Working in “The Cloud”

Ah yes, “The Cloud”. It’s such a ubiquitous concept, mentioned in just about every IT context you can think of. However, it’s often pretty vague and can leave you wondering what on earth people are actually talking about and why you should listen.

cloud_computing

Here’s a small but hopefully mildly interesting example of why cloud computing might be useful for you.

You may have noticed that there was a fairly substantial update to Windows 10 this week. I made the mistake of trying to install it during the day, meaning I couldn’t work on my laptop for around an hour and a half.

Fortunately, I spend most of my day working in Google Chrome or a remote desktop session to one of our servers in Microsoft Azure. The below covers most of what I need to do day to day:

  1. Email – Outlook on Office 365. I prefer the online version to the traditional desktop client these days.
  2. Writing requirements for my developers to work on – Visual Studio Online, accessed via the online portal.
  3. NAV development and testing – all done on a server in Azure which I connect to via an RDP session.
  4. Working on shared documents – SharePoint on Office 365, using the online versions of Office apps to edit them.
  5. Other document storage – I use a combination of OneDrive and Google Drive, both have the capability of editing your documents in the browser.
  6. Note taking – Evernote, which has a lovely online interface for reading and editing.
  7. Tecman’s internal Microsoft Dynamics NAV – hosted in Azure, access via the web client.
  8. Tecman’s internal Microsoft Dynamics CRM – also accessed through the browser.
  9. I use Skype and Skype for Business to keep in touch with colleagues – both via desktop clients but both have online alternatives (albeit with limited functionality).

While my laptop was out of action I was able to jump onto a different machine and carry on working – without installing any software or even logging on as myself. I can’t pretend that working entirely in the cloud is a flawless experience (yet), but it is possible – at least for the kinds of tasks that I need to do.

At the very least it is good to know that I can access all the systems and data that I need from any machine, anywhere with internet access.

Oooooo….the Clooouuud indeed.

How quickly could you be up and running on a different machine? What can you not do working from home that you can from the office?

Find more information at https://www.tecman.co.uk/Software/Applications/Office-365

Dynamics Navision 2015 Integration with SharePoint Online and office O365 – How to embed Dynamics Navision 2015 Pages into SharePoint Online

The steps here will demonstrate how to embed pages from Dynamics Navision 2015 into SharePoint Online and so enabling SharePoint users to interact with Dynamics NAV without leaving SharePoint. The user will be able to view charts and tables inside SharePoint, where the charts are generated by NAV.

Prerequisites

· SharePoint – in this scenario we will be using SharePoint online

· Dynamics NAV 2015 web client deployed

· Dynamics NAV configured for single sign-on with SharePoint: As we are using  SharePoint online in this scenario we will be signing in with O365 authentication.

· Visual studio 2012 with office developer tools for visual studio 2012

There are basically 4 steps involved to achieve this task.

1- Register Dynamics NAV as an APP in SharePoint

2- Create a SharePoint APP in Visual studio

3- Install the APP in SharePoint

4- Add NAV web parts to SharePoint site

 

Step One – Register Dynamics NAV as an APP in SharePoint

Browse to the following page in SharePoint, replacing “yourcompanyname.sharepoint.com” with your company SharePoint portal home URL.

https//yourcompanyname.sharepoint.com /_layouts/appregnew.aspx

This will take you to the following screen:clip_image002

– Select ‘An app running on a web server’

– Click on generate to generate a new Client Id

– Click on Generate to generate Client Secret

– Enter a title for the app

– The app domain and the redirect URL both point to where your NAV web client is deployed.

So for example if your web client is deployed at:

https://yourcompanyname.cloudapp.net/DynamicsNav80/WebClient/

You would enter yourcompanyname.cloudapp.net in the App Domain and enter

https://yourcompanyname.cloudapp.net/DynamicsNav80/WebClient/ in the Redirect URL, see below

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– Click on Create.

You will be presented with the following screen.

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Make a note of the client Id as we will need this when we create the SharePoint app in visual studio.

– Click ok

Step 2: Create SharePoint APP in Visual Studio

Create a new project in visual studio 2012.

Select office/SharePoint templates and select app for SharePoint 2013 and give your project a relevant name, I have called it DynamicsNav2015SharepointApp.

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On the next screen the SharePoint site entry is irrelevant, however select Provider-hosted in hosting the app as you will be hosting the app on your SharePoint online portal.

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Click next

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Here accept default option and click finish.

Your solution will look as below, with two projects.

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You now need to configure the solution for your NAV instance.

– Remove DynamicsNav2015SharepointAppWeb project this is not required as you already have your NAV web client deployed

– Click on AppManifest.xml file

– Replace the text between the <Startpage> tag and ?{StandardTokens}

With the URL for you Web Client deployment e.g.

https://yourcompanyname.cloudapp.net/Dynamics80/WeClient/

– Paste in the Client Id that you copied from the app registration process in SharePoint from step 1

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Next we need to add an item to the project – select Client Web Part and call it ListPart, Click ADD

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As we already have NAV web client deployed, enter the URL for your web client and add list.aspx at the end, as this will be a list part.

Click finish.

You will now have a new List part as below:

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We now need to modify this List part and define which page we would like to display and how it should be displayed.

Update the content tag to define the properties for the page to be embedded.

I have set them as:

https://yourcompanyname.cloudapp.net/Dynamics80/WeClient/List.aspx?page=_ThePageId_&amp;pagesize=10&amp;shownavigation=0&amp;showribbon=0&amp;
isembedded=1&amp;showuiparts=0" />

Where the _ThePageID defines the property for the page. You can then add the property, where the default page is 22 (Customers page) and add attributes that control the configuration of the web part as follows:

<Property

          Name = "ThePageId"
         Type ="int"
         DefaultValue="22"
        WebCategory="Microsoft Dynamics NAV"
        WebDisplayName ="Page number"
        RequiresDesignerPermission = "true" /

You ListPart will then look as follows:

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Next you need to publish the project to create the app.

Below is the app I have created. I will not upload this to SharePoint.

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Step 3 – Install the APP in SharePoint

The next step is to install the app to the SharePoint APP Catalog

To do this go to the SharePoint Admin Centre, App, App catalog, Apps for SharePoint.

Upload or drag the file above to the Library.

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Step 4 – Add Web Part to SharePoint Site

Once the app has been uploaded to SharePoint, it is available for users to add as an app to sites.

Add the app to your site.

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Once the app has been added you can add the List web part to your site pages

Edit a page and insert web part, select List Part that we have createdclip_image030

The web part will look as follows show the default Customers page

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NOTE: if you get the following error: “Cannot render inside a frame”, you need to edit the web.config file in the web client and remove the line that says X-FRAME-OPTIONS

You can modify the list part to make the page look better by changing the width and height and title. Change the title to ‘Customers’ and change the width and height as required. See below

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If you select one of the customers by clicking on the customer number, it will open the customer card and you can make changes as required.

By default the web part displayed is the customer page (22). If you want to see other pages instead, this can be done simply by modifying the page number under the Microsoft Dynamics section. See below

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To display the Sales Orders, change the page number to 9305, change the heading and apply.

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Integrating Dynamics NAV with Office 365 / SharePoint Online

With recent releases of NAV, Microsoft have improved integration with Microsoft Office. You can:

  • Save any report to Word or Excel (as well as PDF)
  • Send the data from any page to Word or Excel
  • Link pages or individual records to notes stored in OneNote notebooks (more info here)
  • Synchronise data with Outlook

This wealth of integration points with your local Office installation is great, but what if you don’t have a local Office installation? Given the rate at which the online offerings of Outlook, Word and Excel are improving, unless you are a power user you have less inclination to install the offline version at all.

Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 has introduced support for Office 365 / SharePoint Online. Allow me to demonstrate.

  • Search in the menu for “Online Document Storage Configuration”
  • Enter the URL of your SharePoint Online site in the ‘Location’ field.
  • Enter the name of a folder in which to store NAV documents in the ‘Folder’ and “Document Repository” fields.
  • Enter some credentials to authenticate with the service.

Use the “Test Connection” action to confirm that your settings are correct and that NAV can connect to the Document Storage. For the purposes of this post I’ve connected to my personal SharePoint site on our Office 365 environment.

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Now for the magic.

When I open the Posted Sales Invoices list and hit “Open in Excel” the spread sheet is saved in Office 365 and opened in Excel Online in the browser.

image

Under the “Edit Workbook” menu you can choose whether the edit with your local Excel or edit the workbook with Excel Online.

Perhaps we are looking at the future of your business software here.

Hosted Dynamics NAV + Office 365 with your documents stored in SharePoint Online – all accessed through your browser. Access your data from wherever you want, with whatever device you want.

No installation. No maintenance. No fuss.

NAV 2013 Release and Some Keyboard Shortcuts

It's nearly here, NAV 2013 RTM will be availble next Monday (1st October)!

Technology Mangement went live with a customer last week on the Beta version, along with Microsoft on their TAP program (this is where Microsoft work with Partners & end users to test the software before public release). Even at the Beta stage it's been pretty robust, so the RTM looks to be a solid release.

We have the SharePoint Integration up and running and I'm amazed at how simple this is to use and the speed of response is fantastic. Integrating NAV Pages directly in to SharePoint offers some real opportunities in expanding the reach of NAV in to an organisations business processes. All you have to do is edit the web part, select the NAV page you want to display and click on OK.

There's also a nice feature added around keyboard shortcuts, some useful ones below. Alt+F12 is a cool one – hides all the stuff around the page you're on to give you more space for viewing the data.

Keyboard shortcut Functionality
Ctrl+F1         Toggle between collapsing and expanding the ribbon.
Alt                 Display access keys in the ribbon.
Alt+F2         Toggle between hiding and displaying FactBoxes.
F12                Move to the main window.
Shift+F12     Move to the Role Center from a task page.
Alt+F12        Optimize space for the current page.

More to follow soon……

Get Ready for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013!

James-Crowter-NAV-2013-Technology-Management

Last Thursday (21st June 2012) over 50 delegates from the Technology Management customer base attended a presentation of the latest version of Dynamics NAV – NAV 2013!

The core of the presentation covered Technology Management’s “Top
Ten Advantages of Microsoft Dynamics 2013
” i.e.

  • User Productivity Changes & Shortcuts
  • Improved Charting
  • Access anywhere via a web browser or SharePoint client
  • Enhanced Cash flow forecasting & analysis
  • Extended reporting
  • Supply chain planning & kitting enhancements
  • Dimension Changes for improved speed and performance
  • Sales Posting Improvements
  • Death of the application server & the arrival of background posting
  • Platform & Licensing Changes

Additional presentations covered the success of, and the investment strategy for, the Microsoft Dynamics product line as well as how multi-channel trading via the web, iPad, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and EDI can be an integrated part of any Dynamics NAV implementation.

Watch this space (by subscribing to our blog) for more postings on the top ten advantages of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013!

Microsoft vision of the future part 2

About 2 years ago Microsoft launched a concept video on how technology would impact our lives, the new forms of user interface like touch and gesture, new devices like slates and worktops being computers.  How data would interact with the real world with augmented reality, and how that data should flow seamlessly and between individuals and organisations. We used the video alot in presentations and have seen some of those technologies come to life in some shape or form.  Every time I showed it i got great feedback from the audience and many said it inspired them to see what IT may be capable of. Pleased to say that Microsoft have released another such video updated with new research and although builds on the original video rather than taking a different time scale. If you thinks its a little far fetched, just considered what you do with your smartphone today and how you would have felt if someone had predicted that 10 years ago…..

Enjoy the video

Productivity Future Vision

Update to Windows Phone 7

Microsoft recently announced the launch of the next update to the Windows Phone 7 software codenamed Mango.

WP7 is starting to make some inroads in the Mobile market and this update really adds some cool and practical features.

I’ve copied a list of features from a Microsoft Blog site, but check out the videos to get a better overview

  • Twitter and LinkedIn feeds are integrated in to contact cards – the integration of social continues. We think it should be an ingredient, not just an app.
  • Face Detection – that facial reco work we’ve been doing that show up in WL Photo Gallery and Kinect? It now allows you to more quickly tag photos and post them to the Web
  • Voice to text and text to voice – using your voice to text or chat…well that’s what you already do right so it’s more natural
  • Improved Live Tiles – if the Qantas app is anything to go by, we’re in for a real treat
  • IE9 – not much more to say than HTML5 and hardware acceleration. On a phone. Beauty Of The Web? Check.
  • Local Scout – other phones have it, other apps do it but hyper local search results built right in is goodness.
  • Bing Vision, Music Search and Voice – again, other phones have some of this and I’m especially intrigued to check out Vision. It allows you to initiate a Bing search by photographing barcodes, QR codes and Microsoft Tags (without using a third-party app).
  • Camera API access – enables folks like the History Channel to create a AR/GPS app that looks pretty sweet.
  • Status based communication – Windows Phone will help determine the best communications method. If a person is online, it’ll offer IM rather than SMS.

 

Technology Management Awarded the Microsoft Hosting Competency .

 

We are pleased to announce that Technology Management have now been awarded the Microsoft Hosting Competency, this has involved individuals passing the relevant exams, case studies being verified and agreeing to Microsoft’s SPLA (Service Provider Licence Agreement) 

Having offered hosted solutions and selling SPLA for 3 years now, its great to see companies with the stature of Microsoft start to recognise companies that are reaching high standards in this new area of Cloud computing. Along with high levels of security, penetration testing and uptime levels of 99.9% we continually strive to provide a great value service for our customers. We are currently adding more infrastructure to our hosted platform as Dynamics CRM 2011 is launched in the coming weeks. 

We currently offer the following products on our hosted platform:

Microsoft Exchange
Microsoft Dynamics AX
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Microsoft Dynamics NAV
Microsoft SharePoint 2010
Pegasus Opera
Hosted Desktop (Office 2010, Exchange, SharePoint)

TM-Online-Services-Logo (3)

hosting partner network

The Vision for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is the latest incarnation of CRM software from Microsoft and part of their successful Dynamics range. We are already working on CRM 2011 projects and I can tell you that we are really excited about this version as it brings with it some fantastic new features aimed at delivering customers intelligent, familiar and connected business software that can help organisations increase revenue, maximise marketing efforts, improve customer service and help to build relationships across all aspects of the business.

I am one of the senior CRM consultants at Technology Management and over the next few weeks I and others in the CRM team will be writing a series of posts highlighting some of the new features available within the product such as real-time dashboards, native outlook interface, in-line charts, dialogs, role based forms and auditing. More importantly I will talk about how these can be used to implement excellent business solutions that can be deployed to deliver real benefits to the business.

If you like what you see and you’d like to find out more why not sign up for our Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Launch Event where you will get to meet some of the team and see demonstrations of the product.

Today I will start by briefly outlining the vision Microsoft had for this version of CRM. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is all about the ‘Power Of Productivity’ delivered through the 3 core concepts I briefly mentioned earlier; Familiar, Intelligent and Connected.

 

familiarFamiliar – One of the biggest failings in many CRM projects is low user adoption rates, Microsoft have strived to build a system that feels both natural and personal. With the native next-gen Outlook interface and MS Office fluent UI experience users already know how to navigate around and use many aspects of CRM 2011. Users can personalise the system so that they can easily and quickly access data that they need in the format they want through personal views, dashboards and conditional formatting. We can build a system for you that includes role based forms ensuring that users only see the fields they need for their jobs, meaning that screens are cleaner and user adoption rates are higher!

 

intelligent

Intelligent – This is one of the biggest areas of improvement since the last version and certainly leaps ahead of the competition. With real-time dashboards and contextual charts that that you can drill through to understand the data represented, companies have a quick and easy way to access data that is both insightful and actionable. The solid workflows of CRM 4 are still there with the addition of dialogs, a method of guided scripts that can reduce training, ramp-up time and provide end users with simple contextual screens to capture required data quickly, easily and structured for great reporting later on.

 

connected

Connected – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 delivers a collaborative and integrated experience. The ability to; easily capture business connections and social media data, contextual SharePoint  integration as a configuration option rather than development as in CRM 4, new customisation enhancements and the new dynamics marketplace with custom solutions and extensions lead to very exciting times. Microsoft are using the word xRM to define ‘anything relationship management’ and with the new features that a ‘connected’ CRM brings with it this time the opportunities really are endless…

4 ways to work remotely and beat the snow

snow

Yet again we are seeing travel disruption, schools closed and people struggling to get to the office due to the weather. And if the forecasters are right its here to stay for a while..and we are only just entering December!

We had all this early in 2010 when the country came to a halt for around a week, with massive impact on industry. Yet technology allows us to overcome these problems for many office users and allows us to be more productive and flexible what ever the weather. So I thought I’d list 4 ways we can all work remotely, paying special attention to email access as this really is the life blood for many organisations.

1) Cloud based systems
The cloud or hosted systems, really do you give you complete access as long as you have a PC with an internet connection. It may be a particular application, such as a CRM or ERP package or a complete hosted desktop. But if its truly in the cloud its available to you wherever you have an ok internet connection.

2) Remote Desktop Service (previously Terminal Services)
If you organisation has invested in this technology, users can access their works systems either through a VPN or through a browser. I did a more in depth article on this with some video some time ago.

3)Outlook Anywhere /Outlook Web Access
Outlook can be configured to talk to your Exchange server even if you are out the office. Using the internet as its connection it will synchronise for mail, calendar and contact items as though you are at your desk. And for the user they just fire up Outlook. A great way to work with Outlook and Exchange wherever you are. If you don’t have your laptop with Outlook on with you, you can still use any internet enabled machine and connect to Outlook Web Access through a browser. With Exchange 2010 you get a feature rich experience even allowing you to see multiple colleagues calendars on the screen. Very fast, very reliable and very safe. Great products. If you use hosted Exchange you get these features as standard..

4)SharePoint
If you use SharePoint to store data, use electronic forms, workflow etc then as long as its been made accessible over the internet or via VPN you can access it from home through the browser. Everything works as normal and document management rules apply no matter where you are. Its your business available to you. If your interested in seeing the benefits of SharePoint 2010 we have a webinar scheduled in the middle of December. Details coming soon on the blog.

If you are interested in exploring any of these technologies further, please feel free to either drop me a mail at liam.walton@tecman.co.uk or phone at 01902 578300.

Thanks