AdvaniaGIT: About the build steps

The goal of this post is to demo from start to finish the automated build and test of an AL solution for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.

About the build steps

All build steps are execute in the same way.  In the folder ‘C:\AdvaniaGIT\Scripts’ the script ‘Start-CustomAction.ps1’ is executed with parameters.

The AdvaniaGIT custom action is executed in the same way from a build machine and from a development machine.

When we created the container in our last post from Visual Studio Code with the command (Ctrl+Shift+P) ‘Build NAV Environment’, Visual Studio Code executed

From the build task we execute ‘C:\AdvaniaGIT\Scripts\Start-CustomAction.ps1’ with these parameters

We can see that these commands are almost the same.  We have the one additional parameter in the build script to notify the scripts that we are in Build Mode.

Each AdvaniaGIT build or development machine has a ‘C:\AdvaniaGIT\Data\GITSettings.Json’ configuration file.

When the scripts are started this file is read and all the settings imported.  Then the repository setup file is imported.  The default repository setup file is ‘setup.json’ as stated in GIT settings.  If the same parameters are in both the machine settings and in the repository settings then the repository settings are used.

The same structure is used for the ‘BuildSettings’ parameter that can be passed to the custom action.  The build settings will overwrite the same parameter in both the machine settings and the repository settings.

The default settings are built around the folder structure that I like to use.  For example, we have our C/AL objects in the ‘Objects’ folder.  Microsoft has their objects in then ‘BaseApp’ folder.  Just by adding the ‘objectsPath’ parameter to the repository settings for the Microsoft repository I can use their structure without problems.

If I wan’t to execute the same exact functionality in Visual Studio Code as I expect to get from my build script I can add the ‘BuildSettings’ parameter to the command.

The folder structure

The structure is defined in settings files.  By default I have the ‘AL’ folder for the main project and the ‘ALTests’ folder for the test project.  Example can be seen in the G/L Source Names repository.

In C/AL we are using deltas and using the build server to merge our solutions to a single solution.  Therefore we have a single repository for a single NAV version and put our solutions and customization into branches.

In AL this is no longer needed.  We can have a dedicated repository for each solution if we like to, since the scripts will not be doing any merge between branches.

AdvaniaGIT: Setup and configure the build machine

The goal of this post is to demo from start to finish the automated build and test of an AL solution for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Setup and configure the build machine

We will create our build machine from a standard Windows 2016 template in Azure.

Docker containers and container images will take a lot of disk space.  The data are stored in %ProgramData%\docker

It if obvious that we will not be able to store the lot on the system SSD system drive.  To solve this I create an 1TB HDD disk in Azure.

After starting the Azure VM and opening the Server Manager to look at the File and Storage Service we can see the new empty disk that need configuration.

Right click the new drive to create a new volume.

And assign the drive letter

Next go to Add roles and features to add the Containers feature.  More information can be found here.  We also need to add ‘.NET Framework 3.5 Features’.

I also like to make sure that all Microsoft updates have been installed.

Now I start PowerShell ISE as Administrator.

As Windows Servers are usually configured in a way that prohibits downloads I like to continue the installation task in PowerShell.

To enable all the scripts to be executes we need to change the execution policy for PowerShell scripts.  Executing

will take care of that. 

Confirm with Yes to all.

To make sure that all the following download functions will execute successfully we need to change the TLS configuration with another PowerShell command.

Let’s download Visual Studio Code!  Use the following PowerShell command

to download the installation file to your desktop.  Start the installation.  During installation I like to select all available additional tasks.

We also need to download GIT.  Using the following PowerShell command

will download the latest version at the time of this blog post.  The only thing I change from default during GIT setup is the default editor.  I like to use Visual Studio Code.

Go ahead and start Visual Studio Code as Administrator.

Add the AdvaniaGIT extension to Visual Studio Code

Install AdvaniaGIT PowerShell Scripts!  We access the commands in Visual Studio Code by pressing Ctrl+Shift+P.  From there we type to search for the command ‘Advania: Go!’ and the when selected we press enter.

You will get a small notification dialog asking you to switch to the AdvaniaGIT terminal window.

Accept the default path for the installation but select No to the two optional installation options.

We need a development license to work with NAV and Business Central.  This license you copy into the ‘C:\AdvaniaGIT\License’ folder.  In the ‘GITSettings.json’ file that Visual Studio Code opened during AdvaniaGIT installation we need to point to this license file.

The DockerSettings.json file is also opened during installation and if you have access to the insider builds we need to update that file.

If not make sure to have all setting blank

Save both these configuration files and restart Visual Studio Code.  This restart is required to make sure Visual Studio Code recognizes the AdvaniaGIT PowerShell modules.

Let’s open our first GIT repository.  We start by opening the NAV 2018 repository.  Repositories must have the setup.json file in the root folder to support the AdvaniaGIT functionality.

I need some installation files from the NAV 2018 DVD and I will start by cloning my GitHub NAV 2018 respository.  From GitHub I copy the Url to the repository.  In Visual Studio Code I open the commands with Ctrl+Shift+P and execute the command ‘Git: Clone’.

I selected the default folder for the local copy and accepted to open the repository folder.  Again with Ctrl+Shift+P I start the NAV Installation.

The download will start.  The country version we are downloading does not matter at this point.  Every country has the same installation files that we require.

This will download NAV and start the installation.  I will just cancel the installation and manually install just what I need.

  • Microsoft SQL Server\sqlncli64
  • Microsoft SQL Server Management Objects\SQLSysClrTypes
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2013\vcredist_x64
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2013\vcredist_x86
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2017\vcredist_x64
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Tools For Office Redist\vstor_redist

To enable the windows authentication for the build containers we need to save the windows credentials.  I am running as user “navlightadmin”.  I securely save the password for this user by starting a command (Ctrl+Shift+P) and select to save container credentials.

For all the docker container support I like to use the NAV Container Helper from Microsoft.  With another command (Ctrl+Shift+P) I install the container helper to the server.

To complete the docker installation I execute.

in Visual Studio Code Terminal.

We need to point docker to our data storage drive.  Kamil Sacek already pointed this out to us.

I use Visual Studio Code to update the docker configuration.  As pointed out here the default docker configuration file can be found at ‘C:\ProgramData\Docker\config\daemon.json’. If this file does not already exist, it can be created.  I update the ‘data-root’ configuration.

Now let’s restart the server by typing

or manually.

After restart, open Visual Studio Code as Administrator.

Now to verify the installation let’s clone my Business Central repository.  Start command (Ctrl+Shift+P) ‘Git: Clone’ and paste in the Url to the repository.

This repository has a setup.json that points to the Business Central Sandbox.

Make sure to have the Integrated Terminal visible and let’s verify the installation by executing a command (Ctrl+Shift+P) ‘Advania: Build NAV Environment’ to build the development environment.

The image download should start…

You should now be able to use the command (Ctrl+Shift+P) ‘Advania: Start Client’,  ‘Advania: Start Web Client’, ‘Advania: Start FinSql’ and ‘Advania: Start Debugger’ to verify all the required NAV/BC functionality.

If you are happy with the results you should be able to install the build agent as shown by Soren Klemmensen here.

 

My Soap Service Proxy Codeunit

Up to now we in Advania have been using the method described here on my blog to connect to most of the Soap web services that we needed to integrate with.

The problem with this method is that we have to manage a lot of DLLs.  This has caused some issues and problems.

Another thing is that we are moving to AL.  And in AL we can’t just throw in a custom DLL to do all the work.

In C/AL We can do this with standard dotnet objects

AL code to do the same with the built in AL objects but that code is not much shorter.

With a custom proxy DLL the code would be

With this example we can easily see why we have chosen to create a proxy DLL for most of the Soap services.

I wanted to find a way to make things easier in AL and I remembered having dealt with C/AL objects by Vjeko from some time ago.  I took another look and that code helped me to get started.

The result is a Soap Proxy Client Mgt. Codeunit in C/AL that I have sent to Microsoft’s cal-open-library project asking to have this code put into the standard C/AL library.

Using this Codeunit the code will be like this.

What about AL?

For now this C/AL Codeunit is not in the standard CRONUS database.  I need to import the C/AL code and make sure that AL will be able to use that Codeunit.  You can see how to do this in my last blog post.

This C/AL Code will directly convert to AL and is ready to use.

More examples on how to use this Proxy Codeunit will follow.  Stay tuned…

C/AL and AL Side-by-Side Development with AdvaniaGIT

Microsoft supports Side-by-Side development for C/AL and AL.  To start using the Side-by-Side development make sure you have the latest version of AdvaniaGIT add-in for Visual Studio Code and update the PowerShell scripts by using the “Advania: Go!” command.

When the Business Central environment is built use the “Advania: Build C/AL Symbol References for AL” to enable the Side-by-Side development for this environment.  This function will reconfigure the service and execute the Generate Symbol References command for the environment.  From here on everything you change in C/AL on this environment will update the AL Symbol References.

So let’s try this out.

I converted my C/AL project to AL project with the steps described in my previous post.  Then selected to open Visual Studio Code in AL folder.

In my new Visual Studio Code window I selected to build an environment – the Docker Container.

When AdvaniaGIT builds a container it will install the AL Extension for Visual Studio Code from that Container.  We need to read the output of the environment build.  In this example I am asked to restart Visual Studio Code before reinstalling AL Language.  Note that if you are not asked to restart Visual Studio Code you don’t need to do that.

After restart I can see that the AL Language extension for Visual Studio Code is missing.

To fix this I execute the “Advania: Build NAV Environment” command again.  This time, since the Container is already running only the NAV license and the AL Extension will be updated.

Restart Visual Studio Code again and we are ready to go.

If we build new environment for our AL project we must update the environment settings in .vscode\launch.json.  This we can do with a built in AdvaniaGIT command.

We can verify the environment by executing “Advania: Check NAV Environment”.  Everything should be up and running at this time.

Since we will be using Side-by-Side development for C/AL and AL in this environment we need to enable that by executing “Advania: Build C/AL Symbol References for AL”.

This will take a few minutes to execute.

Don’t worry about the warning.  AdvaniaGIT takes care of restarting the service.  Let’s download AL Symbols and see what happens.

We can see that AL now recognizes the standard symbols but my custom one; “IS Soap Proxy Client Mgt.” is not recognized.  I will tell you more about this Codeunit in my next blog post.

I start FinSql to import the Codeunit “IS Soap Proxy Client Mgt.”

Import the FOB file

Close FinSql and execute the “AL: Download Symbols” again.  We can now see that AL recognizes my C/AL Codeunit.

Now I am good to go.

Why do we need Interface Codeunits

And what is an interface Codeunit?

A Codeunit that you can execute with CODEUNIT.RUN to perform a given task is, from my point of view, an interface Codeunit.

An interface Codeunit has a parameter that we put in the

This parameter is always a table object.

We have multiple examples of this already in the application.  Codeunits 12 and 80 are some.  There the parameter is a mixed set of data and settings.  Some of the table fields are business data being pushed into the business logic.  Other fields are settings used to control the business logic.

Table 36, Sales Header, is used as the parameter for Codeunit 80.  Fields like No., Bill-to Customer No., Posting Date and so on are business data.  Fields like Ship, Invoice, Print Posted Documents are settings used to control the business logic but have no meaning as business data.

Every table is then a potential parameter for an interface Codeunit.  Our extension can easily create a table that we use as a parameter table.  Record does not need to be inserted into the table to be passed to the Codeunit.

Let’s look at another scenario.  We know that there is an Interface Codeunit  with the name “My Interface Codeunit” but it is belongs to an Extensions that may and may not be installed in the database.

Here we use the virtual table “CodeUnit Metadata” to look for the Interface Codeunit before execution.

This is all simple and strait forward.  Things that we have been doing for a number of years.

Using TempBlob table as a parameter also gives us flexibility to define more complex interface for the Codeunit.  Tempblob table can store complex data in Json or Xml format and pass that to the Codeunit.

Let’s take an example.  We have an extension that extends the discount calculation for Customers and Items.  We would like to ask this extensions for the discount a given customer will have for a given Item.  Questions like that we can represent in a Json file.

And the question can be coded like this.

The Interface Codeunit could be something like

With a Page that contains a single Text variable (Json) we can turn this into a web service.

That we can use from C# with a code like

This is just scratching the surface of what we can do.  To copy a record to and from Json is easy to do with these functions.

And even if I am showing all this in C/AL there should be no problem in using the new AL in Visual Studio Code to get the same results.

Upgrading my G/L Source Names Extension to AL – step 3

When upgrading an extension from C/AL to AL (version 1 to version 2) we need to think about the data upgrade process.

In C/AL we needed to add two function to an extension Codeunit to handle the installation and upgrade.  This I did with Codeunit 70009200.  One function to be execute once for each install.

And another function to be executed once for each company in the install database.

For each database I add my permission sets to the installation users and for each company I restore the setup data for my extension and populate the lookup table for G/L Source Name.

The methods for install and upgrade have changed in AL for extensions version 2.  Look at the AL documentation from Microsoft for details.

In version 2 I remove these two obsolete function from my application management Codeunit and need to add two new Codeunits, one for install and another for upgrade.

In the code you can see that this Codeunit is of Subtype=Install.  This code will  be executed when installing this extension in a database.

To confirm this I can see that I have the G/L Source Names Permission Sets in the Access Control table .

And my G/L Source Name table also has all required entries.

Uninstalling the extension will not remove this data.  Therefore you need to make sure that the install code is structured in a way that it will work even when reinstalling.  Look at the examples from Microsoft to get a better understanding.

Back to my C/AL extension.  When uninstalling that one the data is moved to archive tables.

Archive tables are handled with the NAVAPP.* commands.  The OnNavAppUpgradePerCompany command here on top handled these archive tables when reinstalling or upgrading.

Basically, since I am keeping the same table structure I can use the same set of commands for my upgrade Codeunit.

So, time to test how and if this works.

I have my AL folder open in Visual Studio Code and I use the AdvaniaGIT command Build NAV Environment to get the new Docker container up and running.

Then I use Update launch.json with current branch information to update my launch.json server settings.

I like to use the NAV Container Helper from Microsoft  to manually work with the container.  I use a command from the AdvaniaGIT module to import the NAV Container Module.

The module uses the container name for most of the functions.  The container name can be found by listing the running Docker containers or by asking for the name that match the server used in launch.json.

I need my C/AL extension inside the container so I executed

Then I open PowerShell inside the container

Import the NAV Administration Module

and I am ready to play.  Install the C/AL extension

Now I am faced with the fact that I have opened PowerShell inside the container in my AdvaniaGIT terminal.  That means that my AdvaniaGIT commands will execute inside the container, but not on the host.

The simplest way to solve this is to open another instance of Visual Studio Code.  From there I can start the Web Client and complete the install and configuration of my C/AL extension.

I complete the Assisted Setup and do a round trip to G/L Entries to make sure that I have enough data in my tables to verify that the data upgrade is working.

I can verify this by looking into the SQL tables for my extension.  I use PowerShell to uninstall and unpublish my C/AL extension.

I can verify that in my SQL database I now have four AppData archive tables.

Pressing F5 in Visual Studio Code will now publish and install the AL extension, even if I have the terminal open inside the container.

The extension is published but can’t be installed because I had previously installed an older version of my extension.  Back in my container PowerShell I will follow the steps as described by Microsoft.

My AL extension is published and I have verified in my SQL server that all the data from the C/AL extension has been moved to the AL extension tables and all the archive tables have been removed.

Back in Visual Studio Code I can now use F5 to publish and install the extension again if I need to update, debug and test my extension.

Couple of more steps left that I will do shortly.  Happy coding…

 

Don’t worry about DotNet version in C/AL

When using DotNet data type in NAV C/AL we normally lookup a sub type to use.  When we do the result can be something like

Then, what will happen when moving this code from NAV 2016 to NAV 2017 and NAV 2018.  The Newtonsoft.Json version is not the same and we will get a compile error!

Just remove the version information from the sub type information.

And NAV will find the matching Newtonsoft.Json library you have installed and use it.

This should work for all our DotNet variables.

Using AdvaniaGIT – Convert G/L Source Names to AL

Here we go.

The NAV on Docker environment we just created can be used for the task at hand.  I have an Extension in Dynamics 365 called G/L Source Names.

I need to update this Extension to V2.0 using AL.  In this video I go through the upgrade and conversion process using AdvainaGIT and Visual Studio Code.

In the first part I copy the deltas from my Dynamics 365 Extension into my work space and I download and prepare the latest release of NAV 2018 Docker Container.

Using our source and modified environments we can build new syntax objects and new syntax deltas. These new syntax deltas are then converted to AL code.

 

Using AdvaniaGIT in Visual Studio Code

It has become obvious that the future of AL programming is in Visual Studio Code.

Microsoft has made a decision to ship all their releases as Docker Containers.

The result of this is a development machine that does not have any NAV version installed.  I wanted to go through the installation and configuration of a new NAV on Docker development machine.

Here is what I did.

I installed Windows Server 2016 with Containers.  The other option was to use Windows 10 and install Docker as explained here.

After installing and fully updating the operating system I downloaded and installed Visual Studo Code.

After installation Visual Studio Code detects that I need to install Git.

I selected Download Git and was taken to the Git download page.

I downloaded and installed Git with default settings.

To be able to run NAV Development and NAV Client I need to install prerequisite components.  I copied the Prerequisite Components folder from my NAV 2018 DVD and installed some of them…

Let’s hook Visual Studio Code to our NAV 2018 repository and install AdvaniaGIT.  I first make sure to always run Visual Studio Code with administrative privileges.

Now that we have our AdvaniaGIT installed and configured we can start our development.  Let’s start our C/AL classic development.  Where this video ends you can continue development as described in my previous posts on AdvaniaGIT.  AdvaniaGIT also supports NAV 2016 and NAV 2017.

Since we are running NAV 2018 we can and should be using AL language and the Extension 2.0 model.  Let’s see how to use our repository structure, our already build Docker container and Visual Studio Code to start our first AL project.

So as you can see by watching these short videos it is easy to start developing both in C/AL and AL using AdvaniaGIT and Visual Studio Code.

My next task is to update my G/L Source Names extension to V2.  I will be using these tools for the job.  More to come soon…