Blogiversary Top 20 (#2) NAV keyboard shortcuts – Classic to RTC

We’re celebrating our one year blogiversary by reposting the Top 20 Most Viewed in the last year, as determined by you, our readers! Follow this link to see the entire list. Enjoy!

Who knew that keyboard shortcuts could be so darn controversial?

I recently got the chance to present a NAV tips and tricks session at the NAVUG Midwest Regional Chapter meeting, and one topic that came up again and again was what keyboard shortcuts were changing in the transition from the classic client to the role-tailored client (RTC).

The first discussion started as a rumor during the social hour the night prior. “Did you hear they’re getting rid of F8?” “No, they can’t get rid of F8!”  “What’ll we do without F8?”  “Oh my inventory accountant is going to hate that” “Well I heard they’re changing everything.”

Well lucky for us we had quite a few folks there who have already been using the RTC who were able to quite handily put that vicious rumor to rest. F8 is firmly available to copy the field above in the new client, just has it has been in the classic client.

There are quite a few other things that are just simply changing, and I think the changes make a whole lot of sense.

Take F3. F3 has been the constant companion of the NAV user, utilized whenever we needed to designate a new record, a new line, a new document, or a new card. Anything new has been F3. This has been replaced with four new commands in the RTC. Complicated?  No, I think that Microsoft has made a concerted effort to simplify by making keyboard shortcuts more consistent with other Microsoft Office products. Even though four new commands are replacing one, I think that Ctrl+N will come quite naturally to someone wanting to create a new record. Ctrl+Insert likewise makes sense for inserting a new line. Ctrl+Shift+C for opening a new card and Ctrl-F2 for creating a new document may be a little taxing, but I’m betting we’ll all get used to it. Frankly, I’m glad to see Microsoft making it easier and more consistent for new users to adopt.

I’m sure I may utter an oath or two when I hit F3 in the RTC and instead of getting a new record, get bumped into a field filter. But I sure will appreciate many of the brand new keyboard shortcuts that support RTC features that we’ve never had before like Alt+Tab to switch among open windows and F5 which now acts as a refresh command, just like it does in other programs.

Check out the link below which goes to a Microsoft .pdf listing out a nice comparative list of keyboard shortcuts between the classic client and the RTC. This will be the first document I give to my end users when we start working on our transition to the RTC. There will always be fear of change, even with small things like keyboard shortcuts.

Encourage folks to look for the consistencies and efficiencies gained with the new ones and remind them; at least they didn’t get rid of F8.

NAV2009KeyboardShortcuts


Blogiversary Top 20 (#4) Maximize your Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 Classic screen space with user level configuration options

We’re celebrating our one year blogiversary by reposting the Top 20 Most Viewed in the last year, as determined by you, our readers! Follow this link to see the entire list. Enjoy!

One of the first things I do when I get a new person started using NAV is to show them how to customize their screens using different NAV options available at the user level. The NAV defaults start us off with white space in weird places, columns we may not necessarily use, and headers we can’t read. These are all possible to fix easily at the user level, and I’ll share my six tricks with you today.

Today we’re just going to cover the Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 Classic client. The Role Tailored Client, with its updated look and feel, is significantly different and Microsoft has done a great job of addressing many of these small challenges with the new client.

  1. Change the size of the main navigation pane. You can do this by hovering on the vertical blue separator bar until you get a double-sided arrow, and then move your pane to the left or right.
  2. Get rid of unwanted menu options. If you’re not using the Jobs or Service Menus, right-click on that item and choose hide. You can always add something back to the menu by right clicking and choosing show.
  3. Increase your header size. Every screen starts out with the header line as one line tall. This means that you can’t read most of the information in your headers. Hover at the bottom of the blank grey box at the top left of the lines area until you get a double ended arrow, then click and pull down to see more lines within the header.
  4. Check your row height. Depending on your preference, you might prefer rows taller or shorter than what is the default. Choose any grey separator bar on the left side of the lines area between two rows and move it up for shorter or down for taller. Your adjustment will be equally sized for all rows.
  5. Change your columns. Make sure to show only the things you need. There are almost always more options available with the default than what you will use in day-to-day transactions. If you have a coworker in a similar role, it may be best to check to see what they use regularly when you’re just getting started. Hide anything you don’t need just by using right-click and hide. Just like with the menu options, you can right-click and show if you want to put something back on your screen.
  6. Make the glued column smaller. In NAV 2009 Classic, on every screen, one column is always designated as the “glued” column. This column is generally the Description column. You’ll know which one this is when you try to resize it to a smaller size and get the error, “You resized the glued column Description, which then expanded automatically to fill otherwise empty space”. This can get frustrating for new users, because it seems there is not a solution. There are two recommendations that I have to get past this.
    1. Place your mouse to the right of the glued column separator, and move from right to left until you get a double-headed arrow. Left click, hold, and aggressively move to the left, farther than where you want to end up. This will make your glued column narrower, but only if you have a bunch of columns off to the right already.
    2. Another way to accomplish this is to add a column that you don’t need to the right and make it really really wide, so that it creates visual white space on the right hand portion of your screen.

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Blogiversary Top 20 (#5) PowerPivot to the People

We’re celebrating our one year blogiversary by reposting the Top 20 Most Viewed in the last year, as determined by you, our readers! Follow this link to see the entire list. Enjoy!

As a Controller at a small to medium-sized business, I struggle with the big BI question:  do I invest in a business intelligence package or do I do it myself?

When I first became aware of PowerPivot, a free Excel add-on that became available with Microsoft Office 2010, I was excited and also a little relieved. While the emergence of PowerPivot didn’t completely solve my dilemma, it sure gave me some significant options for more data accessibility. I didn’t have to depend on my partner or an IT employee with special skills to build me a dataport from NAV, or to piece together an SQL query, or to build a cube I could apply queries to. Because I have PowerPivot, suddenly I can be Super-Controller; accessing tables directly in my NAV database, pulling ginormous amounts of data into a single spreadsheet, and manipulating the data with lightning speed into familiar Excel pivot tables, all without asking for help.  powerpivotcrush

So, when I read in a recent article from MSDynamicsWorld.com that New Office 2013 Licensing May Put PowerPivot, Power View Out of Reach for Some Microsoft Dynamics Users, I was actually pretty alarmed and then pretty upset. How dare Microsoft give us this shiny new Christmas dream and then snatch it away like some kind of horrible data-reneging Grinch!

I went looking for a few more answers about exactly what was going on, and what I found out was that Microsoft has actually taken PowerPivot out of most versions of Office 2013. This is a big deal because it was previously available in all versions of Office 2010, so Microsoft is actually removing functionality. PowerPivot is only available in Office 2013 if you get Office Pro Plus through volume licensing or through Office 365 subscriptions. Basically, this means PowerPivot is not available in any retail Office 2013 packages, so therefore, is only reachable by companies who have enough purchasing power to utilize volume licensing packages. So, a tool that was designed, in my opinion, to give BI power directly to the people by making it simple enough for financial folks to pull their own data, has now been restricted to only business class licensing. If you’re looking for some interesting theories as to why this might be, read Hey, Who Moved My (PowerPivot 2013) Cheese?

Mr. Excel himself (Bill Jelen), the uberist Excel geek of them all, has some great stuff to say about PowerPivot, including “PowerPivot is the best new feature to hit Excel in 20 years” and a few other things here including a great short video explaining why we should care.  I just said in a recent NAVUG Ask the Experts Finance webinar only two weeks ago that as a financial professional who uses NAV, learning to use PowerPivot should be the most important skill finance people should learn in the next year.

Microsoft has missed a huge opportunity to finally settle a score in the BI arena for small to medium businesses by making this move.  There has always been the argument that using Excel spreadsheets is a risky proposition for financial professionals. You can really create some big problems for yourself if you are not careful in how you manage your spreadsheets.  Some companies even go so far as to outlaw them and attempt to go spreadsheet free.  Companies who sell BI packages lean on this pretty hard, trying to remove spreadsheets from the list of available choices.

I say this risk is greatly offset by the benefit of being able to use a tool that can pull, in a safe way, massive amounts of data that can be manipulated by the typical Excel end-user quickly and efficiently.  For me, the benefit PowerPivot brings to my company tips the scale on sinking money into a BI solution, and keeps me firmly in the DIY BI camp, with Excel as my primary tool. Making PowerPivot available in all new versions of Excel seals the deal and makes BI in Excel a revolution of equality, ensuring equilateral Excel adoption in the business world.

I’m glad to see so many people bringing forward a call to action to bring PowerPivot back to all versions of Office, not just Pro Plus and Office365 subscriptions. I’m adding my voice, and will continue to ask Microsoft to bring PowerPivot to the people!