One of the great things about Microsoft Dynamics GP is the fact that there so many options available to integrate with or customise the application.
There is a range from full development environments, to tools for consultants to utilities for the end user.
The list includes Dexterity, Modifier, Visual Basic for Applications, eConnect, Visual Studio Tools, Web Services, Continuum, Integration Manager, Extender, ODBC. So which is best to use... Well that answer depends on a number of variables. This was the topic that I co-presented with Mike LoPatriello at the Microsoft Dynamics GP Technical Airlift 2008 recently (follow the link for the session materials).
Here are some points to think about:
- Exactly what you are trying to achieve?
- Do I need to modify the user interface?
- Am I modifying a core (Dynamics.dic) or third party window?
- Do I need to change the existing behaviour of the application?
- Am I only extending the functionality without changing existing functionality?
- Do I just need some additional fields stored against an object?
- Am I only reading and writing data from an external application?
- Does my table level integration need to be real-time?
- Do I want to ensure that the business rules are still checked?
- Which tool(s) can achieve this?
- What tool(s) do I already have experience with?
- Do I need to use more than one tool to achieve a hybrid solution?
As well as the materials from the Technical Airlift session, the following white papers are an excellent comparison of the various tools with their abilities, strengths and weaknesses.
- Microsoft Dynamics GP 10.0 White Paper: Choosing a Development Tool
- Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 White Paper: Choosing a Development Tool
Another great resource to look at is the Microsoft Dynamics GP Developer Center, many materials and links can be found from the Developer Center.
The following links are also an excellent reference:
Developer Documentation for Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0 (CustomerSource)
Developer Documentation for Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0 (PartnerSource)
Documentation for Developers for Microsoft Dynamics GP 10.0 (CustomerSource)
Documentation for Developers for Microsoft Dynamics GP 10.0 (PartnerSource)
Download links for training materials for Dexterity can be found on the Dexterity Articles & Links page. You can also refer to the Dex - How to get started with Dexterity post for information on developing with Dexterity.
Links for Report Writer training materials can be found on the Report Writer Articles & Links page, and links for Modifier & VBA training materials can be found on the Modifier & VBA Articles & Links page.
If you want to work with Visual Studio and the Developer Toolkit, links for the tools and training materials can be found on the Developer Toolkit Articles & Links page.
Don't be afraid to consider working with more than one tool at the same time as each tool has advantages, disadvantages and limitations. Sometimes one tool can handle one aspect of your customisation better than another. Have a look at Developing Outside of the Box post and the Hybrid tag for more information and examples. Sometimes a hybrid approach can be the most elegant solution.
Please post your thoughts or comments on choosing a development tool as comments.
30-Oct-2008: Added Developer Documentation links.
03-Nov-2008: Added links to training materials.
24-Apr-2008: Added link to the Dex - How to get started with Dexterity and Developing Outside of the Box posts.
21-Apr-2011: Added Link for Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 White Paper: Choosing a Development Tool.