Invoking Azure Functions from AL

One elegant way of replacing your .NET interoperability code with something else is by using Azure Functions. Sounds good in theory, but what does it take in practice? And what are Azure Functions, anyway?

Let me not take too much latitude, and let me just say that Azure Functions are a way of running simple pieces of code as a service that you can invoke like any other RESTful web services. And of course, they run in Azure. To learn more about them, follow this link: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-functions/functions-overview

Creating them is as simple, as invoking them, so let’s get started with an extremely simple demo that will illustrate how amazingly powerful they are, and why they are a perfect solution for replacing your .NET code with something better.

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State of .NET Affairs

I said a word or two about progress last week. Apparently, VS Code is not the only place where we take a small step back to be able to make a huge leap forward; .NET might seem like another one.

You know it, right? You know that if you want to run your .NET code in D365 for Financials, you are out of luck, and you do know that this applies to as much to Microsoft .NET Framework out-of-the-box types as it does to your own, custom-built .NET assemblies. If you don’t know that yet, then let me bring you up to date: In your D365 apps built on Extensions “v2” technology, you won’t be able to use anything .NET; you simply won’t be able to compile AL code that includes a DotNet variable declaration.

This is neither fake news, nor is it news per se. It has been known at least since October last year when Microsoft first presented AL Language extension for VS Code during Directions US in Phoenix. Soon after the VS Code session there was a round table (in all honesty, I have never seen a table, let alone a round one, at any of round table sessions at any conference) on the topic of .NET future, and the mood was grim. At first everyone thought it was a bad joke, then all held hopes high that Microsoft is simply “feeling the pulse” to see how the channel would react to such a disturbing change. But soon it became obvious that .NET interoperability is on its way to be gently ushered out of the (relevant) technology stack of NAV and that we should start getting ready for the day when it’s not there anymore.

So, what is the current state of .NET in NAV, what is the future of it, and what can you do about it?

Let’s take them one by one.

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Is Visual Studio Code really an improvement

Progress often doesn’t look like progress at all when it first arrives.

When on July 3, 1886, Daimler Benz presented his first car, it had a 0.75 horse-power engine that could reach a top speed of 16 km/h. It was able to cover 45 km on a single fuel tank, and it could only take two passengers. Compared to best horse-driven carriages of the day, especially taking the availability of stuff you could use as fuel, this was hardly a progress. Horse-driven carriages bested this car on all fronts, and by large margins.

Imagine what the world would look like today should Daimler Benz heeded the naysayers and mockers of his day, and they were not in short supply.

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More about ISEMPTY

I had much second thought about whether I should even blog this one. You know, it so profoundly belongs in the Duh! category that I have actually created the Duh! category specifically for this post.

Now, fasten your seatbelt. I apologize for what you are about to see,  but apparently people do write code as the example below. And I sh*t you not, you can’t really make this crap up, but this is what people do:

IF NOT Cust.ISEMPTY THEN
  REPEAT
    DoSomethingStupid(Cust);
  UNTIL Cust.NEXT = 0;

Wat?

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When you just must COUNT, no matter what

I started with blogging about COUNT = 0 situation. Then I followed it with COUNT = 1. So, let’s do a COUNT = 2 today. No, no, I am just kidding, don’t worry 🙂 But I still have to do one more COUNT post, one that will cover all other COUNT situations.

Believe it or not, sometimes you really, honestly, do need to perform an actual COUNT. You just need to know exactly how many of rows there are. It may be 0, 1 or 75 or whatever, but you need to know exactly how many. These situations are few and far between, but every once in a long while this is what you need.

So, let’s give the COUNT function one last kick from another angle.

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