Since launch, Microsoft has set out to make Dynamics 365 for Operations an integral part of their Digital Transformation message and solution. Striving to make this transition easier, changes are coming that will affect customizations made to the code in both implementation and upgrade scenarios. In fact, one of the main objectives Microsoft has outlined going forward is to make the upgrade process simpler and less expensive.
Since the initial introduction of the Dynamics 365 for Operations (or whatever the name this product has acquired while the naming assimilation continues) the modifications have involved the use of either overlayered code or extensions. While overlayered code is the traditional approach since the pre-Microsoft days, it is often the source of frustration when moving from one release to the next due to high cost and time needed for conflict resolutions, testing, etc. In an effort to stem these undesirable factors, Microsoft is planning to lock down the core code by enforcing ALL customizations be done through extensions.
So what does that mean for you?
The good news is, once they hard seal the code in the Spring 2018 release, any customizations you need will move to each new release thereafter with ease as they will have to be extensions.
Even if you still have overlayered code customizations, they will be supported on the Fall 2017 release for three years, providing time to move them to extensions. This does not mean it is a good idea to take advantage of overlaying while it can still be done. If anything, it makes it even more important not to opt for the “quick and dirty” code upgrade offers. While it may be tempting, not moving overlayered code to extensions is a bad idea that will result in one giant mess of an upgrade next Spring.
If extensions are so much better, why aren’t all customizations done this way already?
The answer is up to this point not all desired extensions are available and some use cases required “custom” extensions to be inserted, and Microsoft is committed to creating extensions whenever a partner or customer points out an area where one is needed. Microsoft is working full steam to re-factor the code and close this gap. Even with partners or customers creating the meat of most extensions (custom code), it is hard to say just yet what the exact process will be on the Microsoft end.
Though much is still unknown, Microsoft moving to protect the core Dynamics 365 for Operations code and simplify the move to each new release makes sense and has the potential to be a very good thing.