ArcherPoint Dynamics NAV Developer Digest - vol 269

ArcherPoint Dynamics NAV Developer Digest - vol 269

The NAV community, including the ArcherPoint technical staff, is made up of developers, project managers, and consultants who are constantly communicating, with the common goal of  sharing helpful information with one another to help customers be more successful.

As they run into issues and questions, find the answers, and make new discoveries, they post them on blogs, forums, social media…so everyone can benefit. We in Marketing watch these interactions and never cease to be amazed by the creativity, dedication, and brainpower we’re so fortunate to have in this community—so we thought, wouldn’t it be great to share this great information with everyone who might not have the time to check out the multitude of resources out there? So, the ArcherPoint Microsoft Dynamics NAV Developer Digest was born. Each week, we present a collection of thoughts and findings from NAV experts and devotees around the world. We hope these insights will benefit you, too.

Creating On-Demand, Access-From-Anywhere Remote Development Environments

Kyle shares this November 4, 2019 article from Slashdot, Microsoft Launches Public Previews of Visual Studio Online and Power Virtual Agents, reprinted here for your convenience:

“At Ignite 2019 today, Microsoft launched Visual Studio Online public preview. Visual Studio Online meshes Visual Studio, cloud-hosted developer environments, and a web-based editor. AI, big data, and cloud computing are shifting development beyond the ‘standard issue development laptop’, and Visual Studio Online is clearly a reflection of this trend. ‘Visual Studio Online philosophically (and technically) extends Visual Studio Code Remote Development to provide managed development environments that can be created on-demand and accessed from anywhere’, Microsoft explained today. ‘These environments can be used for long-term projects, to quickly prototype a new feature, or for short-term tasks, like reviewing pull requests’. The company also announced the public preview of its Power Virtual Agents tool, a new no-code tool for building chatbots that’s part of the company’s Power Platform, which also includes Microsoft Flow automation tool, which is being renamed to Power Automate today, and Power BI. From a report: ‘Built on top of Azure’s existing AI smarts and tools for building bots, Power Virtual Agents promises to make building a chatbot almost as easy as writing a Word document’. With this, anybody within an organization could build a bot that walks a new employee through the onboarding experience for example. ‘Power virtual agent is the newest addition to the Power Platform family’, said Microsoft’s Charles Lamanna. ‘Power Virtual Agent is very much focused on the same type of low code, accessible to anybody, no matter whether they’re a business user or business analyst or professional developer, to go build a conversational agent that’s AI-driven and can actually solve problems for your employees, for your customers, for your partners, in a very natural way’.

Further readingMicrosoft rebrands Flow as Power Automate, adds RPA features and virtual agents; and Visual Studio IntelliCode gets whole-line code completions, dynamic refactoring detection.”

This sparked quite the conversation here at ArcherPoint. Read on, and we’d love to hear your thoughts:.

Matt Traxinger starts off the comments with: “’Visual Studio Online philosophically (and technically) extends Visual Studio Code Remote Development to provide managed development environments that can be created on-demand and accessed from anywhere.’ 

Imagine this world, because it’s not as far off as you might think. A development request comes in. You hit a button to spin up a container in Azure, from scratch, in minutes. It has your customer’s code and sanitized data in it, along with the correct version of all the tools you need to do the development. Hosting that basic container in Azure costs $0.95 for the entire work day. You can consistently work from anywhere, and you don’t have to manage a thing. Your code will be stored in an Azure DevOps repository, automatically built, and deployed. 

This will go for test environments, too. Most things don’t need to be persistent. We’re just going to be creating and destroying environments all day long. And it will cost fractions of a penny, if not actually save us money in the long term. This is all like PowerShell was 5 years ago. You don’t have to get it now, but in 5 years you won’t have a choice.”

Kyle disagrees, in part: “I’m not sure I agree with ‘Most things don’t need to be persistent.’ It is difficult to reproduce customer problems without customer data.”

Bill W adds to the conversation: “I forget what it’s called, but there is a concept of an on-demand/instant/magical hot copy of live data that you can debug/program against. That version would also not be persistent. It takes minutes to spin up a sandbox copy of live at the moment in BC SaaS. Whenever I make a copy in the cloud, that is. (hehehe… this used to take weeks…) Although, if it were up to me, there would be no customer data involvement ever. I don’t think it’s a good long-term bet to assume we’ll be able to have customer data. Also with testing… sorry, I’m going to hammer the topic, I have a couple tests that I made that generate random data every time. I feel like this is testing in ways that I couldn’t if I were just doing exploratory testing. The need to have access to customer data should drop. Theoretically.”

Matt T adds: “Yeah, show me a developer, or a consultant, or a user tester, or a debugger that doesn’t want an exact copy of production to work with. You can spin these up and throw them away, fresh copies, like Bill says, in minutes. Controlled in Azure, by Microsoft, not us. The benefits of SaaS will just continue to outweigh on-premises. There is also a huge liability with us having our customer’s data. Even in source control. Data privacy and GDPR are real things. What happens when it is our copy of our customer’s data that gets breached? I don’t pretend to be an expert on this stuff, but the fines are massive. The world is coming where you won’t have access to customer data because the risk is just too high.”

Kyle acknowledges: “Fair points. I’m sure it is just some ‘Get Off My Lawn’ attitude, but I still can’t see how random sample data can do as good a job. I’m certainly interested in learning though. I know a large part of this is my ignorance of the testing tools. A small part of it is Harumph.”

Tim L takes it up a notch: “I get the sense we’re all being dragged to this golden city in the horizon, where things like AI ‘n such do wonderful things oh so automatically. I, for one, am finding I’d rather seek out that little shop or store or hotel with no website, and you need to call and talk to a person. A person! Sure, technology can get you 90% of the way to your goal, but if you want anything resembling a personal touch, you need to provide the last 10% yourself.”

If you are interested in Dynamics NAV and Business Central development, be sure to see our collection of NAV/BC Development Blogs.

Read the “How To” blogs from ArcherPoint for practical advice on using Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central.

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