Category Archives: User Experience

Everything that could be interesting for key or admin users of Business Central and bring pleasure in user experience.

How to install Business Central (developer) preview version

In the last weeks, I got some questions about installing the developer’s preview version (the Insider build) of the Business Central. This version is available through Artifacts for docker similarly to standard versions; however, they are available only for Microsoft’ partners.

If you are a partner, you can find your access code directly in the Microsoft Partner Center (Collaborate -> Overview -> Packages -> Working with Business Central Insider Builds). On this page, you can download the .txt file that contains sasToken (token you need to download any of insiders builds).

Creating the container is similar to creating the standard container; the only difference is the “sasToken” parameter in the Get-BCArtifactUrl command. See the whole command below.


 $sasToken = "YOUR-OWN-TOKEN-FROM-PARTNER-CENTER"
 Measure-Command {
   $artifactUrl = Get-BCArtifactUrl -country base -select nextmajor -sasToken $sasToken
   $credential = New-Object pscredential 'UserName', (ConvertTo-SecureString -String 'Password' -AsPlainText -Force)
   New-BcContainer          
     -accept_eula
     -containerName Your-Container-Name          
     -artifactUrl $artifactUrl
     -Credential $credential          
     -auth UserPassword
     -updateHosts          
     -imagename Your-Own-Image-Name
     -includeTestToolkit `
     -licenseFile 'C:\PartnersLicense.flf'
 }

Visual Studio Code AL Language extension from Insider’s build

With the new major version, there are always many changes to development. To use these changes and try to create new objects, new structures, or check changes to standard procedures, you have to use the new version of the AL Language extension for Visual Studio Code.

The new version is not available directly through Visual Studio Code until the full version of the Business Central is officially published. However, the extension is available directly on the image you downloaded when the container was created (it could be a little different path in your case):

C:\bcartifacts.cache\sandbox\18.0.22317.0\platform\ModernDev\program files\Microsoft Dynamics NAV\180\AL Development Environment

This .VSIX package can be installed manually in Visual Studio Code (Extensions -> … -> Install from VSIX…).

A quick look into the upcoming major version in April 2021 (Business Central 2021 release wave 1) from the developer’s point of view

It is only four months since the last major version of the Business Central (2020 wave 2) has been released, and we can already look forward to another version that will be released in April.

Microsoft has already provided the list of planned and confirmed functionality (available here). Let’s look at some of the planned features that will be usable (or, at least available) for programmers.

Most useful changes for developers

Extensible reports

One of the most annoying things for customising in the AL language are definitely reports. Till now, to add own field to the existing report from the base app or another extension, there was no other way but to copy the report and do the change in this copy.

With the upcoming version, developers will be able to create a report extension objects. Using this extension object type, we will be able (at least) to add new fields to existing datasets and request pages.

In my opinion, this is one of the most critical changes and as so I will look at it in another article once it is available in public preview.

Returning of complex types from AL procedures

One of the greatest news is that with the new update almost every complex type (record, page, query, list, …) can be returned from a procedure. Let’s see an example:


 procedure GetSellToCustomer(): Record Customer
 var
   Customer: Record Customer;
 begin
   Rec.TestField("Sell-to Customer No.");
   if Customer.Get("Sell-to Customer No.") then
     exit(Customer);
 end;

As this is a big change and as it is something known and often used in almost any other language, I will look at it in details in the next weeks.

Ability to add own keys/indexes to base table/tableextension

To increase custom processes’ performance, Microsoft added support of adding own keys to original tables and tables from any extension.

Entitlement and PermissionSet objects

There will be new object types for better administration and security of user’s roles: Entitlements, PermissionSets and PermissionSetExtension.

PermissionSets (and PermissionSetExtension) are already familiar to anybody. However, in current versions of the Business Central, they are stored and managed directly in the Modern Client.

Entitlements is a new object type that will allow specifying, which objects are available for specific users based on their assigned license (Full, Team Member, …) or Azure Active Directory role.

Easier working with 1-D barcodes in report layouts

There are new fonts available to use in report layouts. These fonts allow generating one-dimensional barcodes. For now (2021/02) licensed fonts are as follow

Some of other improvements

  • Availability to specify report layout both using AL or directly in the Modern Client (so as developers, we can use the same report for more layouts dynamically)
  • Performance improvements to Role Centers. The content of the Role Center is loaded in a similar way to FactBoxes. That means that Role Centers are loaded part by part from top-level (from menus), and only the visible parts are loaded. For developers, that is the improvement that helps with the performance a lot as users will be able to use menu actions without waiting for bricks and other stats shown on the main page.
  • Interfaces can be obsoleted as any other objects (In my opinion, this is a fix, not an improvement…)
  • Lookups triggers will return record link of selected record instead of its name.
  • Many improvements to the extensibility of reservation management. I will cover this topic as a separate article in the upcoming weeks.

Monitored Fields

Another new functionality introduced with the Business Central 2020 Wave 2 (with version 17.1 in November specifically) is called “Monitored Fields”. This functionality is built over the original Change Log functionality and use the same tables and procedures; however, extends the core functionality with email notifications when any of the defined fields are changed.

To find all related pages, type “monitor” into “Tell me”. Let’s start with Field Monitoring Setup.

Field Monitoring Setup

Using this setup, the functionality itself could be enabled. On the page, it is also possible to define email profile that will be used for notifications and the user who will be notified about any change to the monitored field (for notification, the email from User table of the corresponding user is used).

Monitored Fields Worksheet

Using the worksheet, you can define all combination of tables and fields you want to monitor. If the Data Sensitivity functionality is in use, the monitored fields can be automatically generated based on data in this table. Nevertheless, it is also possible to define all fields manually.

It is important to remember that the field is not monitored until the “Notify” field is enabled. It can be done manually for every line or using actions “Set for Notification” (to enable notifications) or “Clear for Notification” (to disable notifications).

Monitored Field Log Entries

On this page, all changes to monitored fields could be found. Right now, it is basically just a new page for entries in Change Log.T here are also listed all changes to Monitored field configuration tables (similarly to Change Log).

Email notifications

Nonetheless, the most useful thing that comes with this functionality is the notifications itself. All described above is just a new design for ChangeLog; however, the changelog only logs the information about the change, and nobody knows that something had changed. The Monitored fields functionality extends logging by notifying a responsible user using email notification.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Certification is available!

Right now, the only official Microsoft exam & certification for the Business Central (details of MB800 exam and details of certification) is in the full version! After more than 4 months when the exam was in beta version, Microsoft just switched the exam and corresponding certification to the full version available for everyone.

I can definitely recommend the exam to anyone experienced in the Business Central’s functionality (or in last versions of Dynamics NAV; however, some of the tasks are from the Business Central only).

Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Business Central Functional Consultant Associate

I did the exam two and a half months ago (and received the results and my passing score two hours ago once the exam was approved as a full version). The exam covers all core topics and is build in an exciting way (from my point of view, tasks are much better than those in “old” certifications like MCSA/MCSE).

Have you done the exam? What are your opinions? Share your ideas and thoughts in comments!

UI enhancements in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central 2020 Wave 2

Dynamics 365 has come out with a comprehensive plan for the release of business central 2020 wave 2. In this article I will focus on updates to page styling, more responsive FactBoxes, and an upgraded dialog bar for a seamless service and optimized productivity.

Page styling updates

You can’t have any new features brought in without a fresh new style that enhances the experience altogether. That’s what Microsoft did when they introduced Wave 2, with beautiful and sleek changes to task dialogs, embedded lists, and stylistic appearances. Task dialogs will now be more focused on completing current tasks, with a display in specific commands and an easier way to exit the dialog. They can also now be shown in the middle of the screen, actions will be represented below the page caption, and consistent results when trying to maximize any task dialog either vertically or horizontally will be applied.

Other stylistic changes include an improved space for the embedded lists, showing off how lists parts will stretch to fill the available space when inside a group, or how pages with multiple list parts will no longer waste space by being split into nested groups. Not to mention, minor details like font adjustments and font sizing have been made, with the Bahnschrift font being removed.

A more responsive FactBox

FactBoxes have been super important in some of what Microsoft offers, which is why their upgrade in the business central 2020 wave 2 has been so important. Not only are they easier to view, but their interaction has also overall been optimized for a number of features. This allows FactBox to run smoother on the page, now being loaded to give priority to show the main content of that page.

Content for the hosted page will now be displayed first, which will then be followed by any FactBoxes in order on how they are shown on the page. FactBoxes can also continue to run within the same session, but can also be changed by a developer so that the FactBox is explicitly implemented as a page background task. Last but not least, FactBoxes can be collapsed and won’t run on the opening page unless the FactBox pane is expanded.

An improved navigation experience terminology

One of the key updates to modern clients in the business central application provides and clear and concise list of features that help with training, onboarding, and day-to-day work. The updated features in the navigation experience include minor but impactful changes likes the non-promoted group being renamed to ‘unrelated’ and the group called report has now been changed to ‘reports’. The action that was previously shown as Navigate is now changed to ‘find entries’ and has now gained a keyboard shortcut to find it faster.

Although you may think this may have been a lot to read, this was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the latest news surrounding the Business Central 2020 Wave 2.

Merge entity duplicity

In the case of duplicity in Customers, Vendors or Contacts, the system offers functionality to merge related record. To run it, go to the customer/vendor/contact card and run action “Merge With…”.

The setup window is opened for the entity from which the page was started. In the header, the opposite entity with which we want to merge has to be chosen, then the system lookup all relevant data and show them in the tab below.

In this tab, the user can see all conflict between the source entity and the selected one. If you want to save the value of any field from the selected entity, choose “Override”; otherwise, the value from the source entity will be used.

The last tab, “Related Tables”, shows all tables where the source or selected entity were found. The most important information is whether there are any conflicts in the column “Conflicts”. If there are any problems, in the next step it will be necessary to resolve them before the process of merging could be finished.

Whether there are any conflicts or not, continue with the action “Merge”. If there are some conflicts, resolve them and then run the “Merge” again. If there aren’t any, just confirm the merging process.