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20 Years of Dynamics

Feb 12, 2022
Filed under: #daxmusings #bizapps

Almost 20 years ago, in July of 2002, Microsoft acquired Dynamics AX. Several months later, in October 2002, I landed my first job and started learning X++. AX3.0 had just dropped, but the company I worked for in Belgium still had some AX2.5 implementations going on. Unforgettable implementations were the one that was using Oracle as its database, another was implementing AX2.5 “enterprise portal” which at the time was an ASP site calling X++ classes over a COM connector, with X++ classes returning strings of HTML.

I remember after about a week with an installation CD and the “manual”, I was sent out to a project. I’d had exactly zero training other than reading the manual all by myself, and the only thing I had really done was create a space invaders clone in X++. I was clueless about business processes or even terminology (what’s a quotation?). My first assignment was changing the SalesInvoice report. Reports back then were still MorphX reports. I had no idea what to do. It took me more than a week to even get the most basic changes done that were asked of me. I’m uncertain of the exact details but the project manager wasn’t exactly pleased with my (lack of) progress, and I was (probably not coincidentally) re-assigned to another project. I was pulled into a large deal that our company had just landed, and I was paired with an experienced developer/consultant. The mentoring I got there propelled my career. I became an expert in “commerce gateway” (the integration framework that preceded AIF), I wrote code management/work item tools inside the AX client and worked out code management and deployment strategies. Because of this, I got sent out to other European offices of our holding company to give training, and was pulled into presales to create quick prototypes. I got involved with our “innovation” division that was working on migration and integration tools. That innovation division was spun out into an ISV and I was sent to the USA to train partners and help implement the ISV tools.

I enjoyed the work and lifestyle in the USA and ended up taking a position with an awesome small partner in Denver and moved to the States. As we built out the team, I became the lead/supervisor of the development team, and ultimately the manager. We were acquired by a large firm that did Dynamics GP, CRM and NAV and wanted a Dynamics AX practice as well. Meanwhile I got very involved in the community and was awarded MVP status by Microsoft. Our internal work around TFS, source control and builds was one of my big passions and I did many blog posts and public speaking sessions at conferences on these topics. As things progressed, I was promoted into partner in the firm.

But as things go, as well as I was doing, I needed a change. As much as I liked my career growth and had been lucky with the financial rewards that come with it, ultimately enjoyment of my job always takes precedence. I seriously considered leaving Dynamics altogether, and I even had a job lined up with a small but successfully growing game development company in Denver. But I got talking with Microsoft as well, and I was offered a job.

My career at Microsoft has followed a similar pattern. I just follow what I love doing, and things have just flowed. I rolled from the Solution Architecture team (precursor to FastTrack today) into engineering of the F&O developer tools and became the program manager of that team. Becoming the PM of X++ and the F&O developer tools is something I had never imagined achieving; working with a team of people I have admired for a long time and being “in charge” of a toolset that for many years I myself and the community I’ve been part of use on a daily basis. I’ve been able to be the voice of the community inside Microsoft, and helped drive many things I myself and many of you have been looking for. For me personally, it has been a peak moment in my career.

Yet after these almost-20 years of a great Dynamics career, almost 7 of which at Microsoft, again I find myself at a personal crossroad. And after the wall of text above, here it finally is: this coming week will be my last week on the F&O Dev Tools team. Although again I was considering to step outside Dynamics entirely, I’m pleased to announce I will at least be staying somewhat close in the BizApps realm: on February 21st I’ll be joining the awesome Power Fx team as a program manager. We’ll continue to further build out this open-source declarative language and integrating the language into more BizApps products inside and outside of Microsoft. So to all my Dynamics community friends: we will certainly keep collaborating now and into the future! I’m super excited to dive into this new team and product space!

The platform unification happening in Dynamics 365 and Power Platform is chockful of interesting challenges and opportunities. There are exciting prototypes and cool new things being built that will soon appear on roadmaps and many of you will get to play with. X++ will keep evolving and pro developer opportunities to cross-code between Dataverse and Dynamics 365 will only increase. Some unnamed features I’ve talked about and many of you have kept asking me about are still being worked on and will actually become a core part of the platform convergence feature sets. And as more low code opportunities are lit up across the Power Platform and Dynamics 365 apps, Fusion Development is and will ensure our paths keep crossing thanks to all of your continued Pro Dev work (in X++, Dataverse Plugins, Azure, etc.) and your SMEs’ Low Code work (Power Fx, Power Apps, etc.).

Thank you all for the awesome past 20 years, and here’s to 20 more in our continually expanding BizApps community!

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