GP Tech 2017 - Day 1

Day 1 of this year’s GP Tech Conference was Tuesday August 8, 2017. I’m writing this recap post as I sit in the airport on my way back home, as the week just came and went too quickly to get on top of these posts on each day! This year’s recaps will also not quite be in as much detail as they may have been in prior years, it’s quite simply too time consuming to attempt to pay attention and document everything in detail!

My first post for this trip can be found here, if you’re interested: Getting to Fargo.


The conference was kicked off with Bob McAdam doing the usual introductions and thank yous. I was part of the planning committee for this year’s event and I’m pleased with how the content came together at this year’s event. I think it was deeper than in other years and I found I got a lot more out of it than I have in the past.

Before the Tech Conference part kicked in, Bob gave us updates on the other conferences and events coming up.

  • DynamicsPro GP Certification exams were being offered during the event (and you can continue to sign up to write online too)
  • GPUG Summit 2017 is coming up and registrations are now ahead of Reno I believe. October 10-13, 2017 in Nashville, TN
  • GPUG Amplify will be back in 2018 with a yet to be determined date and location, but the expectation is March 2018 and not California, last I officially heard.
  • Summit EMEA 2018 will have Dynamics GP content for the first time and this year will be held in Dublin, Ireland Apr 24-26, 2018.

Next up, Bob introduced┬áPam Misialek. No keynote would be complete without a roadmap and even Pam made fun of the fact that they *always* do the same slide with the roadmaps. Rest assured, no indication of doom and gloom, Dynamics GP is not going away! GP 2018 will be released (planned) on Dec 1, 2018 and while those changes are being finalized and QA’d, it’s time to get more suggestions into Microsoft Connect for things you want to see in GP 2019, GP 2020 etc.! That *is* the source where the product managers look for what to improve.

Side note: I didn’t get a great shot of the roadmap, so I’m using shots from the actual slide deck distributed to the attendees instead. (If you followed my twitter feed from this day, you’ll notice horrible pics due to the lighting above the projector screen I was sitting in front of!)

Preview of GP 2018

Next up was discussion and demos of the potential functionality coming in GP 2018. I say “potential” because as things get finalized, it’s always possible a feature doesn’t get through QA and needs further refinement so it’s best not to assume all of these are “guaranteed” to be there, until you get the official “Feature of the Day” previews this fall.

Side note: I must say the mood on this session was far and away better than I’ve seen it recently. It seemed very upbeat and there was a renewed enthusiasm in the crowd and the presenters for the things coming up, which was great to see!

There were several buckets of features discussed and demonstrated:

  • Comprehensive Document Attach
    • More transaction windows where you can attach docs
    • Displaying notes on various inquiry windows (option)
    • Options to attach new documents from inquiry windows
  • Power Suite
    • Improvements to the OData service (paging, filtering, bug fixes)
    • GP Power BI Content Pack
  • Workflow 4.0
    • Reminder emails for tasks not completed yet
    • Copy workflow steps
    • Workflow history report available
    • New workflow for GL Accounts (nice!)
  • User Experience updates
    • Additional sorting options on Payables and Receivables Trx inquiry windows
    • Making system password valid for entire session (hopefully this is an option to turn on or off)
    • Many name changes on Payables payment windows, removing the word “cheque/check”, using “payment”
    • Auto-complete on ID fields in the Web Client like it does in the Desktop client
    • Password protect individual smartlist favourites, not one system password to rule them all!
    • Web Client gets a shortcut in the top of the page for Smartlist, a feature that currently you have to use Search to find.
  • Optimized Financials & HRP
    • Email single statement from customer card and inquiry
    • PO Number will be displayed on Requisition List for originator
    • Display Hold status on Sales Transaction Entry as a visual icon/cue (i.e. a red dot if on hold)
    • Vendors can have individual “One check per” settings in their options (per invoice or per vendor)
    • Save Select Payments settings during Build Batch process to re-use settings again
    • Change department code in all payroll files, including history (UPR only, not CPY)

Some of the specific things I loved in the demo were these items:

  • Added the ability to sort by Type, Document Number, Document Amount, Amount Remaining and Document Date in both Ascending and Descending Order for both Receivables Inquiry windows and both Payables Inquiry windows. Cool… Amount Remaining is nice to be able to bring current unpaid trxs to the top.
  • Window renaming on the Payables payment side. Making payments the generic term is more realistic these days for most environments, possibly with the exception of the US who appears to still be paper-check-centric!
  • Visual cue on SOP Process Holds

Microsoft PowerApps demo

I was really looking forward to this and was attempting to play along, so to speak, to connect to one of my local SQL server instances to play with this functionality. Unfortunately I couldn’t connect and I suspect the reason is my machine isn’t on a domain. At least, that always seems to be the answer to fun new functionality!

The session was interesting but didn’t seem to really get into details and when people asked questions, it just seemed like the answers were mostly “I don’t know”. Next time hopefully there are more PowerApps resources on hand to help answer the deeper technical questions.

ISV sessions

I sat in on the Panatrack session about their wares but was distracted with another task so unfortunately didn’t take any notes on this session.

SQL Server Maintenance, Optimization & Performance Analysis

This was a great session, with MVP presenters Steve Endow (“End-o”, not “End-dow”) and John Lowther. This also was the first of the 90-minute slots, one of my suggestions during the planning of the event. I have found in previous years, none of the presenters can get very deep on any topic with only an hour to present, since 20 minutes is typically taken up with setup, introductions & Q&A at the end.

Some of the tidbits I gleaned from this session were:

  • Set your File Growth using a size not a %. As you get into larger file sizes, % growth can jump by large amounts and cause issues with the time to grow (among other reasons for this recommendation).
  • Set File Growth notifications. While your MDF files should grow over time, your LDF files should not grow if they are properly backed up, with regular full backups in between too, thereby truncating the logs and re-using the space.
  • On that note, if you’re not using Full backups you should be evaluating why not. Ask your CFO what their tolerance is for lost data, and you’ll find most clients are not satisfied with “we can lose up to 1 day’s data”! (and that’s assuming we’re using nightly full backups)
  • Set transaction log backups as frequently as needed to get to a realistic tolerance level on data loss in the event of an emergency.
  • If you have an issue and are still able to take a Transaction Log backup, do it. You can use it to restore the tail end just prior to the issue occurring.
  • Look at some of the free SQL tools available from places like Apex (formatting etc.)

Power BI, OData, Security & Office

This was a session I needed to pay more attention to and didn’t due to some things I was taking care of during the session. The presenters were MVPs Rod O’Connor and Belinda Allen. Some of the topics covered were setting up OData, certificates, security on the service account used, and how OData security knows who is allowed to see what endpoints.

HTML5 Web Client - What works and what doesn’t

This was a session presented by nJevity’s Chris Dobkins. In my own experience, I don’t have any clients using the Web Client nor do I have a domain set up on my test environments or business laptop, so I haven’t really gotten hands-on with Web Client much at all. The most experience I have is from installing it on GP 2013 during that reImagine conference pre-training.

This was a good session with quite a bit of info on what works and what doesn’t. Here’s a sample of what doesn’t work:

  • Modifier with VBA, Report Writer (the tools)
  • Customization Maintenance
  • Macros
  • Field Level Security
  • OData Setup
  • Journal Entry Copy Paste
  • Scan to Doc Attach
  • Smartlist Export to Word (Excel works though)
  • Named Printers

He also gave some good advice to those considering using Web Client with respect to ISV’s. It’s not good enough to ask them “does your solution work with the Web Client?”. You really need to ask “what doesn’t work with the web client?” as often there are things that kind of don’t get mentioned where only some of the functionality works (just like with GP core).

Microsoft Flow

The last session of the day was by Brian Meier, from Microsoft. I admit my brain was pretty full so I didn’t take great notes on this one and am not sure how much of the info stuck. :) The things I took away were the free plan actually is a good place to start for more uses on simple flows and you can work your way up to paid plans from there for more frequent runs and more runs per month.

Evening Reception

That’s it for the content on Day 1. As is the recent custom, that evening there was a welcome reception with free drinks and lots of great food from the Microsoft Fargo cafe. They really have a ton of variety and it’s great food! It was a time to relax, mingle and catch up with others after a busy first day.

After the reception, I headed back to my room and worked on things while I relaxed there for the evening. Having had plenty to eat and drink, I didn’t feel the need to head back out to the eOne Smartner Party, although many did and a good time appeared to be had there!

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