Three Whys about .NET Interoperability

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Once upon a time, a smart bloke named Saikichi Toyoda came up with a 5 Whys troubleshooting technique. It postulates that you only need to ask “why” five times to get to the root cause of any problem in a cause-and-effect sequence.

However, with .NET Interoperability in Microsoft Dynamics NAV (pick your version here), I’ve only had to ask “why” three times today, and unfortunately I could not get to the root cause, except – poor design decisions.

It all has to do with a simple .NET class: System.DBNull. The first “why” is simple: why is there no support for fields on .NET types. The second “why” is even simpler: why don’t we have a null constant in C/AL. And the last “why” downright falls into the “what the heck” category: why did somebody think it was a smart idea to replace DBNull value with null.

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Excel Interoperability Woes in NAV 2013

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Handling Excel files in NAV 2013 (including R2) is not as easy as it seems at first. The Excel Buffer table – an obvious choice of the old days – supports only Open XML format (*.xlsx), and Excel Interoperability implementation seems a bit buggy (check the comments in my old post about .NET interoperability: https://vjeko.com/blog/the-beauty-and-the-beast-nav-and-net). You can still use automation, but then you must handle everything, or at least most of it, on the client end. And, to make it all just a bit worse, none of these approaches, even when they work, will impress you with their speed. All in all, if you want to handle legacy Excel files (*.xls) you will have to make some compromises.

Last week, Mark asked me for a bit of help on a project where he had to import *.xls files into NAV 2013, and he hit all of the possible walls provided by the Excel Buffer, .NET Interoperability components for Excel, and automation walls possible.

When I gave Mark my solution, he said: you should blog about this. So, here I am, blogging about a simple way to read data from Excel, any version, lightning fast.

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