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Extender Myth Busters


Calling all GP consultants to get involved in training on Microsoft Dynamics GP Extender. There are significant changes coming to GP Extender on August 1st – in conjunction with SP4 for GP. Your customers pay you because you are an expert, so it is important that you get up to speed on not only the new features of Extender but also the features that have been there since the first release of SC.

There are a number of consultants that have never been given the time to learn GP Extender in depth. There a a few myths about Extender that resulted from the lack of training and I want to address a couple of these below.

1. Extender is difficult to report on: Oh my, this could not be further from the truth. If you tried to go direct to Extender tables then yes – reports would be almost impossible! The standard consultant response is to try and look right into a modules tables to write a report. Extender is different to all other GP modules – so DO NOT try and write reports direct off the tables.

In training you would learn all about Extender views which eliminates any difficulty in writing reports in your tool of choice (SRS, Crystal, SmartLists, Excel, BI etc). This one function eliminates the complexity of the tables and returns a simple SQL view upon which you can base your reports. You would also learn how easy it is to add Extender data to Report Writer reports.

2. Extender data does not transfer in SOP: Another big myth is that if you create anExtender window against SOP, the data does not move with the order when it is transferred to an invoice.

This would logically be true as all data is linked to a key field. During a SOP transfer the key field (SOP number changes). There is a SOP exception written into Extender which ensures that if your key field is SOP number (header) or SOP Number+Line Item Sequence (lines) that the data will follow the master number for this transaction.

3. You should open up access to Extender design to all end users: This is less a myth than is it just bad practice. Just because it is easy to use, does not mean anyone can or should use it.

Extender is a really powerful development environment, that does not require code. You should only open it up to those that you want changing the way your GP works. We always reccommend following normal development processes – just because it takes 5 minutes to build does not mean you can skip all the normal development process. You must still:
  1. Write a spec
  2. Get sign off on spec
  3. Build solutions
  4. Configure Security
  5. Write reports
  6. Hold acceptance testing
  7. Hold formal training
  8. Document the solution
4. If you delete a window it deletes the data: This ties back to point 3 above about who has access to the Extender functionality.If you delete a SQL table you would not be surprised the data is gone – same witheXtender.

Extender does not create tables, but you create front end screens instead. The screen design is the table design – they are not separate entities. If you understand this concept, then you would not delete a window unless you wanted to remove the data along with it. Understand

5. Extender is not as powerful and VBA or Dex: This is not a myth, Extender is very different to VBA and Dex.

That is what is great about Extender, it has some great advantages to traditional development:
  1. Much reduced time to develop and deploy
  2. Reduced cost of ownership
  3. Independence from developers
  4. GP functionality you expect (drill down, required fields, menus, SmartList integration etc)
  5. Easy and cheap upgrades
That said there are many occasions and needs where you will want to use the traditional solutions:
  1. Want to modify the existing GP screens (extender does not do this to ensure you maintain an easy upgrade path)
  2. Need to change the logic of a process (changing the SOP posting or FA depreciation rules is not something Extender will do)

Extender is a terrible tool if you use it for the wrong purpose. Just like a screwdriver is not much good for cutting the lawn. I urge you all to learn more about Extender so you can use this really powerful tool to help your customers.

Extender will help you to sell more Dynamics GP, deliver complex solutions on a budget, differentiate GP from other ERP products (and you from other VAR’s that have not learnt the Extender) and provide you with happy customers with a flexible ERP solution.

Microsoft are offering online training courses on Extender, and you can also access Extender training both in a classroom and online from eOne. Now is the time to insist that your VAR give you time to learn Extender in depth.



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