The “Bottomline” for using Create!form in AX 2012

Development , Dynamics AX , ERP , Reporting Add comments

Author Steve Boccio

Microsoft Certified Business Intelligence Developer
Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist More ...

Microsoft has truly taken advantage of the many third-party products that have enhanced the usability and breadth of the Dynamics AX product over the years. Sometimes we forget that Dynamics AX was an acquired product, as many Microsoft offerings are, and in order to be successful in the early years while the product matures, ISV solutions become essential to that success. One of those products that I have a special admiration for is Bottomline Technologies’ Create!form Suite.

If you aren’t familiar with Create!form, you can begin your education here Also keep in mind that Bottomline Technologies is not new to the document management software world, having similar products and deliverables for other ERP package offerings. We’ll concentrate on the US-based Dynamics AX product deliverable. Generally speaking, Create!form is a document management solution and it’s use is two-fold: One, facilitate and automate the delivery of documents to where they need to go. Two, make them look much better than was originally designed out of the box. And as it pertains to Dynamics AX, do both of these tasks with less development time than what may be required in X++.

Let’s turn the clock back a few AX versions and look at how the market for such a product came about. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you read that the reporting layer in Dynamics AX wasn’t always SQL Server centric.  X++ developers were burdened with writing reports by using the powerful logic of X++ coupled with the not so glamorous X++ report writer.  And at the end of the report development cycle, you got a report that was probably pretty solid functionally, but not so “pretty” to the user. All of the vanilla reports delivered in the product in early versions were similarly plain in presentation. Enter Create!form. With a little bit of product knowledge and some form’s development time, you were able to greatly enhance the presentation of your reports while also having the ability to route them to many different destinations and render them in the formats desired. When it comes to Dynamics AX versions 3.0, 4.0 and 2009, Create!form was a no brainer to companies that wanted better looking forms but didn’t have the X++ expertise or time to develop them otherwise.

But what about using Create!form for Dynamics AX 2012? With the commitment to SQL Server Reporting Services in AX 2012 and most definitely in future releases, it is more arguable whether a company needs Create!form solely based upon these previous reasons discussed. Here are what I believe should be the guidelines for choosing to add Create!form to your implementation:

1. Pure document presentation. Create!form still has the edge when it comes to “dolling up” an external facing document and the ease in which do to so.  But SSRS is lurking in the shadows and since SSRS comes with your existing SQL license, purchasing Create!form for this sole purpose is fading fast.
2. I already own Create!form and I’m upgrading to AX 2012. Obviously if you currently own Create!form, then you’ve already invested in its advantages and are probably making full use of the automation of document delivery in a version of Dynamics AX previous to AX 2012. Later versions of Create!form will continue to allow you to take advantage of document automation with some level of upgrade maintenance to perform.
3. I need to automate the delivery of documents in Dynamics AX 2012.  If you need to do such things as email, fax, print and archive (yes archive) external facing documents such as Sales Invoice, Purchase Order, Sales Confirmation, etc., then Create!form is your best option to make that happen with minimal development coding and overhead. Bottomline is also continually expanding their product to venues such as EP and SharePoint, giving you the ability to then show these same forms to EP users.
4. Flexibility in repagination and multi-company differences in documents. Create!form is a superior product when it comes to controlling visible content from page to page and between company.  It is very easy to show and hide content based upon variables passed in the XML mapping from the report data map. And Create!form controls when and how certain sections of the report show on which page based upon business requirement.
5. Your Development Team’s talents. Up until this point we’ve talked about the product, but another huge factor is the talent and experience of your development team.  So if you have .NET developer’s and SQL Report writers on staff, certainly that bares some weight on the decision to code your reports in the native SSRS report designer vs. learning a new product in Create!form.

That’ all for now…

Author Steve Boccio

Microsoft Certified Business Intelligence Developer
Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist More ...

The Create!form® Suite - featuring Create!form Designer® and Create!form Director - is a powerful, next-generation e-forms solution for document output management.  Agility Business Solutions, Inc. is a Gold Level Partner, the highest level of Create!form partnership, and is authorized to resell applications from the Create!form product suite, and is trained and certified to provide professional services, including consulting and implementation, and provide first-line technical support to their customers.

Microsoft Dynamics AX is a robust ERP and Lean manufacturing enabler. The latest release, Dynamics AX 2012, combines the powerful planning and execution features required of comprehensive ERP integrated with the features of Lean to assist the "blended" manufacturer. Contact Agility Business Solutions, Inc. to learn more.

1 response to “The “Bottomline” for using Create!form in AX 2012 ”

  1. Ravishankar Says:
    Hi ,
    can you please help me by providing some step by step document on how to create a simple create!forms report and deploy for Dynamics AX.

    Thanks for your help in advance

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