Microsoft Dynamics NAV platform is well known for easily implemented customizations to better fit business needs. However, most of the easy customizations usually ended up as expensive upgrades. In 2016, Microsoft released innovative Extensions approach to isolate modifications from the core Microsoft Dynamics NAV / 365 Business Central application to address and reduce the complexity while improving the reliability of the upgrades to help Partners keep up with increasing pace of changes in D365 Business Central. Over the last year, Extensions technology has greatly evolved. Today Extensions supports most of scenarios of customizations enabling easier upgrades and reduced total cost of ownership for customers.

As a Microsoft appointed ISV Development Center, 1ClickFactory, renowned for its upgrade tools and expertise is honored to efficiently support technological transformations to Dynamics 365 Business Central Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). From numerous interactions with Dynamics Partners, we’ve learned that a number of Dynamics partners have embraced an isolated approach to development practices.

Scenarios with light customizations enabled Partners to transform their repeatable IP into an Extension and some included transformations into Extensions or Apps on the AppSource. Dynamics partners continue to investigate to obtain the best paths to transform IP or transition NAV customers. A key question is: “how much would I have to invest to transition and what gains should I expect?”

Benefits of the technological transformation (C/AL to Extension) for Dynamics Partners:

  • Secure future business with repeatable code ready for future D365 Business Central on-premises or SaaS implementations.
  • Scale the number of implementations easily with the same marginal costs (pay off through the lower maintenance).
  • Reduce the effort to support frequent Dynamics 365 Business Central updates significantly.
  • Retain and attract talent easier who are eager to work with new technologies.
  • Roll out different versions of the Extensions to different tenants flexibly in the same Dynamics 365 Business Central On-Premises instance.

Benefits of D365 Business Central SaaS solution for Dynamics customers:

  • Zero infrastructure costs and maintenance.
  • Endless integration with Microsoft SaaS products (e.g. Flow, AI & Power Platform capabilities).
  • Out-of-the-box Apps providing a growing ecosystem to support the vertical and horizontal needs of the customer.
  • Ability to try an app at no cost, avoiding the cost and effort of an install/uninstall on-premises.
  • Enable automated upgrades with minimal efforts.

A Delay in D365 Business Central Extensions Could Be Costly

In the past, Extensions were relevant for Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS solutions, but didn’t have an impact on Business Central On-Prem deployments. However Microsoft’s recent announcement that Dynamics 365 Business Central On-Prem Fall 2019 release will be AL only, meaning that Partners can no longer delay and must take action now to:

  • Gain experience with a modern development environment, Source Control, AL development language and Extensions design paradigm. Luckily, AL development language is very close to C/AL and is quite easy to pick up. The steepest learning curve for C/AL developers is to efficiently adopt Source Control tools and processes. Start investing into the Source Control knowledge early, because it will take time and practice to become efficient in this area.
  • Get IP future ready for Business Central (on AL) by:
    • Reducing the gap by reimplementing the incompatibilities with Extensions development paradigm already in your current C/AL code.
    • Developing new features as Extensions in AL language.

Jumpstart with Ready-to-Go & Extensions Scoping

1ClickFactory’s Ready-to-Go program and Extension Scoping Workshops have helped numerous Partners already to audit solutions in order to achieve an efficient IP transition to Extensions process and to identify gaps to build robust transition plans.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Extensions Tips

We have been around the block a few times, and here is a round-up of our favorite tips from lessons learned with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central upgrades and customizations:

  • Understand the scope of the re-design and resolve the technical conversion to Extensions issues. Understand it can be a technical and frustrating manual task that requires review of each modification and evaluate its compatibility with Extensions. The list of incompatibilities may include, but is not limited to:
    • Unsupported standard table and/or page modifications.
    • Unsupported usage of System tables.
    • Usage of automation.
    • Usage of standard and/or custom .NET components.
    • Direct file operations.
    • Web client incompatibilities.
    • Obsolete properties and methods.
    • Usage of global variables in standard code.
    • Standard variable modifications.
    • Code modifications in triggers and/or functions.
  • Reduce the gap by solving as much as possible of the incompatibilities in the current version.
  • Request extensibility. Check if the latest of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central version has all event publishers needed to move all your standard customizations to events. Place extensibility requests for the missing event publishers.
  • Renumber and rename Objects and fields in C/AL. Renumber and rename fields before converting to AL to avoid losing translations of the changed objects.

Support for Transforming C/AL to AL and Extensions

We see more and more solutions looking for support in identifying the gap of issues that need to be resolved when transforming C/AL to AL and Extensions, to build the transition plan and to understand the costs. As a result of these requests, 1ClickFactory is releasing a new BestPath to Extensions Scoping Self-Service that enables partners to save time and quickly answer the following questions:

  • How much will upgrading to the new technology cost?
  • What’s the best way to get organized and get started?
  • What’s the most efficient and productive way to perform the transformation?

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