The one thing which grows by sharing is knowledge

Last week I was a guest on the Dynamics Corner podcast by Brad and Kris. Together with Jesper Schulz-Wedde from Microsoft, we had a chance to talk about contribution to Base Application. The whole podcast you can find below.

But I want to take this opportunity to make some reflection on those past years and how the development of Navision… NAV… Business Central and collaboration between partners and Microsoft have changed.

When you are a dinosaur

I work with this product (despite the name changes) for almost 13 years. Even if I know a lot of people working longer, I think about myself as a dinosaur (at least a baby dinosaur).

When I started no one except one person in the company has contact with people from Microsoft. Development was so exclusive in NAV that to do anything you needed to have a special development license which was treated as gold and could not be shared with anyone.

Moreover, you had to wait for new features and fixes for quite a long since the releases were (let’s put it in this words) quite a distance in time.

The new era

How is it now? TOTALLY DIFFERENT! I think we need to say it very loud and clear. Those times of “closed” cooperation are gone.

First, Microsoft opened a lot of communication channels such as Yammer and Twitter (check the Twitter section on Steve’s Resource List). You can find many Business Central Team members there answering and sharing their knowledge and validating ideas. It would be very hard to name all of them to not miss anyone – kudos to all of them.

Such meetups as #BCBeerinar or physical conferences where a huge Microsoft team is joining every time are also proving that our ecosystem has changed. We have many sessions that are not only “Hello. This is a new feature. Bye“. We can see more and more roundtables and discussion panels with Microsoft people. During Direction NA I was surprised by how many questions everyone had to program managers.

You may think “It changed for you because you are MVP so it is easier to speak with Microsoft“. But that is not true – I am not saying MVP status does not give any benefits but you would be surprised how many things I am learning the first time from tweets, conferences, meetups, office hours, etc. – this proves that it is not closed knowledge at all.

In terms of development also a lot changed. It is less restricted – in the cloud, everyone can do the development without any additional costs for objects or using a special license, despite of whether you are a partner or a solo developer. Is it good? Honestly – that depends (I can name a few cons but also a lot of pros). But one thing is sure: it is much easier for developers, partners, and customers.

Being part of the “development team”

The next step is “unleash” the code (ok this term probably is not the best to use here but as a Star Wars fan could not resist). I am so happy that we, as a community can improve Business Central in general – first System App and now Base App. This is a huge step for all partners and freelancers. You can find almost everything on GitHub (also the version history – which is a community project for Stefan Maron).

Many times, I heard: “It is their code and their responsibility to fix it“. Yes, we can have that attitude and yes you are true it is their code but you either can wait to get a fix or you can do it by yourself. Guess what will be faster?

Moreover, you not only can do the fixes but also do new staff. The modules Azure Blob Storage, SharePoint or Barcode printing is only a few examples that you can do much faster because someone in the community has seen the value in sharing. From Base App example can be multi-select items on Transfer Order – that has been done by Tomas Kapitan – again someone not from Microsoft.

And trust me – sharing those does not mean you need to do it for free – it depends on your business model.

My boss, Ulrich, says that “The one thing which grows by sharing is knowledge” and I agree with that. I am glad that more and more people believe in it as well.

What do you think? Are you still working as it was the year 2010?

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