FRx Service Pack 5 Now Available

FRx 6.7 is up to service pack 5. You can get it here: http://mbs.microsoft.com/public/insights/ReadArticle.aspx?rcpt_id=10754643&ja_id=28437

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Weekly Feature: Schedule Your Macros

You may have maintenance or reporting macros that you want to run when you’re not logged in. I’m working on a set of prebuild maintenance macros for registered users to be available in the near future. As promised in the Macros weekly feature, to schedule a macro to run:

  • Start GP, don’t log in.
  • At the Welcome window hit ALT-F8 to start recording. Name the macro and save it to a location where you can find it.
  • Log in as you normally would. (The macro will record your password. You may want a separate, maintenance only login for automatic macros)
  • After you are logged in, leave macro recorder running and either perform all the functions you want scheduled or run another macro that you’ve prebuilt that has all the functions you want. This second options adds increased flexibility. You can separate the scheduling macro from the macro used to perform maintenance.
  • When done, pick Tools->Macro->Stop Recording.
  • Almost Done. Open the macro (mac) file in notepad. Remove the # DEXVERSION line. (This removes version specific info from the file and makes it more version generic so you don’t get burned by a service pack)
  • Add the line: Logging file ‘macro.log’ to the top of macro. (This turns off macro dialog boxes)

To fire this macro off you need 3 pieces. The dynamics.exe location, dynamics.set location and the macro location. The line to run your macro from a windows shortcut looks something like this:

“C:Program FilesMicrosoft Business Solutions80Great PlainsDynamics.exe” “C:Program FilesMicrosoft Business Solutions80Great PlainsDynamics.set” “C:Documents and SettingsmpolinoDesktoplogin.mac”

Quotes are required. Create a shortcut with these locations and use the windows scheduler to fire off the shortcut. After that your macros will run as scheduled. Any error dialogs are logged in the macro.log file. Now you can run those maintenance macros while you are at the beach!

Weekly Gotcha:Get rid of that Print Dialogue

Do you hate that print dialogue box that pops up everytime you print? There is a way to get rid of it. In Named Printers, (Tools->Setup->System->Named Printers in 8.0) you can turn off print dialog box. Open named printers and check the Do Not Display System Print Dialog box. If you’ve already setup advanced printers, select the Machine ID drill down and check the box there.

It’s not inuitive, but it can be done.

If You Can’t Fire Them, Promote Them

I may get in trouble for this post but here goes. I once gave my wife some advice. She owns her own business and her mother works with her. Her mother went through a period of high personal stress that affected her ability to concentrate and it was really hurting her work performance and the business. Since you really shouldn’t fire your mother, I suggested she promote her. It’s a great excuse to take away day to day tasks and free up time to resolve whatever other issues are going on. (You don’t need to be doing that bank balancing, that below your skills. We need you to work on the strategic direction for next year.)

Well, it looks like Microsoft Business Solutions may be doing the same thing with Doug Burgum. Doug is a great guy in person but parts of his communication style leave a lot to be desired. If you’ve ever heard him speak, you may still be wondering what the point is. He’s also a Steve Balmer buddy and for a long time, the face of Great Plains and now MBS. Via Mary Jo Foley, MBS is moving Doug into a Chairman role, responsible for evangelism and long term planning. They are looking for a new VP to head the MBS unit. It’s no secret that MBS has been struggling to hit the goals Microsoft has set for them, but dumping Doug would be expensive from a marketing and competative strategy position. It would let competitors pound FUD on MBS. So Doug moves into the grandfatherly chairman role and someone, hopefully with a fresh perspective, gets to take this to the next level.

This also continues the de-Fargoing of MBS. Burgum will continue to be based in Fargo but new role will be based in Redmond.

Weekly Feature: Advanced Macro Tips

We covered basic macro information last week. This week we’ve got some advanced features.

1) Move macros from version to version.

Sometimes recorded macros won’t run after an upgrade or a service pack. Open the macro file (.mac) in notepad and remove the top line. It will look something like this: # DEXVERSION=DEX 8.00m076 2 2 and indicates the version the macro was recorded in. Since many GP updates add features, rather than changing features this usually works fine.

2) Split up macros.

This was covered in last weeks Weekly Gotcha

3) Allow access to limited areas.

This was more important in past versions but if a user needs to perform a single function behind the system password, you can create a macro that incorporates the password and allows them to perform the funtion. Other items behind the system password are normally not accessible because the password would be required again and the macro has hidden it from the user. BEWARE though, this puts the system password in an unencrypted text (.mac) file so you’ll want to limit access to the macro file and track system activity. Also, if you change the system password, you break the macro.

4) Edit a macro by hand.

You can edit the macro (.mac) file with notepad. So if you have a long macro and you need to make a simple change (like a name or system password ;)) you can edit the file. I asked MBS support and developer types if there is a document outlining how the macro language works but I’ve been repeated told that nothing like that exists.

5) Step through the macro.

You can use the STEP (shift-f8) option to step through your macro one command at a time if you are having problems.

6) Macrotize your reports.

Report Scheduler and Report Groups are great but sometimes you need odd report settings (like yesterday). Remember that you can use macros to setup the report, let you enter the date and then finish printing.

7) Macrotize your maintenance.

Checklinks and Reconcile can both be run with macros. You can review the macro help file to even see how to autoschedule a macro. I’ll probably cover it as well on a later post.

It’s Launch Day!

It’s launch day at MS. SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 officially launch today. I’ll be attending the Orland launch event in early December as MS does a roadshow throughout the country to promote both products. BizTalk is in there as well but won’t actually be available until 2006. SQL Server is extremely relevant for GP users. GP 8.0 needs a service pack update to work with SQL Server 2005 but that should be out pretty soon. There are some great enhancements in SQL 2005. If MS can make the upgrade from 2000 to 2005 as seamless as so many 7.0 to 2000 upgrades were they will have hit a home run. Everything I’ve seen about SQL 2005 has been very positive.

VS 2005 is also relevant for reporting and add-on. I’ve heard a LOT of great things from developers running beta versions. Right at launch time, however, there seems to be some grumbling about whether they waited too long, released too early or got it juuuust right. We’ll have to see what the consensus is in 6 months. There is always so much hype, positive from MS and negative from other camps that only time will tell how great both of these products are. Put down as pro-hype for SQL Server 2005.

Weekly Gotcha: Macro Pauses

When building a macro, you can pause to allow for user input with the Insert Pause button. The problem is that the user has to know to go to Tools->Macro->Continue after they input their information. This extremely non-intuitive.

A better option is to build multiple macros. Let each macro stop before required input and a new macro be set to start after input. Then add all the macros to the shortcut bar with a number in from of them like a series of steps (you can use folders to isolate various processes. This way a user would see something like:

1) Click here to Start bank transfer
2) Enter Amount
3) Click here to post transfer

Steps 1 and 3 would be macros, step 2 would be a dummy shortcut. The user would click step 1 to populate all the bank account info. They would enter the amount as step 2 and the step 3 macros would post and finish processing.

This makes changes to the process easy since you don’t have to re-record a giant macro and it funcitons as a poor man’s workflow.