Weekly Feature: Advanced Macro Tips

We covered basic macro information last week. This week we’ve got some advanced features.

1) Move macros from version to version.

Sometimes recorded macros won’t run after an upgrade or a service pack. Open the macro file (.mac) in notepad and remove the top line. It will look something like this: # DEXVERSION=DEX 8.00m076 2 2 and indicates the version the macro was recorded in. Since many GP updates add features, rather than changing features this usually works fine.

2) Split up macros.

This was covered in last weeks Weekly Gotcha

3) Allow access to limited areas.

This was more important in past versions but if a user needs to perform a single function behind the system password, you can create a macro that incorporates the password and allows them to perform the funtion. Other items behind the system password are normally not accessible because the password would be required again and the macro has hidden it from the user. BEWARE though, this puts the system password in an unencrypted text (.mac) file so you’ll want to limit access to the macro file and track system activity. Also, if you change the system password, you break the macro.

4) Edit a macro by hand.

You can edit the macro (.mac) file with notepad. So if you have a long macro and you need to make a simple change (like a name or system password ;)) you can edit the file. I asked MBS support and developer types if there is a document outlining how the macro language works but I’ve been repeated told that nothing like that exists.

5) Step through the macro.

You can use the STEP (shift-f8) option to step through your macro one command at a time if you are having problems.

6) Macrotize your reports.

Report Scheduler and Report Groups are great but sometimes you need odd report settings (like yesterday). Remember that you can use macros to setup the report, let you enter the date and then finish printing.

7) Macrotize your maintenance.

Checklinks and Reconcile can both be run with macros. You can review the macro help file to even see how to autoschedule a macro. I’ll probably cover it as well on a later post.

It’s Launch Day!

It’s launch day at MS. SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 officially launch today. I’ll be attending the Orland launch event in early December as MS does a roadshow throughout the country to promote both products. BizTalk is in there as well but won’t actually be available until 2006. SQL Server is extremely relevant for GP users. GP 8.0 needs a service pack update to work with SQL Server 2005 but that should be out pretty soon. There are some great enhancements in SQL 2005. If MS can make the upgrade from 2000 to 2005 as seamless as so many 7.0 to 2000 upgrades were they will have hit a home run. Everything I’ve seen about SQL 2005 has been very positive.

VS 2005 is also relevant for reporting and add-on. I’ve heard a LOT of great things from developers running beta versions. Right at launch time, however, there seems to be some grumbling about whether they waited too long, released too early or got it juuuust right. We’ll have to see what the consensus is in 6 months. There is always so much hype, positive from MS and negative from other camps that only time will tell how great both of these products are. Put down as pro-hype for SQL Server 2005.

Weekly Gotcha: Macro Pauses

When building a macro, you can pause to allow for user input with the Insert Pause button. The problem is that the user has to know to go to Tools->Macro->Continue after they input their information. This extremely non-intuitive.

A better option is to build multiple macros. Let each macro stop before required input and a new macro be set to start after input. Then add all the macros to the shortcut bar with a number in from of them like a series of steps (you can use folders to isolate various processes. This way a user would see something like:

1) Click here to Start bank transfer
2) Enter Amount
3) Click here to post transfer

Steps 1 and 3 would be macros, step 2 would be a dummy shortcut. The user would click step 1 to populate all the bank account info. They would enter the amount as step 2 and the step 3 macros would post and finish processing.

This makes changes to the process easy since you don’t have to re-record a giant macro and it funcitons as a poor man’s workflow.

Weekly Feature: Macro Basics

In honor of Halloween, our featured item this week is something scary to many people, MACROS. (insert scary Halloween laugh here.)

A macro is a function that allows the automation of certain events in a program. In Great Plains, macros can be used to take out some of the annoying parts. For example, when we transfer money, we always transfer it one way, from Money Market to operating. Everything is the same but the dollar amount. So, I build a macro to fill in everything but the amount. Now I just run the macro, add an amount and I’m done.

Building a macro in GP is easy but somewhat tedious. Remember though, you only have to build it once, you get to run it over and over again. A GP macro works the same way as if you were sitting there keying in the info. That’s important thing to remember as you build macros.

To start, select Tools->Macro->Record. Name the macro TESTand remember where you saved it. Pick Transactions->Financial>Bank Transfers for our example.

Key in everything but the amount to transfer. Click Tools->Macro->Stop Recording. You’ve now recorded all that work.

Push clear and close the window.

Pick Tools->Macro->Play. Find your macro file and click open. Close the box telling you how long the macro ran. You now have bank transfer waiting for your amount. To finish the transfer, enter the amount and click post.

Adding the macro to the shortcut bar is the easiest way to run a macro and it gets rid of the run time message.

There’s more you can do with macros and we’ll cover the advanced stuff another time. You can also learn more in the Great Plains help files.

Dynamics GP 9.0 Partner Tour

Microsoft is launching a partner tour in advance of the Dynamics GP 9.0 release. If you’re a partner (I’m not, just a lowly user), details are here. Even if you’re not a partner, the website gives some clues to what’s in the 9.0 release.

Weekly Gotcha: That Little Security Checkbox

Lots of people know this but it will still get you. You MUST check the Security checkbox in Tools-Setup-Company-Company if you want security to be active. Otherwise, all that security work you did is irrelevant.

What is this good for? Well, you might turn security off for a test company to allow freer testing. Or, you might want security off while you build some initial settings. Generally, though you want this turned on!

Microsoft Business Solutions Getting Closer to Profitability

Via Microsoft Monitor:

Microsoft Business Solutions revenue was $181 million, compared to $156 million a year earlier. The operating loss decreased from $31 million to $12 million, year over year. Sequentially, revenue was $247 million, with an operating loss of $76 million. During the quarter, the division released Office Small Business Accounting and announced the new Dynamics brand. Microsoft’s second-quarter MBS revenue projection is for growth of 11 percent to 13 percent.

Looks like MBS is getting closer to profitability. Certainly it was a nice decrease in the loss quarter over quarter.

SQL Server 2005 Released to Manufacturing

SQL Server 2005 has been released to manufacturing today. The public launch date is November 7. My understanding is that Great Plains SP4 will support SQL Server 2005. Do you want a free copy of SQL Sever 2005? Visit a launch event and get a free copy of SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005.