Why adding .Net can be dangerous, and why you need to stop adding them to components

For several version of Dynamics NAV you've been able to add .net components into the system, to do things that you cannot do with the core Dynamics NAV development environment. On occasion this can really be useful and provide a way to add capability that otherwise would be impossible.

So why, in my headline, have I described it as dangerous? Well .net components are not written in the same C/AL language that anyone with a development licence can come along and access and therefore maintain. They are written in languages like C# and compiled into executable code that is then added to your system. Usually you will never get the source code to that component.

This means that you have to return to the original writer to get any maintenance or updates done and that locks you into that relationship. Some Dynamics NAV partners have worked out that this is a great way to tie in customers without always giving the great service that means you would want to continue using them.

For example one UK Partner tries to get its clients to use a .net component that replaces standard Dynamics NAV’s role centre with a more colourful and flexible version. However, I'd argue that Microsoft have improved theirs anyway so it's as good as a match and that you should stick to standard. What does it add to your bottom line to use this non standard display?

For me the ability to move service partners if one of the major strengths of Dynamics NAV. I know in the partner I work, in having that threat means we are constantly reviewing what we do to make sure it's the best it can be. I hope that complacency would not set in if we knew that our customers couldn't go to another partner, but I'm not sure that over the years it wouldn't creep in.

So what should .net components be used for? Well I’ve used them for lots of things but specific examples are where I've need to talk to other systems. Weighing scales for instance often have an interface that Dynamics NAV cannot talk to directly. By putting a .net component in there it was easy. And when we use one of these we leave the source code with the customer, they have paid for its creation so I believe it's their intellectual property anyway.

One other point to note is that JavaScript is the best add-in language/technology to use these days. Using Java means that it will work in any of the clients from the full windows client, to the web browser, or the tablet. While you may not use them now, it’s part of future proofing yourself.

Author: James Crowter

I’m passionate about how businesses can improve their efficiency by getting process optimal more of the time. For the last twenty five years I’ve worked to help organisations of all sizes and types implement the ERP & CRM software that typically they decide they need when things are going wrong. I’ve seen that work unbelievably well and enabled those organisations to rapidly grow but I’ve also had some hard projects over that time where it’s felt more like warfare at times. Since 1996 (and version 1.01) I’ve been working with a small Danish product called Navision that’s now become Microsoft’s Dynamics NAV and I’ve also been using and consulting around Microsoft CRM since 2005. As managing Director of one of the longest established first Navision and now Microsoft Dynamics partners I’ve been involved in the complete history including numerous product councils and system design reviews. It’s my privilege to know many of the key Microsoft executives and product designers and have insight into both where the products are now and their future direction. So colleagues & clients have asked me to start this blog to share some of the insight that both this knowledge (obviously where not restricted by NDA’s or client confidentiality) and experience can help. Specifically I want to concentrate not on the specifics of how (there are some great blogs already for that) but why. If any user helps their business make better decisions or consultant can give better advice then that will be objective achieved. I founded Technology Management in 1992 and have led from the front ever since. Helping clients use technology to grow their business is my passion through explaining technology in terms that everyone can understand. My interest in computing began at the age of eight, long before my school had the equipment to cope. Throughout school and university I developed software commercially. I hold many IT certifications, such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV (for over 17 years), Microsoft Dynamics CRM (for over 10 years), as well as Microsoft Windows Server, Exchange and SQL. In October 2015, I was awarded the title of Most Valuable Professional (MVP), a title given to a select few individuals (31 currently) across the world specifically for Dynamics NAV. After years of working with a range of distribution and manufacturing software for hundreds of organisations, I focus on understanding the business requirements of an organisation, what it will take to deliver the systems required to maximise their potential. Follow me online via my other social channels: - Twitter: @jamescrowter - LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/jamescrowter Or email me directly at james[.]crowter[@]tecman.co.uk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *