Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The future of X++

During the summmer Microsoft announced that X++ based Web User Interface is discontinues in the next version of EP which hardly comes as a surprise - Dilip has some nice thoughs on the subject, and as he says this will allow developers to use Web 3.0 Framework.

On Channel 9 - "Dynamics Program Manager Peter Villadsen and Software Developer Gustavo Plancarte teach us about a new tool they've developed that translates X++ byte code into MSIL. We learn a lot of history along the way and gain insights into the process of taking X++ into the .NET age.

Microsoft Dynamics features a proprietary language called X++ (basically a superset of Java, with some strong data primitives added) and a complete stack (compiler, interpreter and debugger) that goes with it. The new feature Peter and team have developed is a tool to generate managed code from the X++ intermediate language produced by the X++ compiler. This will have profound impact on the performance of the business applications written in X++, and it very clearly points to where they'll be going in the next few releases of Dynamics Ax."

Watch the video here.

My thoughts on the subject - as I posted on Dilip's blog, is that X++ sooner than later will become the new COBOL; 'pure' X++ code and developers will never die completly due to the exsisting code-base already out there, which has to be maintained but when the full implementation of an intermedia langauge parser comes into exsistence .NET programmers will be able to code Dynamics AX customizations in e.g. Visual Studio. There are many blessings in X++ - Extended Data Types and it's function to name one - which does not exsist in other languages ( to my knowledge ) which newer generations of developers will probably not fanthom if the platform will be migrated completly to the .NET-platform.

The progress begs the question - what are the advantages in the migration from X++ to .NET? Hard to tell for a X++ 'evangelist' but one thing could be the that Microsoft wish to consolidate NAV and AX development to the .NET platform through the intermediate language and thus open ERP development to the many exsisting .NET developers. This will perhaps position Microsoft better in the ERP market versus e.g. SAP if in a few years all the .NET programmers will be able to develop ERP solutions?

The days where a X++ developer could get by with "only" SQL and X++ skills are soon to end. Already for ISVs to give customers the full advantage of their Dynamics AX 2009 investment, their competencies has to include .NET programmers and Business Intelligence people (e.g. MDX, Reporting Services) on top of the traditional X++ and SQL teams. This will bring new challenges to ISVs and Dynamics AX team composition.