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Microsoft Dynamics Ax 2009 : Role Centers - Introduction

4/20/2013 2:55:39 AM
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1. Introduction

A tremendous amount of information and functionality are available to people who work with Microsoft Dynamics AX. Role Centers have been developed to help users manage that information, enabling them to prioritize their tasks and make quick business decisions.

Role Centers are available in Enterprise Portal and the Dynamics AX client. The Role Center is the home page the user sees when he or she starts Dynamics AX or Enterprise Portal. The Role Center displayed is based on the user profile that the user is assigned to.

Each Role Center is made up of different Web parts that display job-specific business information and the Dynamics AX functionality that the person regularly uses. For example, the Role Center for a sales manager, the Dynamics AX persona Kevin, includes a list of key performance indicators (KPIs) that Kevin needs to see every day; a business overview that shows him KPI trends over time; a chart that shows him his sales pipeline; a list of Quick Links that take him directly to the forms, reports, and Web sites he uses regularly; and a list of alerts and work tasks that he needs to act on. The Web parts in Kevin’s Role Center are (optionally) interactive, enabling him to drill down into the overview information he sees to get to the underlying data with a few mouse clicks. Figure 1 shows Kevin’s Role Center.

Figure 1. Example Role Center, for the Dynamics AX sales manager persona Kevin

Developers can create new Role Centers and customize the out-of-the-box content, predefined cubes, and analytical views that ship with Role Centers. Users can personalize the personal view of their Role Center to suit their day-to-day work.

Note

This chapter assumes that you have installed Enterprise Portal and Role Centers. For more information on installing Enterprise Portal and Role Centers, see the Dynamics AX Implementation Guide. You can access that guide through the Using Dynamics AX site at http://www.microsoft.com/Dynamics/AX/using/ax_installationinfo.mspx.


Before we go into the details of Role Centers, let’s take a look at some of the key benefits of using them. With Role Centers, users can do the following:

  • View business data at a glance. Users can monitor and analyze business performance using actionable business intelligence, such as KPIs, charts, and reports directly in the Role Center. Having this information at their fingertips allows users to take action quickly and to drill down into details and transactions as necessary.

  • Boost productivity and improve effectiveness. Role Centers provide a single, integrated view of the job-specific information and tasks employees need to make informed business decisions.

  • Prioritize their tasks. Role Centers can help users keep critical tasks, projects, and orders on track with notifications and alerts initiated by automated workflows that are displayed in the Role Center.

  • Get up to speed quickly. The familiar user interface offers intuitive navigation and makes it easy to find information, helping to minimize training time.

  • Personalize Role Centers. Users can easily personalize Role Centers to fit their own unique work style and information needs.


2.Inside Role Centers

In this section, we take a brief tour of the underlying technology components that make up Role Centers. In subsequent sections, we discuss these components in detail.

Architecture

The Enterprise Portal framework forms the foundation for Role Centers; Role Center development takes place within this framework. Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server form the Role Center front end, allowing developers and users to customize and personalize a Role Center. The Dynamics AX Reporting and Business Intelligence framework enables you to develop reports, KPIs, and other business intelligence that can appear in a Role Center. The Role Center framework itself consists of the following parts:

  • User profiles

  • Role Center Web parts, such as Cues, Quick Links, Business Overview, Dynamics Report Server Report, and Dynamics Unified Worklist

  • Metadata store for Cues, Quick Links, and Business Overview Web parts, and user profiles in the AOT; and the import/export mechanism for Cues Quick Links, and user profiles

  • Run-time style, navigation, and interaction adaptors for the client and Enterprise Portal, and run-time detection and rendering of Role Centers as the start page

The Enterprise Portal framework and the Reporting and Business Intelligence framework use .NET Business Connector to access the metadata stored in AOD files (represented by the Application Object Tree, or AOT) and the transactional data stored in the Dynamics AX database. The framework uses the ADOMD.NET data provider to get analytical data from OLAP.

Role Centers are built with Enterprise Portal and Reporting and Business Intelligence framework components in Windows SharePoint Services using ASP.NET. The same Role Center page is rendered with the appropriate themes and navigation based on the client platform (the Dynamics AX client or Enterprise Portal) on which it is hosted.

When a user accesses a Role Center through Enterprise Portal, the master page detects the user profile of the current users, retrieves the associated Role Center page for that user profile, and renders it in Enterprise Portal. A Role Center is just like any other Web part page in Windows SharePoint Services.

When a user accesses Dynamics AX through the client, a Web browser control that is hosted for the home tab displays the appropriate Role Center page from the Windows SharePoint Services site. The top and left navigation are stripped off the Web page, and a header with Role Center as the caption and a Personalize This Page link are added. The Dynamics AX client Role Center style sheets are applied so that the Role Center looks like other client user interface components. Any links in the Cue, Quick Links, and Dynamics Report Server Report Web parts point to client list pages or forms. The browser control detects the navigation event for these links and when clicked opens the respective client list page or form. If there are any hyperlinks that point to other Web pages, they open in a new browser window so that the client Role Center is never replaced with other pages in the Dynamics AX client.

 
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