Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dynamics GP 12 Web Client Coolness

There was a lot of talk at GPPC about the new web client for Dynamics GP 12.  It really got me to thinking about how we might incorporate it in to our deployment strategies, and which customers (and prospects) might benefit from it.  Of course, there are those that ask for it directly (I see it on requirements lists constantly) but it still leaves me wondering, practically, how the web client will be used.

I will not pretend to know how to explain the architecture and technology that goes in to delivering the web client, but I can appreciate the effort and complexity of what they have accomplished with it.  And here are the practical tidbits I have taken away from the keynote and sessions I have attended here in Vegas:
  • The web client represents a move to a 3 tier architecture-- a presentation layer, an application/logic layer, and the data layer.  From a non-technical perspective, I think the key concept is that the user interface (UI) has been separated from the application/logic layer.  So we can have these windows in the web client that use the same application/logic as the hard client, without the need to replicate/duplicate all of the logic contained in Dynamics GP today. Not the most technical answer, I know, but I have to distill these things down to the basics for me :)
  • The web client windows will include ribbons across the top to initiate actions, and hopefully will also contain sub-windows on separate tabs.  And, just like the hard client, you will be able to have multiple windows open at the same time in the web client (woohoo!).
  • Windows will be dynamically generated using Silverlight, which means all of your dexterity customizations and third party products will be availab, including macro capability.  The only hitch in this right now is VBA, which will not transfer to the web client.  Microsoft is working on some ideas on how to address this, due to the technical complexity.
  • I asked specifically about Word Templates and emailing of documents, as these are two items that sometimes complicate terminal server deployments (since Word and Outlook have to be on the terminal server, in the same environment as GP).  These are also issues that are still be worked out, and there may be some assumptions about Outlook and/or Word on client machines that are using the web client (which seems reasonable to me).
As far as technology goes, if you plan on supporting and deployment the web client, these are the technologies that Microsoft recommends that you familiarize yourself with:
  • IIS
  • Dexterity
  • Silverlight
  • Web Services
  • Internet Explorer (including security)
  • XML
  • Visual Studio (potentially a tool for modifying the templates used to generate the web client windows)
And, of course, you will need to think about how the web client will be used (for your clients, your prospects, or for yourself)  and what processes in GP will be initiated via the web client.

Well, that is my totally non-technical post on the web client.  I personally am very excited by the potential, and can't wait to see more.

Christina Phillips is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and Dynamics GP Certified Professional. She is a supervising consultant with BKD Technologies, providing training, support, and project management services to new and existing Microsoft Dynamics customers. This blog represents her views only, not those of her employer.

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