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What's New in NAV 2013 R2 Part 3: Improved Web Client

The web client was a big success with the initial release of Dynamics NAV 2013. With Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 Microsoft has continued the development of the web client to include most, if not all, of the functionality available with the standard Windows client or RTC.

Office 365 sales have been soaring and the web client now has full integration with it. For those of you who might not be familiar with Office 365 it is essentially the same suite of products you are used to accessing on your local computer: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. The difference is that the documents are not stored locally, but in the cloud in a remote location. With this new integration users can now seamlessly login to their Office 365 accounts with single sign-on and easily perform ad-hoc analysis and reporting. Users can store their documents on Microsoft SkyDrive and easily access them from any client from any location. Developers shouldn't feel left out, though. Microsoft has completed the ODATA functionality it started with Dynamics NAV 2013 and R2 now allows you to write that data from the client.

In order for users to have the same experience across all clients the Client Extensibility features from NAV 2009 have been dramatically improved upon. Previously we could only use client extensibility code on the Windows client and it had to be installed on every machine. Data display was limited to .NET / Windows Forms, or Windows Presentation Foundation forms with certain work arounds. Now with Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 we have the ability to use Javascript and HTML5 and we don't have to install it anywhere except the server. We can even use our add-ins on List pages. This continues the trend of introducing NAV to those outside of the NAV world and opens up a world of possibilities. This is the area in which I think the next big innovations will come and I truly hope to see more companies begin to take advantage of it.

These changes drive home what I love about Microsoft's current direction: interface standardization. I come from an educational technology / interface design background and the number one complaint I always hear about software is "It's too hard to figure out!!" The first step to making software easier is to allow users to instinctively learn from other software, to easily move from application to application. Microsoft is nudging developers in the right direction which will do nothing but make better software and happier customers in the long run.

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