Monday, December 31, 2012

Ad hoc reporting and AX 2012 vs AX 2009

In AX 2009, there were three ways that end users could do ad hoc reporting outside of Excel:
  • Report Wizard (Microsoft Dynamics AX -> Tools -> Development Tools -> Wizards -> Report Wizard
    • Creates a MorphX report in the layer that the end user is in  (USR)
    • How to create them: I WILL WRITE A POST ABOUT THIS
    • This is a great tool that even allows for the creation of labels and menu items
    • Can be problematic
  • Report Builder (Microsoft Dynamics AX -> Tools -> Business Intelligence (BI) tools -> Report Builder
  • Auto-reports
    • This is not truely an end user thing as you need to do it in the AOT.
    • It will produce a report showing the fields from the AX table that are in the AutoReport Field Group.
    • To get to this, you right click on the AX table, go to Add-Ins, then go to 'Auto-report'.

From what I've seen in AX 2012, the only self-service BI tool that still exists is the Auto-reports.  It is now accessible out side of the AOT, too. The first two reporting types discussed at the top are the most helpful but are no longer available.  Partially because MorphX reports are supported but no longer shipped with the AX product.

To use AX 2012 Autoreport functionality, you need to go to File -> Print -> Print and you will now hit the autoreport functionality.  I'm not a huge fan of that since its not very intuitive in my opinion.

The big push since Excel integration was introduced has been around PowerPivot (http://www.microsoft.com/bi/en-us/solutions/pages/powerpivot.aspx)  and utilizing Excel 2010 to get that self-service BI.  I personally like this approach since even kids know how to use Excel.  There is a reason people joke that it is the 'largest ERP in the world'.

My suggestion to people who do reporting for AX as a customer, vendor, end user, etc is that you get smart on Excel again if you are somewhat hazy with it.  Microsoft has continually updated the functionality and it is an incredibly powerful product. That Excel 101 class in 4th grade or Sophmore year in college won't be enough due to the complexity of the new features and the amount of brain cells that were killed during those classes from eating glue or drinking beer (not respectively speaking).

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