July 25, 2017

Upgrading Great Plains Dexterity Customization – Switching to New Technologies: SQL, Crystal, eConnect

This article is for intermediate Great Plains Dexterity developer. It describes the directions to phase out Dexterity functionality and replace it with newer technologies.

Microsoft Great Plains and its current programming language Dexterity should still be considered seriously by developers community. However Microsoft Business Solutions announced switching to new technologies, mostly .Net, where all the MBS applications will be arranged into suites (Microsoft Financials, Microsoft Distributions, Microsoft Manufacturing, Microsoft Human Resources) and integrated into so called Microsoft Business Portal. Looking into the future we recommend you to analyze Microsoft Great Plains Dexterity customization for replacement it’s portions with Microsoft SQL Server stored procs, Crystal Reports, direct C#/VB.Net web publishing, eConnect

1. Replace Dexterity cursor with SQL Stored Procedure

Dexterity was designed as multiplatform technology (primarily Btrieve, Ctree, SQL Server, potentially Oracle). Dexterity data retrieving mechanism is based on Range start, Range End, Get First and Get Next clauses. It is in fact similar, however a little bit slower to cursors in Transact SQL. Long ranges in Dexterity are good candidates for replacement by SQL stored procedures with update clause.

For example, consider to replace following Dexterity code:

Range clear SOP_HDR_WORK.
Clear ‘SOP Type' of table SOP_HDR_WORK.
Clear ‘SOP Number' of table SOP_HDR_WORK.

Range start table SOP_HDR_WORK.
Get first table SOP_HDR_WORK.
While err<>EOF do
         If ‘Salesperson ID' of table SOP_HDR_WORK = "ERIC" then
            Edit table SOP_HDR_WORK.
Set ‘Salesperson ID' of table SOP_HDR_WORK to "BILL".
         Save table SOP_HDR_WORK.
End if.
Get next table SOP_HDR_WORK.
End while.

With the following SQL code

Update SOP10100 set SLPRSNID="BILL" where SLPRSNID="ERIC"

Bringing new data into a table in Dexterity is based on change/edit table clauses, in SQL they are equivalent (by performance) to inserting one record at the time.
When having long cycle of change/edit table in Dexterity, consider replacement by SQL stored procedure with Insert Into clause.

2. Use Crystal Reports, call them from via VBA in Modified form

The easy way to call Crystal Report from your VBA code from your modified form:

Const RPT = "D:ClientsTheClientInvoice Status.rpt"

Public crwApplication As CRPEAuto.Application
Public crwReport As CRPEAuto.Report

Private Sub Print_BeforeUserChanged(KeepFocus As Boolean, CancelLogic As Boolean)
If SalesTransactionInquiryZoo.Type = "Invoice" Then

If crwApplication Is Nothing Then
         Set crwApplication = CreateObject("Crystal.CRPE.Application")
End If

Set crwReport = crwApplication.OpenReport(RPT)
crwReport.ParameterFields(1).SetCurrentValue (DocumentNo)

crwReport.Preview

End If

3. Use Direct .Net Web Publishing from Great Plains Database

The easiest and safest way is to use eConnect – SDK with VB samples, created for eCommerce programmers and web designers to call the functionality in Microsoft Great Plains. If your company can not afford eConnect – create your own set of stored procedures to address Great Plains database and go ahead with Visual Studio.Net to do the web publishing.

About Andrew Karasev 5 Articles
Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer in Alba Spectrum Technologies