Using gulp plugins to transform files

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In the last post, I explained how to use tasks, but I didn't explain yet how to make them useful. Tasks are most useful when they automate certain file operations,…

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Writing gulp tasks

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Now that you know how to get gulp up and running in VS Code, and how to export tasks from your gulp file, let’s talk about tasks themselves. What are they, what are they good for, and how to write them.

Gulp – being a task automation tool – is all about tasks. Anything you do about programming, which is not writing the code itself, can be considered a task, and can very likely be automated. Some tasks are automated already, like compiling your code, building your app. In case of AL development, there are many more already automated tasks, like creating a demo workspace or deploying your app to NAV. If you can automate them, tasks are immensely powerful because they save time and eliminate error.

If you are a web developer, your tasks can include bundling your source files and minifying them. For me, when building pre-2018 control add-ins, most important tasks were bundling source files, zipping the resource file, deploying a control add-in and importing the control add-in using PowerShell. All of these I have automated using gulp, and I’ll explain every single one of them in this series.

But for now, let’s simply take a look at how to write gulp tasks.

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Exporting tasks from gulpfile.js

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In my last post I covered the very basics of getting started with gulp in VS Code. It was all about getting gulp up and running under the hood of VS Code, and about writing your very first gulp task. It didn’t do much, but it showed you what gulpfile.js is good for and how to export tasks from it, that you can later use from VS Code.

However, I mentioned that there is much more to exporting tasks than it seems on the surface, and I promised to blog more about it. So here we are. Tasks.

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Getting started with gulp and VS Code

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Strange times. I never stop to be amazed with the kinds tools that invaded our pristine development environments. One of those tools is gulp, and if you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry. Why should you hear of it?

A couple of weeks ago I introduced my talk on gulp by explaining how I made it simplify and speed up my development of control add-ins. If you are a real NAV developer, and if you didn’t classify this entire series on gulp into the “who cares” category, then chances are you’d stick with me today and learn how to set up gulp and start using it in VS Code.

In this post, I’ll explain what (and why) you need to do to get gulp up and running, and then I’ll create a very simple gulp task. This is the first post in a series where I hope to build an end-to-end example that you can even put to practical use in your projects.

Let’s get started.

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Codeunit interfaces in AL

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Nearly two and a half years ago I had a dream. It was about codeunit references and codeunit interfaces. And today, nearly two and a half years later I am still here, still having the same dream. We still cannot do codeunit interfaces in AL. But it doesn’t mean we don’t need them. We do. We badly do.

Two things triggered me to write this post about how badly we need codeunit interfaces, or any kind of polymorphism: a NAV TechDays talk, and a github project I saw.

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