionary Control window, allows dictionaries to have their triggers and alternate or modified windows to be disabled temporarily or until re-enabled. This can be used for troubleshooting issues without having to manually edit the Dynamics.set launch file and restart the application. Here is an example.

         

        Development Features

        The features below can be used by developers to test or create custom code to tweak the application: 

        • Using Automatic Debugger Mode with Non-Logging triggers gives a developer the ability to create trigger scripts to perform actions as desired. This can be used to fix issues temporarily or make customizations. Check out example 1 and example 2.
           
        • Using the Runtime Execute window with the report writer helper function templates provides the ability to create scripts which can be called from Report Writer. Here is an example.
           
        • The Runtime Execute window provides a mini Dexterity development scripting environment which can be used to create and execute Dexterity sanScript code. With the use of helper functions writing code to work across multiple dictionaries is simple. Check out example 1 and example 2.
           
        • The SQL Execute window provides a mini SQL Query Analyzer environment inside the Microsoft Dynamics GP application without needing the SQL Server Utilities installed. Have a look at example 1 and example 2.
            
        • Automatic Debugger Mode and Runtime Execute scripts can load and execute both scripts created with Runtime Execute and SQL Execute. This makes it easy to create re-usable code as well as embedded Transact-SQL in your code.
           
        • The Configuration Export/Import window allows settings and scripts can be exported and imported using XML based configuration files. Check out example 1 and example 2.
           
        • When using a shared setup file location as per the Recommended Configuration, code is stored centrally and does not need deployment at each individual workstation. See the FAQ post.

         

        This is just a taste of what the tool can do for you, but it should be enough to encourage you to roll out the Support Debugging Tool throughout your Microsoft Dynamics GP sites.

        NOTE: All features are security restricted by the application level security model and the SQL Server security model. Access to Advanced Mode features which include scripting or direct access to data require database owner or system administrator SQL Server privileges.

         

        For more information look at the Conference Session Materials and Conference Videos on the Support Debugging Tool, the links are on the portal page:

        Happy installing....

        David

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