Microsoft’s Dynamics AX is an ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning) in the traditional sense: it contains tons of features and usually requires customizations to best support an organization’s needs, and can initially look like a black box. But every system has its internals, and for developers, Dynamics AX is a challenge that allows you to get started without much sweat.
Since many .NET developers already have access to Microsoft MSDN subscriber downloads, it is worthwhile to check what is being offered by this subscription. One of the benefits is a developer version of Dynamics AX. This is a limited-functionality version that is suitable for testing and development work, but not production.
The purpose of this article is to show you how to get started with the MSDN version, and how to write basic integration code for the system. The first step in this process is to get Dynamics AX running.
Installing Dynamics AX on a test server from MSDN
If you purchased Microsoft Visual Studio together with MSDN, log into MSDN subscriber downloads, and expand the Servers section. From there, you can find Dynamics AX 2009, which is the latest version at this writing. You can either download the original installation DVD along with a license file, or you can download a ready-made 14-part (yes, 14!) RAR compressed Hyper-V virtual machine with everything set up for you (Figure 1).
Starting the with ready-made trial version is probably the easiest option, especially if you haven’t used Dynamics AX previously. To run the trial, you will need a 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2 server with Hyper-V enabled. The RAR archive you downloaded contains a VHD virtual disk image and a configuration file. You can import these into Hyper-V, and after this, you are ready to run. For more details, consult the ReadMe file that comes along with the archive.
The first screen you will see in the virtual machine is the Windows login screen. The login password for the Administrator account is “[email protected]”. If you have an U.S. keyboard, then this should be easy to type; however, if you have a non-U.S. keyboard, then the @ sign can be problematic. You can try to press Shift+2 to get the @ sign, and then logging in.
If nothing else helps, try changing the username, and try typing the password to the username field to see what characters you get. Then, try logging again as the Administrator. Alternatively, enable the on-screen keyboard, and use it to type the password. After logging in, you can change to the correct keyboard layout using Control Panel.
Once you see the desktop of the virtual machine, you will find an icon to launch Dynamics AX. Go ahead and start it. You will soon see the Dynamics AX main window (Figure 2), after which you could browse the available features to learn about Dynamics AX. Once you are done, it’s time to dive into the development possibilities created by Dynamics AX.