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Get in the NAV Development Game!

Here in the great state of Kentucky, we have all succumbed to March Madness!  I find it perfect timing to share with you one of my favorite quotes when it comes to NAV development.  The great basketball player and coach John Wooden, who won ten NCAA championships, once said, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

Image of a basketball and a computerPreparation for your NAV development career is like setting the plays for the championship, and choosing your starting lineup.

The three-pointer

Why three? Because we NEVER ever develop in production!  (If you do that now, take a chair. You’ve fouled out!)  NAV is a very integrated system, and all changes need to be fully tested before they are implemented.  If you put your changes directly into production, you have no way of testing.  Removing your changes can be costly and time consuming, at the very least.  Therefore, you will need a test database that mirrors your production environment’s data and objects.  This database will allow users to test your code before you place it into production.  And if something goes wrong and your code adversely affects your test database, you’re still in the game!  You just build a new test database.

The third database is your practice court.  This is the database where you do the development and your own testing.  Let’s face it.  None of us are perfect.  There are things that we don’t anticipate in development tasks and things we overlook as we code.  Why air your dirty laundry to your users by putting it in the test database before you get a shot at cleaning up your code?  A development database allows you to complete your task and test it before you have to let a user have a crack at it.  It also allows you to set up test scripts (a series of situations that you find possible in the production environment) that can be reviewed in the test phase to see if the user can identify missing test scenarios.

All three databases can reside on the same SQL server, but you will want to do a little housecleaning after you’ve created the databases. If your database has sensitive data, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, personal information, etc…, you will want to remove this information or assure that it’s not accessible in your testing.  At the very least, lock down permissions on the database via NAV security.

If your database has external links, such as the ability to send emails or process credit cards, you will want to disable these functions, and possibly remove relevant data as well.  Sending your customer’s emails from your test documents or charging their credit cards from them will result in a personal foul.  Your best bet is to remove the data, and disable the processes.  This can usually be done through the application setup.

The uniform

Just like you can’t get on the court without a uniform, you can’t develop NAV without a developer license (which is just a set of granules in your current license).  But don’t let that keep you out of the game!  You can obtain these granules from your VAR, who can discuss their abilities with you, to help you determine which you need, and give you the cost for obtaining them.  Regardless of which granules you obtain, you are allowed to only change the objects within your licensed applications.  So if, for example, you don’t have the Service granule in your license, don’t expect to use the service tables in your applications.

The Table Designer granule 7130 gives you access to modify existing tables, such as adding fields, changing field properties, but you cannot change C/AL (the NAV language) code using this granule.

Form and Page Designer granule 7120 and 7150 give you the ability to modify existing forms and pages, as well as the Navigation Pane Designer.

The Report and Dataport granule 7110 allows you to modify existing reports and dataports, and you can change the code in these reports (except for objects that update protected tables).  And, you also receive access to the debugger.

You’d be surprised at how easy it is to add a field to a form or page, or add a piece of data to a report.  Even if you stop at this point, you’ll not only gain the ability to do these things, but learn more about how NAV is designed, and what developing in NAV is like.  If you’re not sure if you really want to develop in NAV, try this first.  You can always obtain a higher privileged license later on.

If you want to develop XML Ports, look into the XML Port Designer granule 7140.  And, like the Form and Page designer, you also receive access to the Navigation Pane Designer.

The Application Builder granule 7200 allows you pretty much full access to NAV development, including code changes.  It will, for the sake of keeping NAV data integrity strong, not allow you to modify objects that affect protected tables, such as posting Codeunits.  You have to have the Table Designer, Form and Page Designer, Report and Dataport Designer granules in order to purchase this granule.

And lastly, there is the Solution Developer granule 7300.  This is the grand champion license, giving you access to all NAV objects, including those that are write-protected and posting routines.

Some of these granules come bundled in standard NAV licenses.  Review your own license to see if they are already there.  You might be surprised at what you can do currently without purchasing a new granule.

A house divided

Living in the state of Kentucky, you grow up watching basketball.  But this past weekend, the “Big Blue Nation” of Kentucky was divided as the University of Kentucky Wildcats battled the University of Louisville Cardinals in the NCAA to go on to the final four.  We may all be from the same sweet southern towns, but make no mistake, when our two top teams go to the NCAA, we are a house divided.

Likewise, NAV has two flavors as well with the Classic Client and the Role Tailored Client (RTC).  Knowing which you are using is imperative to creating the right development environment.

The Classic Client environment requires only the NAV application with the Classic Client and the SQL database.  All code, regardless of which flavor you have, is written within the Classic Client.  This is the “default” environment for NAV.

If you’re developing in an RTC environment, you’ll also need an install of Visual Studio 2008 for development of RTC reports, as well as a three-tier environment for your NAV install.  Talk to your VAR if you’re unsure which of these you have, and they can assist you in creating a strong development environment.

Talk to the coach

Even if you have all the tools for development, the environment is created, your license is installed, and you’re already passing the ball and going for the hoop, you need to talk to your VAR.  If you have ongoing development with your VAR’s developers, the last thing you want to do is modify your objects without checking with them first.

NAV’s object set is very integrated.  A change to a single object could result in necessary changes to other objects.  Likewise, your VAR’s developers may have copies of your same objects involved in other development endeavors.  The last thing you want to pay them for is reworking their code to include your modifications. 

Have a quick conversation with your VAR and discuss how you will keep your code and their code synchronized.  At ArcherPoint, we often work with in-house developers and have developed a version control system whereby we incorporate our client’s code into our code and prevent rework. 

Get in the game!

Anthony Davis, the University of Kentucky forward/center recently nominated for the 2012 NCAA MVP fought for the chance to play basketball.  Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, the school he attended until 6th grade didn’t even have a basketball court.  They practiced at a nearby church. Yet before his college career began, he was being mentioned in the 2012 NBA draft.  His love for the game allowed him to overcome the obstacles he faced, and now the entire Big Blue Nation “bows to the brow”.

You will have obstacles and you will have days when you just feel defeated.  But don’t walk away. Team up with the NAV community.  We are here for you when those bad days come.  Just as any profession, we grow strongest when we grow together.

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What I just read it is nothing but the truth. We all have to keep that in mind all the time.
Actually Development and Testing are really good but you may even consider an Stage server. We could think it is to much but large corporations always use an Stage specially with the ERP.


Paco, can you tell more about Stage Server testing?  I believe what you are saying is a full environment test system, whereas newer versions of NAV are three-tier.  Can you elaborate?  (and thanks for commenting!)


I used to work for a company that had four databases.

Development - Where I did all of my work

QA / Quality Assurance - Where other members of the NAV team would test what I developed

UA / User Acceptance - Where the users would test the changes after QA to make sure that they fit the need

Production - Live copy

The QA and UA essentially acted as the staging servers.


Matt, that sounds like a high quality setup - and I like the idea of peer testing. 

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