This is the third 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 conversion of classic reports using the ForNAV Classic Report Conversion Tool—taking a NAV 5.01 (NAV2009 R2 executables) report and converting it to a useable format in a Business Central version 17 cloud database.
As mentioned in previous articles of this series, the process for converting classic NAV reports within Business Central using ForNAV is generally simple. However, there is some work on the back-end that requires a little bit of thinking. That’s because Business Central is quite a bit different from NAV 5.0, and as a result, you need to update the report logic for it to function in the new environment.
Each report varies in complexity. So to save time, this article focuses on a simple report to give you an idea of how it might look for similar or complex reports. In this article, we focus on the set-up and the actual conversion of the classic NAV report file. In the next article, Part 4 will focus on the back-end work to complete the conversion and then finally the installation of the new report in a cloud database.
Let’s get started!
Exporting Classic Reports
First, export a text version of the classic report you wish to convert. For this example, I am using the base [Sales Order report 10075]. Be sure to export it as a [.txt] file because ForNAV cannot convert [.fob] files.
To export an object as text, select [File] from the toolbar, then click on [Export]. In the [Export Objects] window, give your object a file name. I typically re-use the same file (named [ReportsToConvert]). Set the [Save As] type to [*.txt.] and hit [Save].
Converting Classic Reports
Next, set up the Classic Report Conversion Tool. This is a one-time set-up you won’t need to repeat in the future. To begin, open the tool by clicking on the [Start] menu. Search for ForNAV and select [ForNAV Converter].
Once you open the converter, establish the connection string for [Symbol] information, which determines how ForNAV will access [Symbol] information. Begin by clicking the three dots next to the [T] on the right side of the [Connection string for symbol information box], as shown below:
This opens up your connection settings (see below):
Now enter a connection name. In the sample below, I use [ForNAV Training]. Then select [Dynamics Business Central 17 – 2020 release wave 2] as the NAV or Business Central Version, and set the Connection Type to [Local extension project folder and Visual Studio Code]. The [Connection Settings] page will update and look different than when you first began:
Now enter an [Extension Folder] location for your extension project. Specifically, this is the location of your [.alpackages] folder, and it’s where ForNAV will point to download and read [Symbol] information.
Once you enter all pertinent information, your set-up window should look something like this:
To complete the process, hit the [Test] button at the bottom of the page. If successful, you will see the message [Your settings are valid!]. Hit the [OK] button to save all changes and return to the previous page.
Setting Input and Output File Locations
Next, set the [Input File] and [Output File] locations. The [Input File] specifies which file you intend to convert while the [Output File] designates where the converted file will end up upon completion. The [Target ForNAV Version] should default to the latest version, but you may select an earlier version if that makes sense for your specific installation or project needs. You can also adjust the [NAV Compatibility] setting as well. For our example, we will stick with [Business Central Cloud (AL-extension)]. See below:
To specify an [Input File], simply hit the three dots to the right of the field. Select the [.txt] file you created earlier and hit [Open].
To specify an [Output File], hit the three dots to the right of the field. Select a conspicuous location for the output files, and then hit [Save]. For this example, I created a directory on my desktop called [Converted_ForNAV]:
Finally, check the [Convert RDLC report to ForNAV reports] checkbox. We will not convert any RDLC reports for now, but I have had issues with the conversion of classic reports when this box is not checked. Your settings page should now look something like this:
Before you begin your conversion, note the [Advanced Options] page. I generally leave everything on this page set at the default values. However, there may be a reason for you to change some of those options. I will not go into those options in detail here, but they are available. You can also check the ForNAV website for more information.
Completing the Report Conversion Process
At last, you can finally hit the [Convert] button to convert your report! Upon doing so, a [Layouts] and a [Translation] folder, as well as a [.txt] file, should be added to your conversion directory:
Congratulations—you have successfully converted the report!
However, there is still a bit of work to do, and that’s where you will want to check Part 4 of this series: How to Implement Business Central Reports in AL Projects. That article will take you through the process of adding your new files to an AL project. From there, you can revise the report to work in Business Central version 17. And then, you can package and upload your new report to the cloud where you can test it.
I hope you have continued to find the articles in this series helpful. We are halfway there! And if you have any questions about Business Central or ForNAV along the way, feel free to contact us.
About the AuthorMore Content by Justin Arnold