Deploying Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 with ClickOnce

Apps for mobile devices have changed our expectations about installing software. We browse the store, choose an app, download it and we start using it with minimal set up and fuss. When an update to the app is available we are notified and can download it and if we need to uninstall the app, it is simple and quick to do so.

Traditionally, installing the NAV client hasn’t always ticked all these boxes. Then, to be fair, neither has the majority of software for desktops and laptops.

NAV 2013 can be deployed using a Microsoft technology called “ClickOnce”. The client is preconfigured and made available on a network share or website.

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The user downloads and runs a .application file which installs the application – the download is typically 90MB or so, perfectly acceptable for someone downloading the application outside the office (more of that in another post).

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As soon as the application has finished downloading it launches, using the authentication method and server name that has already been defined in the configuration.

With the possible exception of entering their user name and password, there is nothing else for the user to do.

If changes need to be made to the client e.g. the configuration needs to be changed to point at another NAV server or some dlls need to be included for a new add-in, a new version of the application is published.

Each time the application is run, it checks that it is running the latest version. If there is a newer version available the user is prompted to download it. All of this can be done by the user without them having administrative rights on their machine.

This is part of a series of improvements that Microsoft have made to make the NAV client a truly thin client and to unchain your NAV users from your work network. Next up, download the client and log into your NAV implementation…from home.

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