RoleTailored Client – you’ve finally got me aboard!

TheCloudRoleTailored client for Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 was one of those things for me that looked really nice in presentations, but in real-life, I didn’t see much value there. It looked good from far, but far from good. I would dare saying it saw more runtime at conferences and presentations than in real life. For partners, it was difficult to sell it. With new customers, okay, there were considerable chances the RTC would convince them. With old customers, you were been better-off not showing it at all.

IMHO, RTC wasn’t market ready. For me, it looked like a proof of concept. A darned good one, but still just a proof of concept.

Have you noticed I have been talking in past tense? It’s intentional.

Because I’m changing my mind today, and I’m doing it lightning-fast.

In my opinion, here’s where RTC has always rocked:

  • Personalization: it’s just amazing what you can achieve with personalization in RTC. Plenty of stuff, and I really mean plenty, that required coding or customizing the Classic client can be achieved in RTC using personalization.
  • Reports: the RDLC reports just rock. Not that they wouldn’t rock more if they were RDL, but I’m sure C is being ushered out as we speak.

And here’s where it sucked:

  • Speed: it’s just slow in rendering the UI. When you spend as much time waiting at the traffic lights after the green light turns on, as RTC spends in rendering the item card page, cars behind you start honking.
  • Productivity: paradoxally, but yes, you couldn’t be as productive in RTC as you were in Classic, even though Microsoft has always put productivity as the first thing you were going to increase with RTC. It’s not about Role Center productivity (I admit, it’s great); what I’m talking about is data entry. An entry-heavy application which can’t handle Copy&Paste on row (or multiple row) level, just can’t be serious.
  • Filtering: honestly, you don’t want me to even start.

There were many more smaller rocks and sucks about RTC, but for me (and obviously for a better part of the market as well) the sucks part outweighed the rocks part.

But now that 2009 R2 is just about to hit the shelves, I am really going to both start using AND selling RTC, because now it’s approaching mature product stage. I say “approaching”, because it’s still not mature, but it’s mature enough.

Since there are just a couple of points I made up there about what rocks, and what sucks, I’m just going to mention two, but colossally big, rock points of RTC R2:

  • Internet connectivity: you can now access NAV over Internet. On face value, it’s a so-what. But this really means two things. First, it’s finally lightweight at traffic passed between the client and the server. Second, it’s a huge cost saver because you don’t need Windows and Terminal Services CALs anymore (among other things).
  • App-V: I’m just sending you to Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) – Microsoft Corporation. This alone kicks that part of human anatomy that better stays unmentioned.

Again, there are plenty of other rocks points (and actually none extra sucks point) about RTC R2, but I’m not focusing on them now. Once I actually get a chance to lay my hands on it, I’ll try being more specific here.

What I’m really glad about is the direction in which Microsoft is pushing NAV through RTC. Couple of years ago, NAV was sitting safely on premises. Today, NAV was hosted all over Convergence. It was out in The Cloud. And all this is going to become not possible—because it was possible already (you could host NAV earlier, you could even launch it to the Cloud through Web services)—but a reality. It’s now here. You can pretend it’s not, but with economic pressures and experience from recession, the Onpremisaurus is going to die. And for NAV, the RTC R2 is the one to deliver the mortal blow.

Apart from R2 delivering the much needed improvements to RTC, there are two more forces, one pretty obvious, and one still somewhat invisible, that are going to influence the gradual extinction of the Classic client, in partner channel, and in customer’s backyards:

  • The Roadmap: this one is obvious. Microsoft has finally announced they are doing away with the Classic client. It has been sitting on the death row for quite a while, but now the warrant has been signed. No matter how fond of it you were, soon it will be no more.
  • The Opportunity: the opportunity for partners and customers are overwhelming, and market loves opportunity. Now that you have Web services, App-V, lightweight Internet connectivity, built-in integration with CRM, .NET interoperability, it’s not any more black and white between On-Premises and Hosted – there are squillion of shades of any conceivable color in between. And market is going to go for this, with or without you onboard.

So yes, I wasn’t a huge fan of RTC. And if you attended any of my What’s New in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 trainings, you could tell that. I was never speaking directly against it, I wasn’t just as enthusiastic about it as guys from marketing at Microsoft. I was telling you stuff they weren’t.

And guess what? Tomorrow I’m flying to Belgrade, Serbia, to deliver another What’s New in Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 training. And I’m going to go out of my way to explain to you all the benefits and opportunities that RTC R2 is bringing to you. And I’m not stopping there, trust me.

I was never an opponent. I was a sceptic. But now, I don’t have any more doubts. RTC is the way to go. Even with all those sucks points about it taken into account, both mentioned and unmentioned, the RTC R2 still is the way to go, and there was any doubt about it earlier, now it is absolutely certain.


Vjeko has been writing code for living since 1995, and he has shared his knowledge and experience in presentations, articles, blogs, and elsewhere since 2002. Hopelessly curious, passionate about technology, avid language learner no matter human or computer.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. QQ

    so clouds aside, what’s being done about speed, productivity and filtering..?

    1. Vjekoslav Babic

      @QQ: not much, unfortunately, as it seems. The guy who held the presentation told me after the show that there are “some improvements” underway with data entry in RTC, but he didn’t go into any specifics. About the speed, the RTC at the demo seemed to be more responsive than earlier, still not at the Classic client level, but there was certain improvement. About filtering, well, that seems to remain a horror story, at least for another while.

  2. QQ

    yeah, pity.. keyboard navigation is a priority for me.. there are still some things that just can’t be done without mouse..

    1. Vjekoslav Babic

      @QQ: absolutely – it’s a priority for me too. With Classic, I don’t need the mouse – there is nothing, and I really mean nothing, that can’t be done with only keyboard in Classic client. In RoleTailored, you need the mouse – or a better documentation which explains how to do that with the keyboard only. But still, since Classic is dying, we better start getting used to the RTC – at least I’m doing it.

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