Microsoft Dynamics AX

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Microsoft Dynamics AX
Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 icon.png
Developer(s) Microsoft Corporation
Stable release 6.2.1000.4051 (2012 R2 CU7) / November 1, 2013 (2013-11-01)[1]
Development status Active
Operating system Windows Server 2003/2008 (AOS), Microsoft Windows (Clients)[2]
Platform x86 / x64
Available in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Czech, Danish, Dutch (Netherlands), English, Estonian, Finnish, Dutch (Belgium), French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian,Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish[3]
Type Enterprise resource planning
License MS-EULA
Website microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/erp-ax-overview.aspx

Microsoft Dynamics AX is one of Microsoft's enterprise resource planning software products. It is part of the Microsoft Dynamics family.

History[edit]

Microsoft Dynamics AX was originally developed as a collaboration between IBM and Danish Damgaard Data as IBM Axapta. Axapta was initially released in March, 1998 in the Danish and U.S. markets. IBM returned all rights in the product to Damgaard Data shortly after the release of Version 1.5 before Damgaard Data was merged with Navision Software A/S in 2000. The combined company, initially NavisionDamgaard, later Navision A/S, was acquired by Microsoft in July 2002.[4]

In September, 2011, Microsoft announced the release of new version AX 2012.[5] Today, it is available and supported in 25 countries and 23 languages.

Development Centers[edit]

MDCC or Microsoft Development Center Copenhagen was once the primary development center for Dynamics AX.[6] MDCC is located in Vedbæk and also houses Microsoft Dynamics NAV and several other Microsoft Dynamics family products. MDCC employs about 900 people of around 40 different nationalities.

In addition to MDCC, AX development is now performed in two additional sites in Bellevue, Washington and Fargo, North Dakota.

Versions[edit]

The early versions (from 1.0 to 3.0) were called Axapta, while the later versions (from 3.0 SP6 to AX 2012) are called Dynamics AX.[7]

Damgaard[edit]

Development of Axapta began in 1983 at Danish company Damgaard Data A/S. The software was mainly targeted at the European market, though the North American market grew rapidly following the release of Axapta 2.1 in 2000.

Version Date Description
Axapta 1.0 Mar 1998 The first version of Axapta was released in the US and in Denmark in March 1998 by Danish company Damgaard A/S. It supported both Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle database servers. Notable features were financial, trade, inventory management, logistics and production.
Axapta 1.5 Nov 1998 The second major version of Axapta was released in Norway, Sweden, Germany, UK, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain and the European Union in November 1998.
Axapta 2.0 Jul 1999 The third major version of Axapta was released to customers in July 1999. Notable new features were the Project Accounting module, Warehouse Management (WMS), External OLAP, Option Pack concept, ActiveX support, COM-connector and an early release of the Axapta Object Server which allowed offloading of some operations from the clients onto a separate server.
Axapta 2.1 Jan 2000 This release stemmed from market demands from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Spain. It was the fourth major version of Axapta and was released in January 2000. The most notable new feature was the addition of a Web tool called the Customer Self-Service (CSS) which is the precursor to today's Enterprise Portal. With Axapta 2.1 SP3 (Service Pack 3), the AOS (Axapta Object Server) was introduced making Axapta the first fully three-tier ERP-system in the market.

Navision-Damgaard[edit]

Following the merger of the two Danish companies Navision and Damgaard, Axapta was to be known as Navision Damgaard Axapta for versions 2.5 and 3.0 (up until 3.0 SP5).

Version Date Description
Axapta 2.5 Dec 2000 As the fifth major release, Axapta 2.5 brought with it a complete web applications development environment, the Project module, Banking and OLAP. It was released first to Denmark, Austria and United Kingdom in December 2000.
Axapta 2.5 Market Pack Oct 2001 This market pack was released for Axapta 2.5 in October 2001 in France and Italy. This new application layer contained the Customer Relationship Management module (CRM or Marketing Automation), Commerce Gateway and Product Builder (both Client-side and CSS-side (Web)).

Microsoft (current)[edit]

Microsoft acquired Navision Damgaard during the summer of 2002. Navision Damgaard Axapta was first renamed to Microsoft Business Solutions Axapta, then to Microsoft Dynamics AX for versions 3.0 SP6, 4.0 and 2009.

Version Date Description
Axapta 3.0 Oct 2002 The sixth major Axapta release brought with it the Microsoft Axapta Enterprise Portal, new intercompany collaboration functionality, actualized and rebuilt user security and system configuration, expanded geographical reach (more countries), demand planning and enhanced partner productivity tools.
Dynamics AX 4.0 Mar 2006 The seventh major Axapta release brought with it an updated look and feel. As the first version that Microsoft was involved in from the beginning it attempted to integrate better with existing Microsoft technologies. For example, the AOS became a true Windows service, a .NET business connector was provided, CLR interoperability was introduced and XML data exchanges were supported through a set of code classes (Application Integration Framework), full Unicode support was introduced[8] and a new Service Management module.
Dynamics AX 2009 Jun 2008 Originally named AX 4.1, later renamed to AX 5.0 (and finally AX 2009), the eighth major release of Axapta brought more improvements to the UI. It added role-based concepts to both the Enterprise Portal and Windows clients, support for timezones (UTC), a new Site inventory dimension, and Enterprise Portal development through Visual Studio projects.[9]
Dynamics AX 2012 Aug 2011 Known as AX 6 during development, AX 2012 was released in August 2011. It included improvements to the user interface, general application and developer enhancements, and added industry-specific solutions for Process Manufacturing, Professional Services, and Public Sector organizations. The release also included support for SharePoint 2010, Visual Studio 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2.
Dynamics AX 2012 Feature Pack Feb 2012 Released soon after AX 2012, the feature pack added a Retail solution in addition to the previously released industry-specific solutions.
Dynamics AX 2012 R2 Dec 2012 AX 2012 R2 shipped in December 2012 and included enhanced support for SQL Server 2012 and SharePoint 2013 as well as support for additional languages and markets (36 in total).

Features (modules)[edit]

Microsoft Dynamics AX contains 19 core modules:[10]

Traditional core (since Axapta 2.5)[edit]

  • General Ledger, composed of ledger, sales tax, currency and fixed assets features
  • Bank Management, where cash is received and paid out
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM), where Business Relations (customers, vendors, and leads) are contacted and maintained
  • Accounts Receivable, where orders are entered, shipped and invoiced
  • Accounts Payable, where purchase orders are issued and goods received into inventory
  • Inventory Management, where Inventory is valued and managed[11]
  • Master Planning, where purchase and production planning takes place
  • Production, where bill of materials is defined and manufacturing is tracked
  • Product Builder, where product models are created and maintained
  • Human Resources, where employee information is kept
  • Project Accounting, where projects are created and tracked primarily from an accounting perspective
  • Basic, where data configuration is performed
  • Administration Module, where system configuration is performed

Extended core[edit]

The following modules are part of the core of AX 2009 (AX 5.0) and available on a per-license basis in AX 4.0:

External components[edit]

Several external components are also available:

  • Enterprise Portal for Dynamics AX (built on Sharepoint Services)
  • Microsoft SQL Reporting Services integration
  • Microsoft SQL Analysis services (KPIs)
  • Project Server Integration
  • WorkFlow
  • Application Integration Framework (Webservices + Biztalk adapter)
  • A .Net Business Connector for third-party software (A COM adapter is also available)
  • Microsoft Dynamics Mobile 1.5 development tools
  • Microsoft Project Client
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Office 365

Architecture[edit]

The Microsoft Dynamics AX software is composed of four major components:

  • The Database Server, a database that stores the Microsoft Dynamics AX data
  • The File Server, a folder containing the Microsoft Dynamics AX application files (in AX2012 application files are stored in the database)
  • The Application Object Server(s) (AOS), a service that controls all aspects of Microsoft Dynamics AX's operation
  • The Client(s), the actual user interface into Microsoft Dynamics AX

See also the book Inside Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0[14]

MorphX and X++[edit]

Custom AX development and modification is done with its own IDE, MorphX, which resides in the same client application that a normal day-to-day user would access, thus allowing development to take place on any instance of the client. Since the Dynamics AX 2012 version, development can also be performed in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 through a Visual Studio plugin.

MorphX is an integrated development environment in Microsoft Dynamics AX that allows developers to graphically design data types, base enumerations, tables, queries, forms, menus and reports. In addition to design of application objects, it also allows access to any application code by launching the X++ code editor.

Because MorphX uses referencing to link objects together, changes in, for example, datatypes of fieldnames will automatically be reflected in all places where they are used (such as forms or reports). Furthermore, changes made through MorphX will be reflected in the application immediately after compilation.

Microsoft Dynamics AX also offers support for version control systems (VCS) integrated with the IDE, allowing collaboration in development. There is also a tool for reverse-engineering table structures and class structures to Visio. The actual implementation limits the practical use of both these features.

X++ itself is the programming language behind MorphX, and belongs to the curly brackets and .-operator class of programming languages (like C# or Java). It is an object-oriented, class-based, single dispatch language. X++ is a derivative of C++ (both lack the finally keyword for example) to which garbage collection and language-integrated SQL queries were added.

Code samples[edit]

X++ integrates SQL queries into standard Java-style code. Following are three equivalent examples (result-wise), though the first one has generally better performance. Samples #2 and #3 hint at an object-like behavior from table buffers.

Sample #1

/// <summary>
/// This job is used as an X++ sample
/// </summary>
public static void xppTest1(Args _args)
{    //rajeev singh(ATS)
    UserInfo userInfo;
    update_recordset userInfo
        setting enable = NoYes::No
        where userInfo.id != 'Admin'
            && userInfo.enable;
}

Sample #2

/// <summary>
/// This job is used as an X++ sample
/// </summary>
public static void xppTest2(Args _args)
{
    UserInfo userInfo;
    ttsbegin;
    while select forupdate userInfo
        where userInfo.id != 'Admin'
            && userInfo.enable
    {
        userInfo.enable = NoYes::No;
        userInfo.update();
    }    
    ttscommit;
}

Sample #3

/// <summary>
/// This job is used as an X++ sample
/// </summary>
public static void xppTest3(Args _args)
{
    UserInfo userInfo;
    ttsbegin;
    select forupdate userInfo
        where userInfo.id != 'Admin'
           && userInfo.enable;
    while (userInfo)
    {
        userInfo.enable = NoYes::No;
        userInfo.update();
        next userInfo;
    }
    ttscommit;
}

Future[edit]

On its PartnerSource web site, Microsoft publishes a "Statement of Direction" for Dynamics AX that describes future development plans. It states that increased vertical market functionality, cloud computing, and HTML 5 will be included in future versions of AX.

Presence on the World Wide Web[edit]

One of the most notable sources of information with regards to Axapta (prior to the Microsoft purchase) was technet.navision.com, a proprietary web-based newsgroup, which grew to a considerable number of members and posts up until 2002.

Following the incorporation of Axapta into Microsoft's Business Solution suite, the newsgroup's content was transferred over to the Microsoft Business Solutions newsgroup.[15] The oldest Axapta Technet post that can be found today dates back to August 2000.[16] During the Axapta 3.0 era, this newsgroup in conjunction with secured official Microsoft websites (Partnersource for Microsoft Partners and Axapta resellers and Customersource for licensed Axapta customers) accounted for most of the official documentation sources on Axapta. During this time freely accessible documentation remained scarce. Following Microsoft's release of Dynamics AX 4.0, Axapta's presence on the World Wide Web greatly improved through heightened interest from professional blogs as well as a continually improving presence on MSDN. Though MSDN contained mostly placeholders immediately following the release, it now contains a wealth of information from a complete SDK to white papers and code samples.

Competitors[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]