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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Even if you think that you are an expert in Dynamics AX, you probably only know one area like the Financials, or Distribution, or Manufacturing, and only have cursory knowledge of the other modules. Although specialization is good, knowing all of the application is better because it opens up all of your senses to what is going on within the system, and makes everyone just a little more well-rounded.

A while ago I laid down the gauntlet to you all and challenged you all to learn Dynamics AX 2012 by immersing yourself in the application and set up a completely new instance from scratch – which I believe is the only way to learn how all of the machinery behind the scenes of Dynamics AX works – and created the much converted Bare Bones Configuration Privateer certification which you can get if you prove that you have done this. It comes with a real badge and all – I didn’t skimp on the virtual badges.

To do this, all you needed to do was work through the first 10 Bare Bones Configuration guides that I slaved over for 2 years to create.

  • M01 Configuring A Base Dynamics AX 2012 Test System
  • M02 Configuring an Organization within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M03 Configuring the General Ledger within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M04 Configuring Cash and Bank Management within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M05 Configuring Accounts Receivable within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M06 Configuring Accounts Payable within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M07 Configuring Product Information Management within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M08 Configuring Inventory Management within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M09 Configuring Procurement and Sourcing within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M10 Configuring Sales Order Management within Dynamics AX 2012

It’s easy, just start on the first one, follow the step by step instructions with screen shots for each step in case you get lost, load in all of the sample data included with the guides, and before you know it you will have a fully configured Dynamics AX 2012 system that you can take orders with, pick with, pack with, ship with, receive cash with, purchase with, receive with, pay bills with, and the list goes on. Also as a bonus, if your company is a covert spy organization then you will be ready to run all of your operations.

I am so happy to report that one of the people that took up the challenge blew me away when he reported back to me that he had taken up the challenge as a New Year’s resolution, and started the challenge on January 1st, and by the 5th he had worked through all 10 of the guides in order in a record time of 13:35 Hours! He kept a journal of the time, and here is the breakdown.

BARE BONES CONFIGURATION TIMELINE

M01

1.50

M02

0.20

M03

1.50

M04

0.15

M05

1.40

M06

2:00

M07

2:00

M08

1:30

M09

1:45

M10

1:30

TOTAL TIME: 13:35 hrs.

I don’t even think that I have set up a system that quickly.

As a result, Joel H. is the proud member of the elite Bare Bones Configuration Privateers and has the badge on his briefcase to prove it.

What is even more impressive is that he continued on and finished the next five modules in the program as well.

  • M11 Configuring Human Resource Management within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M12 Configuring Project Management and Accounting within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M13 Configuring Production Control within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M14 Configuring Sales and Marketing within Dynamics AX 2012
  • M15 Configuring Service Management within Dynamics AX 2012

These took a little longer because they are a little more involved, but by January 14th he was done.

BARE BONES CONFIGURATION TIMELINE

M11

3:00

M12

5:00

M13

2:00

M14

3:3

M15

4:00

TOTAL TIME: 17:3 hrs.

I don’t have a badge for that right now – but I’m working on it.

Now that the bar has been set, who of you all want to dethrone the current champion?

For more information just go to the Dynamics AX Companions site and check out the Bare Bones Configuration Guide section. Here is a link: http://bit.ly/1ONDmWT


Writing walkthrough guides is easy. It’s the formatting of the content that will take you forever to do, especially of you are wanting to repurpose the content into other formats like scripts, blog posts, summaries and even books. And if you want to make a change to a guide, or correct mistakes then that can take just as much time because you might break some of the formatting, or pagination, or you may miss one of the formats. And if you wanted to have specific page breaks, formatting requirements or different page sizes for different versions then it just doubles or triples the work.

Some people may have lackeys or interns that they can give this job to, but I wasn’t one of them, and have literally spent weekends formatting books and transferring images one by one into Word so that I can publish document or create detailed blog post series.

One day it became too much and I decided that I had to stop the insanity and find a better way. Because I capture all of my walkthroughs in PowerPoint – just because it makes everything look consistent and tidy – I looked into how I could automate the process and have it do all of the work for me. I blew the dust off my copy of Visual Studio and created Author Tools for PowerPoint.

These tools automate a lot of the leg work that I used to do manually by using PowerPoint as a repository for all of the walkthrough details and then uses pre-defined word templates as a basis which it then transfers all of the images and text automatically and also formats all of the walkthroughs in a number of different ways based on how you are wanting the information to be consumed. For example, if you are building a book then you may want headings on pages, but if you are publishing it as a blog then you probably don’t.

This reduces the time to format a 400+ page book from 8+ hours and tens of thousands of repetitive keystrokes to probably about half an hour and a single click.

In this walkthrough (which is created with Author Tools for PowerPoint) I will show some of the setup and also how it works.

Automatically adding boilerplate to documents

If you are converting a larger storyboard into a number of smaller documents, as you would do if you were breaking them up into bog posts, then you will probably want to add a standard introduction to each of the blog posts, and maybe even some standard follow up text at the end for more information and even an author biography for credit.

Although you can do this manually, the Author Tools for PowerPoint has a nifty feature built into it that allows you to create Boilerplate panels in the storyboard just for these types of content and you can have these automatically inserted at the beginning and end of the document as it created saving you a lot of cutting and pasting.

Getting ready…

Before we start though, if your template does not have the Boilerplate Master Layout then you will want to add it. To do this, click on the View ribbon bar within PowerPoint and then click on the Slide Master button within the Master Views button group.


This will switch you to the Slide Master view where you will see all of the different master slides that Author Tools uses. Right-mouse-click on the Parts master layout and select the Duplicate Slide Master option.


This will create a new slide master for you which we will now convert over to be a Boilerplate slide master.


In this example we deleted all of the slides except for the blank slide and the first content slide. We also made some cosmetic changes to make the slide master look a little different. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.


Now we need to mark the Slide Master as being a Boilerplate master. To do this, right-mouse-click on the parent slide master and select the Rename Master option.


When the Rename Layout dialog box is displayed, set the Layout Name to Boilerplate and then click on the Rename button.


Now right-mouse-click on the content slide and select the Rename Layout option.


When the Rename Layout dialog box is displayed, set the Layout Name to Introduction and then click on the Rename button. This slide will be used to add introduction text to all documents.


Now duplicate the Introduction slide, right-mouse-click on it and select the Rename Layout option and then when the Rename Layout dialog box is displayed, set the Layout Name to More and then click on the Rename button. This slide will be used to add more information text to all documents.


Right-mouse-click on the More slide and select the Rename Layout option and then when the Rename Layout dialog box is displayed, set the Layout Name to Author and then click on the Rename button. This slide will be used to add the author biography text to all documents.

After you have done that switch back to the Normal view within PowerPoint.



Now that you have the Boilerplate slide masters, add a new slide to the storyboard, and then select the Introduction slide master.


This will allow you to type in the default text that you want to introduce the content. Keep in mind that this may be different from the general introduction that you may have written for the walkthrough.


At the end of the presentation, you can now add in a new storyboard panel, but this time select the More template. Here you can type in the links and content that you want to use to point people to more content.


To finish this off, add in one last storyboard panel, but this time select the Author template. Then paste in the biography of the author that you want to append to the document.


To see this in action, select the Blog style
from the dropdown list and you will then see that the options within the Boilerplate option group get checked. You can do this by hand as well if you like.


When the document is created then the text from the Introduction will automatically be added to the document.


And at the end you will see all of the content from the More and Author slide have been added as well.



This is a great timesaver if you are breaking up your storyboard into smaller documents and is also a great way to add consistency to your documents. If you do this by hand then there is always a chance that you will miss something, or copy in the wrong content.

More information…

If this has piqued your curiosity then you can test it out yourself, we have made the install kit available for download for free as the Student Edition.

Just download the kit, install it and then follow along with the examples that are in the book, and also use the samples that are included with the software to see the same examples on your system. You should be able to get it up and running pretty easily and maybe you will find that writing and publishing is not that hard at all.

If you want to grab it, then just follow this link: http://bit.ly/1ZEF5Uo

Also, if you are looking for more resources on then make sure you check out the Blind Squirrel Publishing site at www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com for more articles and books.

About the Author

Murray Fife is an Author of over 25 books which you can find all of his books on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/murrayfife) and also even more on the BSP (www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com) site.

Throughout his 25+ years of experience in the software industry he has worked in many different roles during his career, including as a developer, an implementation consultant, a trainer and a demo guy within the partner channel which gives him a great understanding of the requirements for both customers and partner’s perspective.

For more information on Murray, here is his contact information:

Email:     mcf@blindsquirrelpublishing.com
Twitter:    @murrayfife
Facebook:    facebook.com/murraycfife
Google:    google.com/+murrayfife
LinkedIn:    linkedin.com/in/murrayfife
Blog:    atinkerersnotebook.com
Docs:    docs.com/mufife
Amazon:    amazon.com/author/murrayfife

The New Dynamics AX is a big change from the previous releases. The majority of the changes are around the new web based user interface, the new way that you navigate around in the application and also new sets of tools that have come along for the ride.

For those of you that are familiar with the older user interfaces then you may have to learn a couple of new tricks to get around the system like the pro that you are, and for new users of the New Dynamics AX environments then you will probably want as many tips on all the cool things that you are hidden away within the application so that you can quickly become a power user of the system.

I have scoured all of the resources that I have to compile the most useful tips and tricks for the New Dynamics AX and that will be useful to everyone, regardless of if you are a novice to Dynamics AX just trying to get around in the application, or have worked with the previous versions of the system, and are just want to learn the nuances of the new user interface.

Personalizing forms by hiding fields

Not everyone is happy with all of the data that is available on the default forms within Dynamics AX, and that’s expected. Some people want to see less information, others may want to see more. Luckily you can do this directly from the Dynamics AX client and you don’t have to customize the system at all.

The first type or personalization that you may want to do is to hide some of the extra fields that you are not interested in.

How to do it…

For example, if you are on the customers list page, you may not want to see the Extension field. To hide the field, start off by right-mouse-clicking on the field heading.


Then click on the Personalize Extension menu option.


This will open up the Personalization options for the field.


To hide the field, just check the Hide option for the field


Now the field is hidden.


Want more?

If you liked this post and want to see more tips and tricks for the New Dynamics AX then I have compiled the 50 initial tips and tricks into a new guide for you all. If you want to get all of the tips and tricks in one place, then just follow the link: http://bit.ly/1mAzKf6

Also, if you are looking for more resources on Dynamics AX in general, then make sure you check out the Dynamics AX Companions site at www.dynamicsaxcompanions.com and also the Blind Squirrel Publishing site at www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com for more articles and books.

About the Author

Murray Fife is an Author of over 25 books on Microsoft Dynamics AX including the Bare Bones Configuration Guide series of over 15 books which step the user through the setup of initial Dynamics AX instance, then through the Financial modules and then through the configuration of the more specialized modules like production, service management, and project accounting. You can find all of his books on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/murrayfife) and also even more on the BSP (www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com) site.

Murray is also the curator of the Dynamics AX Companions (www.dynamicsaxcompanions.com) site which he built from the ground up as a resource for all of the Dynamics AX community where you can find walkthroughs and blueprints that he created since first being introduced to the Dynamics AX product.

Throughout his 25+ years of experience in the software industry he has worked in many different roles during his career, including as a developer, an implementation consultant, a trainer and a demo guy within the partner channel which gives him a great understanding of the requirements for both customers and partner’s perspective.

For more information on Murray, here is his contact information:

Email:         mcf@blindsquirrelpublishing.com
Twitter:    @murrayfife
Facebook:    facebook.com/murraycfife
Google:        google.com/+murrayfife
LinkedIn:    linkedin.com/in/murrayfife
Blog:        atinkerersnotebook.com
Docs:        docs.com/mufife
Amazon:    amazon.com/author/murrayfife


Writing walkthrough guides is easy. It’s the formatting of the content that will take you forever to do, especially of you are wanting to repurpose the content into other formats like scripts, blog posts, summaries and even books. And if you want to make a change to a guide, or correct mistakes then that can take just as much time because you might break some of the formatting, or pagination, or you may miss one of the formats. And if you wanted to have specific page breaks, formatting requirements or different page sizes for different versions then it just doubles or triples the work.

Some people may have lackeys or interns that they can give this job to, but I wasn’t one of them, and have literally spent weekends formatting books and transferring images one by one into Word so that I can publish document or create detailed blog post series.

One day it became too much and I decided that I had to stop the insanity and find a better way. Because I capture all of my walkthroughs in PowerPoint – just because it makes everything look consistent and tidy – I looked into how I could automate the process and have it do all of the work for me. I blew the dust off my copy of Visual Studio and created Author Tools for PowerPoint.

These tools automate a lot of the leg work that I used to do manually by using PowerPoint as a repository for all of the walkthrough details and then uses pre-defined word templates as a basis which it then transfers all of the images and text automatically and also formats all of the walkthroughs in a number of different ways based on how you are wanting the information to be consumed. For example, if you are building a book then you may want headings on pages, but if you are publishing it as a blog then you probably don’t.

This reduces the time to format a 400+ page book from 8+ hours and tens of thousands of repetitive keystrokes to probably about half an hour and a single click.

In this walkthrough (which is created with Author Tools for PowerPoint) I will show some of the setup and also how it works.

How to create a new document template

The templates that are delivered with Author Tools are good, but they are just a starting point for you. You can use them and extend them to create your very own personalized templates that include your specific graphics, titles, and also boilerplate content that will always be used in the document. Also you can customize your templates to have their own styles and formatting properties so that they look and feel different from the ones that are initially available.

For example, you can create branded whitepapers where you just inject all of the walkthrough details, or you can create your own cut down templates that just give you a document without all of the bells and whistles that you can use to upload to other blogging resources.

You can also create your own templates that have different page sizes than the default letter size so that the documents will be ready to be uploaded to publishing services. These smaller form factors can also have smaller font styles as well to adjust to the new format.

It’s easy to do, all you need to do is create a new template and copy over the default styles that the Author Tools are looking for.

How to do it…

To do this, start off with a blank Word document. Then click on the dock icon in the bottom right of the Styles panel within the Home ribbon bar.


This will open up the Styles panel where you can see all of the default styles that are attached to the document. We need to now copy over all of the styles that the Author Tools are looking for. To do this click on the Manage Styles icon (the third from the left at the bottom of the panel).


This will open up the Manage Styles dialog box. Now click on the Import/Export button.


This will open up the Organizer dialog box where you can copy styles between templates. This is connected to the standard Normal template which doesn’t have the styles that we need. So click on the Close File for the right-hand-side template.


Now that you have closed the template, click on the Open File button on the right to connect to a better template.


Navigate to the Author Tools folder within your Documents and then drill into the Templates folder. This will allow you to click on the Normal author tools template and then click on the Open button.


When you return back to the Organize form you will see that the new template that you connected to has a number of BSP styles.


Select all of the BSP* styles and then click on the <-Copy button. That will copy them to the document and you can click on the Close button.


When you return back to the document you will see that all of the styles that the Author Tools are looking for have been added to the Styles pane.


Now you can personalize the layout of the document, add in any title pages, boilerplate information and if you want you can even change the default view for the template.


Once you have finished working on the document and setting it up as a base template for your documents you will want to save the document.


Save it to the Author Tools/Templates folder and also change the default Save as Type to a Word Template – either .dotx, or .dotm will work..


After you have done that just close out the document.


How it works…

Now when you open up the Author Tools and click on the Template dropdown list you will see that the template that you just created is in the list.


If you create a document using that template then all of the styles that are embedded within the template will be used and also all of the formatting that is related to the document will be used there as well.


Review

By creating additional templates you can save yourself a whole bunch of time with cutting and pasting boiler plate information and also you can create multiple variations of documents that you may want to publish out that are 99% of the way done with their own branding and formatting. This allows you to quickly convert one storyboard into multiple variations within just minutes. You could create a version that is PDF version that is ready for print, and then turn around and create a version that is ready to be published as a blog post. Also if you want you can have privately branded version that you can quickly publish and send out to other channels as well.

More Information

If this has piqued your curiosity then you can test it out yourself, we have made the install kit available for download for free as the Student Edition.

Just download the kit, install it and then follow along with the examples that are in the book, and also use the samples that are included with the software to see the same examples on your system. You should be able to get it up and running pretty easily and maybe you will find that writing and publishing is not that hard at all.

If you want to grab it, then just follow this link: http://bit.ly/1ZEF5Uo

Also, if you are looking for more resources on then make sure you check out the Blind Squirrel Publishing site at www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com for more articles and books.

About The Author

Murray Fife is an Author of over 25 books which you can find all of his books on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/murrayfife) and also even more on the BSP (www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com) site.

Throughout his 25+ years of experience in the software industry he has worked in many different roles during his career, including as a developer, an implementation consultant, a trainer and a demo guy within the partner channel which gives him a great understanding of the requirements for both customers and partner’s perspective.

For more information on Murray, here is his contact information:

Email:     mcf@blindsquirrelpublishing.com
Twitter:    @murrayfife
Facebook:    facebook.com/murraycfife
Google:    google.com/+murrayfife
LinkedIn:    linkedin.com/in/murrayfife
Blog:    atinkerersnotebook.com
Docs:    docs.com/mufife
Amazon:    amazon.com/author/murrayfife

Writing walkthrough guides is easy. It’s the formatting of the content that will take you forever to do, especially of you are wanting to repurpose the content into other formats like scripts, blog posts, summaries and even books. And if you want to make a change to a guide, or correct mistakes then that can take just as much time because you might break some of the formatting, or pagination, or you may miss one of the formats. And if you wanted to have specific page breaks, formatting requirements or different page sizes for different versions then it just doubles or triples the work.

Some people may have lackeys or interns that they can give this job to, but I wasn’t one of them, and have literally spent weekends formatting books and transferring images one by one into Word so that I can publish document or create detailed blog post series.

One day it became too much and I decided that I had to stop the insanity and find a better way. Because I capture all of my walkthroughs in PowerPoint – just because it makes everything look consistent and tidy – I looked into how I could automate the process and have it do all of the work for me. I blew the dust off my copy of Visual Studio and created Author Tools for PowerPoint.

These tools automate a lot of the leg work that I used to do manually by using PowerPoint as a repository for all of the walkthrough details and then uses pre-defined word templates as a basis which it then transfers all of the images and text automatically and also formats all of the walkthroughs in a number of different ways based on how you are wanting the information to be consumed. For example, if you are building a book then you may want headings on pages, but if you are publishing it as a blog then you probably don’t.

This reduces the time to format a 400+ page book from 8+ hours and tens of thousands of repetitive keystrokes to probably about half an hour and a single click.

In this post (which is created with Author Tools for PowerPoint) I will show how some of it works.

Adding Tips and Cues To Illustrations

Sometimes with walkthroughs you want to highlight certain areas within the illustration, maybe you want to point to specific items, highlight areas, or something else to help explain the process better. The problem is that you don’t want to edit the main image and corrupt it. There is a better way with the Author Tools and that is by adding any extra embellishments on top of the image and then converting them into a Tip group. You can then tell the system to merge the picture and the tips when it is copying the picture.

How to do it…

To do this, start off by adding in your extra embellishments over the main image.

Then select all of the shapes that you want to include within the Tip layer group.

Then right-mouse-click on them and select the Group option from the Group submenu.

Now you have a single group that you can convert into a tip.

To do this you need to rename the shape group to be Tip. To do this, switch to the Write ribbon bar and click on the Tip button within the Apply group to mark the shape group as a tip.

To see what this has done, click on the Arrange button within the Home ribbon bar and select the Selection Pane option at the bottom.

This will open up a panel that shows all of the shapes that are on the page and their name. Notice that all of the Text and Picture shapes are named as well. This is how the Author Tools is able to pick out the different elements on the page.

How it works…

Now just click on the Create Document button to build the see what this does.

When the document is created, you will see that the image that it pastes into Word is now a composite of the main picture and also the tips that you added in.

Just as a side note, if you don’t want to merge the tips and the pictures then just click on the Thumbnails button group and uncheck the Merge Tips and Pictures.

How easy is that?

Want more?

If this has piqued your curiosity then you can test it out yourself, we have made the install kit available for download for free as the Student Edition.

Just download the kit, install it and then follow along with the examples that are in the book, and also use the samples that are included with the software to see the same examples on your system. You should be able to get it up and running pretty easily and maybe you will find that writing and publishing is not that hard at all.

If you want to grab it, then just follow this link: http://bit.ly/1ZEF5Uo

Also, if you are looking for more resources on then make sure you check out the Blind Squirrel Publishing site at www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com for more articles and books.

About the Author

Murray Fife is an Author of over 25 books which you can find all of his books on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/murrayfife) and also even more on the BSP (www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com) site.

Throughout his 25+ years of experience in the software industry he has worked in many different roles during his career, including as a developer, an implementation consultant, a trainer and a demo guy within the partner channel which gives him a great understanding of the requirements for both customers and partner’s perspective.

For more information on Murray, here is his contact information:

Email:         mcf@blindsquirrelpublishing.com
Twitter:    @murrayfife
Facebook:    facebook.com/murraycfife
Google:        google.com/+murrayfife
LinkedIn:    linkedin.com/in/murrayfife
Blog:        atinkerersnotebook.com
Docs:        docs.com/mufife
Amazon:    amazon.com/author/murrayfife

The New Dynamics AX is a big change from the previous releases. The majority of the changes are around the new web based user interface, the new way that you navigate around in the application and also new sets of tools that have come along for the ride.

For those of you that are familiar with the older user interfaces then you may have to learn a couple of new tricks to get around the system like the pro that you are, and for new users of the New Dynamics AX environments then you will probably want as many tips on all the cool things that you are hidden away within the application so that you can quickly become a power user of the system.

I have scoured all of the resources that I have to compile the most useful tips and tricks for the New Dynamics AX and that will be useful to everyone, regardless of if you are a novice to Dynamics AX just trying to get around in the application, or have worked with the previous versions of the system, and are just want to learn the nuances of the new user interface.

Responsive Zooming In And Out On Forms

Because the New Dynamics AX is a HTML client then you can also take advantage of some of the features of HTML5 which includes the responsive web design. What this means is that if you zoom in and out the forms will adjust themselves to match the page real estate.

How it works…

If you zoom out, then you will see that the form fields will re-layout to take advantage of the extra space that is available.

If you zoom in, then the fields will re-arrange themselves so that they are not falling off the right of the page and layout into a longer form.

If you zoom in, then the fields will re-arrange themselves so that they are not falling off the right of the page and layout into a longer form.

Want more?

If you liked this post and want to see more tips and tricks for the New Dynamics AX then I have compiled the 50 initial tips and tricks into a new guide for you all. If you want to get all of the tips and tricks in one place, then just follow the link: http://bit.ly/1mAzKf6

Also, if you are looking for more resources on Dynamics AX in general, then make sure you check out the Dynamics AX Companions site at www.dynamicsaxcompanions.com and also the Blind Squirrel Publishing site at www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com for more articles and books.

About the Author

Murray Fife is an Author of over 25 books on Microsoft Dynamics AX including the Bare Bones Configuration Guide series of over 15 books which step the user through the setup of initial Dynamics AX instance, then through the Financial modules and then through the configuration of the more specialized modules like production, service management, and project accounting. You can find all of his books on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/murrayfife) and also even more on the BSP (www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com) site.

Murray is also the curator of the Dynamics AX Companions (www.dynamicsaxcompanions.com) site which he built from the ground up as a resource for all of the Dynamics AX community where you can find walkthroughs and blueprints that he created since first being introduced to the Dynamics AX product.

Throughout his 25+ years of experience in the software industry he has worked in many different roles during his career, including as a developer, an implementation consultant, a trainer and a demo guy within the partner channel which gives him a great understanding of the requirements for both customers and partner’s perspective.

For more information on Murray, here is his contact information:

Email:         mcf@blindsquirrelpublishing.com
Twitter:    @murrayfife
Facebook:    facebook.com/murraycfife
Google:        google.com/+murrayfife
LinkedIn:    linkedin.com/in/murrayfife
Blog:        atinkerersnotebook.com
Docs:        docs.com/mufife
Amazon:    amazon.com/author/murrayfife

 

Writing walkthrough guides is easy. It’s the formatting of the content that will take you forever to do, especially of you are wanting to repurpose the content into other formats like scripts, blog posts, summaries and even books. And if you want to make a change to a guide, or correct mistakes then that can take just as much time because you might break some of the formatting, or pagination, or you may miss one of the formats. And if you wanted to have specific page breaks, formatting requirements or different page sizes for different versions then it just doubles or triples the work.

Some people may have lackeys or interns that they can give this job to, but I wasn’t one of them, and have literally spent weekends formatting books and transferring images one by one into Word so that I can publish document or create detailed blog post series.

One day it became too much and I decided that I had to stop the insanity and find a better way. Because I capture all of my walkthroughs in PowerPoint – just because it makes everything look consistent and tidy – I looked into how I could automate the process and have it do all of the work for me. I blew the dust off my copy of Visual Studio and created Author Tools for PowerPoint.

These tools automate a lot of the leg work that I used to do manually by using PowerPoint as a repository for all of the walkthrough details and then uses pre-defined word templates as a basis which it then transfers all of the images and text automatically and also formats all of the walkthroughs in a number of different ways based on how you are wanting the information to be consumed. For example, if you are building a book then you may want headings on pages, but if you are publishing it as a blog then you probably don’t.

This reduces the time to format a 400+ page book from 8+ hours and tens of thousands of repetitive keystrokes to probably about half an hour and a single click.

In this post (which is created with Author Tools for PowerPoint) I will show how some of it works.

Adding Thumbnails within Recipe Elements

The Recipe element is a simple way to lay out instructions for the users and is sometimes a better way to show the steps for the expert users that don’t need the full walkthrough screen by screen. But sometimes there is information that you want to highlight within the recipe just so that people don’t get too lost as they are visualizing what they need to do. There is a feature built into the Author Tools that allows you to add an extra Thumbnail image to the page that you are working on, write a caption for the image if you like and then have it show within the Recipe.

If you look at the right hand side of the template, you will see that there are some more placeholders that are available for you to use. One of them is for the Thumbnail and another is for the Caption.

To add a Thumbnail, just paste it into the Thumbnail placeholder.

Then you can crop the image to just the piece that you want to show within the Recipe.

Then type in a Caption for the image pointing out anything that is important about the Thumbnail that you just added.

Once you have done that return to the Publish ribbon bar and expand the Recipe group. There is a flag in there that is off by default which allows you to Show Thumbnails on the recipes.

All you need to do is check that flag and then click on the Create Document button.

Now when the document is created it will include the Thumbnail image in line with the recipe text and also a caption to explain why it’s important.

How easy is that?

Want more?

If this has piqued your curiosity then you can test it out yourself, we have made the install kit available for download for free as the Student Edition.

Just download the kit, install it and then follow along with the examples that are in the book, and also use the samples that are included with the software to see the same examples on your system. You should be able to get it up and running pretty easily and maybe you will find that writing and publishing is not that hard at all.

If you want to grab it, then just follow this link: http://bit.ly/1ZEF5Uo

Also, if you are looking for more resources on then make sure you check out the Blind Squirrel Publishing site at www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com for more articles and books.

About the Author

Murray Fife is an Author of over 25 books which you can find all of his books on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/murrayfife) and also even more on the BSP (www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com) site.

Throughout his 25+ years of experience in the software industry he has worked in many different roles during his career, including as a developer, an implementation consultant, a trainer and a demo guy within the partner channel which gives him a great understanding of the requirements for both customers and partner’s perspective.

For more information on Murray, here is his contact information:

Email:         mcf@blindsquirrelpublishing.com
Twitter:    @murrayfife
Facebook:    facebook.com/murraycfife
Google:        google.com/+murrayfife
LinkedIn:    linkedin.com/in/murrayfife
Blog:        atinkerersnotebook.com
Docs:        docs.com/mufife
Amazon:    amazon.com/author/murrayfife

Last week I published out an eBook on Building Walkthrough Guides Using The Author Tools and made it available for you all as a free download. I was a little surprised at the response and the number of downloads that I got for the first edition. And to all of you that did download the book, you may want to re-download it because over the past day or so I added in a lot more content showing some of the more advanced features within the Author Tools for PowerPoint including:

  • Using Different Templates
  • Adding Thumbnails within Recipe Elements
  • Adding Tips and Cues To Illustrations
  • Using Custom Step Headings
  • Selectively Publishing Sections
  • Turning On or Off Section Breaks
  • Turning On or Off Odd Section Breaks
  • Turning off Walkthrough Step Headings
  • Changing the Placement Of The Walkthrough Thumbnail

 

For all of you that this may have not grabbed a copy of the book, but that I may have piqued your curiosity, here is the link to the guide: http://bit.ly/1NahEFY

More importantly though I had a couple of requests on where to get a copy of the Author Tools for PowerPoint so that you all can test it out. So I have made the install kit available for download for free as the Student Edition.

To test it out, just download the kit, install it and then follow along with the examples that are in the book, and also use the samples that are included with the software to see the same examples on your system. You should be able to get it up and running pretty easily and maybe you will find that writing and publishing is not that hard at all.

If you want to grab the install kit then just follow this link: http://bit.ly/1ZEF5Uo

If you are interested in learning more or have any problems accessing the Author Tools then drop me a note.

The New Dynamics AX is a big change from the previous releases. The majority of the changes are around the new web based user interface, the new way that you navigate around in the application and also new sets of tools that have come along for the ride.

For those of you that are familiar with the older user interfaces then you may have to learn a couple of new tricks to get around the system like the pro that you are, and for new users of the New Dynamics AX environments then you will probably want as many tips on all the cool things that you are hidden away within the application so that you can quickly become a power user of the system.

I have scoured all of the resources that I have to compile the most useful tips and tricks for the New Dynamics AX and that will be useful to everyone, regardless of if you are a novice to Dynamics AX just trying to get around in the application, or have worked with the previous versions of the system, and are just want to learn the nuances of the new user interface.

Using the list filter

When you are in the detail view within the forms, you don’t need to return back to the list page each time to navigate from record to record. You can show the list filter feature to navigate through all of the records.

How it works…

To view the list filter, just click on the List icon on the left hand side of the form.

This will open up a panel on the left hand side that shows you a quick view to all of the records that you can switch to.

If you want to search for records using the filter list then all you need to do is type in part of the name that you want to search on

This will filter the data out to any record that matches your search and also change the detail panel to show the first record that matches.

Want more?

If you liked this post and want to see more tips and tricks for the New Dynamics AX then I have compiled the 50 initial tips and tricks into a new guide for you all. If you want to get all of the tips and tricks in one place, then just follow the link: http://bit.ly/1mAzKf6

Also, if you are looking for more resources on Dynamics AX in general, then make sure you check out the Dynamics AX Companions site at www.dynamicsaxcompanions.com and also the Blind Squirrel Publishing site at www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com for more articles and books.

About the Author

Murray Fife is an Author of over 25 books on Microsoft Dynamics AX including the Bare Bones Configuration Guide series of over 15 books which step the user through the setup of initial Dynamics AX instance, then through the Financial modules and then through the configuration of the more specialized modules like production, service management, and project accounting. You can find all of his books on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/murrayfife) and also even more on the BSP (www.blindsquirrelpublishing.com) site.

Murray is also the curator of the Dynamics AX Companions (www.dynamicsaxcompanions.com) site which he built from the ground up as a resource for all of the Dynamics AX community where you can find walkthroughs and blueprints that he created since first being introduced to the Dynamics AX product.

Throughout his 25+ years of experience in the software industry he has worked in many different roles during his career, including as a developer, an implementation consultant, a trainer and a demo guy within the partner channel which gives him a great understanding of the requirements for both customers and partner’s perspective.

For more information on Murray, here is his contact information:

Email:         mcf@blindsquirrelpublishing.com
Twitter:    @murrayfife
Facebook:    facebook.com/murraycfife
Google:        google.com/+murrayfife
LinkedIn:    linkedin.com/in/murrayfife
Blog:        atinkerersnotebook.com
Docs:        docs.com/mufife
Amazon:    amazon.com/author/murrayfife

Writing walkthrough guides is easy. It’s the formatting of the content that will take you forever to do, especially of you are wanting to repurpose the content into other formats like scripts, blog posts, summaries and even books. And if you want to make a change to a guide, or correct mistakes then that can take just as much time because you might break some of the formatting, or pagination, or you may miss one of the formats. And if you wanted to have specific page breaks, formatting requirements or different page sizes for different versions then it just doubles or triples the work.

Some people may have lackeys or interns that they can give this job to, but I wasn’t one of them, and have literally spent weekends formatting books and transferring images one by one into Word so that I can publish document or create detailed blog post series.

One day it became too much and I decided that I had to stop the insanity and find a better way. Because I capture all of my walkthroughs in PowerPoint – just because it makes everything look consistent and tidy – I looked into how I could automate the process and have it do all of the work for me. I blew the dust off my copy of Visual Studio and created Author Tools for PowerPoint.

These tools automate a lot of the leg work that I used to do manually by using PowerPoint as a repository for all of the walkthrough details and then uses pre-defined word templates as a basis which it then transfers all of the images and text automatically and also formats all of the walkthroughs in a number of different ways based on how you are wanting the information to be consumed. For example, if you are building a book then you may want headings on pages, but if you are publishing it as a blog then you probably don’t.

This reduces the time to format a 400+ page book from 8+ hours and tens of thousands of repetitive keystrokes to probably about half an hour and a single click.

To show everyone how this works I created a quick overview guide/user guide for the add in and it is available for download from the BSP site for free. Grab a copy if you are looking for a better way to create your own guides.

Here is the link to the guide: http://bit.ly/1NahEFY

If you are interested in learning more then drop me a note.