GP Airlift 2013 - Day 1

Wow, what a day!  The first day at these conferences is all about getting acclimated to the pace of the day and the overwhelming amount of information that is presented to you. I always find the first day is more tiring than the subsequent days, as I’m not used to being on the receiving end of a long day of content and information to process.  It reminds me what clients in training must feel like!

Today was no different, and I’m taking a break from the socializing and adult beverages for a moment to try to review my day and share what managed to stay in my head this long!  I took a lot of notes, I tend to be a “write things down” person, it helps me remember it much better, even though we get the powerpoint slide decks later.  I also was trying to tweet throughout the day and keep up with the steady flow of #GPAirlift13 content flowing through the twitterverse.

Session 1: Introduction

This was the “general” session that all 3 rooms were open for, to kick off the conference and the day.  Several people presented snippets and demos here and there to whet your appetite - I’m probably missing someone here but some of the people involved in this session were Jay Manley, Errol Schoenfish, Chad Sogge, Kim Peterson, Jen Ranz, Theresa Nistler, Brian Meier & Jodi Christiansen.  I compared the opening session demos to getting a handful of popcorn, but then someone hiding the rest of the bowl.  It was a teaser of what’s to come this week and it did a great job of getting people excited about the content.

349 people are registered for the conference this year, I don’t know how that compares to previous years but it’s a great sized crowd.  I’m guessing that’s lower than last year’s conference, as the rooms last year all seem over-full, often not enough seats and lots of people standing to hear the sessions. This year the rooms are full, but there always seems to be seating if you want to sit.

I won’t go into full detail here but among the demos in the opening session, the following things were highlighted:

  • Visual Studio Tools integration with the Web Client (custom rendering)
  • Smartlist enhancements including a peak at the new Smartlist Designer tool
  • Quick hits on the various new features in GP2013 SP2
  • Demo of Office 365 with GP2013
  • What’s coming with Business Analyzer version 5 (and what’s there now)

Breakout Sessions

I attended a mix of Developer content and Consultant content today. Again, way too much to reproduce here in the blog, but here are some of the things that I found interesting today.

  • Web Client with Visual Studio Tools presentation: the goal with this piece is really about re-using code, as in not having to have “Web Client” code and “Desktop Client” code.  The core values Simplicity, Re-Use and Flexibility were the key to this session.  Michael Hammond and Alice Newsam went through both dynamic rendering and custom rendering, what controls will “dynamically render” and what won’t etc.  A lot of the detailed content was over my head, not being much more than a wannabe developer, but it looks like some great functionality that opens a lot of new avenues for customizations.
  • Deploying GP2013 on Azure: I wanted to sit in on this one as I don’t really know a lot about the Azure platform, and it helped me get a handle on what it’s all about, how the pricing works, and some tips and tricks on deployment that I wouldn’t necessarily think of had I not attended.
  • Enterprise Security for GP: I really loved this presentation, by Andy Snook and Jeff Soelberg from Fastpath.  I think I’m one of the rare consultants who practises what they preach, which is: you don’t need to use “sa” to do your job.  Sometimes, yes, but regularly, no.  I won’t jump on my soapbox here but it’s very overused and it’s lazy to rely on it as much as “we” in the consulting world tend to just use it instead of creating appropriate users instead.  I guess I was on the soapbox a little there… mea culpa!  Anyway, the presentation had nothing to do with Fastpath’s products themselves, but generally about the state of GP security at most companies, why you should review security and risks in your business and where security in the application fits into that. They talked a lot about process controls, where application security is only part of the puzzle.
  • Support Debugging Tool: this was a fun session with Leslie Vail and Belinda Allen both co-presenting, two of the fantastic group of Dynamics GP MVPs.  They went through “role playing” to demonstrate real-world questions and issues from clients and how the Support Debugging Tool can be used to solve them.
  • Native Business Intelligence (BI) for GP 2013: This was a back-to-back presentation for Belinda Allen, who presented two things in a row.  It was highly entertaining (I love the “pie” chart!).  This session was introduced with a stat of how many GP users think GP doesn’t have a lot of good reporting or good ad-hoc reporting.  I forget the stat, but the general sense was “Are you kidding me?".  Belinda went through how to help you help a client determine their needs and what all of the tools are to help you present data in a meaningful way that helps your client manage their business or make better decisions.

Welcome Reception

The first night of the Airlift always tends to be the reception evening, with beverages, munchies, and an opportunity to mingle with partners and ISVs.  This was a beautiful slightly muggy warm evening and everyone appeared to have a good time. This is a good chance to talk to some folks and I got the chance to meet some people tonight that I hadn’t met before, which is all part of what this event is all about.

That’s the short version of the day from my perspective!

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