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Integrating Dynamics Ax with TFS 2010 – Part 1 (Overview)


Software development is complex, and becoming more complex every day. Consumer products such as the iPhone and iPad are driving users expectations for software to be more polished and feature rich. In the past, users were far more forgiving on software and web sites, but these days that is not the case. As software becomes more complex, so does the process involved in producing high quality software.

Software engineers are being asked to cope with more rapid change, while the expectations are constantly rising. Today, a large number of software projects fail for a number of reasons, due in part to failure to manage the development process, or using a process that does not fit the product.

Development frameworks, such as SharePoint or Dynamics Ax, are a response to this complexity. By providing a framework in which to develop an Enterprise application, the plumbing layers are abstracted away from the developers, allowing them instead focus on the problem at hand.

However, there are still issues when it comes to multi-developer development in such frameworks. Traditional software development using traditional tools such as IDE’s relied heavily on a Version Control Systems to assist developers in managing a codebase across a number of developers. These tools allowed a number of distributed developers to work concurrently on a codebase to produce a software result.

A lot of frameworks, however, are not designed with this in mind. Case in point, Dynamics Ax was not designed with Application Lifecycle Management in mind. Integrating Application Lifecycle Management tools and practices into these types of frameworks can further increase the productivity gains that come from using a framework.

This series of posts will detail one method of integrating Dynamics Ax with Team Foundation Server 2010. By integrating Dynamics Ax with TFS 2010, the Application Lifecycle Management tools and reporting that TFS 2010 gives to traditional Software Development can now be realised with Dynamics Ax.

Just to note that these posts have been written as a guide for those that, like me, have found little detailed public information on integrating Dynamics Ax 2009 with TFS 2010. Whilst a number of posts do mention that it is possible, they are short on detail and implementation guidance. I hope that these posts will be useful to someone who is looking for a realistic integration scenario.

So without further ado, lets start!

Overview of the Problem

Recently, a client approached us with an interesting problem: How to integrate TFS 2010 with Dynamics Ax. This was indeed an interesting problem for a number of reasons:

  • Dynamics Ax is a recentish Microsoft acquisition, and as such has it’s own way of doing things
  • Dynamics Ax is very much a Business server, with a different language (X++) and different way of developing
  • Was not designed with Version Control in mind, with capability provided in later releases
  • Expertise in Dynamics Ax is hard to find, as Dynamics Ax is sold more as a partner product, rather than an end-user product such as other Microsoft software.

This posed a number of challenges, one of which was the lack of public documentation. Most of the documentation (and even the service packs and patches) are only available via Partner Source or Customer Source, which are programs run by Microsoft that requires more formal registration than other Microsoft products.

So, with that in mind,we set off to investigate a method that would allow the client to use TFS 2010 to manage their current agile process.

The first problem we had to overcome was the installation of Dynamics Ax itself. Since this was the first time I had ever installed Dynamics, it was going to be an interesting process.

Installation Overview

Dynamics Ax is made up of the following components:

  • An AOS Server that provides a service that manages the Dynamics object
  • A database that holds the Dynamics Ax configuration
  • A Client that is used to develop with
  • Other development services, such as SharePoint integration and reporting services

From a high level, the following are the steps we took to integrate:

  • Install TFS as usual.
  • Install a Team ID Server
  • Install a Development machine
    • Install SQL Server 2005 + SP2
    • Install Visual Studio 2008 + SP1 + TFS 2010 Cumulative Update
    • Install Visual Studio 2010 Team Explorer
    • Install any other software that is required (e.g. Office, SQL DB 2008 R2)
    • Install an instance of Dynamics Ax
      • Install an AOS client and server instance
      • Install the developer instance and any supporting components (e.g. Biztalk integration)
    • Prepare TFS 2010 for Dynamics Ax
    • Prepare Developer machine for TFS 2010 Integration
    • Integrated Dynamics Ax with TFS 2010 and the Team ID Server
    • Modify the Dynamics Ax TFS Workspace
  • Development tips and tricks

So look out for the first of these posts over the next week!

Dynamics AX development using TFS 2010


Enhance ALM recently assisted a local company implement TFS 2010 in their Dynamics AX development environment. This was made all the more difficult due to a lack of good documentation and best practise guidance on how to do this. ALM Consultant, Richard Angus, spent a week working through the various challenges to come up with a great solution that has both met and exceeded the expectations of the client.

Over the next few weeks, Richard will be publishing a series of informative blog posts on how you can get TFS 2010 working well for Dynamics AX development projects.

If your organisation develops Dynamics AX solutions and would like to find out more about using TFS 2010 to manage your development lifecycle, feel free to get in touch with us.

What would I learn on the Mastering Testing with VS2010 course?


The 2-day Mastering Testing with Visual Studio 2010 course is currently our most popular training course. For every public delivery of the course we are usually running 4 or 5 private in-house courses for companies. So why the demand for this course?

Microsoft has invested a significant amount of time and effort focusing on improving the testing capabilities of Visual Studio. Here are a few of the key things you will learn by attending the Mastering Testing with Visual Studio 2010 course.

Test Case Management

Learn how to create a Test Plan and configure properties for the test plan including test settings and configurations.  You’ll create Test Suites and link them to your requirements for traceability and reporting. During the course you’ll see how to write effective test cases and organise them for convenience and reporting.

Executing manual tests

Microsoft’s new Manual Test Runner is a purpose built application to allow you to step through your test cases and see how you need to interact with your application under test. You can record an action recording for a test case which will then allow you to fast forward one or more steps on subsequent test executions. This can be a huge time saving feature.

What’s changed?/What do I need to retest?

Using the Test Impact Data Collector, you can select two different builds (eg. & and with the click of a mouse button see exactly what changes (work items) have gone in the newer build. You can also find out which test cases should be executed based on what has changed between the builds. Why run 200 tests when you only need to run 20 of them?

Raising data-rich bugs

One of the challenges a tester has is knowing what information and how much information to include in a bug report. Often testers don’t have time to include as much detail as they would like and developers invest more time trying to reproduce a bug then they might otherwise need to. Using the Test Runner, you can raise data rich bug reports that can include a wealth of helpful information for the developer. Through the selection of data collectors, much of the relevant information is automatically added to the bug report when the testers raises the bug. This means less time writing the bug and for developers, possibly a significant reduction in the time it takes to reproduce the bug.

Automated UI testing

The Mastering Testing with Visual Studio 2010 course will cover creating automated user interface tests called Coded UI tests. Coded UI tests can be generated from manual test action recordings or they can be recorded using the Coded UI test recorder. These tests have the great benefit of being able to be automated completely and included as part of the build process.

Report on test progress

Another time consuming task for testers is often creating the testing reports needed for management or to record the daily progress of your testing. In the course we’ll look at how to use some of the out-of-the-box reports and how you can quickly and easily create your own reports.

While the courses covers more than I have listed above, these are some of the most important things you’ll learn how to use by attending the Mastering Testing with Visual Studio 2010 course.

Visual Studio ALM MVP for 6th year


Enhance ALM’s principal ALM Consultant/Trainer, Anthony Borton has been awarded the Microsoft MVP Award for 2011. This is his sixth year as an MVP and this award recognises his contributions to the Visual Studio ALM community.

Enhance ALM joins forces with QuickLearn


Enhance ALM is pleased to announce we have joined forces with QuickLearn to make our Visual Studio ALM courses available in the United States and Europe. Through this partnership the following courses are now available in these overseas markets.

  • Configuring and Administering Team Foundation Server
  • Fundamentals of Team Development with Visual Studio Developer
  • Managing Team Projects with Visual Studio Project Manager
  • Managing Virtual Lab Environments with Visual Studio
  • Testing Applications with Microsoft Test Manager

These are all 2-day courses that are scheduled as public courses and also available as onsite closed courses for your company.

““QuickLearn is pleased to announce our new Visual Studio 2010 Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) curriculum. Through our partnership with Anthony Borton with Enhance ALM in Australia, we can now deliver these courses as public events and onsite training for our clients in the United States and Europe. Visual Studio ALM training is a natural addition to our successful BizTalk training courses which have been delivered to over 5000 students worldwide since 2004.”

Greg Bulette

To find out more about these Visual Studio ALM courses in the United States and Europe, visit QuickLearn’s website at

QuickLearn Logo

Enhance ALM’s courses have been developed by Anthony Borton, a Microsoft Visual Studio ALM MVP and the lead ALM consultant/trainer for Enhance ALM.

New International Training Partners


Enhance ALM has been working with a number of international partners to bring our Visual Studio ALM courses to a wider audience. We’re excited to announce that over the coming weeks we’ll bring you news of how you can attend our courses in the United States, Europe and New Zealand. We’re also hoping to have additional geographies covered at the start of 2011.

Wellington VSTS UG presentation–Scrum and TFS2010


Next Tuesday night (26th Oct 2010), Enhance ALM’s lead ALM consultant/trainer will be presenting a session for the Wellington VSTS Users group in New Zealand. For anyone in Wellington, here are the details of the meeting.

When is the User Group session

Tuesday 26 October 2010 6:00 p.m , should be finished by 7:30pm

Where is the User Group session

Xero, Level 1, 98 Customhouse Quay, Wellington

Title:  Scrum with TFS 2010

Join Australia’s first Professional Scrum Developer Trainer on a journey through one of the world’s most popular Agile methodologies. In this session, Anthony will provide an overview of Scrum  and delve into how you can utilise Microsoft’s Scrum template in TFS 2010. Anthony was one of the primary instigators that lead to the creation of Microsoft’s Scrum template and was one of the early testers of the template prior to its release. This new template offers many benefits to teams wishing to follow Scrum practises and is a must see session.

RSVP by email here to the user group leader