Developer Viewpoint — How has Dynamics 365 changed in the last few years

The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surrounding. Kakuzo Okakura (The Book Of Tea)

Developer Viewpoint is a where we explore the opinions of software engineers within the Capgemini Microsoft team, Ekhor Asemota explores the topic of Dynamics 365 with Satya Kar.

Ekhor is an experienced Microsoft developer with experience in DevOps processes for Dynamics 365

Satya is a Microsoft Dynamics 365 software engineer with 6 years Dynamics experience. Previous posts on Dynamics 365 — PowerApps tips and tricks and Create Folder in SharePoint from Dynamics 365 Online Plugin

Ekhor: In recent years, Dynamics 365 has grown in popularity within the Industry. And as a result, the demand for software engineers with skills in this technology has increased. Even though Dynamics 365 is built on top of .NET, some .NET software engineers are reluctant to train in Dynamics 365. Is there any role for serious .NET development in Dynamics 365 or is it just ‘customisations’ from the user interface?

Satya: Yes, there are lot of opportunities for a .NET software engineer in Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 is not just customisation and configuration. To deliver complex business requirements, there is the need to extend the platform and .NET development skills play a very important role here. Extending the Dynamics 365 platform requires JavaScript, custom workflows and plugins. In addition, through Dynamics 365, software engineers will gain a great amount of experience in many programming technologies such as C#, XML, HTML, SQL, JavaScript, etc.

Ekhor: Following on from the previous question, what do you think is the best place for a software engineer, aspiring to skill up in this technology, to start from?

Satya: To skill up in Dynamics 365 technology, you will need to know in detail the 3 main modules of Dynamics 365. These are Sales, Marketing and Customer Services. Next, you will need to understand what customisation you can do without code. Finally, you will need to understand how to extend Dynamics 365 and here, your .NET skills come into play.

Ekhor: From my experience with Dynamics 365, any serious deployment of the technology will often require other .NET technologies such as Azure Service Bus, SQL Server Integration Services or SharePoint. Is this your experience as well?

Satya: Yes, Dynamics 365 is a highly capable platform for integration with other systems and technologies. Dynamics 365 often requires the inclusion of Azure Service Bus, Azure Functions, and Logic App. Due to the flexibility of the platform, you have a lot of control on how to extend the platform and can choose between technologies. This flexibility applies to both On-line and On-Premises version of Dynamics 365.

Ekhor: What do you think are the major benefits of Dynamics 365 compared to traditional ASP.NET web solutions?

Satya: Dynamics 365 is ready to go out of box. With the platform, prototyping is very easy without having any development environment setup. It comes with a rich UI out of the box, supports so many different APIs with different subsets of features supported and easy for integration. Dynamics 365 on small scale projects with low development is very cheap. Finally, the platform provides out of box options for easy export and import data.

Ekhor: Are there any training resources you would recommend for Dynamics 365?

Satya: Yes, there are multiple user guides and training resource available on the Internet. Below are a few recommendations:

Ekhor: Currently the business unit is focused on Dynamics 365. However, there are significant opportunities in Dynamics Operations as well. Could you explain briefly what Dynamics Operations is about and how it differs from Dynamics 365 Sales?

Satya: There are significant benefits of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. Dynamics 365 Operations eliminate the need for on premise servers and systems and reduce your employee costs to maintain the ERP system as Microsoft does this for you. This minimises the ongoing cost of running your own infrastructure. Everything is under one roof with the Dynamics 365 range. Upgrading from Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations makes it easier to integrate your ERP, CRM, BI and IoT all in the Dynamics 365 range. This saves you time and money on training and has the added benefit of limiting the need for any customisations and any reliance on third party software. It reduces integration costs and incorporates the familiar productivity tools you use every day such as Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Excel.

Ekhor: What do you think will be the future for Dynamics 365 and should software engineers care?

Satya: Microsoft is combining several technologies into Dynamics 365, such as LinkedIn, Office 365, SharePoint, Power BI, Azure, digital transformation, intelligence and mobile applications to create projects which deliver business value to the customer. Flow is going to be key to develop a Dynamics solution. Software engineers should invest in learning, reading up on and understanding the new features and should start trying out these new features now.