Top 10 things I miss in .NET Interoperability in NAV 2013

If you ask me what the top addition to the NAV technology stack over the past few years is – it’s .NET interoperability. A lot of folks, maybe you as well, would disagree, and say it’s Web services. They are important. But if you are a NAV developer, Web services don’t make your life any easier. You are programming for Web services when your requirements tell you so, but that’s it. You don’t experience those moments of truth, when it dawns on you, when you go eureka, slap your forehead and say: now this is something I solve with Web services! Not quite.

But with .NET interoperability, it’s a different story. If you know how to harness its power, there is no single project you’ll ever want to go without using .NET. It opens the door to the most powerful development framework for Windows, and it makes many impossible things possible, in pure C/AL.

There are two kinds of things in this world. Those that .NET Interoperability can do, and those it can’t. Microsoft has been steadily improving it since the initial release in 2009 R2. However, there is still much to be desired. Those small things that you cut in C# in seconds, and twist your brain inside out for hours before you realize you can’t do it in C/AL. Some of them may be in a backlog somewhere in Vedbæk, but I don’t know that, so I decided to compile a list of top 10 things I believe C/SIDE should support, and it doesn’t.

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Generics in .NET Interop for NAV 2013

image.NET Framework is full of programming conceptual gems, that are now at the fingertips of us poor C/AL folks. One of those is generics. However, the C/AL support for generics at the first glance seems rather limited, and the help file says that you can’t specify data types, and that all generics will be instantiated with System.Object as their type. However, with Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013, there is a very simple way which allows you to use generics with other data types, as well. So, if .NET Framework Interoperability interests you a slightest bit, here’s a solution. The example below will be for the System.Collections.Generic.Dictionary<,>, and I will show how to use instances of the Dictionary<,> object with any desired data type, without having to pull in any external assemblies. (more…)

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