AL Object ID Ninja

One of the biggest obstacles to AL team development (is there any other kind?) is object IDs. IDs are supposed to be easy: just pick the next free one and off you go. AL Language even helps by suggesting the next available one through IntelliSense. But you are most likely not the only developer on your team. As soon as you add another developer to equation, and both of you use the built-in AL IntelliSense auto-suggest feature, you are inevitably heading towards object ID collision. The more developers there are, the more active your repository is, the more likely the collision.

Obviously, without some kind of a back-end that coordinates object ID assignment – preferably in real time – is absolutely necessary. And teams have come up with various solutions to this problem. They include:

  • “Who cares!”: the most heroic one, no object ID collision will ruin your day. Bring it on – you say! I’ll handle you – you say! These teams spend a lot of time resolving collisions post-factum.
  • Object “reservations”: you create an empty object of the desired type, push just that, create a PR that does nothing by that, and launch into the Hail Mary mode until your PR gets merged. The slower your validation pipeline is, the more likely it is that more than one developer will be saying their Hail Marys at the same time, and guess what – Mary will help one of them.
  • “Hey, folks”: you yell to announce to everyone that you are about to take an object ID. Or, in more advanced teams, you run a Teams team (uh, did I mention “team?”). This approach is not too robust, but generally yields better results than the above two.
  • Excel: the ways this tool gets used, geez. It’s a spreadsheet calculator, for Pete’s sake, but people have been using it for everything ranging from shopping lists to, well, object ID assignment sheets.
  • “When you have a hammer, every problem you see is a…” BC! The ways this tool gets used, too! Well, heck, yeah, isn’t it so freaking obvious that people will just create a BC app and deploy it internally so that everyone can use it. BC has nearly all facilities you need (that none of the above approaches does): primary key validation and concurrency. This is a very advanced stage in the evolution of object ID collision management solutions.
  • Automation. Yeah, baby! Now that there is a BC back end, and BC has APIs, let’s build an API that gives you next number, and then let’s do some front-end that fetches that from the back end, and then let’s somehow embed into VS Code. There is at least one tool that I know of, that does exactly this. And good that I didn’t know of it that Saturday morning nine days ago, because I would have zero motivation to take this evolution one big step further.

This is where AL Object ID Ninja joins the show! It’s zero-configuration, crazy-fast, mind-bogglingly simple solution for no-collision object ID assignment in AL. If you haven’t already (and if you are using Waldo’s AL Extension Pack, chances are you already have) go fetch yourself a copy.

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Git storage – SHA1

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If you have ever worked with Microsoft’s Team Foundation version control tools, it wasn’t easy to switch to Git. That’s not because Git was complicated – no, nothing like that at all! It was simply because you had to forget almost everything you thought you knew about version control, and then learn it anew.

There are many fundamental differences between Git and TFVC, and one of the more obvious ones to any newcomer to Git is this:

If it wasn’t obvious on the first go, TFVC is on the left, Git is on the right

No, it’s not about the caption here. Indeed, TFVC calls individual snapshots of changes “changesets” and Git calls them “commits”, but that’s just terminology – the term in itself is not a fundamental difference. I am after something else here.

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What’s new about interfaces in 2021 Wave 1

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central 2021 Release Wave 1 is out (whoa, that was a mouthful) with some new perks for developers. Today, I had another live session at http://vjeko.live, and I made it both the first one in the series of What’s New for the latest release, as well as the episode four of Fun with Interfaces.

Interfaces are such an amazing feature in AL language, that was long missed, and that’s now saving my day nearly every time I do something with AL. The latest AL compiler (runtime “7.0”) comes with these new interesting features about interfaces:

  • You can mark interfaces for obsoletion.
  • You can mark individual interface functions for obsoletion.
  • You can return interfaces as return type from functions.
  • You can define UnknownValueImplementation for enums to specify the interface that represents any unknown enum values.

Let’s take a look at each one of those with examples.

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Webinars in the upcoming period

My last two webinars were a great success, and this is not only judging from my angle. Attendees were very happy with them, and the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive. I’ve got a lot of inquiries about repeating them, and I also got a few ideas for new ones that would allow you to build on top of the knowledge gained in the first two.

So, today I am announcing the schedule for the webinars for the next three months.

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