|Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains is now renamed into Microsoft Dynamics GP, as well as Microsoft Navision into Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Axapta into Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Solomon into Microsoft Dynamics SL and Microsoft CRM into Microsoft Dynamcis CRM. Of course Microsoft has the plan to select the most marketing attractive name for its ERP products, however the other side of the renaming may be in the plan to move Project Green forward. At the final phase of Project Green Microsoft might drop GP, NAV, AX, SL and CRM extensions and make final version name to be simply Microsoft Dynamics. Interesting fact that Great Plains Software, which was the first candidate for Microsoft ERP software acquisition had Great Plains Dynamics brand, so probably Microsoft is plying retrospection card, in any case Microsoft technically owns GPS Dynamics brand anyway. In this small article we will give our retro view on Great Plains Dynamics customization, development and reporting.
1. Great Plains Dexterity this is proprietary programming language and technology, designed back to earlier 1990th with the goal to build platform independent graphical accounting package Great Plains Dynamics. Dexterity itself is written in C (following popular those days hope that C will provide platform independence). You can install Dexterity from Great Plains 7.5 CD #2. Obviously it requires a lot of learning / training, but it allows your custom piece be seamlessly integrated with Great Plains interface. Nowadays, however and this is a good thing most of Great Plains installations are moved to SQL Server so you can use Dexterity for custom forms drawing only and make the buttons run SQL stored procedures.
2. Modifier with VBA. Unfortunately you have to purchase this tool and get new registration keys. If you are familiar with VBA customization for Access or Excel you have all the skills needed then you just attach your scripts to the buttons and fields on GP forms (you can modify these forms with Modifier or just tough them with it).
3. Continuum for VB/Delphi we dont recommend this tool, because it is using Great Plains as OLE server and you probably dont want to be trapped by old technology.
4. Crystal Reports. Great Plains has its own ReportWriter, but its functionality is limited you cant do cross modules reports (you cant link Sales and Purchasing tables in one report, for example). So you use Crystal. The GP tables structure is in Tools->Resource Description->Tables
and you are in control. Feel free to create views and stored procs directly in the companies databases it doesnt hurt the Dexterity engine
5. Direct web publishing from Great Plains SQL databases, using Visual Studio.net and your language of choice (VB.Net, C#, J#, etc). Plus you probably want to have several SQL stored
6. eConnect this tool is type of SDK with VB.net samples. It allows you to feed data into Great Plains and was primarily created for eCommerce developers.
7. Integration Manager it is end-user tool for importing to GP, however if end-user meets some challenges in the integration you as a developer can help with VBA scripts. IM validates 100% of business logic and uses hidden GP forms so it maybe slow for big on-going integrations, when you have thousands records per day in this case you rescue to eConnect or directly to SQL store procedures.
8. SQL queries - as a developer you have unlimited potential in using SQL queries, because the database in MS SQL Server. Be careful, it is kind of surgery.
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