In December 2015, Microsoft released the preview of the new Microsoft Dynamics AX. Partners and customers can now learn what the new cloud based version could bring you. You can deploy a cloud hosted environment from Lifecycle services. When this is complete you can start browsing and learning how to use the cloud based version of Microsoft Dynamics AX. Probably you have already heard about the task guides. There is a way to start your deployed environment in a Trial mode and have dozens of pre-loaded task guides available. This post will tell you how.
When you open your Lifecycle services project, you can browse to the Cloud hosted environments. On the details pane you find some links to start AX using several cloud services, but also an option called Login to trial experience.
When you click this link, AX will be started, but you also get some additional dialogs. The first one is a question about the industry of your company and your role within the company.
When you click next, you can watch a movie what partners think of ‘AX 7’. This is a movie which was already published last year July on YouTube. You probably have seen this already. If not, this is your chance!
Now you can use the arrow to continue to the next pages. This is a real nice short summary of user experience changes in Microsoft Dynamics AX.
Finally you can click Start to open Microsoft Dynamics AX in the Trial mode. Within this mode a Getting started section will be visible on the default dashboard. This section contains many Task guides to learn using and navigating Microsoft Dynamics AX. These task guides are loaded from Lifecycle Services (LCS).
Now you can pick any task guide to open and start the guide to have a guided tour on the new Microsoft Dynamics AX.
There is more
When you deploy your cloud hosted Dynamics AX environment, you can choose which Business Proces Modeler (BPM) library should be used for the Getting started section. The default is based on the APQC Unified library. If this one is not selected, you might get an error stating that Dynamics AX cannot find the getting started library.
You can also start the trial mode by adding ?mode=trial to the URL for Dynamics AX. This will directly start the Dynamics AX preview with the Getting started section without being prompted with initial dialogs as mentioned above.
That’s all for now. Till next time!
Accountants would like to easy enter corrections at a month end date. For this reason in previous versions of Microsoft Dynamics AX there was an option in the Tools menu to change the session date and time. However this menu is not implemented in the new cloud based Dynamics AX, the option to change the current work date is still available. The option is even closer than you might think.
A lot of investments had been done by Microsoft to get a new attractive user interface for Microsoft Dynamics AX using modern browsers. As there is no native client, also the personalization options are reconsidered. In previous previews there was an option to change the theme colors and a setting to display more or less information which actually manages a kind of zooming. With the latest preview (CTP8) there is a new way of doing form personalizations. In part 1 I explained some basic user options. In this second episode I will inform you about form personalizations.
A lot of investments had been done by Microsoft to get a new attractive user interface for Microsoft Dynamics AX using modern browsers. As there is no native client, also the personalization options are reconsidered. In previous previews there was an option to change the theme colors and a setting to display more or less information which actually manages a kind of zooming. With the latest preview (CTP8) there is a new way of applying personalizations. In this part I will explain some basic user options. Part 2 will inform you about form personalizations.
A new era starts. Microsoft has released its public pre-release of the ‘new’ Microsoft Dynamics AX. This version was also code-named ‘Rainier’ and ‘AX 7’. Together with this release the information is no longer confidential. In this post I will provide some details to get access to this preview and will share my personal favorite enhanced functional features.
Last year I posted some tips on the Microsoft Dynamics AX Security Development Tool. Recently my colleague Boye Walters also wrote an episode and named it Tips on AX 2012 Security Development Tool – Part 7. Well… he fanned the fire on his topic and here is another edition: Tips on AX 2012 Security Development Tool – Part 8; focusing on the view type Duties and Privileges.
What is a SQL Trace Flag?
A SQL Trace Flag is an indicator that changes the way the SQL engine reacts. Why would we want to that? Well because the DBA always knows best, uh well actually because the standard behavior of the SQL engine will not always give the best possible performance for a Dynamics Ax ERP. Which SQL Trace Flag could be of interest for a Dynamics Ax Database? Well I found 5 that work great for some situations. (-T1117 -T1224 -T2371 -T4136 -T4199). Yes I said “some situations” because which SQL Trace Flag can be enabled depends on lots of things, and should be decided carefully. Let me inform you about these 5 SQL Trace Flags.
SQL Trace Flag T1117: TempDB in multiple files
When you divided the TempDB in multiple data files to match the number of CPU cores as recommended by Microsoft for Dynamics AX, SQL Trace Flag –T1117 comes in handy. It will change the standard behavior of auto growing database files in a file group. The standard behavior is to auto grow one of the files at a time. With this SQL Trace Flag enabled all files in a file group will grow simultaneously.
1 db divided in 4 data files with an initial size of 100MB and an auto grow of 20MB each. When your reaches the 400MB and all 4 files are full, one of them will auto grow to 120MB. But the next data will be written in the file with the freest space. Guess which one that will be…. The one that grew off course. Now the same example with SQL Trace Flag –T1117 globally enabled: When your reaches the 400MB and all 4 files are full, all of them will auto grow to 120MB. The next data will be written in the file with the freest space. Guess which one that will be…. All of them.
Should we enable this SQL Trace Flag this minute?
No, there is a drawback. This SQL Trace Flag is great for the TempDB but it affects all data files of all databases in the instance. They will simultaneously grow if they’re in the same file group. So think before you act, if you don’t want the files to grow simultaneously put them in different file groups, or don’t enable this SQL Trace Flag.
More information on this SQL Trace Flag: Microsoft Dynamics Ax Performance team
SQL Trace Flag T1224: Running big operation during the day.
When running big operations (5000+ rows) during the day, like master planning, they could be blocking your users from doing their daily business. This is due to lock escalation. SQL locks a page to make sure only one process effects that page at a time. When a certain number of pages of a table are locked by the same process SQL can decide to lock the table if this is less costly on memory. This will make all requests for pages in that table wait till the first process is done. SQL Trace Flag -T1224 Disables lock escalation based on the number of locks. However, memory pressure can still activate lock escalation.
Should we enable this SQL Trace Flag this minute?
No, if you don’t need to run big operations simultaneously or with users in the system, you’re probably free of blocking by lock escalation. And lock escalation will have a positive effect on the performance of your SQL. So please plan large operations carefully outside office hours where possible.
SQL Trace Flag T2371: Keeping statistics up-to-date on large tables
The SQL query optimizer uses statistics to create query plans that improve query performance. Performance of Dynamics AX depends largely on up-to-date statistics. That’s why it is recommended to set “Auto update statistics” on. But when will the statistics be updated? Well when 20% of the rows are updated/inserted. This SQL Trace Flag is only available on SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 and all later versions. There was a small update to this SQL Trace Flag in SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 and SQL Server 2012 SP1 that makes it more precise.
On a table containing 1,000 rows the statistics are updated when 200 rows are updated. And the same table after a while containing 1,000,000 rows the statistics are updated when 200,000 rows are updated. Did you read that right? Yes you need to update 200,000 rows till the statistics are updated. Imagine even larger tables. We all know that in an ERP like Dynamics AX these large tables are pretty common. Microsoft also recognized that and released SQL Trace Flag –T2371. This SQL Trace Flag will make the 20% rule a dynamic percentage rule that kicks in at 25,000 rows.
For example with SQL Trace Flag –T2317 globally enabled:
SQL Server will update statistics on a table containing 1,000 rows when 200 rows are updated. And on a table containing 1,000,000 rows the statistics are updated when 32,000 rows are updated. In a chart the dynamic percentage rule looks like this:
Should we enable this SQL Trace Flag this minute?
No, first examine if your database has a lot of large tables (above 100.000 rows is a good rule of thumb). Without large tables this SQL Trace Flag is useless.
SQL Trace Flag T4136: Parameter sniffing optimisation
Dynamics AX uses parameterized SQL statements if we don’t use the ‘Forceliterals’ parameter in AX. I personally have never seen a developer who fully understood the working of ‘Forceliterals’ let alone use it in code. It even is best practice not to use it.
Why? Well when using parameterized SQL statements the query plans are cached and reused. SQL Server will use one plan for all similar queries instead of compiling each query. This can significantly reduce CPU overhead and improve throughput. That sounds like a good thing and it is.
But there is a drawback, if the queries are complex and/or the data distribution on the columns against which the parameter is compared vary, the cost of different plan choices can change. A plan that is optimal for one parameter value may perform poorly for another value. The query optimizer still needs to estimate the selectivity and cardinality of predicates using a parameter value. In Dynamics AX especially from version 2012 on the queries are almost always complex.
One way to avoid parameter sniffing is to put the OPTIMIZE FOR UNKNOWN option to all SQL statements leaving AX. Another way is to enable SQL Trace Flag -T4136. This SQL Trace Flag is only available on SQL Server 2008 R2 Cumulative Update 2, SQL Server 2008 SP1 Cumulative Update 7 and SQL Server 2005 SP3 Cumulative Update 9 and later.
If we have 2 companies in our Dynamics Ax Application and one only 2 customers and the other a couple thousand. The following could happen: if the first query we send to loop through customer is done in the company with a couple thousand customers , it could look like:
SELECT * FROM CUSTTABLE WHERE DATAAREAID = ‘@P2’
And SQL Server Engine will solve it by doing a full table scan because almost all records are needed.
Next time we do the same loop in the other company due to the parameter on dataareaid (and partition in AX2012) the query is identical. That is why SQL Server will solve it in the same manner, with a table scan, where a page scan could be more appropriate. If only SQL could store a queryplan per dataareaid….
Should we enable this SQL Trace Flag this minute?
No, because Microsoft provided a way to use parameters but not for dataareaid (and partition in AX2012). This makes SQL server store a queryplan per dataareaid, making SQL Trace Flag T4136 completely unnecessary.
AX2009 SP1: KB 3000700
AX2012 RTM: KB 2920058
AX2012 R2: KB 2969229
You can find more information on the blog of Dynamics in the field.
More information on this SQL Trace Flag: Microsoft Support on SQL Trace Flag T4136
SQL Trace Flag T4199: Query execution plan updates
Microsoft turned off All query execution plan updates/hotfixes by default to make sure that an update will not affect the way your query executes. Several of these hotfixes will positively boost performance for Dynamics AX. Microsoft controls all future query processor fixes that are scheduled to be ‘On-By-Default’ in a later release with trace flag t4199. This SQL Trace Flag is only available on Cumulative update package 6 for SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 3, Cumulative update package 7 for SQL Server 2008, and Cumulative update package 7 for SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 1 and all later versions.
Should we enable this SQL Trace Flag this minute?
No, there is are 2 drawbacks. 1: Your DBA will send you off to an insane asylum because of the next drawback. 2: If you enable this SQL Trace Flag you enable all future hotfixes/updates to the query execution plans, because we all know you’re going to forget about enabling this SQL Trace Flag.
More information on this SQL Trace Flag: Microsoft Support on SQL Trace Flag T4199
When you read the title of this blog post you might think this post is about changes during the lifecycle of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. Or maybe it is related to the security framework in older versions (AX 2009), the current version (AX 2012) or the new Microsoft Dynamics AX (aka ‘AX 7’). Well, it’s not. This post will tell you about a standard feature to restrict access on past, current and future records for tables which supports date effective data. It is called “Date effective policies”.
Are SQL Window Functions new?
Since 2003 in the SQL ANSI/ISO standard and extended in 2008. Microsoft implemented the first window functions in their SQL Server 2005 version (known as OVER clause) and extended them in the following versions.Window Functions in all SQL Versions
So to be short no they are not new for the ANSI/ISO standard and for Microsoft SQL Server window functions exist for a few version now. Within in Dynamics Ax we use X++ which is translated by the Dynamics Ax Kernel to T-SQL to make the database return a result set. This makes us depended of the implementation of X++, which in Dynamics Ax 2012 doesn’t support window functions for select statements etc. But I can show you a way on how to use them in AX 2012 and up.
What are SQL Window Functions?
Let me show you with an example. As this is a blogpost for Dynamics Ax minded people let us use the SalesLine table.
If you want to select a few fields of this table, you would write something like the following (in SQL and X++):
If you would like to see the total amount of the salesorder in the same result set you would need to do a “GROUP BY”:
in X++ you would do something like this:
But it will send a statement for each salesline to the database.
A better way to do this in Ax would actual be:
- Create a Query object for the ‘select sum(LineAmount), SalesId from salesLine’ bit.
- Put that Query in a View.
- Now create a new Query with in the datasource the SalesLine and join it with the View.
Now let’s make it even more interesting. I would like a statement to get a resultset with the following columns:
- the SalesId, ItemId, SalesCategory, CustAccount, LineAmount.
- the total amount of the salesorder.
- the avg LineAmount of the customer in the same category.
- the LineAmount of the last time this customer ordered this item.
- running total of this customer.
And here we are, our first window functions. They are called window functions because they put a window (subset) over the rows you get out of your FROM clause.
The <window function> part can be: Ranking functions, Aggregate functions or Analytic functions.
After the OVER keyword you can limit the size of the window:
- OVER() isn’t limiting at all so all rows are considered.
- OVER (PARTITION BY X) means limit the window to al rows that have matching values in Column X in current Row.
- OVER (ORDER BY) changes the sort order in the window. (Can be nice if you use RANK or ROW_NUMBER window functions)
- OVER( ROWS BETWEEN … AND …) limits the window to the rows between the given criteria seen from current row.
How to use these powerful window functions in Dynamics AX?
As I mentioned before X++ isn’t a real options. But in the View objects in the AOT there is a little gem that we can polish for our purpose.
- Create a Query for the SELECT SALESID, ITEMID, SALESCATEGORY, CUSTACCOUNT, LINEAMOUNT FROM SALESLINE part.
- Use this Query in a new View.
- Create a method on the View with the following code:
- Now right click on the ‘fields’ branch of the view choose NewReal computed column.
- Give the new field a nicer name and set the name of the method in the ‘viewmethod’ property.
- Save and synchronise the view.
Now what did we just do?
We changed the create statement of the view to include ‘SUM(LINEAMOUNT) OVER (PARTITION BY SALESID)’ as a column. By synchronizing we created a view in SQL Server that contains the window functions we want to.
Could we use this for other things then window functions?
Yes you can use all possibilities of the T-SQL language here. But remember you are changing the Select clause of the view here. Putting a select statement in here (or a stored procedure) will for sure make the view run a long time as every row will trigger a separate statement. But a scalar value function can be very valuable sometimes (like ISNULL()).
A 20 minute training about window functions in SQL 2012.
All code samples, walkthroughs and other instructions are provided as-is. Use any and all information provided in this blog at your own risk. It is never advised to import or write code in a production environment without rigorous testing in a test or development environment.
All opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer.
The names of actual companies and products mentioned in this blog may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
Microsoft and Dynamics AX are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.
Let us have a look at SQL Compression, with this I mean Data compression not the backup compression which is also available in SQL Server nowadays.
This feature can be implemented in SQL Server without affecting the programs that use the database, because it is only used inside of SQL Server and the way it stores its data. Which means that SQL Server will compress the data as it is entered in the database. SQL Server will use the data compressed for all it’s internal operations, and YES the data is still compressed when it is put into memory resulting in more rows in the same memory space which increases performance. Then if the data is send to the application which requested the data, SQL Server will decompress it. Compressing and decompressing data is a CPU intensive task, which leads to an increase of 15% on CPU usage. The save on storage and the increase of the number of rows on a page and the increase of the number of rows in the memory banks will certainly outweigh the increase in CPU usage.
SQL Server versions with Compression
Data compression became available in SQL 2008 and was further improved in SQL 2008 R2 after which it is continued in all version including the latest SQL 2016. Because it is an advanced feature it is only available in Enterprise Editions of SQL. (And Developer Edition which isn’t to be used in a production environment).
Types of compression
There are 2 types of compression available in SQL Server. Row compression and Page compression the latter implements the first and more, but let me explain both of them to you.
This type of compression does what it says it compresses the row of data in an index/table. And will do this in several ways, which I’ll discuss below.
Metadata is information about the columns for some data types the meta data is larger then the actual data type (for example Bit).
Delete not used space in fixed size datatypes
Row compression will delete the space that isn’t used in fixed sized strings, which means that a CHAR(10) can become a CHAR(1) if only 1 character is in it. Remember it is ROW compression so it will determine the actual used space per value not per column over the entire table/index. Unfortunately Dynamics Ax doesn’t use fixed sized string (it uses NVARCHAR instead), so we cannot gain anything by this.
Fortunately SQL Server also sees numeric values as (a form of) fixed sized, and it will delete leading and/or trailing zero’s if there are any. In Dynamics Ax all amounts are stored as NUMERIC(32,16) but if the actual amount is $1,95 if compression is applied it will only store the 1,95 removing the space it would normally store additionally to make it (32,16). The same is applied to integers and BIGINT, and Date and Datetime are converted to integers which also saves on storage.
Not effected by row compression are memo fields (NVARCHAR(MAX)), Images (VARBINARY), GUID (UNIQUEIDENTIFIER).
Standard Compression Scheme for Unicode
SQL Server also uses an implementation of the Standard Compression Scheme for Unicode (SCSU) algorithm to compress Unicode values. Because SQL Server stores data as 2 bytes regardless of the language of the data. Depending on the language of your data you can save up to 50% on the storage of all nvarchar() and nchar() datatype columns. Languages with the highest compression rate are: Western European languages as English, Dutch, German, French, Spanish etc. but also Hindi. On the lower end we find languages with more characters like Japanese which has a compression rate of 15%.
Dynamics Ax uses Unicode for all strings stored in its database.. I’ll repeat that ALL strings. So if you’re language is for example English this means that ALL your stored text can be stared in half the space it is using right now. Great news I would say.
Page compression uses Row compression as mentioned before, but it also uses the following to techniques.
SQL Server will determine per column a prefix value that is used (fully or partially) by the most rows. After determining this SQL places this value in the header and references to it (or part of it) in the row value. Which is best visualized by these images of Microsoft MSDN:
Yes you can do all that… Or use below script to do all the hard work for you and even deliver you the scripts to update the indexes: