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Simplifying the Zetadocs suite with NAV Extensions

Simplifying the Zetadocs suite with NAV Extensions

Great expectations... from Directions

Greg Cole

If you are heading to Directions North America or EMEA this year, as we are, you are probably expecting to hear a lot from Microsoft about the new versions of Dynamics NAV: NAV ‘Tenerife’ and the business edition of Dynamics 365. You’ll also likely hear about improvements to NAV Extensions V2 and the new tooling to create them.

NAV Extensions are not new and were introduced in NAV 2016 along with NAV Events as the new extensibility framework. Like anything new, there is a call to be made on when to adopt it. Extensions and event based architecture are a major change for most NAV Developers and ISV’s. Freddy Kristiansen even wrote an insightful “What would you do?” blog aimed towards Dynamics ISVs such as ourselves, who have been grappling with the conundrum of when to migrate their solutions like the Zetadocs suite.

What are NAV Extensions?

NAV Extensions are a way for Microsoft Dynamics NAV Developers and ISVs to extend the functionality of NAV without modifying the source code that Microsoft provides.

This way, when you come to upgrade NAV with a cumulative update there is no longer a concept of merging all of those objects, resulting in less upgrade issues.

Light-touch is in our DNA

Switching to Extensions has been a particularly tricky decision for us at Equisys, as Zetadocs for NAV has never needed to modify the core NAV code. We know that Dynamics NAV partners are weary of heavy-touch add-ons due to the associated upgrade effort, so we are reinforcing our commitment to light-touch implementation when developing extensions.

Our core code is neatly stacked away in our unique object range as all good Certified for Microsoft Dynamics solutions' code should. It’s then always been simple to reimport our NAV objects alleviating any merges, and we’ve provided a tool to simplify the addition of the Zetadocs Documents FactBox to new NAV pages.

FOB independence

Microsoft have been working to improve the Extensions framework and we’ve seen evidence of this on the NAV Development Preview monthly updates.

We’ve decided the time is now right to support NAV 2018 (assuming that’s the name of NAV ‘Tenerife’) using NAV Extension V2 app packages. Of course, we’ll still ship our light-touch FOBs for earlier versions of NAV all the way back to NAV 5.0.

Future proofing

As the technology has now matured, this decision to switch to the new NAV Extensions framework is essentially driven by our ongoing mission to reduce the cost of implementation and future upgrades of our suite for our valued partners.

It’s also a major step towards our future support of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Business edition and a Zetadocs app in AppSource.

Ready for either direction

So if you are attending Directions US or EMEA this year, be sure to chat to us about your future plans and we'll share when you can expect to try Zetadocs out on the latest version of NAV. Contact us on (770) 772 7201 in North America or (+44) 207 203 4001 in EMEA.

PS: 27 Nov. 17

We had understood that the next release of NAV would include .NET Interop for NAV Extensions v2.  In releasing NAV 2018 earlier than originally planned, Microsoft has had to omit some of the planned features such as .NET Interop, but they should follow in a future release.  Once .NET Interop is supported, we’ll be able to use NAV Extensions v2.  Meanwhile, we’ll be supporting NAV 2018 soon with our light touch FOBs.

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