ForNAV Tips Part 2: How to Install and Configure ForNAV in a Business Central Cloud Environment

April 8, 2021 Justin Arnold

This is the second of a six-part series discussing how businesses using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can analyze their financial health by leveraging ForNav tools to streamline reporting processes for generating key performance indicators. This article discusses the installation, set-up, and configuration of ForNAV when the target is a Business Central V.17 CU1 (cloud) database. 

 

Compared to Microsoft 365 Business Central Cloud, setting up ForNAV within Dynamics NAV is much less intensive and requires only a single installer and a wizard. The ForNAV website has some good articles and videos for those who wish to install it in NAV. I encourage you to look there if your target database is earlier than Business Central, and I included a few helpful links at the end of this article to assist.

This article focuses on Business Central Cloud simply because that’s where the tide is rolling right now.  Most of our clients who are considering upgrades seem to be moving to cloud-based platforms. As such, there will be much more need for ForNAV in the cloud, and that is why we are discussing such a set-up here.

So, let’s get to it!

 

Installing ForNAV and Reporting Tools

The first thing we’ll need to do is open up the Business Central web client and navigate to Extension Management. Next, hit [Manage], then [Extension Marketplace] and search for [ForNAV].

Hit the [Free Trial] button and accept the licensing agreement to begin the installation. Once the installation has completed, you will see three new extensions:

  • Customizable Report Pack
  • ForNAV Core
  • ForNAV Language Module

Your work in the cloud is done…for now!

Next, install the ForNAV Designer and Classic Report Conversion tool.  You can download and install the latest version of ForNAV by navigating to this link: Download the Latest Version of ForNAV.

At the time this blog was written, the most recent version of ForNAV was 5.4.0.1977. Once you downloaded the installer, double-click it to run the installation process, and hit [Run] to begin installing. Accept the licensing agreement and hit [Next].

Then select [Full Installation], which is the default choice, and choose the [Development] option, also a default, and hit [Next]. I generally allow the desktop icons to be created for sake of ease, but this can be turned off if you prefer; it does not affect the outcome of the installation.

Finally, hit [Install].

Congratulations! You installed the ForNAV designer and the Classic Report Conversion Tool.

 

Configuring Projects in VS Code

The next step involves configuring a project in VS Code to begin converting reports. But first a special note: If you have not previously installed VS Code, do so before continuing by visiting this link: Download VSCode. You also need to install the [AL Language] extension from within the Extension Marketplace in VS Code. That process (and more) is described in detail here.

There are two potential ways this can go, and the specific path you follow depends largely on how you have already set things up for the database. If you already started an extension project for the database, all you need to do is add the appropriate ForNAV dependencies to your [app.json] file and then download [Symbols] again. If you have not previously created an extension project for the database, you need to set it up from scratch. Both paths are be outlined below.
 

Creating New Projects from Scratch

If you have not previously created an extension project, you need to start from scratch. You will be able to work with the converted report and layout files later on, and you can create an extension that you can upload to the cloud database. 

Here are the steps to create a ForNAV project:

  1. Open the ForNAV Report Designer (the red ForNAV executable).
  2. Hit the [Extensions] button in the toolbar and select [New Extension Project].
  3. Select the appropriate target platform and server type. Since you are working with BC V.17 – Cloud, select [6.0 Business Central 17 – 2020 release wave 2] as the target platform. Also select [Microsoft Cloud Sandbox] as the server. Be certain to make sure [Add Dependency to Report Pack] is checked. (This is critical!) Then hit [OK].
  4. Select an appropriate location for your project. For this example, set up a new directory at [C:\Temp] and call it [ForNAV_Demo]. Navigate to this folder and hit [Select Folder].
  5. Once the extension project has been created, hit [Yes] to open in VS Code.
  6. You now have a working project with all the correct dependencies specified in your [app.json] file as shown in this sample screenshot:

At this point, update the [app.json] file to reflect the specific database and company settings. Also adjust your [lanch.json] file to reflect the correct connection settings for the database, specifically the [environmentName] and [tenant]. Once the [app.json] and [launch.json] files have been updated, download [Symbols], and you’re ready to convert the report files.

 

Adding ForNAV Dependencies to an Existing Project

If you previously created a project for the database, all you have to do now to connect to ForNAV is add the ForNAV dependencies to the [app.json] file. To do so, simply copy and paste the dependencies created in the [app.json] file from above into your project’s [app.json] file. 

Since I use ForNAV frequently, I created a text file with the dependencies stored for easy access. When I need to integrate a project with ForNAV, I just open that text file, copy the dependencies, and paste them into my [app.json] file. 

However, if you have not already stored the dependencies, go through the previous steps to create a new ForNAV project. Then copy the dependencies from the [app.json] file and paste them into your project’s [app.json] file. Then download [Symbols] and you’re ready to go. 

You can also copy the dependencies directly from below:

"dependencies": 
  [
    { "id": "6f0293d3-86fc-4ff8-9632-54a580be6546", "publisher": "ForNAV", "name": "ForNAV Core", "version": "4.0.0.0" },
    { "id": "83326d6d-11f8-49fd-981a-6f266a7c8d81", "publisher": "ForNAV", "name": "Customizable Report Pack", "version": "0.0.0.0" }    
  ], 

 

Here are examples of what completed [app.json] and [launch.json] files look like:

Once the [app.json] and [launch.json] files are configured properly, hit [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [P], and then select [Download Symbols]. You are now ready to begin converting reports—let the real fun begin!

 

Up Next: The ForNAV Classic Report Conversion Tool

I hope this article helps in your mission to install and configure ForNAV in your Business Central Cloud Environment. In our next article, we will discuss using the Classic Report Conversion Tool to convert classic reports. 

See you next time!

 

But meanwhile, be sure to check out the helpful links below, and if you have any questions about Business Central or ForNAV, feel free to contact us.


Helpful ForNAV Links

About the Author

Justin Arnold

With a focus on the technical and functional aspects of Dynamics 365 Business Central, Justin Arnold has worked for Western Computer since 2016. He leverages his experience in advanced design, report development, and integration techniques to create custom software solutions, and his broad product knowledge and consulting experience include providing customized customer training and mentoring junior developers. Based in Oregon, Justin has managed nearly 30 ERP and financial software system upgrades during his 15+ year career.

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