Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Get in the NAV Development Game!

Preparation for your NAV development career is like setting the plays for the championship, and choosing your starting lineup.

The three-pointer

Why three? Because we NEVER ever develop in production!  (If you do that now, take a chair. You’ve fouled out!)  NAV is a very integrated system, and all changes need to be fully tested before they are implemented.  If you put your changes directly into production, you have no way of testing.  Removing your changes can be costly and time consuming, at the very least.  Therefore, you will need a test database that mirrors your production environment’s data and objects.  This database will allow users to test your code before you place it into production.  And if something goes wrong and your code adversely affects your test database, you’re still in the game!  You just build a new test database.

The third database is your practice court.  This is the database where you do the development and your own testing.  Let’s face it.  None of us are perfect.  There are things that we don’t anticipate in development tasks and things we overlook as we code.  Why air your dirty laundry to your users by putting it in the test database before you get a shot at cleaning up your code?  A development database allows you to complete your task and test it before you have to let a user have a crack at it.  It also allows you to set up test scripts (a series of situations that you find possible in the production environment) that can be reviewed in the test phase to see if the user can identify missing test scenarios.

All three databases can reside on the same SQL server, but you will want to do a little housecleaning after you’ve created the databases. If your database has sensitive data, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, personal information, etc…, you will want to remove this information or assure that it’s not accessible in your testing.  At the very least, lock down permissions on the database via NAV security.

If your database has external links, such as the ability to send emails or process credit cards, you will want to disable these functions, and possibly remove relevant data as well.  Sending your customer’s emails from your test documents or charging their credit cards from them will result in a personal foul.  Your best bet is to remove the data, and disable the processes.  This can usually be done through the application setup.

The uniform

Just like you can’t get on the court without a uniform, you can’t develop NAV without a developer license (which is just a set of granules in your current license).  But don’t let that keep you out of the game!  You can obtain these granules from your VAR, who can discuss their abilities with you, to help you determine which you need, and give you the cost for obtaining them.  Regardless of which granules you obtain, you are allowed to only change the objects within your licensed applications.

You’d be surprised at how easy it is to add a field to a form or page, or add a piece of data to a report.  Even if you stop at this point, you’ll not only gain the ability to do these things, but learn more about how NAV is designed, and what developing in NAV is like.  If you’re not sure if you really want to develop in NAV, try this first.  You can always obtain a higher privileged license later on.

A house divided

Likewise, NAV has two flavors as well with the Classic Client and the Role Tailored Client (RTC).  Knowing which you are using is imperative to creating the right development environment.

The Classic Client environment requires only the NAV application with the Classic Client and the SQL database.  All code, regardless of which flavor you have, is written within the Classic Client.  This is the “default” environment for NAV.

If you’re developing in an RTC environment, you’ll also need an install of Visual Studio 2008 for development of RTC reports, as well as a three-tier environment for your NAV install.  Talk to your VAR if you’re unsure which of these you have, and they can assist you in creating a strong development environment.

Talk to the coach

Even if you have all the tools for development, the environment is created, your license is installed, and you’re already passing the ball and going for the hoop, you need to talk to your VAR.  If you have ongoing development with your VAR’s developers, the last thing you want to do is modify your objects without checking with them first.

NAV’s object set is very integrated.  A change to a single object could result in necessary changes to other objects.  Likewise, your VAR’s developers may have copies of your same objects involved in other development endeavors.  The last thing you want to pay them for is reworking their code to include your modifications.

Have a quick conversation with your VAR and discuss how you will keep your code and their code synchronized.Work with in-house developers and have developed a version control system whereby we incorporate our client’s code into our code and prevent rework.

Get in the game!

You will have obstacles and you will have days when you just feel defeated.  But don’t walk away. Team up with the NAV community.  We are here for you when those bad days come.  Just as any profession, we grow strongest when we grow together.


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