Friday, January 20, 2017

Dynamics 365 for Operations Filtering grid changes from AX 2012

Those who have used Dynamics AX for years may be experts in the ways to filter data via a grid and export to excel for ad hoc reporting. Its a significant value add process which many cannot live without. Then you jump to Dynamics 365 for Operations and its likely blank stares when it comes to filtering...

The client experience has changed dramatically from AX 2012 to Dynamics 365 for Operations (use #D3FO on twitter for this name). From a 32-bit desktop client to embedded web client. That transition required form controls to change and thus how filtering occurs.

So the ultimate question: How do you filter grids in Dynamics 365 for Operations?

Refer to the following documentation for these changes:

This documentation is fluid so please check it out for the latest information. The below is reposted and summarized for point in time reference and quick reference (for me).

Here are the operations for using a the Filter Operator vs the AX Query Syntax method (e.g. "advanced query" or "Crtl+G on grid and 'X..Z'").

Figure 1 - Filter expressions 'Filter Operator' vs 'Dynamics AX query syntax'

Its very important to note that '*' will literally look for an asterisk in the name. So you don't need that. The commands are more literal and in a natural language rather than syntax. It may seem to take longer to adapt but you'll adapt quicker than you think if you go into it with an open mind.

Hopefully that helps!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Dynamics 365 and you for 2017: Helpful hints, insights, and resources

Dynamics ERP friends,

Microsoft is on the move quickly with their ERP systems. Time is changing and so is the Dynamics world. Here are just a few things I want to note for this year. This is my informal, full of information/opinions/suggestions/humor note for 2017. 

Big Milestone
First and foremost, I greatly appreciate everyone who reads my blog even in passing. Its a fun and creative outlet for me to grow and the fact it helps people helps motivate me to keep it going.

I recently hit 1 million page views on my blog. Yay! [smiley face with party hat]. No clue what I'll hit next year but I'm excited to find out.

New Roadmap Portal
For roadmaps in the past, there would be an image that Microsoft would often show at keynotes at Convergence which would get passed around and reposted. It was a static image with Microsoft working being a veil of mystery.

While the above still exists, there is now an interactive roadmap that shows more than just concepts; it provides deep insights into the entire Dynamics 365 suite. You'll want to bookmark this site and keep up to date on what all is going on.

It breaks down 'What's New', 'In Development', and 'Previously Released' features for all of the Dynamics 365 products and modules within those products. Keep in mind there are two editions now: Dynamics 365 Enterprise (D365 for Sales, D365 for Customer Service, D365 for Field Service, D365 for Project Service Automation, D365 for Operations) and Dynamics 365 for Business (Dynamics 365 for Financials [SMB]). The Enterprise/Business is just a way to bundle the products between Enterprise level solutions and solutions for the SMB market.

Searching for things via search engines
Culturally, we have adopted 'Google' for searching much like asking for a 'Kleenex' for a tissue or a 'Coke' for a soda. 'Did you Google it' is significantly more common that 'Did you Bing it?'. I use 'Bing' in my demos and people snicker with the fan boy jokes flying. For better or worse, that's just how it is.   
Rumor has it, you will find more data on Dynamics 365 using Bing vs other search engines due to how Microsoft optimized the search engine and metadata or something. I don't know the details but its what I've heard from multiple people in different departments at Microsoft. My experience over the past 6 months verifies these claims. Maybe I do a side by side analysis post later this year??

Product education resources
While we're on the topic of search results, MSDN and TechNet were great resources for the Dynamics AX products. Give a look. It is where all the newest information is going to be found and maintained. LCS is also a great spot to research potential issues without opening a ticket while also providing valuable tools for the lifecycle of your implementation.

One interesting note is its '' but AX is not the branding anymore, even though it does still cover AX products. I'm ok with that since my alias is DAX Dude and a number of companies have AX embedded in the name. I refuse to become D3FO Dude (pronounced as 'Dee-foh Dude'?). I'm officially DAX Dude, who works on D3FO.

Mobility and resource development
Mobility will be so important going forward. We are already seeing the beginning pushings for it in the Dynamics space. Cloud/browser based ERPs add significantly more value with mobile applications to supplement functionality. 

I'd recommend getting up to speed on how/why companies will use mobility and what technologies to start growing resources for. You can buy great resources for a premium, but if your company wants homegrown experts, the one thing you can't buy is time. Invest in your employees. Give them the resources to grow with the technology and innovate. Its one of the things I really love about the company I work for. Its not cheap but its worth it. Blue Horseshoe is hiring top talent btw ;-) Inquire within

Product Specific naming
Make a resolution to only refer to the products by the full name ('Dynamics 365 for Operations' or some abbreviation like 'Operations', 'D3FO', 'D3 for Ops', 'Ops 1611 (the version)', etc. Just saying Dynamics 365 will not fly. I talked to a sales person last year who really want to talk to me about a great ISV add-in for 'my Dynamics solution'. The conversation was literally: "Great! Which products is it for?" "Y'know, Dynamics... the Microsoft product?" [Looks at me all sketched out] "I'm good thanks! I'll check it out online" [Grabbed branded pen, product flyer, and walked away].

Also, the product should not be called AX 7 or AX when referring to the new version. This is the same transition as from Axapta to Dynamics AX. Now its Dynamics 365 for Operations. All the cool kids are calling it by the new name. You don't want to be the dude who says Axapta 2012 do you? Coincidentally, that's the same guy who orders the gluten-free wine or a gin and root beer with a celery stick at the bar... Don't those sound yummy? Don't be that guy :-)

Thanks everyone and have a wonderful start to 2017!!!

Look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones!

Friday, January 13, 2017

D3FO/AX 2012 Password field display control encryption explanation

I was in an internal meeting where new consultants were discussing functionality in the Dynamics 365 for Operations. One of the 'off the cuff' topics was that they were not sure why the password entered, which was three digits, looked like way more characters. Everyone in the room was assured that the password was saved correctly behind the scenes.

Its important to know why the system is functioning the way it is. Thought I share some info.

The reason why this is the case is that form object masks the password and encrypts it when its entered. The presentation of the field is a generic 'mask' as to not give any indication about what characters there are on the field.

Certain pieces of information can make things easier to hack such as:

  • Number of characters
  • Valid alpha-numeric characters
  • Valid special characters
  • Personal information about the user (birthday, street address, full name, pets, first date location, etc). 
  • Does the person care about security (will have a bad password more than likely...)
To prevent giving any information on the password, its a best practice, which is reflected in the control, to provide as little data as possible to the end user. If the field masked only the characters which were entered, I would know exactly how many characters I need to guess. Now its like playing a more complicated version of Wheel of Fortune with no characters revealed.

Also, you can't just go into the AX DB and pull the data out. Its stored encrypted. Nice try.

Figure 1- Password entered before it is saved into the DB
Figure 2 - Password entered after it is saved into the DB (field is not showing anything about data)