Invoking Azure Functions to replace DOT NET calls in C/AL or AL

Standard

Recently Microsoft announced that dotnet can still be used with installations on premise of Dynamics 365 Business Central.

However, if our extension is to make it in the cloud the code leveraging dot net needs to be replaced with http api calls.

In this example I will show how a legacy C/AL code using dot net can be replaced with a call to an Azure function to achieve the original goal of validating a posting code.

Premise

  • Either Table 18 was modified and additional code was added in “Post Code” Validate trigger with Regex class entities to perform validation on post codes.
  • Or, the additional validation is executed when the Post Code Validate in standard is finished and a subscriber to Post Code Validate exists in our extension and is triggered, but still contains dot net code(RegularExpressions class entitites) as we’re only dealing with on-premise (target=internal in app.json)

Objective

I want the additional validation to be executed when the standard validation is finished and the additional validation to not contain dotnet calls.

Design

  1. In a new AL project add a new codeunit:

add_al_codeunit

2. The codeunit itself contains an event subscriber to Table18.Validate.PostCode.

(Use “teventsub” snippet to get the quick scaffolding of the event subscriber)

codeunit_content

When the subscriber is triggered we are executing an Azure Function call: azfnvalidate-us-ca-zipcode. We’re retrieving a json object whose content is : {“PCValid” : true} or {“PCValid” : false}.

3. Write the Azure Function with Visual Studio Code

Pre-requisites:

  • Azure subscription
  • install C# extension
  • Azure Function Core Tools extension
  • install .net core (use npm or chocolatey)
  • Azure CLI Tools

VSCodeExtensions

A good guide to get you started with Azure Functions is here.

Once you have the default “Hello World” Azure Function created, replace your Run function with:

azFn

Publishing the function in Azure should generate a record in your chosen storage:AzureFninPortal

Testing

  1. Once published we can quickly spin a test for the new Azure Function in a web browser window:

web_browser_test

2. Removing the “W” in the previous test, triggers the Azure Function to return above json.

web_browser_invalid_postcode

3. Let’s test now the validation in Business Central:

ezgif-3-34f9ae149c11

Therefore, to replace a set of dotnet calls we need a worker placed somewhere else other than in AL or C/AL and a caller of that worker services placed in the extension. In my example use a codeunit (caller) in the extension range with a subscriber event defined that calls an Azure function(worker).

What other methods are you employing to achieve similar results ?

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NAV Upgrade Notes – Turning Comments into Notes using .NET

Standard

Upgrading a NAV AddOn is not solely merging code and upgrading the database through all NAV versions in between source and target. It involves analysis and prototyping of present AddOn features into features existent in the latest NAV versions. We often ask ourselves how can we replace feature X in our AddOn hosted on a NAV 2009 installation with the new feature Y in NAV 2017?

Sometimes the answer is Yes: we can merge AddOn functionality with existent features in standard. The benefit is major.

Take Comment Line table for example. Almost any AddOn has a storage place for AddOn entities to record comments or notes.

Why keep them recorded in a table in ISV’s range when we could take advantage of an existent standard table perfect for this purpose? Table Record Link was introduced in NAV 2013 and can keep track of notes and links.

The short demo below assumes the existence of:

  • a table “Generic Entity”
  • a table “Generic Entity Comment”
  • a card page “Generic Entity Card”
  • a list page “Generic Entity Comments”
  •  codeunit “Upgrade Notes 1”

To generate notes for each comment in table “Generic Entity Comment” run the codeunit 90003″Upgrade Note 1″.

The text itself resides in a Text field in “Generic Entity Comment”, but “Record Link” table has a BLOB field for recording the text. Therefore I needed to move text from “Generic Entity Comment”Comment field into a BLOB field in “Record Link”.

text2blob

I wanted to use .NET here not only for exercising my rusty .NET muscles, but recording Danish characters in a BLOB proved to be a non-trivial job. So I used MemoryStream class with BinaryWriter which comes equipped with character encoding capabilities.

For a simple demo follow steps 1-4 below:

capture

Code used is available for download here.