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Mark Rockwell, Rockton Software

A Developer’s Perspective: Top 3 Tools in Dynamics GP Toolbox


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    Inspector

    As a developer myself, the tool that immediately jumps to mind for me is Inspector.  When creating reports or Smartlists, or even other customizations, you will often need to do some research to figure out which table(s) contain the data that you want to show.  This is where our Inspector tool shines.

     

    Once you launch Inspector, it will list all of the tables for each GP window that you open.  As you move your cursor to various fields on the window, it will even show you which tables contain that field.  From there, you can drill into any table listed to see information about all of its columns.

    Inspector

    So as long as you know of a window that contains the information that you want to show, Inspector will narrow down where to look for that information in the database.

     

    For those who are already familiar with Inspector, you may have noticed a new Mode field in the upper-right of the window:Mode Field

     

    Starting in the Fall of 2016, you will be able to select the Window Field Info radio button to see all of the fields on the current window and their values.  This includes any work fields or fields that may be hidden from view.

     

    As a convenience, if you are only concerned with a few fields, you can select to “watch” those fields as they change while you interact with the window.  This is much easier than having to scroll through the list of every field on the window, looking for the values you want to see.

    Window Field Info

     

    So why is this important?

     

    If you are developing any customizations or extensions to an existing window, you may need to know a bit about how things work behind the scenes.  If you don’t have source code for the window in question, then at least knowing when certain field values change may give you enough information to infer what is happening.

     

    If you are not a developer, this can be useful in other areas as well.  For instance, when setting up Smartlists and reports, you may need to know which numeric value corresponds to the text value that you have selected in a drop-down list.  You can see each numeric value easily by simply selecting the different items in the drop-down.

     

    As another example, there may be fields that are not shown on a window, but you still want to know what those field values are.  For example, the values of Batch Status or Marked To Post on a Batch Entry window might be useful when troubleshooting posting problems.

     

    Security Settings

    Some of us who have been in the Great Plains/Dynamics GP arena for many years remember when you could easily grant security access to an individual window.  These days (since version 10.0), the security model in Dynamics GP is based on the Security Role/Security Task concept.

     

    This means that if your security administrator gets a request to grant or revoke access to a particular window, they have to know: a) which Security Tasks contain that window, and b) which Security Roles contain each of those Security Tasks.  In a vanilla install of Dynamics GP, there is no easy way to determine this.  You pretty much have to either just be intimately familiar with your security setup, which can be very complex, or you have to run a report or query the database outside of the application.

     

    There are a few very nice security-related tools in Dynamics GP Toolbox to help with this shortcoming.  Let’s discuss the Security Settings tool.  Since you must access this tool from a couple of other tools (Mentor and Security Manager), it gives me a chance to give those a little spotlight as well.

     

    The Mentor tool allows you to search for any window in Dynamics GP based on the window’s name.  The original intent was to provide a way for users to access rarely-used windows when they didn’t know the navigation path for those windows.  However, this also provides a launching point for the Security Settings tool.

     

    By selecting one of the items in the search results list, you can click the Security button on the Mentor window and it will open Security Settings for the selected window.

    Security Settings

    On this window, you can enter a User ID and you will see the security settings that apply to this window, and whether or not the selected User ID has access to them (red stop sign means that the user does not have access to this role; green check mark means that they do).  Now it becomes an easy task to grant access to a given window: simply click the stop sign next to at least one Security Role that most applies to this user.  To revoke access to the window, just click all of the green check marks to change them to red stop signs.

     

    OK, so that’s great for windows (forms).  But what if you wanted to assign permissions for a report?  Or posting permissions?  Or anything else?  For those, we need to start with the Security Manager tool:

    Security Manager Window

    First, make sure that the View drop-down at the upper-right of the Security Objects list is set to Roles, Tasks and Details.

     

    The reason for this is that you will need to double-click the name of a detail object (i.e., not a Security Role or Security Task) in order to launch the Security Settings window for that object.  For instance, in the screenshot above, we have selected the Payables Trx Entry posting permissions object.  Double-clicking the name of this object will open Security Settings with Payables Trx Entry posting permissions pre-filled.  You can now review or change security settings for Payables Trx Entry posting permissions.

     

    Oh, and by the way, this same method applies to forms (and everything else) as well so you don’t need to start with Mentor for those if you don’t want to.

     

    PopUps

    The PopUps tool can be used for so many things.  Here are just a few examples of how people use them:

    • Notifying users of a certain window about special instructions that need to be followed today
    • Reminders about a specific Vendor/Customer/etc. that show when that entity is selected
    • Usability tips and tricks for a given window that open when you open that window

     

    One trick that you may not be aware of is that you can also put a PopUp on the Company Login window for Dynamics GP.  Where this becomes really useful is when you are also using the System Maintenance tool to perform some update that requires users to be logged out of the accounting system.

     

    You can put a PopUp on the Company Login window to automatically remind users that the system outage will be happening so they can plan to get critical work activities done before that time.  Since you can specify the start and end dates for a PopUp, you can set this up ahead of time and it will automatically show leading up to the outage, and it will stop showing the day after the outage is complete.

     

    To set this up, first make sure that the PopUps tool is enabled.  Open the System Settings window (Tools > Setup > Dynamics GP Toolbox > System Settings).  Scroll down to the User Experience section of the list and make sure that there is a green check mark next to PopUps.  If not, then check the  icon to enable it.  If you did have to enable it, then you will need to exit Dynamics GP and log in again.

     

    Next, follow these steps:

    1. Open the Note Maintenance window (Tools > Setup > Dynamics GP Toolbox > PopUp Maintenance.
    2. Leave the PopUp Type as Note.
    3. Tab or move your cursor to the PopUp ID field.  A new PopUp ID should show up.
    4. Enter Company Login in the Window field and click tab.
    5. Select High, Medium, or Low for Priority.
    6. Select any Dismiss option (Never, Until Tomorrow, Permanently).  For instance, if you want the user to see this PopUp at least once a day, do not choose Permanently.
    7. For Effective Date, enter the date that you want the PopUp to start appearing.
    8. For Expiration Date, enter the date that you want to be the last day that the PopUp will appear.
    9. Enter a Title and Note for your PopUp that describes the outage.  You should probably let the user know when the outage will happen, and perhaps why the outage will happen.
    10. Click Save.

     

    Your Note Maintenance window should look something like this:

    Note Maintenance Window

     

    Now when the user logs in, they will see a PopUp window that looks like this:

    PopUp Window

     

    That's it for now!

    We’d love to hear what interesting uses for PopUps or any of the other couple of dozen tools in Dynamics GP Toolbox that you come up with.  Drop us a line any time to let us know, or to give us any comments or suggestions for future blogs.

     

    Thanks for reading!

     

    Written by Jim Peliksza, Developer at Rockton Software, a Microsoft Dynamics GP Add-On Provider.

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