dennis365foroperations: Yes, it’s here! The Copy configurations feature (and a look at other improvements related to Data Management)
Once a feature, then deprecated. Looking back in time…
Back in AX 2009 there was a function to copy a company, basically enabling you to copy a specific legal entity to another legal entity. One can imagine this is very useful to copy a golden configuration or use the configuration of a specific company as the start for another. However, with the introduction of AX 2012, this functionality was deprecated. This was the explanation:
Reason for deprecation: The underlying architecture of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 was modified, and these modifications required the duplicate company feature to be deprecated.There have been other options of course to copy configuration data between companies, but never as easy as the copy company feature. With the introduction of Dynamics 365 for Operations, this feature was also not available, but – in short – importing and exporting data in general changed (and improved) with the data entities and data management framework.
Back in March ’17, on the Dynamics 365 Technical Conference in Seattle, I’ve joined a (popular) session held by Mike Falkner, where he introduced his vision on improving the data entities and process of importing and exporting configurations. For those interested, it was the session Reduce Data Import and Export Time During Implementation Using Configurations (ADM05R). The session was very interesting and followed by a feedback session to gather input from the attendees. After some wait, we can now enjoy many of the improvements being announced that day. Again a prove that the feedback from the community is taken seriously. Let’s have a look!
How a major improvement and highly requested feature can be announced in little text
This was how the feature was announced in the Platform Update 11 release notes:
Copy legal entity configurations to a new legal entityLet’s say there is no way to count the weight of an improvement by the number of words announcing it In this post we’ll have a look at what we’re getting, but let’s first have a look at the related improvements in the area of Data Management, continuously and specifically in Platform Update 11.
The Data Management workspace, now with ‘Enhanced view’
When you open the Data Management workspace in an environment with Platform Update 11, you see the following message: “Click Enhanced view to try the new page layout. You can also change the default view in the Data management framework parameters.”
This option allows you to use an enhanced view for the Data Projects and Job History, ultimately providing more clarity on the different data projects, grouped in import, export, copy into legal entity, configuration, integration and other data projects.
The Job History is also cleaner, with groupings on historical run times such as last 24 hours, last 3 days, all the way to last 6 months.
The Data Management workspace in simple view: No grouping options for Data Projects and Job History, which will give a messy screen with all your projects and history displayed.The enhanced view for the Data Management workspace: Providing you with grouping options for Data Projects and Job History, allowing you to quickly navigate to relevant projects or history and giving a cleaner appearance.
Quick tip: Setting the preferred view as standard on your instanceImprovements on data entities
Building this functionality using data entities definitely required Microsoft to invest heavily in optimizing the data entities. Here are some of the areas of investment that have gradually payed of in improvements.
Automating the dependencies
Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations currently knows around 2100+ data entities, with various dependency levels. There have been investments in enabling the ability to sequence templates and long term focus is on auto-sequencing a configuration.
Key entities that are know to contain a lot of data are improved with speed and performance in mind.
Adding metadata, ultimately making more sense to entity views
Metadata is required to easily search for a specific entity, or to sort entities based on in example their module or category. In the beginning, all entities have been linked to the System Administration module for example. Now, the data entity views Entity model view and Entity category view make more sense.
The Entity Module view shows data entities grouped per module area, corresponding the modules in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations.The Entity Category view shows data entities grouped in categories such as Master, Configuration, Transaction, Reference, Document and Parameters.Self referencing entities and circular dependencies
There have been continuous improvement on entities that are self referencing or that have circular dependencies.
An entity that is self referencing is, for example, the customers entity. Customers also have an invoice customer and, therefore, the invoice customer must exist first before the customer can be imported.
An entity that has circular dependency is, for example, the vendors entity. A vendor has a default bank account, but the bank account needs a vendor.
Basically, filling the gaps
Over the releases, we have see entities being added to allow for a more complete coverage to allow data entities to be used for copying configurations. Entities that have been optimized for OData usage have been also optimized to perform better in a configuration copy scenario.
It’s back! The copy configurations feature has returned
From Platform Update 11 onwards, on the Data Management
workspace, there is a new button that’s called Copy into legal
entity. This is the copy configurations feature that allows both the
export with subsequent import and the copy into a legal entity in
the same instance scenarios. More on the scenarios below.
Two options to use the Copy configurations feature
Export and import a configuration
Using this method, you would export and import a configuration in multiple steps. This of course is the way to go when you are copying across multiple instances. You would export in your source instance, and import in your destination instance, for example between your golden configuration environment and your acceptance or production environment.
Copy into a legal entity
Using this method, you are able to copy a specific company (legal entity) to another. The companies of course would have to be within the same instance. This process resembles an export and import, but in one step. You would use this method when you are working on a multi-country project where (parts of) the configuration is shared, for example.
Here’s how to use it
To start, navigate to the Data Management workspace, and click Copy into legal entity.
On the Copy into legal entity tab you provide generic setup for the copy configuration group.
Several things to consider
What to consider when using the Copy configuration feature for for export and import
Several of the entities require additional steps when you build configurations
Some examples of additional steps are:
Remove the mapping and apply filters for specific entity fields
To help guarantee that the import works, you should unmap some of the fields in an entity. For example, workers are stored in many tables, but they might not be set up in a golden build. Filters might also be required for some fields in an entity. There is a list of entities that might have to be unmapped or filtered in the chapter Remove the mapping and apply filters for specific entity fields in the Copy configuration data from one company or legal entity to another documentation.
Golden builds that have multiple legal entities require filters on entities
If you’re exporting from a golden build that contains multiple legal entities, but you want to import the data from only one of those legal entities, you must apply a filter on the legal entity fields, so that only the data that you require for that legal entity is exported. This filter must remove all data for all legal entities except the legal entity that you want. In some cases, you must complete some additional steps to clean up the exported data.
Most of the changes that are listed in the following table occur in the System setup and General ledger areas, but there are also some in Inventory Management and Retail. If you export a golden build that uses a single legal entity, you should not require these filters.
The entities that require filters or special handling when you export the data are summed up in the chapter Golden builds that have multiple legal entities in the Copy configuration data from one company or legal entity to another documentation.
Changing the legal entity value before import
If you want to change the legal entity identifier to another value, you must change the values in all fields that resemble the fields that were listed earlier to the new legal entity value. The legal entity identifier is stored in many places. Therefore, it can be difficult to make this change, and you might cause errors if you try.
What to consider when using the Copy configuration feature for copying a legal entity in the same instance
Test before you copy, and think of your dependencies
When you copy into a legal entity, you have the same validation that would occur when you import a file. You need to test your copy action on a test environment to ensure any and all dependencies that will cause failures are known. If dependent information is not included in your list of entities to copy, then the entity will show errors when it tries to copy into the legal entity.
Cross-region copy could cause errors
You may also experience import errors if you are copying from one region into a different region. For example, you can have specific fields in a legal entity in the US region but, if you try to import those values into a legal entity with any region in the EU, you will see errors on the import.
There is a list of entities that require special handling when copying a legal entity in the same instance. For the full, and up to date list, refer to the Special considerations when you copy into a legal entity chapter in the Copy configuration data from one company or legal entity to another documentation.
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