mfp's two cents

...on Dynamics AX Development!

  • mfp's two cents

    10 reasons I love my Microsoft Surface

    • 2 Comments

    First things first – I work for Microsoft, and I will not claim to be unbiased. Yet, I bought my Surface out of my own pocket in a regular Microsoft Store – I was even in line for 3 hours to get it. Just like everyone else could.   

    Secondly, I primarily blog about AX – this is an exception, you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.

    With the formalities out of the way, let me begin. I’ve had the device for about 1 year now. I wanted to use it primarily for entertainment – I did not go for any of the keyboard options. Let me share my experiences. 

    1. It is sturdy

    The Surface had not been in our home more than a few days when my 4 year old kid came running with it. He tripped over a toy, and the device came flying through the air towards our massive oak table. I’ve hit my toes many times on the table – always with the same result: Pain and Agony in well sized portions. Hearing the thud as the Surface collided with the table I closed my eyes. Game over. My kid was already crying. Bracing my self to clean up and comfort my kid – it was just a piece of hardware after all – I inspected the damages. The Surface was intact. I couldn’t even find the place where it had hit the table. It still worked flawlessly. The table – on the other hand – had lost a small chip of wood.  The small disaster turned into a simple “Ooops – up again!” situation.

    2. The kick stand

    First time I brought the Surface to some friends’ place, they said: “That is cool – how did you get that on your iPad?” I just smiled back.

    The kick-stand is amazingly pleasant as it allows for a much more convenient usage.

    3. User accounts and Picture login

    We have 3 users of the Surface. My now 8 year old girl and my now 5 year old boy – and myself. We each have an account, we each have our own apps, games and settings. I started out by just setting up one account, but quickly we ended up in situations where little-brother deleted (or moved) the games his sister liked. With 3 accounts that stopped right there.

    My 4 year old quickly learned how to login – just press your eyes and your nose. Had the system required a keyboard+password login it would have been usable for him.

    4. Family safety

    Both my kids accounts are monitored by the built in family safety feature in Windows 8. This means I get a weekly report showing how much they used the device and for what purposes.  And even better, the data is aggregated across all our Microsoft devices, so it also includes X-Box, the wall-mounted touch-all-in-one PC we have in the kitchen, and the regular workstation.   Here is a picture of some of the info the weekly report contains:
    image

    The system is highly configurable – you can enforce time limits, ratings etc – you can even excluded some apps (like those used for homework) to count against the time limit.  As a parent I feel in control – without feeling I’m spying (too much)

    5. The modern UI.

    I simply adore the UI – the amount of energy that has been put into the aesthetic look of Windows 8 leaves me humbled. The result leaves me with a feeling of being spoiled. If you haven’t read the story behind the design – you should do so. The competition is ages behind.

    Every time I visit Bellevue Square Mall I visit the Mac store – just to see what is brewing. Since Windows 8 came out I’ve not been able to find anything that awakes the even smallest desire in me in Mac land.

    I find the same experience elsewhere too: In my pocket (Windows 8 phone), at work (Windows Server 2012), at my Laptop (Windows 8.1) and my X-Box (360 – soon to be One).

    The tiles are extremely powerful. They give me information at a glance - I don’t waste my time opening apps to check empty in-boxes.. The Data Sense App (on my phone) tells me my current network usage, the Stock portfolio App tells me how Wall-Street is doing, the weather app tells me the weather, the People app tells me if I have new messages aggregated across social networks, like Facebook, Linked-in. Without even opening a single app I get all this info. That is sheer power!

    6. USB

    The Surface has a USB port. This enables me to attach my Kindle to upload documents and charge. This enables me to attach a mouse and keyboard. This enables me to attach a printer. This enables me to attached a USB Drive. This enables me to attach my phone.

    What impresses me is that everything just works. All drivers are available for all devices even on Windows RT.   I have a Keyspan USB to RS232 – and even that highly specialized niche product has a driver on Windows RT. Connect and use.

    7. Skydrive

    When I’ve taken a picture with my phone, it is immediately available on my Surface. When my kids ask: “Can I see the pictures you took?” – we look at them on the Surface – it is better than on the smaller phone.

    Skydrive enables many other scenarios too – the one with pictures is my favorite.

    8. Desktop

    The Surface has a desktop – just like you know it from any other version of Windows. You can open File Explorer, Control Panel, Regedit, Task Manager etc. All the built in functionality of Windows is available.  And on top of that you get Office. 

    Some find it limiting that you cannot install 3rd party apps on the desktop in RT mode. This does not concern me. I actually try to install as few as possible across all my PCs – it just makes them easier to maintain and less subject to malware.

    9. Battery

    For the past year we have not had any problems with the battery life time. I’m not sure how many hours we get out of it, but it is never a problem. Not even on our 3 week vacation in car across Europe this summer.

    10. Microsoft Store

    There are plenty of apps and games – at least for my taste.  There are a few titles missing – but then again, there are also some exclusive titles – like FreshPaint.

    WP_000337

  • mfp's two cents

    X++ Debugging Tips and Tricks #3–Conditional breakpoints

    • 0 Comments

    The Dynamics AX Debugger doesn’t support conditional breakpoints. Once in a while this limitation can be quite annoying – but there is a simple workaround. The third trick in the series of X++ Debugging Tips and Tricks shows you how.

    This trick requires code instrumentation – I strongly discourage using this trick on a production system. Only use this trick in a test or development sandbox!        

    By using the breakpoint keyword, you can write X++ logic that triggers a breakpoint exactly as you want.

    Consider this example. It is a recursive implementation of the mathematical function: Factorial. On a 32 bit system it will overflow when called with a sufficient high value. The example shows how to a breakpoint when an overflow occurs.

        static void ConditionalBreakpointExample(Args args)
        {
            int factorial(int _value)
            {
                int result = 1;
                int prevResult;
                int i;
            
                for (i=1; i<=_value; i++)
                {
                    result = result * i;
                
                    if (result < prevResult)
                    {
                        breakpoint; //Overflow occurred
                    }
    prevResult = result; } return result; } factorial(maxInt()); }

    The same approach can be used in many other scenarios too. Here is another example – I’d like a breakpoint to fire when a Released Product with Item Id “1000” is inserted in the database. To achieve that I add the following to the insert method on the InventTable table.

        if (this.ItemId == "1000")
        {
            breakpoint;
        }

    There is another way to achieve the same result. You can also insert a no-op line, like i=i; and set a normal breakpoint on that line using F9. This approach has the benefit that only the user setting the breakpoint will hit it – but at the risk of leaving some “silly looking code” behind. In contrast the breakpoint statement triggers a best practice error – so they are easy to clean out again.

    Bonus trick

    There is another usage of the breakpoint statement. Sometimes regular breakpoints in forms don’t fire – here the breakpoint statement also comes in handy. Instead of setting a breakpoint using F9 – just type “breakpoint;” in the code. This will trigger the debugger.

    This post is provided AS-IS, and confers no rights or warranties.

    X   Debugging banner 2

  • mfp's two cents

    AX 2012 R2 CU7 has been released!

    • 7 Comments

    Cumulative Update 7 for Dynamics AX R2 has been released today!  Download it from Partner Source or Customer Source.

    Besides 60 country specific regulatory updates and many quality improvements, these areas have been enhanced:

    Area 

    What’s new

     

    Accounts payable

    • New options for configuring workflows for vendor invoices.
    more info

    Accounts receivable

    • External documents can now be sent as email to a customer or vendor by using the email address that is specified by the address purpose field. Any report can be sent as email to an internal employee by using the worker title.
    more info

    Budgeting

    • You can create a budget plan worksheet template for Excel by using a wizard in Microsoft Dynamics AX.
    • The budget allocation process is easier, because you can use ledger allocation rules for budgets.
    • Budget planning workflows can be set up so that they can’t be accidentally deleted or reset.
    • Budget planning workflows can be set up so that they require a parent budget plan.
    • You can specify whether budget planning user groups (XDS policies) are used for budget planning. You can also specify the number of associated budget plan lines to include when budget plans are exported to Excel.
    • You can view worksheet and justification documents from the Budget plan page in Enterprise Portal for Microsoft Dynamics AX.
    • The process of creating a budget plan from an existing budget plan is enhanced.        

    more info

    Fixed assets

    • You can now transfer more than one fixed asset at the same time.
    • The acquisition cost of fixed assets can include a miscellaneous charge amount.
    • The process for acquisition proposals or depreciation proposals for fixed assets can now be run in a batch process.

    more info

    General ledger

    • An Excel template for journal entries is included on the virtual machine for demo data.
    • More understandable posting messages for journal lines that have errors in the account combination.
    • Delete an unposted journal that contains lines.
    • View advanced rules for a main account.
    • Easier dimension setup for Excel integration.
    • Display dimensions in a specified order in Management Reporter.

    more info

    Human resources

    • New preparation reports available to help make it easier for employers to complete mandatory human resource reports.
    • Changes to the forecast positions area .
    • You can require additional details when worker information is entered or changed, and optionally enable workflow.         

    more info

    Inventory and warehouse management

    • New On-hand entries cleanup batch job can be used to delete unused entries for serialized on-hand inventory, helping to improve the performance of queries for on-hand inventory.
    • You can combine two or more inventory batches into a new or existing batch.
    • Added new Role Center for costing and inventory valuation.

    more info

    Payroll

    • You can mass update benefit rates for workers.
    • Tiered contribution calculation rates for retirement benefit plans.
    • Create and update payroll tax groups.
    • Preparation of regulatory compliance reports for payroll.
    • Separate positive pay statements for Payroll bank accounts.

    more info

    Procurement and sourcing

    • Financial dimensions can be specified on sales agreements or purchase agreements.
    • A Totals FactBox is added to the Purchase orders list page.

    more info

    Product information management

    • You can determine prices using a product configuration model.

    more info

    Production control

    • Case management functionality is enhanced for documenting and releasing product changes to production.

    more info

    Project management and accounting

    • Use Microsoft Project to create or update a Microsoft Dynamics AX project plan, and integrate with an Office 365 SharePoint project site.
    • Use Microsoft Project to create or update the work breakdown structure (WBS) for a Microsoft Dynamics AX project quotation.
    • Create a WBS template for Microsoft Dynamics AX by using Microsoft Project.
    • Expanded support for working with project teams, defining project role types, and managing projects.
    • Expanded support for managing worker assignments and capacity in projects.
    • Enable audit trails on timesheet entry and reporting.
    • Improved management of project tasks in a WBS.
    • Improvements for creating WBS templates for project tasks.
    • Intercompany pro forma invoices for project costs.

    more info

    Public sector

    • The configuration keys for public sector organizations in France are enabled by default, hence the primary address of the organization no longer has to be in France if you want to use the French public sector accounting rules.
    • You can now dispose of more than one fixed asset at the same time.

    more info

    Retail

    • Prompt for a reason code when the cashier opens the cash register drawer without performing a sale transaction.
    • You can post store transactions from statements based on the end of the business day instead of the calendar day.
    • You can use a new statement method to calculate statements by shift.
    • Passwords can now be changed and reset in Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail POS.
    • Cashiers can view additional customer account information in Retail POS.

    more info

    Sales and marketing

    • You can calculate the sales price of an item by using an attribute-based pricing formula.

    more info

    Backup and recovery

    • We have added functionality for backup and recovery for cumulative update 7 for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2.

    more info

    Data import, export, migration

    • As of CU7, the Data Import/Export Framework is shipped as part of AX instead of as an add-on.

    more info

    Office Add-ins

    • Improved performance when you use the Office Add-ins. A new Validate dimensions button helps you locate and correct financial dimensions that were entered incorrectly or that are suspended.

    more info

    Reporting

    • PowerShell commandlet to install multiple instances of SSRS on the same SQL server
    • SSRS is primed after restart to speed up "first time" execution of reports
    • Can send reports to people using a token (@<Job Title>@) instead of being forced to name people explicitly
    • MorphX compare tool enhanced to support reports
    • Management Reporter can now be installed with primary AX setup

    more info

    Sales tax processing

    • Sales taxes and ledger accounts can be reconciled more easily.
    • Performance is improved for tax reporting.
    • You can post of sales tax amounts for intercompany transactions to either the source legal entity or the destination legal entity.

    more info

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November, 2013

mfp's two cents

...on Dynamics AX Development!