Choose the Dynamics NAV client that serves you best!

Have you ever thought to yourself “What if there was a better, more efficient way of using NAV on my device?” Whether that ‘device’ is a PC or Laptop (touch-enabled or not), a PC-on-a-stick, a tablet/slate or even a mobile phone, you can chose between various clients that help you bring out the best user experience possible. Selecting the right client will increase efficiency by considering the device’s capabilities. If you have not thought about whether you are using the client that is most appropriate for what you are doing daily and which devices run those tasks – read on, this is for you.

By selecting the right NAV client you will not only increase user efficiency, but also user acceptance and overall satisfaction with Dynamics NAV. Even those who love NAV will love it a bit more when using the right client

Let’s looks at the options available and explore benefits and limitations.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV Windows Client

The Windows client is the latest iteration of the common Role Tailored Client added in 2009 and the client run by most NAV users. However, avoid referring to it as ‘Role Tailored Client’ or RTC as you get a similar experience on all clients today in that they are all built on a role-based concept. It makes more sense (and Microsoft recommends) to refer to it as ‘Windows Client’ to differentiate from the other clients. The Windows Client is feature-rich and has matured into a really great UI – Even users who disliked it over the old “Classic Client” when first released for its nicks and issues (e.g. missing/changed shortcuts, unusable without a mouse, etc.) have come around. The following lists are not exhaustive but name a few improvements and limitations of the client.

The Windows client does not necessarily have to be installed on the user’s machine but can be run (among others) as a Windows or Azure Remote App.


Improvements

  1. Copy & paste of rows with validation (e.g. Journals, Acc. Schedules) (2013 and later)

  2. New 64-bit version (runs on 64-bit OS only), 32-bit version runs on either (increased performance for memory-intensive operations, e.g. reports)

  3. Familiar Activities, Charts, Notifications, Outlook Integration

  4. Create custom Role Centers and modify in Configuration Mode

  5. Cues (tiles) are more compressed to make better use of the available space in NAV 2016, improved Range Styles (bigger red line, calendar symbol in “Days Delayed”,…)

  6. Customizations made to the Windows Client are reflected in Web Client (e.g. Hide/Show fields on List Pages, Configure fields on Card Pages, Saves Views, etc.)

Limitations

  1. Cue Setup only available on select Profiles (e.g. Sales Processor)

  2. Cannot remove Activity Items per Setup (but cues (tiles) can))

Microsoft Dynamics Web Client

The Web client has been around for a number of years but has not caught on. Microsoft is trying to change this with NAV 2016 and has (their words) “begun the journey of transforming the Web client into a first-class interface for desktop users”. Now while that signals that more needs to be done to convince everybody out there in the NAV space, the latest improvements make it finally usable for users that require a quick and responsive browser-based UI for occasional use. All you need to do to take advantage of the improved Web client is to install and configure NAV Web Server components on a machine that runs IIS and has a connection to the NAV Server and database. No installation on workstations is required (other than a browser of your choosing, i.e. Edge/IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari).


Improvements

  1. Hide and Show Columns on List Pages (saved)

  2. Freeze Panes (1st column by default)

  3. Improved and unified UI – similar experience as Windows client (e.g. lookup as-you-type, Expand/Collapse)

  4. Cross column search (incl. “as-you-type”)

  5. Date lookup

  6. Dynamically change UI language, region, time zone, Company, Work Date (Web.config / My Settings)

  7. Select multiple lines

  8. Load as you scroll for better performance

  9. Collapse/Expand Navigation Pane

  10. Microsoft also wants you to know of the “Office Familiarity”

  11. The ribbon is collapsed at the start, and the state is remembered

  12. The Home button gives a quick access to the Role Center

  13. The Navigation Pane stays when scrolling the content area

  14. Activity buttons in the Navigation Pane have new icons and inline tooltips

  15. Links to Help, Privacy, Legal, and Feedback are easily accessible

  16. Shortcuts to all components are now prefixed with Dynamics NAV

Limitations

  1. Reordering of Columns on List Pages not supported

  2. Freeze Panes must be configured on Windows Client or by development

  3. Ribbon hides by default on Pages requiring extra time to navigate and expand (some improvements are included in NAV 2016 CU 07 to remedy this, e.g. expand all if Page has promoted Actions, Preference for page will be remembered)

Microsoft Dynamics Universal App (Tablet/Phone)

With NAV 2016 you can now experience NAV on the broadest range of devices ever. A new Universal App has been optimized for touch and includes support for tablet/phone cameras as well as location based services (GPS). The interface has been optimized for one-handed use when in phone or portrait mode, while landscape mode shows more details and functionality and assumes two-hand user interaction.

The following illustration shows the intended use of the various Microsoft Dynamics NAV clients.


Source: MSDN

Improvements

  1. Most improvement of Web Client are supported

  2. Control Add-ins to zoom

  3. Landscape and portrait mode

  4. Run reports and save to PDF, Excel, …

Limitations

  1. Reordering of Columns on List Pages not supported

  2. Brick Field Group for Lists does not support adv. filter, facboxes, edit, multi-selection

  3. Freeze Panes must be configured on Windows Client or by development

  4. Loads only the Profile/Role Center assigned to user (no Departments available)


When implementing the Universal App, i.e. tablet or phone devices, more thought must be put into how the design will accommodate the expected scenarios to be run on the client. Physical limitations on the devices such as resolution and touch only (or only soft keyboard, no mouse) must be considered to not burden the user. As with any app used in field services or on the shop floor, simplicity is key and will bring the most benefit to the users.

Windows Client via “Click Once” Deployment

Not really a different client but a deployment method of the Windows client that may suit certain users or clients just fine while putting less burden on the IT department for maintenance and Upgrades. Essentially this method leverages Microsoft .Net components to deploy the client application by link on a web page. All the user has to do is click the link, confirm the application launch, certificates and NAV will self-install the most current version that is part of a pre-built package (manifest), as long as the workstations meet prerequisites listed below.


Benefits

  1. Centralized Configuration (e.g. ClientUserSetting.config)

  2. Bundle VAR and third-party Add-Ins

  3. Run different versions of the Windows Client side-by-side

  4. Seamless Upgrade without user interference

Considerations and Limitations

  1. Sign deployment (internal deployment) and host on secure website (public deployment)

  2. Create two install packages, one for 32bit and on for 64bit client OS’

  3. Command line arguments, e.g. profile personalization

  4. Hyperlinks, e.g. links to pages, OneNote, reports; Debugger cannot be started

  5. Random installation folder, e.g. third-party accessibility

Structure of Click Once deployment

  1. Application files (Windows Client, Icon, ClientUserSettings.config)

  2. Application Manifest* (XML with metadata of application (e.g. files, exe,…))

  3. Deployment Manifest* (XML with link to app manifest, app name/version / Start and Programs)

* Microsoft Windows SDK contains a utility named “mage.exe”, required to create/update manifest files as well as utilities to create certificates.

Workstation Prerequisites

  1. Microsoft Report Viewer 2015

  2. Microsoft System CLR Types for SQL Server 2014 (Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Feature Pack)

  3. .NET Framework 4.5

#MicrosoftDynamics #NAV #WindowsClient #RemoteApp #ClickOnce #WebClient #UniversalApp #Azure #NAV2016 #ClickOnce

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