Directions North America 2022 Orlando has just finished, and with that, I would like to share my reflections on the significant announcements made and what I found out from the sessions I attended at the event. I know that some of our Partners could not join, or you missed some pieces or maybe just attended different sessions.
Business Central 2022 wave 1 release overview
Business Central telemetry was a hot topic at this event – with a presentation by Kennie Pontoppidan at the keynote and four sessions at the event. All session rooms were full. During the keynote, Kennie presented the new Power BI app for monitoring telemetry – with a Power BI Pro license, you can connect your Azure Application Insights account to a Power BI app in under 5 minutes. This Power BI app can monitor your customer’s or ISV app’s user’s usage data, error logs, changes, and performance. I.e., using BC reports usage data, you can see what users use so you‘d be able to enhance their experience. You can also see when users use Business Central so you can set up when to run heavier background tasks. Performance report allows for tracing long-running SQL queries, among other things. All this has been available for quite some time now, but only 40% of BC users and 60% of ISVs have connected solutions to telemetry yet. The Power BI app is to help you setup monitoring quicker though it‘s just a scratch of the surface. I‘d recommend creating Azure dashboards, running KQL commands from BCTech github, or setting up Jupyter Notebooks to troubleshoot users. Though Power BI makes it easier to set up monitoring, it‘s currently built in a way to allow you to connect one Application Insight account. So managing many users would require some extra effort, as pointed out by some Partners during the final telemetry Q&A.
What‘s new for BC telemetry? The most exciting new trace signal – user error dialogs! Others: the ability to assign user identification so you‘d know which user is emitting telemetry; telemetry for environment lifecycle events; telemetry for permission error dialogs; database deadlocks; database wait statistics snapshot for analyzing database bottlenecks; what report layouts users use; company name as a custom dimension in AL LogMessage; votes on whether error messages are helpful.
More information at: aka.ms/bctelemetrysamples
Universal Code Initiative
While it was announced last year, it’s important to highlight it again: from April 1st, 2022, any BC code that is not cloud-optimized or is not in extensions will have to be licensed. It essentially means that the end-users will have to pay extra if they have any PTE or ISV code that is either modifying the base app code (not an extension) or if it is not cloud-optimized. This new rule applies to any Business Central version (v15-v20) for all licenses issued after April 1st, 2022. It also applies to both new licenses sold and license upgrades to Business Central.
Technical enforcements will be introduced in fall 2022: with new CUs, clients will not be able to add code with target:on-premise. Even without the technical enforcements, as Microsoft noted during the BC Universal Code initiative session, licensing agreement will not permit using non-cloud-optimized code without licensing it with Microsoft.
Business Central Open Source
Microsoft is introducing a new program called Open Source for Business Central. Many Partners run into a situation where they have to develop the same customization for all their customers. Still, that customization does not add any additional unique value, and they do not consider it their IP, but it is something they need Business Central to have. Adding those customizations and later updating for every customer takes away valuable time from Partners. The idea of this program is to allow Partners to introduce changes to the Business Central standard code so that these changes could affect all customers and could be managed by Microsoft. The program will start with a selected few Partners in a few months.
Granular delegated admin privileges
Partners will be able to define which user can work with which customers. Customers will be able to revoke Partner access or modify the level of access.
Define your own permission sets by referencing existing or excluding specific permissions.
AL-Go for Github
An announcement was made about this DevOps tool for BC Partners with no prior technical knowledge. It will have some CI/CD out of the box, support for PTEs and Appsource Apps, and supposedly zero setup and maintenance costs. It will be a set of templates to get you started coding with AL using Github. Can be found at: aka.ms/al-go-pte
Partners selling Business Central has increased from 1,400 in 2019 to over 3,800 today. Over 2,200 add-on solutions for Business Central are available in Microsoft AppSource, up from 450 in 2019. BC now has the highest number of solutions in AppSource.
PowerApps and Power Automate Integration – general availability
Power Platform connector, which was available in preview already, is finally in general availability, and with that, it seems that it will be one of the top priorities at Microsoft. Given the recently announced management changes – Mike Norton announced at Directions NA that he has been promoted and now also manages the Power Platform team at Microsoft – I suspect that we will be seeing more integration efforts and hearing more about Power Apps soon. During the Strategic Q&A session at Directions, it was also named one of the most exciting things now that the Dynamics BC team is working on. In 2022Q2 alone, PowerApps have grown by 161%; during the PowerApps and BC integration session, it was noted that PowerApps is one of the areas where Microsoft now heavily invests.
Power Apps connector allows adding Business Central as a data source in Power Apps. Power Automate can be used to create flows and integrate them with other software without any development skills. A demo of setting up a flow from Business Central to send announcements on Twitter was shown during the keynote. Power Automate can now be accessed from the top menu, i.e., on the Items page.
Features for accessing Business Central data from Teams in Adaptive Cards were presented. This information will be available for non-licensed users. This would give better data sharing options from Business Central with your team members and additional “Share to” buttons from Business Central. However, we still have to wait for it since it‘s not available with Business Central 2022 Wave 1.
Further integration is on the way – a demo was presented where you will be able to launch embedded Business Central pages by clicking on the Teams adaptive card prompt. No longer will you need to leave Teams for some quick information edits in Business Central.
Shopify connector has been announced before, but the actual demo was premiered at Directions NA. Jannik has shown how easy it will be to create a Shopify store in 5 minutes, and it’s a bi-directional synchronization of items/products, synchronizing inventory levels, customers, allowing Shopify’s order and fulfillment information imports.
The official connector to Shopify will be launched in May 2022, and it will be available in Appsource.
AI and predictive technology – long-term goal
Final notes – AI and predictive technology will eventually take over and be the long-term priority. It is still too expensive now, but according to Mike Norton, it should soon come to SMB.
Directions North America has also seen the unique proposition for NAV to BC code upgrade automation: our team has revealed what we’ve been working on for the last two years. Finally, Simplanova AL Tools platform – which moves Dynamics 365 BC code to extensions automatically – has been officially launched. Apply for Simplanova AL Tools FREE trial by filling out the online form below.