Deploy Dynamics GP during development using Visual Studio External Tools Menu

I’ve never written this up before, but is a useful technique I use to allow the deployment of GP from the current project active build directory to the application addins folder.

Note that in this example PowerShell script, it will empty the addins folder before deploy. This may not be appropriate where other addins are present, tweak the deploy.ps1 script as appropriate for your development environment.


Setup external tool

Create a Deploy directory in the root of the project you wish to enable for copy deployment to the GP addins folder.

Save the following Deploy.ps1 script to that folder

Param(
   [string]$deployFrom,
   [string]$deployTo
)
Write-Host "Deploy from: $deployFrom To: $deployTo"
Remove-Item -Recurse -Force "$deployTo\*"
Get-ChildItem -Path $deployFrom -Recurse | Copy-Item -Destination $deployTo
Write-Host "Deploy complete"

Set up the external tool for launching the powershell script:

Deploy GP with External Tools

Command:

C:\windows\system32\windowspowershell\v1.0\powershell.exe


Arguments:

-File "$(ProjectDir)\Deploy\Deploy.ps1" "$(TargetDir)" "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Dynamics\GP2018\AddIns"

Title:

Deploy GP Add in


Use Output window checkbox checked


This will add a menu under the Visual Studio Tools menu of “Deploy GP Add in”, that will run the powershell script added to the project. The script takes the current project folder and uses it as a source to deploy GP from the current build target directory. Thus the deployment will honour the configuration type currently selected and the project currently selected will be selected as source.


To assign a keyboard shortcut

From Visual Studio Menu select Tools>Customize

Click “Keyboard” button

Keyboard button

Use the show commands containing: search box to search for tools.external:

AssignKeyboardShortcut

Then assign a shortcut by clicking the shortcut key combations while focus is on the “Press shortcut keys:” field


Microsoft Dynamics Community Blogs Notifications now enabled again

It used to be possible to subscribe and thus receive and email whenever blog content was updated in the community blogs.

Microsoft community forum notification icon on blogs

The ability to have an email sent when content changes in the community blogs has been restored after it was lost in the big redesign earlier in the year.

I was recommending that Steve Endow @steveendow should be trying this feature to be notified of new blog postings, only to find that the feature was no longer available! After brining this to the attention of the team responsible, they have kindly restored the functionality. So if you want to know when a new post goes on the blogs, use the bell icon at the top of the blog as shown in the screenshot.

Configure notifications as digest frequency

To configure the email settings go to your picture at the top right and use the drop down to get to settings.

Profiles ettings

Select the Email tab at the top of the page, then scroll down to the email settings:

email tab2


Settings


For each group you can change the frequency and nature of the mail from that group (blog).

Are you a Tab or Enter kind of person

Tab or Enter?

Navigation from field to field on a form in Microsoft Dynamics GP can be performed using the [Tab] key, or if the option has been set the [Return] key on the keyboard.

A quick internet search reveals this ability to change field navigation preference is a standard feature of software such as; Quickbooks, Xero, Quicken, and no doubt most of the other similar products too.

TabEnter

When creating an add-in form for Dynamics GP, don’t forget to support this unless you want user backlash.

Green screen, serial terminals

The first ERP system I used was literally a green screen application, you didn’t have a mouse, instead function keys allowed you to quickly jump around the screen functionality. Navigation from field to field was achieved by pressing the enter key repeatedly until you were at the field you wanted to edit. The field content is then changed and press enter again. When the windows operating system came along, the Tab key became the standard navigation field for moving between fields on forms. My thoughts are that, for those still hard wired in their heads to use Enter key from non –graphical user interface applications, software vendors still supported this, to help the user in the transition to the application running on windows. Perhaps green screen allowed the tab key back then too, I’m unsure, I, like others just used Enter!

Whatever the history is, in GP we can, in the user preferences set this. 

2018-09-13_16-41-12

I personally have not used Enter as an option since using GP, but curiosity got better of me…

If i query this preference for all users, to find what the users are using, i find,

SELECT COUNT(*)
,CASE
WHEN MDFRDENT = 0
THEN 'Tab'
ELSE 'Return'
END
FROM DYNAMICS..SY01400
GROUP BY MDFRDENT
 
Results:
Count Setting
122 Return
59 Tab

Looking at the figures, it seems users prefer to use the return key. This might not be the whole picture, many users may not even realise they can change this preference, the user default in our case set to Return. Tab is the windows default for navigation, so are we setting our users up for digital failure in their lives outside work, where they find they can’t use the Enter key? For example, on the internet, in browsers, we find that the Enter key will normally submit a form.

Behaviour

There is data saying that only 10% of regular (non geeks) tab between forms, the sad truth is the rest leave the keyboard, grab the mouse click, then return to the keyboard. [1] Even worse studies show that users arriving at a form, even though the cursor is blinking in the first form field that they want to fill, will still grab the mouse and set focus on that already focused field before typing -ugh!

It seems that the standard user just doesn’t value speed or ease in their interaction with the device they spend most of their day in front of. Most of us know users will rarely invest the time up front to learn how to use an operating system/application properly, even when it could vastly improve their efficiency, they just don’t value it.

The keyboard power user

While we are talking about this kind of thing, there is another kind of user worth mentioning, rare to find but amazing to watch in action. In my experience, they tend to be an older user, brought up on green screen technology. These users don’t leave the keyboard, in fact they raise a big sticking objection if the form tab order is not correct and if they can’t do everything without the mouse and with shortcut keys or key chords. These users use the application like they are playing a familiar song on the piano, using muscle memory to enter data a lightning speed, without taking a breath (grabbing the mouse).

Enter vs Return key

After all that we remind ourselves that the Enter key and Return Key are actually two different keys that once did different things, look at your numeric key pad for enter and big button for return…