Monday, September 15, 2008

HOW TO: Connect to AX 4.0 from a .NET Application using Business connector

This article demonstrates how a we can connect to Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 from a .NET based application.

You can find a good explanation of Microsoft Dynamics AX from here.

For this you will need to have Microsoft Dynamics AX Client installed on your machine. You must also have Dynamics AX .NET Business connector installed on your machine - to connect to AX from .NET.

Once you have the client components installed, you must configure your client to connect to an Axapta server from Control panel -> Administrative tools ->Microsoft Dynamics AX Configuration Utility.

Once configured, you can open the AX client UI from Start-> Programs-> Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Lets now see how to invoke a simple method in AX from a .NET application.

The following method should be written in AX inorder to be invoked from .NET:
1. Navigate to AX UI
2. Click on Axapta Object Tree (AOT)
3. Expand classes node.
4. Add the following class and method:

5. Test this method by executing it as a Job.
(AOT-> Jobs ->Create a simple job -> add the above code with an Info statement.)

Once the above steps are executed successfully, the following are the steps for invoking this AX method in .NET.
1. Open a new Console application using Visual Studio 2008
2. Add the following Reference to the Project:
This dll is present in:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Dynamics AX\40\Client\Bin
3. Naviate to Program.cs file and add the following namespace for reference:
using Microsoft.Dynamics.BusinessConnectorNet;
4. Add the following code in main() to invoke the AX method:

static void Main(string[] args)
Axapta ax = new Axapta();
ax.Logon(null, null, null, null);
string strName = " Microsoft Dynamics AX ";
AxaptaObject axObject;
axObject = ax.CreateAxaptaObject("NetConnector");
string resonseFromAxapta = (string)axObject.Call("SampleMethod", strName);
catch (Exception ex)

5. Compile and Run the Application.
Thats all about it! You now should see the data coming from Axapta in .NET.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

HOW TO: Create a CSV File using System.IO classes

CSV (Comma Separated Values) file is a text based file in which data are separated by comma. It can be opened by excel so you can use excel functionality. Each row of data including the title is in separate line. Each row has data separated by comma.

If its an ASP.NET application, a CSV file can be easily created by setting the
HttpContext.Current.Response.ContentType = "text/csv";

For other Windows applications or a Windows based service, the above method cannot be used. The other possible way is to use the Interop Excel object to create. However, this may require an extra dll to be added to your app. As this is an Interop dll, its not managed and maintaining this dll may become difficult in future.

The following method gives an easier way of handling this - using the classes in System.IO namespace. The below is a code extract that shows how this can be done. We have used a simple example of getting a list of employees

using System.IO;
using System.Text;

private string[] empDetailsHeader = {
"Employee ID",
private const string separator = ",";

private void CreateCSVFile(string filePath){
try {
StringBuilder csvString = new StringBuilder();

List empList = new List();
//Writing the Header

for (int i = 0; i < empDetailsHeader.Count(); i++){
//Get the list containing the Employee details
empList = GetEmployeeList();

foreach (Employee employee in EmpDetails){
//Next Line
//save the file
SaveFile(filePath, csvString);

private void SaveFile(string filePath, StringBuilder stringBuidler) {
if (File.Exists(filePath)){
StreamWriter streamWriter = new StreamWriter(filePath);

Now how do we take care if there is a comma in the data that we need to get into the CSV? Any comma in data is taken as a delimiter for taking the data to the next column. As a work around for this - to still maintain the same data, we can wrap the text using double quotes.

For example, suppose the Salary column in the above data has a value 40,000. Some developers use the method of replacing this comma with space. By doing this we sometimes lose the authenticity of data.
To make sure that we still maintain the correct data, we need to wrap the string with double quotes.

char doubleQuote = '"';
if(employee.Salary.ToString().Contains(",")) {
This will ensure that we have correct data in the CSV File that is created.