Things that made me say “Wow!” about Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2018

By:  Roberto Steffaneti

After a fair wait (considering we were accustomed to a release every year), and after several rumors about its publication or delay, the new release of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, NAV 2018, includes some interesting features.

My reaction after a first look: Wow!

Although I had seen the Community Technology Preview (CTP) versions of the product, the Release to Manufacturing (RTM) version was a surprise, as it often is. Microsoft (rightly) keeps many details hidden or little documented until the time of release.

The first thing you notice is that now Microsoft, in the product launch documentation (What’s New), always presents the Web Client, while also maintaining the role-tailored client (RTC). As NAV evolves into a cloud-first application, it makes sense now to use only the Web Client or NAV Universal App for mobile devices.  The Web Client has now reached and passed the Windows Client, and most of the features related to user customization work only for the Web Client.

Microsoft has published a full list of new features on PartnerSource, as well as deployment and development documentation. I will review my favorite new features here.

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Features for application users

User Personalization& Web Client: It is now possible for users to configure the Web Client individually, treating it like a desktop or interactive whiteboard where they can customize almost everything, including repositioning the Freeze Pane, moving and hiding page parts, repositioning or hiding Cues and Cue Groups, and using ListParts on Role Centers. It’s an awesome look!

PPreview reports on the Web client: Another very helpful feature which enables you to print preview without saving files.

Great Excel integration, with preconfigured Excel reports. The Business Manager and Accounting Role Center has a new option in the ribbon for Excel Reports. Users may select from a dropdown menu of preconfigured reports (see graphic) that is ready to print from Excel. Among those reports are such broadly useful ones as Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Statement and Trial Balance.

Another nice feature is User Tasks, with which you can create tasks to remind you of work to be done, or to assign tasks to yourself or other users (a feature like the CRM Assign function or Service Task). I had submitted this request to MS Connect long ago – nice to see it!

Manage Flows Integration: Embedded Microsoft Flow. Now it is possible to use Microsoft Flow for sales document approval requests.

The Image Analyzer extension uses powerful image analytics provided by the Computer Vision API for Microsoft Cognitive Services to detect attributes in the images. Some examples of its utility are in recognizing a person’s gender or age or identifying items by attributes like type and color.

Features for technical/developer users

There are now two development environments in the installation:

  • the old development environment based on C/SIDE & C/AL
  • the new Modern Development Environment, based on Vs Code+ AL, usable for both NAV 2018 and Tenerife. (See graphic.)

You make your selection in the “Customize the Installation” window during setup (see graphic).

I detail the differences between the two environments in this entry on my Roberto Stefanetti NAV Blog.

Extensions Target Level: Extensions 2.0 publishable/installable: In Extensions 2.0 exists a concept of “levels of extensions,” used to determine the different classifications and capabilities of an extension package. In order the levels progress as follows: Personalization, Extension, Solution, Internal.

In VSCode development, you specify this in the app.json file using the “target” property. This restricts what is allowable within the Extension. On the server side, you have the ability to set the level of 2.0 extensions that you want to allow to be publishable/installable. This enables admins with control over which kinds of Extension they want to have on their systems.

Default & Service Language: NAV Server instance configuration includes two new settings for controlling the Dynamics NAV client language, being:

  • Default Language, which specifies which of the installed Dynamics NAV languages on the server instance will be the default language in the clients
  • Supported Languages, which specifies which of the installed Dynamics NAV languages on the server instance will be available for use in the clients

Change Server Setting Without Restart – Finally! A great feature, as some come configuration changes to the Dynamics NAV Server can be done without a server restart.

Obsolete State for Tables, Fields, and Kays: Table object, fields, and keys include the ObsoleteState and ObsoleteReason properties, used to communicate to developers when a table or key is or will become obsolete.

PowerShell cmdlets: Many new PowerShell cmdlets are now available, both for administering, extensions, development, and deployment. Microsoft provides more detail in this documentation.

Universal App & Windows 10 Continuum: The NAV Universal App for mobile devices is today available on more devices, and a new and interesting feature is Continuum. This technology is a Windows 10 feature that allows you to project your phone to your big screen. You can also interact with keyboard and mouse through Bluetooth, when the connected NAV Universal App is configured to automatically switch to the desktop experience.

ASP.NET Core: The Dynamics NAV web server components now run on ASP.NET Core – cool! ASP.NET Core enables NAV to reach new heights in cloud scalability.

OData V4 Bound Actions: NAV 2018 runs OData web services based on OData V4. OData Relational Query Support provides the ability to include related entities inline within a single OData V4 response. A great feature…all data available in a single call!

Stay tuned for the next wave of updates, and have a nice first experience with NAV 2018!

About Roberto Stefanetti

Roberto Stefanetti is a Microsoft Dynamics NAV MVP and a technical and functional consultant with 14 years of experience with NAV. Currently he works as a project manager and technical advisor for NAVlab, an italian Microsoft partner.