(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)
Whether you're getting into Dynamics NAV because you're interested in a profession in this field, or because your company is interested in using Dynamics NAV as their ERP system, trying the software before you make the commitment will ensure you're making the best decision for you and your company.
There are three components that are needed for you to get into the development environment in Dynamics NAV. They are:
- The Dynamics NAV installation software
- Visual Studio 2012 Express
- The license file
The installation files can be downloaded for free. The installation files come with the full development environment. They will install almost everything you need to work with Dynamics NAV. The files are the same for a single-user installation and a multinational corporation.
To create and modify reports in Dynamics NAV, you will need to have Visual Studio installed on your computer. Dynamics NAV uses the RDLC reporting method, which means the reports do not get processed on the SQL server; rather, it's processed on the server where the middle tier is installed. The last part of going into the development environment is getting the proper license. Yes, you can download the software for free, but the license will cost you some money in terms of an MSDN subscription.
We will go through the online resources to download your copy of Dynamics NAV to be installed on your computer. We will also explore ways of trying out the development environment in Dynamics NAV by signing up for a free trial using the cloud service that is available.
Getting your free copy
Before we go through the trouble of downloading the software, make sure the computer you're working with has the proper specifications in order to do a full installation. For a list of the hardware requirements, take a look at the following link:
Once we've verified that our hardware is good, we can start our journey and become familiar with the Dynamics NAV development environment by getting a copy of the software.
Microsoft has the installation files available for download; however, you have to be signed up as a Microsoft partner, have MSDN access, or already be a Microsoft Dynamics customer with access to download from the Microsoft CustomerSource portal.
The download for the full software can also be found on the following links:
Don't worry, these links are legitimate. Luc (owner of mibuso.com) and Erik (owner of dynamicsuser.net) are good people whom I've had the pleasure of interacting with.
There are other sites that you can download the software installation files from, which you can try at your own risk.
To be able to modify and create reports in Dynamics NAV, you will also need a copy of Visual Studio 2010 installed on your computer. Fortunately, all you need is the Express version, which is free. The link to download this directly from Microsoft is as follows:
Installing the software
Once you've extracted the downloaded file, the folder where you extracted the file should look something like this:
If you have any prior versions of Dynamics NAV (or Navision) installed, please make sure you uninstall them before you run the installation.
Click onthe Setup.exe file and run through the installation wizard.
Click on the Install Demo option and go grab some coffee. We'll wait for you.
Installing Visual Studio Web Developer 2010 Express
After Dynamics NAV is installed, run the Visual Studio Web Developer 2010 Express installation. Again, this is needed for creating and modifying Dynamics NAV reports.
There's an additional component that you will need to install on your computer in order to properly modify Dynamics NAV reports using the Visual Studio Web Developer Express. You will need to install the free version of Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Shell (Integrated) Redistributable Package. The link is as follows:
For this article, any additional contents on the installation files will not be needed. Running through the installation wizard will be more than enough for what we need to do.
A quick overview of the additional contents of the installation files for Dynamics NAV
Suppose you're a curious person like myself and you click on the Choose an installation option instead; you'll instead be presented with a list of the components that you can install.
Here's a quick rundown of the components that can be installed individually. If you click on an icon, you will get a description of what it is. I will go through these options in simple English.
The components you will see are as follows:
- Client: This is the Role Tailored Client, or as Microsoft calls it, the "Windows Client". If you wish to deploy this for your company, you will at least need to install this component.
- Administration Tools: This is the snap-in console that allows you to configure the Windows services related to Dynamics NAV. This is an interface that allows you to be able to, for example, change the port for a Dynamics NAV connection without having to mess with DOS prompts or the registry.
- Documentation: If you want the documentation or Help to be available for the NAV client, you should probably install this.
- Server: Dynamics NAV is a three-tier system. The middle tier is where the business logic is executed. So any device, web service, or client software will use the middle tier to get and write data into DynamicsNAV.
- SQL Server Database Components: Choose this option for installing SQL Server Express on your computer. Do this only if you have a version below SQL Server 2008 installed on your computer. Microsoft recommends that you should use at least SQL Server 2008 R2. Dynamics NAV 2013 will only run on a SQL Server database. Sorry!
- Portal Framework for SharePoint: Dynamics NAV is integrated with SharePoint. This will allow you to build SharePoint web applications in Dynamics NAV. For this to work, you will need SharePoint 2010 installed.
- Microsoft Office Outlook Add-in: Believe it or not, Dynamics NAV has a built-in CRM solution. This option allows you to install a component to Microsoft Outlook to synchronize contacts, tasks, and calendar items with Dynamics NAV.
- Automated Data Capture System: ADCS is the acronym that you'll find if you do a search online. This option allows the warehouse staff to pick and put away inventory to/from the warehouse bins in real time using handheld devices.
- Web Server Components: Dynamics NAV 2013 is the first version in NAV history to have an out of the box web client. This option allows you to use a web client instead of the Windows client.
- ClickOnce Installer Tools: If you're an in-house IT guy, you know that installing software on each and every computer is a pain. ClickOnce technology allows you to deploy Dynamics NAV through a web link. You can preconfigure the setup for each user so they can do the installation themselves.
If any of the preceding components catch your eye and you would like additional information on them, Microsoft provides detailed explanations on each of the components and how to deploy them in your organization. This detailed information can be found at:
If you want more information on these additional components and how they can benefit your business, I would highly recommend you contact your local Dynamics NAV partner and get them involved. Nothing is more frustrating than installing something and not knowing how it works.
A look at what is installed
After the installation finishes, if you click on your Start icon in Windows, you'll notice a few new icons. They are:
- Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 Administration Shell
- Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 Development Environment
- Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013
- Microsoft Dynamics NAV Administration
- Microsoft SQL Server 2012 folder
- Microsoft SQL Report Builder folder
In addition, there will be two services that will be running. They are:
- Microsoft Dynamics NAV Server [DynamicsNAV70]
- SQL Server (NAVDEMO)
The SQL Server (NAVDEMO) is the service for the SQL Server instance where the demo database resides. Microsoft Dynamics NAV [DynamicsNAV70]is the middle tier that the client connects to. Ensure both of these have their status as Started.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 Administration Shell
The Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 Administration Shell allows you to run scripts implemented using PowerShell 2.0. There are predefined commands (called Cmdlet) that the user can use right away. The built-in Cmdlet allows the administrator to configure and troubleshoot permissions and connection problems on a local or remote computer. Also worth mentioning is that Cmdlet should always be run as an administrator.
This tool will come in very handy if you're deploying Dynamics NAV to remote locations or in your own private cloud.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 Development Environment
As the name suggests, this is where NAV developers come to create all sorts of wonderful things for Dynamics NAV. This is the main environment where developers work; it is called the Client/Server Integrated Development Environment(C/SIDE). Within C/SIDE, you will be developing using a language called Client/server Application Language(C/AL).
All of the objects are contained within this environment and stored in the SQL Server database, so you do not have to go anywhere else to create or modify applications for the end users. Even the development of report layouts, which uses Visual Studio and not C/SIDE, is tightly integrated and is launched from within the development environment.
The development environment is also where the user can update the license either on the server or for their particular session.
When you start this application, it will look very empty. For Dynamics NAV developers, the majority of their time will be spent here, so having a nice clean space is a very good start.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 Windows Client
Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 Windows Client is the actual client application that the end users will be using to transact their daily operations. As mentioned earlier, the client application is called the Role Tailored Client (RTC), or Windows Client.
By default, when you start the Windows Client, you will assume the role of a salesorder processor. This is okay, because you can still access any part of the system as long as you have permission to do so.
Any changes we've made in the development environment will be reflected in the client application through the middle tier. If you're using any other interface, such as a mobile interface or a web interface, the changes will be reflected there as well.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV Administration
Do not confuse this with the previously mentioned Administration Shell. The Microsoft Dynamics NAV Administration program allows you to manage the Dynamics NAV services that are installed both on your local computer and on the server. You can also manage the services without using this program using the command prompt, but that wouldn't be very efficient, or fun.
The SQL Server 2012 folder
There's a tool in the SQL Server 2012 folder called Import/Export Data. As a general rule, when working with Dynamics NAV or any ERP software out there, do not ever try to import data directly into the SQL tables in your ERP software. The reason is that these import/export programs do not validate against any business logic that's built in place. By doing these imports in an external program, you risk undermining the integrity of the data in your ERP software.
The SQL Server 2012 report builder
The SQL Server 2012 report builder is installed primarily for the API to upgrade RDLC 2005 for Dynamics NAV 2009 to RDLC 2008 in Dynamics NAV 2013.
Of course, you can use the report builder to create beautiful reports for Dynamics NAV if you do not wish to use the reporting tool within C/SIDE.
The reports that you will be modifying or creating in C/SIDE will automatically be linked to the appropriate objects. However, the reporting in C/SIDE will not be done using the Report Builder application.
Getting your license
Now that we have all the software installed, you will need proper licensing in order to do some development. There are a couple of different licenses that you, the end user, will have access to.
When you install Dynamics NAV, the demonstration license is installed by default. The demonstration license allows you to access every module in Dynamics NAV. However, the areas you're able to develop are severely restricted. The demo license is intended for you to click around and test a few transactions with certain date ranges. It's not really meant for learning development, which is the reason why you're reading this article.
In case you're already familiar with Dynamics NAV object numbers, here are the properties of the Dynamics NAV 2013 demo license from the Microsoft website:
- Start up to two simultaneous client sessions on any platform.
- Create up to two companies.
- Support an unlimited number of web users.
- Run in any supported language.
- Use all application functionalities, including add-on products, local extensions, and customizations in current and previous versions. This means that you can run, but not modify, all object types within the range 1 to 99,999,999.
- Run and modify table 18, 2000000061 and 2000000064 through 2000000200, pages 21 and 22, report 101, and XML ports 99,008,503 and 99,008,510. Each object in Dynamics NAV is assigned an ID, so when we say we can modify table 18, it means we can make modifications to the table with ID 18.
- Run, modify, and create fields 99,990 to 99,999, page 99,998 and 99,999, report 99,999, Query 99,9999, and MenuSuite 90.
The database data restriction is as follows:
- Enter transactions in months other than November, December, January, and February
If you're looking for more development capability, you can also subscribe to MSDN to get a Dynamics NAV license with more capability than the out of the box demo license.
At the time of writing, Microsoft had not released the MSDN license for Dynamics NAV 2013. If you want the MSDN license, check the MSDN site regularly.
The MSDN license for Dynamics NAV is meant for you to learn development in Dynamics NAV; however, you will not be able to use this license to run your company. The license has the same restrictions as the demo license, in that you can only enter transactions in a certain date range.
If you're already familiar with Dynamics NAV object numbers, here are the properties of the MSDN licensing:
- Table 18 can be modified. Fields 99,990 through 99,999 can be inserted into table 18.
- Pages 21 and 22 can be modified. Forms 99,998 and 99,999 can be inserted.
- Report 101 can be modified. Report 99,999 can be inserted.
- MenuSuite 90 can be inserted.
- XML Port 99,999 can be inserted.
- Create new objects in the object range 123,456,700 through 123,456,799.
The restriction on the database data is as follows:
- Enter transactions in months other than November, December, January, and February
A full On-Premise license
The pricing for an MSDN subscription and a full user license is comparable. In fact, buying a full Dynamics NAV user license is cheaper than an MSDN subscription.
If buying Dynamics NAV is what your company is going to do anyway, it may be better to purchase the Starter Pack without any additional users. This will allow you to use the license and the database that you will use when Dynamics NAV is implemented for your company. If you choose to buy the full license, you will be able to follow the majority of exercises in this article.
You will also not get to use the more advanced modules, such as manufacturing or warehouse management. However, this article will not be getting into these advanced granules.
The On-Premise license will allow you to modify everything except the following:
- Code units
- Code behind the pages
- Code behind the tables
In addition, the On-Premise license comes with the following:
- 10 custom tables you can create
- 100 custom pages you can create
- 100 custom reports you can create
In order to buy the On-Premise license, you will need to find your local Dynamics NAV Solution Provider. Thankfully, Microsoft provides a directory for partners that provide service and software, as follows:
When you go on this site, make sure the company also provides services for Dynamics NAV. I would caution you against buying Dynamics NAV from a company that does not provide the service for it. Finding the right partner is a science in itself.
The cloud license
Part of the big push with the release of Dynamics NAV 2013 is the ability to move the product into the cloud environment. There are a few companies that have cloud offerings.
The company that has graciously allowed us to use their environment for you to log in and follow along with the book is called Data Resolution, Inc. Coincidentally, they were named Hosting Partner of the Year by Microsoft in 2012.
You can get a 30-day free trial at http://navappdev.erpclouds.com/. Unfortunately, Data Resolution does not offer a longer free trial.
The licensing available when you sign up would be the same as buying the On-Premise Dynamics NAV license with full development capabilities for your company.
Again, you will not get to use the more advanced modules, such as manufacturing or warehouse management. This article will not be getting into these advanced granules; if you're interested in these by the end of this article, you can ask your local Dynamics NAV solution provider to discuss using this solution for your company.
If you wish to continue following through the article and continue doing examples after the 30-day trial, you will need to sign up. So, use your time with this article wisely.
In this article, we've gone over finding your copy of Dynamics NAV and the installation process. There are localized versions of Dynamics NAV databases, for example, the US Dynamics NAV database will be a little different than the Indian Dynamics NAV database. For the purpose of learning development, which is described in this article, it does not matter which database you use.
To maximize the experience you get out of this article, I would highly recommend you utilize the 30-day free trial on the cloud. Even if you need more than 30 days, the cost involved in that additional 30 days would be significantly lower than if you were to get a MSDN subscription or buy the On-Premise Starter Pack.
Getting the software itself is the easiest part. Finding the right license that you will need is actually more of a challenge.
Resources for Article :
- Foreword by Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step Practitioners [Article]
- Overview of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 [Article]
- Setting up the Microsoft Dynamics GP System [Article]