Three Lessons Learned At NAV TechDays 2011
|5. October 2011||Posted by Martin Karlowitsch under Dynamics NAV Gantt, VARCHART XGantt|
Last week, we attended the 2-day conference NAV TechDays 2011 in Antwerp (Belgium), which was – extremely well! – organized by Luc Van Dyck supported by Evi Duson, who (as private person, not as an organization) also runs a powerful Microsoft Business Solutions online community called mibuso. The NAV TechDays were a new conference with the goal of offering two days full of technical sessions related to Microsoft Dynamics NAV. The conference was targeted towards all Microsoft Dynamics NAV developers (working for Microsoft partners or customers, freelancers, trainers, …) as well as towards technical decision makers, project managers, IT managers.
We decided to attend this conference as most recently we saw an increasing customer demand for enhancing the usage of our Gantt chart component VARCHART XGantt within Microsoft’s ERP system Dynamics NAV. There is one specific reason why Dynamics NAV users easily can leverage the full Gantt charting power of VARCHART XGantt: Microsoft uses the component to create the Gantt diagrams in the Production Schedule of the Manufacturing Module in Microsoft Dynamics NAV. This means, that VARCHART XGantt is already seamlessly integrated into the classic Dynamics NAV. Hence, we attended the conference to better liaise with the Dynamics NAV community and also to showcase the benefits NAV users and partners can realize by adding interactive NAV Gantt charts to their applications. Here are our three major lessons learned in Antwerp:
Lesson 1: The value of interactive Gantt charts is surprising to many Dynamics NAV users
There is good news and bad news for Dynamics NAV users: The good news is that with VARCHART XGantt they can use a third-party control that already is seamlessly integrated into their ERP system. Hence, data integration is no big issue. The perceived bad news is that the default Gantt charts in the Production Module come with very limited functionality. Whenever we showed standard features of our Gantt control like layout customization, context-sensitive/business rules-driven layout changes, data grouping, dynamic data interactions etc., users were surprised, if not amazed about the potential value of our Gantt chart software for their applications. Hence, our take away is that going forward we will put additional efforts in place to better support Dynamics NAV users and partners to unleash the full value of our third-party control … that is already integrated into their ERP system.
Lesson 2: It is no magic to integrate VARCHART XGantt into the NAV RTC (role-tailored client)
When launching the role-tailored client of Dynamics NAV, Microsoft decided not to integrate any Gantt component at all. Nevertheless, many of the NETRONIC customers and partners approached us in the past 12 months and started to request advanced Gantt chart functionality also for their RTC applications. Consequently, we decided to invest into that feature request and managed to bring a first prototype with us to Antwerp. With this RTC Gantt prototype we achieved a full integration (data reading as well as data writing) of our VARCHART XGantt with Dynamics NAV RTC. We discussed this prototype with many participants and received very endorsing feedback. Consequently, our take away is to continue investing into an even tighter integration of our Gantt control with Dynamics NAV RTC so that all NAV users can fully benefit from interactive Gantt scheduling functions.
Lesson 3: The upcoming Dynamics NAV ’7′ brings new power for graphical add-in integration
At the first conference day, we met Christian Abeln who is Senior Program Manager Microsoft Dynamics NAV at Microsoft. The initial intention was to discuss our RTC Gantt prototype with him, and to hear his feedback how to further improve the integration. However, after a brief look at the Gantt control and its features, he came up with a new idea … — Christian was supposed to hold a presentation on day 2 that should give an outlook about new functions – especially new graphical functions! – in Dynamics NAV V7. His presentation title was “Let’s bring the Role-Tailored Client to the next level with cool Visualizations, Charts and your custom UI Add-ins“.
In this presentation he also demonstrated how users can integrate external controls with an add-in into NAV V7 , and hence also into their business processes. His stunning idea was to use VARCHART XGantt for this demo – a control that was virtually unknown to him before. The great news is: NAV V7 will bring amazing new power for the integration of external components so that Christian could develop a new add-in live on stage; including the integration into NAV real-time data. In addition to this. VARCHART XGantt also is made to ease the integration into any application. Hence, the combined strengths of both products enabled Christian Abeln to achieve – live on stage! – the XGantt integration, and to show real data as a Gantt chart inside the NAV application. You bet that we liked this! — Well, you can guess what our take away is. We will continue with our support for the Dynamics NAV community as we seem to have a win-win situation here.
Did you meet us in Antwerp? What were your thoughts? Do you have any great idea for a Gantt scheduling application in your NAV application? Please share with us: we are curious to learn, and we are curious for ideas to make our NAV Gantt even better.
Useful resources for Dynamics NAV partners and users
Click here to learn more about our Gantt chart control VARCHART XGantt.
Click here to get more information about the NAV Gantt integration.
Click here to download a step-by-step guide on how to customize the Gantt charts in your Dynamics NAV system.