AL, BC14, BC15, BC16, BC17, BC18, Business Central, C/AL, Cumulative Updates, Dynamics 365, End of Mainstream, Extension, Information, NAV 2015, NAV 2016, NAV 2017, NAV 2018, Navision, on-premises, Online, Updates, upgrade

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for those who do still hold licenses, the system no longer receives updates, meaning the software will quickly become outdated and harder to use.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

AL, BC18, Business Central, Code, Codeunit, Combinations, Development Tips, Dimension, Dynamics 365, Environment, Events, Extension, Extension Package, How To, Online, Page, Sandbox, Subscription, Table, Tip & Tricks, VS Code

Walkthrough Extension Development in Online Sandbox – Business Central

I have my Sandbox environment as below:

Details of the Sandbox as below:

Connecting VS code to above environment.

When you try to Publish the extension, it will ask you to authenticate.

Copy the Link and open in the browser and paste the code in the box as shown below.

Next it will ask for your Online Instance User Id & Password provide it and on confirmation close the page. It will start deploying the extension.

In this walkthrough I am using below scenario:

Requirement is we need to be able to define some code for dimension combinations. Let me say it will be Sales Code, you can choose name of your choice, this is not Salesperson code.

I am assuming these dimensions will follow the sequence as defined on my General Ledger Setup as below:

On Sales Order & Invoice user should be able to select this Sales Code and dimensions should be populated on order accordingly.

For tracking purpose this Sales Code should flow to Posted Sales Invoice and Customer Ledger.

So, Let’s Start with the development process:

Step-1 We will Create the Table

Here is the code for LookupDimValue Function, it will set filter for Dimension Code on Dimension Value table, as per the Dimension No passed. (1 is for Shortcut Dimension defined on General Ledger Setup, similarly for other 8 dimensions)

Step-2 Next, we will create the Page for this Setup

Step-3 Next, we will add the Sales Code field to all required Tables & Pages

Here is the code for AddDim Function. It is assumed that only combination provided in Sales Code Setup will be used. If you have defined Default dimensions or Combinations, those need to be preserved else this code will overwrite them. You will have to find the Data Set Entry, store them in temporary table used in below code and then add all the dimensions from the setup.

When you Select Sales Code on the Order or Invoice it will populate all the dimensions defined in the Setup.

Code for other Tables & Pages

Step-4 Next, we need to take care to flow the Sales Code to the Ledger and Posted documents.

For posted documents we need not to worry it will flow automatically provided we have defined the fields on same Id.

However, for ledger we will require to use Events to pass the data to their destinations. In this case we are only passing to Customer Ledger Entry. For this we will create a Codeunit.

To Add Event Subscriptions, Use the new Shift+Alt+E shortcut in the AL code editor to invoke a list of all events.

Search for the even you are looking for.

When pressing Enter to select an event entry, an event subscriber for the event will be inserted at the cursor position in the active AL code editor window.

Here is the Codeunit Code:

This is not the final code; much more can be done or need to be done before it can be delivered to customer for their use. Purpose of this walkthrough was to demo the way we can customize the solution using extensions and publishing to Online tenant in Sandbox.

Hope you enjoyed the information. Will come with more similar information in my next posts. Till then keep exploring, learning and sharing your knowledge with others.

Remain safe, take care of your loved ones, put your mask, maintain safe distance and don’t forget to get vaccinated.