Friday, April 12, 2013

SpotLight - From Power View to Cube


Hi there!

Today I would like to share a very interesting post written by Brandon George about the BI Semantic Model and its relationship to Microsoft Dynamics AX R2. 

On his post, he presents a broad overview of the BI Semantic Model and give us a full review of it by providing a set of posts to further our knowledge around extending, creating and deploying the solutions. It is just amazing to see how far Brandon has taken the BI Semantic Model, and I really thank him for sharing it with us.

From the post:

"you should see how simple it really is to empower yourself and your company or clients to truly start embracing the full BI Semantic Model. When Microsoft Dynamics AX is your system of record, and acting as your main data mart, then you have a great BI offering built right into the product."

You can access his post from here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

AX 2012 CIL - How does it work?

Hi There,

On this post I would like to talk about a bit more about the CIL and what happens in the background. Recently I had to go through a process to find a CIL error I got after deploying a service. You can read my post solving the error "The CIL generator found errors and could not save the new assembly" for more information on this.

After digging a bit more on the CIL errors, I started researching on how exactly the NetModule files are generated under the XppIL folder and why. In addition, I also was intrigued by the source files and their relationship to debugging services and or batch jobs in Visual Studio.

Just for the record, I’m not an expert on this, and the following information has been taken from different sources and from my own experience in the past few hours being “exposed” to the services virus (it is kind of addictive).

So, what is CIL? CIL stands for Common Intermediate Language and it works together with the CLI or Common Language Infrastructure, which is basically a set of rules on programming languages that will compile with the CIL. I created a diagram to help me understand this concept on a visual way.

Please note that I took the diagram from a book, but I modified it to my own needs.

As you can see, now we have the ability to compile P-Code to CIL, and therefore AX 20212 is able to run X++ code directly into the CIL, which is much faster the P-Code compiler we had before.

As you probably know, we have two types of CIL compilations, the incremental CIL and the full CIL compilation. The major difference between the two of them is that the incremental CIL would compile only the objects that were modified since the last incremental compilation. For what I have learned, the full CIL generation is mandatory when we do modify anything on the XppIL folder.

On the XppIL folder, I noticed that we have a bunch of files there. These files are NetModule type files and they only contain type metadata and compiled code. It is important not to confuse a NetModule type file with .NET assemblies, as these contain and assembly manifest and managed code.


Now the really interesting portion of this is that within the XppIL folder there is a folder named “source”, and within this folder we find a bunch of files with the .xpp extension, which have x++ source code and are used to debug CIL code in Visual Studio when working with services and batches.

Further, another interesting point to this is that the “existence” of the source folder is directly related to our server configuration when choosing to enable debugging on the server.

Until the next post!

Solving the error " The CIL generator found errors and could not save the new assembly"


Hi There!

On this post I would like to discuss how to solve the CIL compilation error when deploying services for the first time in AX 2012. I have been working on a newly installed AX 2012 CU2 instance this week, and I deployed both basic and enhanced services.

This action was successfully done and I did not experience any issues. However, when I created a new service group and I deployed it, I encounter an error saying “The CIL generator found errors and could not save the new assembly”.

Now, this instance of AX 2012 is using a restored DB backup from another instance as I needed some data and objects already existing. It makes sense to think that this issue is true from the premise that I never went through a full AX and CIL compilation.

In addition, when generating the services through the installation, the references to the .NET Module File and the AX Application DLL were correct, but where they referring to the correct .NET Assembly types for the WFC generated endpoints?  I truly don’t know the answer to this and I asked for help.

My friend Bill Bartolotto (you can contact him here at his LinkedIn profile) went through this problem and he helped me solved it in my instance.  Bill has a vast experience in AX architecture and is really knowledgeable in AX 2012.

So, how do we fix this problem?

Step 1: Stop the AOS

Atep 2: Delete all of the source in the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Dynamics AX\60\Server\MicrosoftDynamicsAX\bin\XppIL directory

When you do this, just delete all the files within the XppIL folder that are outside of other folders. Make a backup just in case, and the files would be generated while the full compilation is taking place.

Step 3: Start the AOS

Step 3: Perform a full compile (it will not work without doing this)

Step 4: Perform a full CIL generation

The drawback of this fix is that it takes a long time to complete. However, this fixes the issue, which is the desired outcome, and the services deployment and incremental CIL compilations moving forward would be error free.

As you can see, the service was deployed correctly and if I opened my inbound port I'll see it there.


After a FULL CIL compilation I got the following errors:

AOT > Class> ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic
I just went to the object in question and compiled them separately.

The outcome would correctly compiled all the artifacts, including my new service gorup.

Until the next post!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How to choose the right service in AX 2012?

Hi there!

I hope you are having a great week. On today’s post I would like to discuss the difference between Document Services and Custom Services in AX 2012. Microsoft made a lot of changes from AX 2009 and AX 2012 and it seems to have created a sort of gray area on when to use a Document Service or a Custom Service.

Both document and custom services can handle any business entity. So, how do we know which one to use?

On one hand, the document services framework handles a lot of complexity out-of-the-box. For example, the framework parses the incoming XML, and validates it against a schema (XSD) document, and then the correct service action is called. This is simple as most of the logic that is needed to create, delete, update, etc. already exists, which simplifies the developer’s job. Now, what about sharing data contracts between applications?

On the other hand, custom services are flexible because they use the .NET XML serializer. The issue with this is that no validation is done, which creates a problem because any validation needs to be written in code by a developer.

However, custom services would allow us to share data contacts between applications, which is a plus in today’s world given the complexity of integration we are experiencing. For example, custom services would allow a company that uses AX 2012, SharePoint and .NET applications to share data contracts, making sure that the entities are the same for all the components of the architecture, and this is huge!

So, to summarize and share my own experience with services, I take into consideration the following rules when trying to decide which service to use:

Use Custom Services When
Use Document Services When
Exposing entities that have low complexity
Exposing entities that have a high complexity.
Sharing data contracts between company-wide applications
Data validation is required.
Creating logic that has nothing to do with the AX 2012 structures.
Inheriting logic to create, delete, update and read data from entities.

It is clear that Microsoft has provided us with a lot of new ways to integrate applications by allowing us to expose the AX 2012 business logic very easily and by providing the framework to using attributes to extend our classes, and also by introducing the WCF architecture, which help us move away a bit from solely X++.

Until the next time!