As I prepare for the 2009 Microsoft Dynamics GP Technical Conference, one of the topics that keeps coming across the sample applications we are planning on showcasing to the attendees and frankly, something that David Musgrave and I have been informally publishing and talking about for quite some time now is the topic of hybrid integrating applications development.
Simply put, in the world of Software Development the Earth doesn’t always revolve around the Sun. In fact, in the world of Software Development, there are times when the Sun and other planets may need to revolve around the Earth. This is, as a developer your solution becomes the center of the Solar system and all resouces at your disposal work to make that solution robust and to meet the requirements established by your customer — customer used here in the broad sense of the word.
Hybrid application development involves using multiple development tools and techniques to make your solution a viable one. In the case of the Dynamics GP development, those development tools involve the use of Microsoft Dexterity, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), and Visual Studio Tools for Microsoft Dynamics GP. In today’s world, to think that one tool is enough to build an application is ludocrus (take this from the Microsoft Dexterity developer in me). In fact, as the Microsoft Dynamics GP application suite continues to expand its use of managed code, using one tool to deliver a solution is becoming very (if not extremely) limiting!
A hybrid development approach will then allow you to take advantage of the best features available with each tool. A Microsoft tool that best represent this hybrid approach in the Dynamics GP space is Menus for Visual Studio Tools for Microsoft Dynamics GP — save the joke about the name… MVP Mark Polino once called this the longest name for any Microsoft product — VSTM for a short, uses Microsoft Dexterity to expose a menu managing API that allows Visual Studio developers to add their customizations to Microsoft Dynamics GP standard menu structure.
A hybrid development approach can be use for even VBA customizations, where you need to run Microsoft Dynamics GP internal functions and procedures. By now, many of you may have explored running Dexterity sanScript code from your VBA customizations with the Dynamics Continuum Integration Library… yeah, yeah, I have also heard the claims and place the disclaimers myself about supportability of this approach. You may even be taking advantage of calling .NET assemblies from Dexterity. In fact, your Visual Studio Tools solutions are by nature hybrid, since they take advantage of Microsoft Dynamics GP resources that are accessed via .NET assemblies.
Hybrid development forces developers to broaden their knowlege of tools and leave their comfort zones, but I firmly believe it makes for better integrating application solutions.
Sample Hybrid Customizations @ Developing for Dynamics GP
VBA – Creating a keyboard shortcut for a Microsoft Dynamics GP window expansion button
This week, free Visual Basic for Applications workshop with the Dynamics GP Blogster
Using Menus for Visual Studio Tools from VBA – Calling native VBA forms
How to display existing record notes on an existing Dynamics GP window with Modifer and VBA
Using pass-through sanScript in VBA to return a file path to a Dynamics GP Modified form field
Until next post!
Mariano Gomez, MIS, MCTS
Maximum Global Business, LLC