If you did not attend #DynTech2015 may I say you missed a great thing. But you knew that already. You are here to read about the sessions. So please accept this, my report from the trenches, for Day 3, the last day of the first AX/CRM technical conference.
Microsoft Dynamics AX on Azure: Deploying Microsoft Dynamics AX in the cloud to run all aspects of your business: the speakers were Ryan Battle (cloud) and Christian Wolfe (performance). We got a good sell on the Cloud in this session. 🙂 The Cloud is the Future is the repeating message. They discussed the different hardware available for Azure environments: A series, which is “not really a factor anymore”, D series, which uses SSD’s and has faster CPUs, and prices from USD$236-$980/mo, and G Series, which can go as high as 32 cores and 448 RAM, for a range of USD$454-6532, which they say would be good for production environments. I personally know that Microsoft has worked with real customers and their partners to get good response time going, but haven’t seen a go-live yet. Your options for deploying in Windows Azure are Lifecycle Services, manual setup, and build your own (of course they prefer the first, and they will explain why). They demo’ed setting up an environment and changing the topology. In addition, you can customize with Hybrid Networks. A gotcha is that when you specify the accounts, they do not validate them at the time – a bad account means you will get a failure further down the road. Finally, they addressed performance issues, and optimizations that you can do.
Programming .NET with Microsoft Dynamics AX: I have discovered a second speaker whom I must seek out whenever I attend a conference: Peter Villadsen. Knows his stuff, and very entertaining. He gave us several examples of “how to leverage .NET from within the Microsoft Dynamics AX development space.” This was certainly a level 300 class as advertised, but a teaser of marvelous possibilities for those of us not quite there. He discusses the common language runtime (CLR), calls to .NET using reflection, managed controls to achieve a richer user interface experience, and the business connector – note that in AX6 (AX 2012) it was completely rewritten, and now has a user interface. He explained the benefits of offering business logic. To my delight, his first demo was “Hello world” with the basic business connector (thus the opening to this blog is a tribute to him). It was quite pleasing to see so many demos with code and watching them run and do useful AX things. He’s also the first speaker I’ve seen discuss idempotency (guess what autocorrect suggested? I mean, really, Microsoft!) – a so very important concept! (Or did I lead a sheltered life?) Two important conclusions he pointed out: 1) The BC should be used only for cases where business logic must be implemented in C# and 2) You should consider using services instead for all non-business logic related scenarios. Then, he discussed using services. He used the Hanoi puzzle (which I do not recall learning years ago in college or graduate school) and showed how to solve it in X++ and P-Code, demonstrating the differences in performance. Another demo (can you see he used well known ones?) was the travelling salesman. This can be applied particularly well to our customers who ship and need to load and run trucks optimally. As a finale, we watched him attach the Spark Core (a USD$19 Wi-Fi enabled chip) to a phone to measure the temperature and report it in AX. Please watch this, it was very cool, and only “three lines of code.” His blog is at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/x/ but unless I’m missing something, I don’t see anything recent. I urge you to make sure you view this session when it is available online.
Ask the Experts: TFS integrations and deployment of customizations: My last two sessions were both “Ask the Experts” with less structure and format, so forgive if the notes seem disorganized. Ian Beck, Liang Yu, and Robert Badawy were there to “answer questions related to best practices around version control (TFS) integration with Microsoft Dynamics AX and deployment of models to testing, staging and production environments.” There were not many TFS changes since the last conference, and not much they could say about the next version. While their focus will be on AX ‘7’, they will do bug fixes in AX 2012. It could be very simple to migrate from TFS on premises to TFS online, and Microsoft has released a tool for it; you might simply update a URL (my understanding is this would be in the VC parameters screen). Note that TFS was tested and validated in R3. It “should” work in R2 but they are NOT doing any testing nor bug fixes there. There are general TFS best practices, but not specifically for AX/MorphX. We still have the same difficulties with private boxes; while it is technically possible. They mentioned a white paper which I believe is the one at http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/confirmation.aspx?id=26919 Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 White Paper: Developing Solutions in a Shared AOS Development Environment. Other white papers mentioned include: Change management and TFS integration for multi-developer projects http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=264935 and Deploying customizations across Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 environments http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=26571 . They don’t support shelving, nor do they recommend using xpo’s. You should have a build process (may I recommend you search for blogs on this; in particular How We Manage Development – Automated Builds http://community.dynamics.com/ax/b/daxmusings/archive/2014/01/09/how-we-manage-development-automated-builds.aspx ).
Ask the Experts: Microsoft Dynamics AX development tools on Visual Studio 2013 was my final session before the doors closed. A key takeaway is that changes that were made were in the Visual Studio environment, not in SSRS or anything else. They only tested their VS changes with R3, not with R2. There was definitely the implication throughout the conference that if you are on R2 or RTM you are going to need to upgrade. In fact, they are pushing upgrades to R3 CU8. Although there were changes in the new version, no new training is required – the “Microsoft Dynamics AX development experience does not change after you upgrade.” The tools that they offer do require Visual Studio Professional 2013, or a better version, such as Ultimate. Side-by-side installations of the 2010 development tools and 2013 are not supported. Finally, of note and much retweeted was “Microsoft will end mainstream support for Visual Studio 2010 on July 15th, 2015.”
And that, friends, is my recap of the final day of the very first combined Microsoft Dynamics CRM and AX technical conference. I hope you have enjoyed the quick summaries, and I really hope that you seek out the sessions online when they are posted. Check twitter #DynTech2015 https://twitter.com/search?f=realtime&q=%23dyntech2015&src=typd as that will probably have mention of it first or nearly so. The smart money is betting on it being released on Lifecycle Services (darned if I can figure out where it would be on LCS, though).
It’s always a pleasure to be in the company of great Dynamics minds, if not sunshine, and I am ready to book for next year!