User Interface Instructional Texts in NAV 2011

The Dynamics NAV product line has always aimed at providing user-friendly solutions to the users, so that this out-of-the box product would require minimum hours of training for the organization staff. However, in earlier versions of Dynamics NAV, this was not yet robust enough due to the programming limitations of Classic Client.

In Dynamics NAV 2015, new instructional features were introduced in order to enhance the user experience and make the product more intuitive to use. This blog covers the different types of instructional texts and how they are implemented in Dynamics NAV 2015.

1.    Dismissible Dialogs

This type of instructional text is applied whenever the unexpected situation or potential error occurs. This type of text usually requires user input or action. This window is dismissible and the user can choose an option to hide it, preventing it from showing up in future. Let’s have a look at the Mini Sales Quote window. If the user enters a line without specifying the Type, the system will pop up the following message:

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This is a notification to the user, which can be disabled if the user is confident in what he is doing. If the Do Not Show Again option is selected, upon entering the next line with Blank type, the message won’t appear.

The mechanism of this instructional text lies in the OnValidate trigger of the Description field:

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The trigger calls the MiniLinesInstructionMgt codeunit, which checks if the line instructions should be shown by calling the ShowCreateLineInstruction function:

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Dynamics NAV uses the STR menu function to check if the user wants to see the message next time. In our case, the STR menu option 1 tells the system to show the message next time, whereas option 2 calls the DisableMessageForCurrentUser function, which will tell the system to hide the instructional text.

2.    Help Tiles

An example of this kind of instructional text is implemented in Small Business Role Center. It is aimed to help the user get started with the application.

When the user logs in for the first time into the Role Center, a welcome video is displayed.

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The first two of the tiles are videos and the third one is a help reference:

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When the user clicks on a tile, it starts playing the video by invoking the client extensibility add-in called Microsoft.Dynamics.Nav.Client.VideoPlayer:

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Note, that these tiles are implemented only in Dynamics NAV Web Client. In Windows Client they are shown as hyperlinks:

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3.    Tool Tips

This kind of instructional text is implemented throughout the application, making small hints for the users on the buttons, controls and text boxes usage. In this example, when the user points to one of the Payables cues, a tool tip message appears, explaining the cue item.

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Another example of tool tips is on the Company Information card.

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When the user points to the company picture, the tool tip hints to double-click the image in order to preview the picture.

On the Chart of Accounts page, if the user points to the AssistEdit button, he will also get the tool tip menu drop down, suggesting the quick actions for each G/L account. This kind of tool tip speeds up the process of managing accounts as well as other entities in the system.

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The tool tips are implemented via object Properties window. E.g. in the following screenshot the ToolTip property is set for the customer number field explaining to the user the options of entering number series for the customer:

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This property is Multi-language-enabled and the relevant translations are specified in the ToolTipML property.

4.    Task-Oriented Help

This is a pre-installed help package for each process within Dynamics NAV. This help is stored on the Help server and is outside of Dynamics NAV objects. It is shown to the user as ASP pages via URLs. The help files include information on the field usage, object usage and structure, etc. On each page, there is a Help button. When clicked, this opens a relevant help topic.

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The help page will also contain help links to other related information, references and walkthroughs.

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In this article, we have covered the basic ways for providing instructional texts in Dynamics NAV 2015 and had a look at their design patters. Provided that the UI texts are developed using the best practices and Microsoft guidelines, they will be of great help to the users and will save costs on external consultancy and classroom trainings.

January 4, 2016