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Update from the Lanham NAV Extensions Team

Ever since Microsoft introduced NAV Extensions in October 2015, we’ve been very excited about the extra functionality they will provide for our customers. In keeping with our innovative spirit, we were one of the first ISVs to publish a NAV Extension. Address Verification, currently available through Dynamics 365 for Financials, was rolled out at the same time as the Microsoft launch, and we’ve been busy ever since developing new extensions, as well as creating extension versions of our existing products.

This Q&A with Lanham’s NAV Extensions development team provides a high-level update on where we are to-date with our extension products. We’ll provide more in-depth information and additional updates in subsequent blogposts.

Q. What are NAV Extensions?

A NAV Extension is a way to extend or enhance Microsoft® DynamicsTM NAV functionality without modifying base NAV. With an extension, no object merge is required, and you can easily install, upgrade, and uninstall functionality.

Q. What are the main benefits of NAV Extensions?

Upgrades can be done quickly, seamlessly and much, much more easily since there’s no code merge required. If you want to upgrade the base product you can uninstall the NAV Extension, go through your upgrade process and then reinstall the NAV Extension, and it will be back running in the new version without a merge. You can install and uninstall a NAV Extension by running a Windows PowerShell script. When you uninstall, the data is archived and saved in the SQL database, and then when you reinstall it, it re-establishes the data. If there’s any upgrade to the new version of the NAV Extension, it will upgrade the data at that time. So, NAV Extensions make upgrades very easy!

To make things even simpler for our partners and customers, Lanham Associates has created an easy-to-use install program, called Lanham Extension Manager. This program can be used to manage Lanham extensions instead of using complicated PowerShell scripts.

Q. Which Lanham products are currently available as extensions?

Address Verification is available in Dynamics 365 for Financials as a NAV Extension in NAV 2016 and NAV 2017. It offers a system for verifying and maintaining the integrity of your addresses by using a cloud database to verify any US, APO and FPO addresses in your system.

Inbound Container Tracking is available today as an extension in NAV 2016 and NAV 2017. It’s also available as a traditional module for NAV 5.0 through NAV 2015. It uses inbound Advanced Ship Notices (ASNs), received via EDI or imported from Excel, to create and track containers, providing your business system with updated expected receipt dates and quantities of the actual inbound items in your inventory.

E-Ship as a NAV Extension is also now available. It includes all the functionality you have always enjoyed in E-Ship/E-Receive/E-Mail. There’s nothing excluded from those modules. In other words, USPS, UPS, FedEx, LTL, BOL, AES, and all the other elements that are offered with our standard E-Ship product are also offered in our extension. However, it is important to note that it is E-Ship only, EDI is not currently offered as an extension.

Q. What’s next?

Our Advanced Forecasting and Procurement (AFP) product will be available early in the second quarter of 2017 as an extension for NAV 2017. AFP will not be available as an extension for NAV 2016. Our end goal is to make all of our products available as NAV Extensions.

Q. Why are some Lanham NAV Extensions available in 2016 and some in 2017?

Dynamics NAV 2016 has a limited set of objects — code unit, table, page, and menu suite. The 2016 version of NAV doesn’t include reports, or queries, or some of the other things that are important in a lot of applications these days. Consequently, while some products work in NAV 2016 because they can function within NAV2016’s limited set of objects, other products would be too limited in capability. However, since all objects are supported in NAV 2017, that’s where you’ll see an ever-growing range of Lanham NAV Extensions.

Q. Can you modify NAV Extensions?

We are working to provide you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to modifications, but it’s not going to be the same level of flexibility that you have today in terms of making changes to the product.

Q. How would you use an extension when upgrading NAV?

To upgrade NAV, you’d simply:

  1. Uninstall the NAV Extension, and your data will be automatically archived in SQL.
  2. Upgrade Base NAV.
  3. Reinstall the NAV Extension, and the archived data is restored and upgraded.

Q. What if you don’t want extensions?

We have no interest in alienating any traditional customers. The current product formats will still be supported. The traditional products will have less impact on the base application, even if you choose not to go with extensions, because we will be taking advantage of eventing, subscriptions, and other features available in NAV 2016, NAV 2017, and subsequent versions.

If you buy a Lanham product, you can purchase it either as an extension or as a traditional module (except for Address Verification, which is only available as an extension). We are also working on a way to upgrade from one to the other.

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To stay up-to-date on Lanham NAV Extensions, please subscribe to this blog or if you have questions, let us know at education@lanhamassoc.com.

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