How To

Using OAuth in Business Central to access APIs and Web Services

Tip & Tricks

Basics of AL Programming & Statements

Tip & Tricks

Migration from BC-14 (On-Prem) to BC-21 (SAAS)

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Comparison of BUSINESS CENTRAL AND NAV

First released in 1987, acquired by Microsoft in 2002, now called Business Central, Dynamics NAV is one of Microsoft’s most prolific software packages. 

After Dynamics NAV 2018, Microsoft discontinued their popular, but on-premises only, ERP solution Dynamics NAV and replaced it with Dynamics 365 Business Central (BC-13). But what is the difference between the two systems, and why should your business make the switch? Let’s take a look at Business Central vs Dynamics NAV.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV was rebranded in 2018 to Microsoft Dynamics Business Central for on-premises and private cloud versions, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for the cloud version.

At the time of writing this comparison, BC-21 is available in market.

Since 2018, Dynamics NAV is no longer available for purchase. The only businesses that can use the system are those that already held licenses. Even for those who do still hold licenses, the system no longer receives updates, meaning the software will quickly become outdated and harder to use.

Mainstream Support for Dynamics NAV versions from 2013 to 2017 has already ended, with the 2018 version losing support in January 2023. This deadline is fast approaching, so if you are currently using NAV 2018 you should begin to consider your optimal course of action going forward.

With very little time remaining before the end of Dynamics NAV Mainstream Support in January 2023, the sooner you decide on your course of action, the better.

Microsoft introduced Dynamics 365 Business Central. Business Central is a newer version of Dynamics NAV, offering the same standard functionality in a much more user-friendly way. It’s also SaaS (Software as a Service) meaning it’s accessible from anywhere, with the same security that drives Microsoft 365.

In addition to the functions carried over from Dynamics NAV, the Dynamics 365 Business Central system affords users with access to:

  • Integration with Microsoft 365 applications for increased productivity and streamlined data
  • Data connectivity and business intelligence through Microsoft Power Platform
  • Microsoft Azure architecture for cloud security, presence, and scale
  • Increased pool of third-party software integrations
  • Multiple deployment options for on-premises, private server, or cloud hosting

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central helps with day-to-day business processes and operations. Its capabilities include financials, stock management, purchasing and much more, all with real-time data and analytics through Power BI.

Dynamics 365 Business Central is relevant for businesses adopting flexible, hybrid, or remote working models thanks to the scalable, cloud-based architecture and integration with Microsoft 365 and Power BI tools.

It is an all-in-one solution that can be adapted for many industries including software developers, IT services, financial services, healthcare, and educational institutions.

The system also has large user bases in manufacturing, distribution, ecommerce, and retail. 

Features and functions are still the same as back in the NAV days, just with a more digital-focused platform. But still differ from old days Dynamics NAV.

Most of the base code of Business Central has been adapted from NAV, and it has enhanced the rich functionality its predecessor offered, with options to deploy as an on-premises or a SaaS cloud solution.

The Dynamics 365 Business Central web client, including its sisters, the tablet and phone clients (by the way, there is no longer a Windows client) has had a makeover!

Features include new and varied fonts to highlight important information such as a headline banner on the Role Centre, a fabulous teal Role Centre with easy navigation, and interestingly capitalised field names on lists!

They are curiously small differences but really nice touches.

Design Tool it’s as good as it used to be! In fact, it’s a very smart design tool. As a ‘non-developer’ you can amend pages, add new fields and save the result as an extension.

When comparing Dynamics NAV to Business Central, you must be aware of the substantial functional upgrades and new capabilities of Dynamics 365 Business Central. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is an upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics NAV that offers several notable improvements.

You’ll see numerous benefits in your business, including agility, ability to scale quickly, mobility, lower cost of ownership, and more.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central have many similarities, but there are many differences too that make many users move from NAV to Business Central.

You can also choose to deploy Business Central as an on-premises solution if that is a better fit for your organization. However, you may then miss out on integration and cutting-edge features.

While the two systems are similar, there are key differences that make Business Central the preferred option for many businesses:

Business CentralDynamics Navision
 Dynamics 365 Business Central is a cloud-based ERP solution.  

With Dynamics 365 Business Central, you can access your data and applications anytime, anywhere, and on any device.  

D365 Business Central includes a comprehensive set of features and functionality.  

Business Central is licensed on a per-user basis.  

With Business Central, you only need to pay for the users who will be using the system.
Dynamics NAV is an on-premises ERP solution.  

Dynamics NAV requires some customization and third-party add-ons to achieve the same level of functionality.  

Dynamics NAV is licensed on a per-server basis.  

Dynamics NAV, you need to pay for the server regardless of how many users are accessing the system.
IntegrationFull (All Microsoft Products)Limited, Version Dependent 
Objects49,999 objects are free to use on cloudObjects need to be purchased for customizations 
Search Interface Advanced, with automatic categorization, smart search (search for misspellings or imprecise terms) Basic, possibility of data duplication 
Reporting Power BI Limited 
Deployment Cloud (No need to maintain servers and backups) although On-Premises option also available.On-Premises, Cost for Server maintenance and backup management.
USER INTERFACEWeb-based app
Improved design
Much easier to navigate.
More productive platform.
Desktop-based 
 Business Central interface uses AL language in the code.  

Offers more customization than before and helps to make extensions and upgrades much easier to manage in the long term.
Dynamics NAV using C/AL coding
 Better integration with other Microsoft products already used by many businesses, including all applications within the Microsoft Dynamics suite, like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales (CRM) and Office 365 products, such as Outlook and Excel. 
 Offers more automated operations to improve productivity.  

Native connectivity to Microsoft’s Power Platform (e.g., Power Automate) and powerful workflows and integrations can be created, by end-users without complex coding, sometimes almost no code.
 
HOSTINGBusiness Central is a SaaS solution – sitting on Microsoft’s Azure cloud, which enables you to specify the region where your data is stored and processed.  

There are many benefits to SaaS solutions,

*  Greater security
* Less risk of data loss and
* Better accessibility for your team.
* Cloud hosting also works alongside the new coding to make upgrades and extensions much easier to carry out.
Only On-Premises capability.

Need to invest in and manage your own in-house servers.
UPGRADESBi-annual release
Sequential upgrades,
Which happen automatically.
Your systems are always up to date.  

With the on-premises or private cloud version of Business Central, upgrades are not automatic but are still relatively simpler compared to NAV.  

Plus, any third-party apps or customizations you have are also designed to be compatible with each new Business Central update.
No Automatic Upgrades.
 Your business is always using the most optimised version of Business Central.Fuss and cost of manually updating the software.
 If you are apprehensive about an update, there is an option to delay its installation for up to 90 days.

However, it’s good idea to staying as up to date as possible. Updates are introduced to improve overall user experience and security.
Hotfixes & Cumulative updates to be handled on own cost.
 Business Central, the modifications are made using AL language that creates extensions – leaving the core system untouched and making upgrades a lot easier.NAV customization was written in C/AL language and was integral to the core system.

This meant upgrades were a major undertaking as the whole system needed to be reviewed and potentially redeveloped.
USER LICENSESDynamics 365 Business Central uses a monthly/annual subscription model and is available in either (‘Essentials’ or ‘Premium’).  

Charges per user, meaning fees are based on the number of simultaneous users each month.  

You also get an option to pay a perpetual license fee. That means you can now Business Central as an operational expense or a capital expense, whichever makes more sense for your business. It also moves from a concurrent user to a named user licensing model.
Perpetual with yearly AMC 16% in license cost.  

Dynamics NAV is available in Starter Pack & Extended Pack.
 Business Central users can also benefit from Single Sign On and usability across multiple devices, and across iOS, Android, and PC. 
 Remote working much easier, especially as the landscape of working life is becoming a blend of office-based and home working.  

Flexible and cost-effective for businesses.
 
 Now your staff can simply log into the web app from any device to get their job done. This makes the ERP solution much more cost-effective and flexible for your business. 

HOW TO TRANSITION TO BUSINESS CENTRAL

Many companies have been using Dynamics NAV for years, so Nav users may be a little wary about making the switch to Business Central. But with even more functionality than the NAV solution and with better usability, you won’t regret taking the first step.

While some Microsoft products, like Office 365, can be bought directly from Microsoft, this is not the case for Business Central. Due to the complexity of the product, Microsoft Business Central must be purchased through an approved Microsoft partner.

The Business Central trial takes a few minutes to load, and you can start using the app. 

Dynamics 365 Business Central Licensing

There are two main subscription licensing options:

  • Business Central Essentials
  • Business Central Premium.

To use this ERP software, you must license one of these plans. Both plans are licensed by user and are fast to implement as well as easy to configure. There’s also a ‘Team Members‘ licensing option to add on additional users.

The difference between a full user vs. an additional user:

A full user is someone who will be working heavily within Business Central on a daily basis. These will typically be your customer service employees, sales and marketing staff, finance employees, and supply chain managers.

An additional user or team member is a ‘light user’ or users who do not require the full capabilities of Business Central. For instance, they may need to view data reports, log their expenses or time, and other such activities.

Dynamics 365 Business Central Essentials

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Essentials consists of several modules that are considered essential for any business.

Modules included within Essentials:

  • Financial Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Project Management
  • Warehouse Management
  • Human Resources Management

Dynamics 365 Business Central Premium

The Premium license has everything in the Essentials license plus service management and manufacturing.

Modules included within Premium:

  • Service Management
  • Manufacturing
  • Financial Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Project Management
  • Warehouse Management
  • Human Resources Management

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Preparing Development Environment

Tip & Tricks

Business Central – Basics

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Business Central 21 enables Arabic Language

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Integrating with Business Central – using Web Service

This is fourth post in this series, if you wish to see first post, you can access here.

In second post I discussed about, how to create Azure Functions, you can access here.

In previous post I discussed about, how to Integrate Azure Functions in Business Central, you can access here.

In this post we will discuss how to make available QR Image using API by exposing as Web Service.

Let’s cut the theoretical part and coming directly to the solution.

This post is very short and as an answer to query from one of the blog readers, who regularly gives feedback and suggest topic he wish from me. Sometime it is not possible to write post for every query, but I try to pick some which I find interesting. Converting any topic into post is quite time taking, solution can be of 10 mins but presenting same in form of blog takes 2-3 hours, sometimes even more.

Some time appropriate environment is not available where I can put the solution and take screenshots to present as blog.

Since this topic is part of current series, I am writing posts on, so I was able to easily pick this topic.

Requirement is to add capability to get QR Image we generated in our previous posts using Web Service/ API/ OData/ JSON Base64Text.

To get this working we will first create a Codeunit with appropriate methods and expose it as Web Service.

Step – 1.

Create Codeunit & Add below method.

Step – 2

Publish above Codeunit as Web Service.

Step – 3

Copy SOAP URL

[SOAP URL]

https://api.businesscentral.dynamics.com/v2.0/1e4fc386-962e-4a20-8364-d5aeb65e2485/Test/WS/CRONUS%20USA%2C%20Inc./Codeunit/QRCodeGenerator

Convert to ODataV4 URL by making necessary modification as below:

[ODataV4 URL]

https://api.businesscentral.dynamics.com/v2.0/1e4fc386-962e-4a20-8364-d5aeb65e2485/Test/ODataV4/QRCodeGenerator

Similarly, your $metadata URL will be:

https://api.businesscentral.dynamics.com/v2.0/1e4fc386-962e-4a20-8364-d5aeb65e2485/Test/ODataV4/$metadata

Run the metadata URL in browser:

Search for your function created above, you should get definition as below:

<Action Name=”QRCodeGenerator_GetQRSetImageAsJSON”>

<Parameter Name=”qRSetId” Type=”Edm.Int32″/>

<ReturnType Type=”Edm.String”/>

</Action>

Let’s test the above URL for function using Postman to see the result:

[POST] – https://api.businesscentral.dynamics.com/v2.0/1e4fc386-962e-4a20-8364-d5aeb65e2485/Test/ODataV4/QRCodeGenerator_GetQRSetImageAsJSON?Company=CRONUS USA, Inc.

Authorization:  Basic Auth

Username: ASHWINI.TRIPATHI

Password: xjAtAtTaFhgXkgR4M5WoHapotvJNmqJ5//XBYK2v5s4= (Web Service Access Key)

JSON Parameter to Function: (Body raw:JSON)

{

    “qRSetId” : “6”

}

Result Body:

{

    “@odata.context”: “https://api.businesscentral.dynamics.com/v2.0/1e4fc386-962e-4a20-8364-d5aeb65e2485/Test/ODataV4/$metadata#Edm.String&#8221;,

    “value”: “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”

}

Copy the Value and use any base64 – image converter tool, search on Google

You will get your QR Image:

Don’t try any URL or Passwords in this post as same is modified, and in images covered to hide actual url & passwords.

Hope you enjoyed learning from this post.

That’s all for this post, but visit again to learn from upcoming posts in this series, will post soon.

See you again in next post, till then keep exploring, learning and sharing with others.

Azure Functions, Business Central, Integration, QR Code, Tip & Tricks

Integrating Azure Function with Business Central

This is third post in this series, if you wish to see first post, you can access here.

In previous post I discussed about first part, how to create Azure Functions, you can access here.

Today in this post I will discuss about second part, how to Integrate previously created Azure Functions in Business Central.

From previous post remember:

On completion you will get the Live AZURE URL, use the URL in same way as for local, to pass parameter append at the end of URL as (?ReqData=Test)

Replace [Test] with the information for which you want to generate the QR Code.

Let’s start with Business Central side customization required, here I am presenting partial design for learning purpose, if you need full functional setup-based configuration for generating QR Code integrated with your system, I have the solution ready, you can connect with me for complete solution for your business. Actual solution has much more capability than what is presented here.

First, we will design a table to store all generated QR Code & assign an QR Set Id, which you can add in your other tables, just like Dim Set Id.

Only bare minimum code is included just to give idea about how we can integrate Azure Functions to Generate QR Code in Business Central.

Next, we will design page for this table.

Next, we will design page to display QR Set Image generated for QR Code Data.

QR Code Data is text created with information for which QR Code need to be generated.

Next, we will create a function which will generate QR Image using Azure function we created in previous post.

You can create a codeunit and add your function to generate QR Code Image as above. Replace Url with exact you obtained in previous post after deploying your function.

You need to write one more function which create a new record in your table and populate QR Code Data value with the information you wish to generate QR Image for.

Once your QR Code Set Record is ready call this function to Generate QR Code Image for you, based on information you created in QR Code Data.

For Example, add this procedure to any table where you wish to Generate QR Code.

You need to implement your logic for generating QR Code Data, for example you wish to Generate QR Code for Item with information like [ItemNo|Description]

You can populate QR Code data as:

QRSet.”QR Code Data” := Rec.”No.” + ‘|’ + Rec.Description;

Don’t forget to add one field to this table as “QRSet Id” and assign the “QRSet Id” as QRSet.”QR Code Set Id” in above procedure GenerateQRCode after QRSet is Inserted.

Your QR Image will be generated with this information, when you scan you QR Image you will get information that you passed as parameter to “QR Code Data”.

Similarly, you can add below actions to your respective page for above table:

Now build and publish your extension.

Open the page where you added the Action, first call Generate QR Code, this will populate the QR Code Set with the information as per your logic, Get the QR Image from the Azure function and save it into your table QR Code Set. Next you call View QR Code, this will fetch the QR Image from the table and display on screen.

Hope you enjoyed learning from this post.

That’s all for this post, but visit again to learn from upcoming posts in this series, will post soon.

See you again in next post, till then keep exploring, learning and sharing with others.

Azure, Azure Function Extension, Azure Functions, DotNet, Http Trigger, node.js, npm, nuget package, QR Code, QRCoder, SDK, Tip & Tricks, Visual Studio Code

Creating Azure Functions to generate QR Code

This is second post in this series, if you wish to see previous post, you can access here.

Today in this post I will discuss about first part, how to create Azure Functions.

Before we start, you need some installation to support creating Azure Functions. Use below Links to download & install these packages on the system, where you wish to write, compile & test the Azure functions.

Installation Links:

https://docs.npmjs.com/downloading-and-installing-node-js-and-npm

https://nodejs.org/en/download/

https://dotnet.microsoft.com/download/dotnet/thank-you/sdk-3.1.414-windows-x64-installer

Obviously, you must have an active Azure subscription, to create an Azure Functions App. If you don’t have, you can create an account that gives you a credit to explore Microsoft Azure for 30 days.

Head to Azure portal and sign in with your account.

Create New Function App.

Select your Azure subscription and a resource group or create a new one. Provide a name for your function app. This name will be the prefix for the URL.

You can select the .NET Core runtime and the region that matches your location. Select the Review + create button.

Now, you can create new functions. A function app can contain multiple functions. Each function will be available on:

Before you start to create Function, you need to Install dependencies:

  1. You should install Visual Studio Code
  2. You should also install Node.JS 
  3. Run the following command to install the Core Tools package:

npm install -g azure-functions-core-tools@3 –unsafe-perm true

Create an Azure Functions project

Click the Create New Project… icon in the Azure: Functions panel.

You will be prompted to choose a directory for your app. Choose an empty directory.

You will then be prompted to select a language for your project. Choose dotnet.

Create a function

If you skipped to provide details, for Functions in above process, you can still initiate later.

Click the Create Function… icon in the Azure: Functions panel.

You will be prompted to choose a template for your function. Select HTTP trigger for getting started.

Screens will be same as shown in above process.

Sample project will be created

As per the information provided by you, in above screens.

KSDQRGenerator.cs auto generated file code will be as below:

using System;
using System.IO;
using System.Threading.Tasks;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc;
using Microsoft.Azure.WebJobs;
using Microsoft.Azure.WebJobs.Extensions.Http;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Http;
using Microsoft.Extensions.Logging;
using Newtonsoft.Json;

namespace Company.Function
{
    public static class KSDQRGenerator
    {
        [FunctionName("KSDQRGenerator")]
        public static async Task<IActionResult> Run(
            [HttpTrigger(AuthorizationLevel.Anonymous, "get", "post", Route = null)] HttpRequest req,
            ILogger log)
        {
            log.LogInformation("C# HTTP trigger function processed a request.");

            string name = req.Query["name"];

            string requestBody = await new StreamReader(req.Body).ReadToEndAsync();
            dynamic data = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject(requestBody);
            name = name ?? data?.name;

            string responseMessage = string.IsNullOrEmpty(name)
                ? "This HTTP triggered function executed successfully. Pass a name in the query string or in the request body for a personalized response."
                : $"Hello, {name}. This HTTP triggered function executed successfully.";

            return new OkObjectResult(responseMessage);
        }
    }
}

Now you have the Http Template, we will make necessary changes as per our requirement.

In this example we will be using a library – QRCoder to generate the QR Code.

So first we have created a function with Http Trigger.

Made changes to the function as:

/*string name = req.Query["name"];

            string requestBody = await new StreamReader(req.Body).ReadToEndAsync();
            dynamic data = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject(requestBody);
            name = name ?? data?.name;

            string responseMessage = string.IsNullOrEmpty(name)
                ? "This HTTP triggered function executed successfully. Pass a name in the query string or in the request body for a personalized response."
                : $"Hello, {name}. This HTTP triggered function executed successfully.";

            return new OkObjectResult(responseMessage);*/

Replace this part as below code:

            string ReqData = req.Query["ReqData"];

            string requestBody = await new StreamReader(req.Body).ReadToEndAsync();
            dynamic data = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject(requestBody);
            ReqData = ReqData ?? data?.url;
            if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(ReqData))
            {
                return new BadRequestResult();
            }

            var generator = ReqData;
            var payload = generator.ToString();

            using (var qrGenerator = new QRCodeGenerator())
            {
                var qrCodeData = qrGenerator.CreateQrCode(payload, QRCodeGenerator.ECCLevel.Q);
                var qrCode = new PngByteQRCode(qrCodeData);
                var qrCodeAsPng = qrCode.GetGraphic(20);
                return new FileContentResult(qrCodeAsPng, "image/png");
            }

Final Code should look like this:

There are some errors, correct. Next step will resolve the same.

Next, we will add the QRCode nuget package to the dotnet core project using 

dotnet add package QRCoder –version 1.4.1

Post completing the command execution, all errors are resolved.

Run your function project locally

Press F5 to run your function app.

The runtime will output a URL for any HTTP functions, which can be copied and run in your browser’s address bar.

Copy the URL of the function & Switch to browser:

In my case: http://localhost:7071/api/KSDQRGenerator?ReqData=Test

If you scan above QRCode, you will get ‘Test’ as we have passed this as a parameter (?ReqData=Test)

To stop debugging, press Shift + F5.

Deploy your code to Azure

Click the Deploy to Function App… () icon in the Azure: Functions panel.

Sign in to your Azure Account, if not done earlier. To test locally you need not to sign in to Azure. But at deployment is must.

When prompted to select a function app, choose KSDQRCodeGenerator (in my case), Function App Created on Azure portal in the starting of this blog post.

Confirm to deployment dialog.

On completion you will get the Live AZURE URL, use the URL in same way as for local, to pass parameter append at the end of URL as (?ReqData=Test)

Replace [Test] with the information for which you want to generate the QR Code.

That’s all for this post, but visit again to learn from upcoming posts in this series, will post soon.

See you again in next post, Till then keep exploring, learning and sharing with others.