NAV 2018 after all

After Direction NA announcement, it was clear the next Dynamics NAV release will be known as Dynamics 365 ‘Tenerife’ and it will be published in spring next year. But…

As we heard on Direction, actually new NAV is already finished from technical perspective and probably because of partners feedback, the final decision is that we will have once more release of NAV as NAV 2018 later this year. More about it is published here in Microsoft official blog, and it is yesterday confirmed by Marko Perisic on Twitter.

But in further, this blog post still speaks more about future of Dynamics 365 as we already heard on Direction. That means we will just get new NAV in a meantime, because product is already finished. As I mentioned in my previous post, we can use this NAV release to be well prepared for the future release of Dynamics 365 ‘Tenerife’. In this post I made one mistake when I said we can customize NAV 2017 using extensions and VS Code; I actually thought on Dynamics 365 for Financials, but with this new NAV 2018 release, it will be possible as I said on both of these current products D365FOBE and NAV 2018.

With this approach in development, it will be very easy to transform all new implementations to new solution the next year. Because of that, the most important thing for partners is accepting extensions and VS Code.

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And I don’t know if we will get new user interface with NAV 2018. By my personal opinion – not. Probably, it will be announced with Dynamics 365 ‘Tenerife’, but this is just my private opinion. For more details, we need to wait R&D team.

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More truth about the future of NAV

After the first day of Directions NA, there are a lot of confusing posts about the future of Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 for Financials. I don’t know why, because Marko Perisic was clear about all details.

The first well known products are not canceled. This is just rebranding and it means we will still have products with the same features (and lot of new features) as old NAV (and Dynamics 365 for Financials). Now we will just have one common platform for both of these old products and with the same name – Dynamics 365 ‘Tenerife’ (currently code name). We will have this product on cloud and on-prem (as old NAV). If partners want to deploy NAV on Azure, they will not use their own infrastructure and instead of that, they will use this product as SaaS. But what is the best for partners, they can make project based customizations on cloud as well as on-prem. And this is amazing.

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About other Apps, we can license Apps as we want to use and we will be in situation to make combination of Apps from old BE or EE solutions. And of course we will pay per feature and per named user. And I must to be honest, maybe we still don’t have all details about licensing and this is one of the most important reasons, why this product is not published just now. Product is already finished, but we need to wait the final adjustments about licensing. This will be on the first place, because Microsoft wants to encourage partners and clients to use cloud solution as more as possible. This is the most important strategy. But all clients can continue to use on-prem solution if they insist. But Microsoft will make much better offer for cloud solution. And we need to be patient to wait the final decision.

New product will have new modern user interface, almost the same as other D365 products and this will be very important for future customers, because they will have the same filling working in different Apps.

And yes, we need to wait until the spring for the new product, but I cannot see some specific issue, because we can continue to implement NAV. If we customize NAV 2017 using extensions and VS Code, it will be very easy to transform these implementations to new solution the next year.

And yes, we can continue to use CDS for integrations, PowerApps, Flow, PowerBI… All of these will be used with the new product as well. We can continue to publish Apps on AppSource, because this service will be continue to use and it will be much more improved. And one more yes, on the closing session, Marko announced that he and his team accepted the most important feedbacks from partners. This is encouraging message for all partners who are afraid from any reason.

Of course, partners will need to change their business models in some parts, more or less, but this is normal situation in whole business. Personally, I’m happy with all new announcements and I think R&D team made a good job.

Contacts Photos in NAV as Cognitive Service

I’ve just wrote a post about Image Analyzer in NAV as Cognitive Service and recognizing attributes for Item, but now I’ll write about second part of using cognitive services in NAV and D365 for Financials. Now I’ll show you how it works with people photos. This feature works on the Contact Card.

When you create new contact and upload contact’s photo, you will notice notification that you can see result of the image analysis on the Profile Questionnaire Fast tab.

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I tried it with one of my photos and you can see result. System recognized my gender, but ages… 😊 System thinks I am 50 (just for the record, I’m 45 😊). I tried with a few different photos and unfortunately, system found my ages between 48 and 51. I don’t know if this is problem with system or with me 😊.

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OK, I tried with some other people and for example, my 25 years old sun has mostly 29, based on Image Analyzer (gender was OK again). My wife is female (thanks god 😊) and 7-8 years younger…

OK, I can conclude that gender recognition is 100% correct, but with ages – so, so. If we can accept 5-6 year more or less, it is OK. But mostly, we can use this age recognizer just as some nice funny reminder. And yes, I’ve tried with picture of my dog 😊… system took a time, but it could find anything (no gender, no ages 😊).

And, just not to forget… if you already have some photos of your contacts, you can run action Analyze Picture from Action tab every time when you need it.

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And if you want to know how it added technically to currently D365 BE, you can go to Extension Management and recognize Image Analyzer App. That means, this is made as an Extension and it can give you some new ideas how you can create maybe something similar.

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And of course, I hope we will have this Extension on Dynamics NAV installation DVD.

Image Analyzer in NAV as Cognitive Service

It really sounds amazing. But if you were been at Microsoft Ignite and attended NAV/D365FOBE sessions, you already seen this service as something what we will have in the future. When I say future, I think on the future NAV version, but if we speak about D365 for Financials, you can test in now.

Now, just small introduction how it works. I’ll show this feature on Items and you will see it works fine. When you run Item Card page, you will see Analyze Picture on a Actions tab as on the following picture.

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When you start this action for the first time, you will get similar notifications as on the following screen and you just need to enable it (of course) if you want to use:

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Then, system will lead through enabling wizard. First you will see a small description about how system uses the Computer Vision API from Microsoft Cognitive Service, where you can find links with more information bout API and services… You just need to click on Next, then confirm that you understand terms of conditions and on the end – Finish (if you want to analyze this current picture, you need to check one field).

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And if you check this checkmark field, system will start with analyzing this picture. This is how it works for the first time. But you can click this Analyze Picture on each Item Card where you already have a picture.

But what if you don’t have picture? As soon as you finish with inserting picture, system will by default run this feature, and system will automatically analyze new picture. When system finish with analyzing of this picture, you will find what system recognize with confidence better then 80%.

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But you can find all detected attributes if you click on a View All Attributes. All attributes with not so good confidence will be painted in red.

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From this point, you can do a few things. First, you will see that system sometimes offer some specific option in Action to Perform. By default, system will mostly offer Ignore as option, but sometimes it is “Use as category” or “Use as attribute”. I think I don’t need to describe what it means :). Of course, you can change this option as you wish and it probably depends of what system recognized. You can also use “Add to the Item Description” for each of attributes and to create specific Item Description based on discovered attributes.

When you finish with everything you can confirm and than you need to finish with attributes. System will add as attributes and as category all attributes you decided.

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Now, I’ve showed how you can start with this feature and how to test it. But I wanted to test it little bit more. OK, it worked mostly nice with images we have in Cronus database (not with all, because you need to have clear enough pictures).

But what we will get in some production environment? I made a few tests taking the pictures for the same items from catalogue (ideal pictures) and made from my own (natural pictures). You can find 5 tests in the following charts:

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Now, you can compare these results. First, I didn’t expect good results from realistic photos, but I was really surprised. Sometimes, ideal pictures got better percentage on the most important attributes (but not so big difference), but system very often recognized better attributes on realistic photos and that means system can understand context of photos. And I got more attributes from natural photos, but of course I got a more noses in attributes list, and this is something I could expect because in real picture you don’t have only one thing on the photo.

But I can conclude that this feature is really powerful. Of course this is just first edition of this feature and this is not unmistakable tool, but it can be very helpful in the future.

Working with Dynamics 365 Clients from Accountant Portal

In my previous post, I’ve describer how to install and start with Accountant Portal in Dynamics 365 for Financials (…and Operation Business Edition), but now I want to continue this story.

First, when you want to add a new client, you can do it from your home page. Just click on Manage Clients action and then choose some of your existing clients or add new one clicking on New. If you want to create new one, minimum what you must to do is to add a name and Client URL, where you need to enter the URL destination for your client’s instance for your client D365 system (just basic part of URL: https://XXXXXX.financials.dynamics.com).

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When you finish it, close the page and click on Client Summary -> Redisplay All Companies, and new company will appear on your home page.

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The basic information on your home page about companies you manage are:

  • Company names
  • Cash Account Balances
  • Overdue Purchase Invoice Amounts
  • Overdue Sales Invoice Amounts

If you need more information or if you want to do something directly in one of the company, you need to click on a Company Name or on Client Summary -> Go To Client.

If you are registered user in this client database, you will open it, but if you are not, system will ask to type your new credentials. After you finish with this, new database will be opened in new window and you can continue with work.

NAV and D365 Roadmap and New Ideas

In the last period, we used to have one slide with roadmap about future release of Dynamics NAV with few expected enhancements. But now, instead of this, we have new dedicated site for roadmap. You just need to run here, and you will open this site. Generally, when open it, you can see this is for Dynamics 365, but when you change to Business Edition and choose Dynamics 365 for Financials, you can see all new future features for both of products D365 for Financials and Dynamics NAV.

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But this is just to know what will be in a future. Of course, some strategic features will not be announce here and we need to wait to see them official release. But I am sure, the most of you want to be more engaged in this part “what will be in the future”. In the past (and now) we have a Connect site. This was a place where you could add new product suggestions. But generally it was for the current and past NAV versions and it was used mostly for some bugs and improvement ideas.

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Now we have something better. You just need to go to https://ideas.dynamics.com/ for all Dynamics 365 products or to https://ideas.dynamics.com/ideas/dynamics-financials for Dynamics 365 for Financials and as I already said for the Dynamics NAV (because they are the same in the basic). On this site, you can suggest new idea or vote for some of existing idea. This forum is very nice created and it is important that every day you can see current status of your suggestion.

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Of course if you want to suggest a new idea or to vote, you must be signed in, because it will not be a fair to put something as anonimus. But with all this organization, I’m really sure that we will get amazing products in the future.

Dynamics ERP and CRM Continue Together

I didn’t write a blog for a while, but these few days I’m on eXtreme 365 conference and I decided to share some observation. For some time, since there is a Dynamics 365 product family, we created a closer collaboration between ERP and CRM products. Generally, it was mostly based on technology.

But now, I see the next steps. First, more and more ERP partners try to learn more about CRM and the same situation is with CRM partners and ERP knowledge. Now, I’m at eXtreme 365 conference that was originally CRM conference, but from this year this is not only CRM conference. We have a lot of sessions about D365 for Financials, D365 for Operations, Common Data Service, PowerApps, Flow… And as I see, there are some NAV partners (and MVP’s as well J). Also, I saw announcement for Directions this year and there is a same situation, this will not be only NAV event and we will have CRM sessions as well.

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This is very important, because all of use started with thinking that we need to continue with both products together. And this is a huge opportunity for partners. This is opportunity for upselling and if they know both products they will be better on a market.

And about a conference. Great conference and great opportunity for networking. This is the first time I’m on some big conference that was not originally NAV conference and this is the great opportunity to see some new people, sometimes with different attitude. I also met some friends from a NAV world here and I can say this is a great mixture. I’m expecting something similar on Directions as well.

OK, in some next posts I’ll write more about some news with these products, but for sure we can expect more and more news in this world in next few months.