Thursday, December 29, 2022

Business Central Simple Tip #2: Update AppSource Apps

by Steve Endow

(There is some technical background involved in this Simple Tip, so if I got any details wrong or missed something that is important, please let me know).

Today's Business Central Simple Tip comes from the book Administrating Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Online by Andrey Baludin.

It relates to "AppSource Apps" that are installed in your Business Central Online Environment.  If you have Andrey's book, turn to page 46, and look for the heading "Apps and sessions".

He provides instructions on how to navigate in the Business Central Admin Center to the "Manage Apps" page.  The Manage Apps page lets you see a list of apps that are installed in that particular Environment.

Business Central Admin Center - Manage Apps Page

For background, Business Central AppSource Apps are installed separately in each Environment.  For example, you can install Erik Hougaard's Simple Object Designer app in your Sandbox environment, without installing it in your Production Environment.  This allows you to evaluate or test apps before deploying them to production.

What if you find a small bug in an AppSource App, the ISV fixes the bug, and then they release a new version to AppSource?  

Unfortunately, after the new app version is released in AppSource, you will not receive any notifications. (If someone knows of a way to enable such alerts, please let me know!)  You will need to remember to open the Business Central Admin Center, select the appropriate Environment, and then look on the Manage Apps page.

When you view the list of installed apps, you should see that the ISV application has a new version number listed in the "Latest Available Version" column.

New Blue Dragonfly App Is Available

This screen shot shows apps installed in my Sandbox2 Environment.  Notice that I currently have version of the Blue Dragonfly Recurring Billing app, and that version is the Latest Available Version.

Side Note:  When a new version of an AppSource App is released, Business Central will not automatically install it for you.  If you want to install the new version immediately, you will need to do it through the Admin Center.  However, if you wait until the next 'major' release of Business Central (e.g. v21 -> v22), Microsoft will attempt to install the latest version of AppSource Apps in your Production Environment during that version upgrade. (I think I got that right--if there is something I missed, let me know).

In this case, I want to upgrade to version of Blue Dragonfly Recurring Billing in my Sandbox2 Environment.  But notice that the blue link on the left says "Action required".  What is that about?

App Version Dependency Requirement

If I click on the "Action required" link, I see a notification that version cannot be installed because this new version requires a newer version of the Blue Dragonfly Registration app.  The Recurring Billing app has a dependency on a newer version of the Registration app, so I must first update the Registration app.

You can manually update the dependencies individually, or you can let Business Central upgrade them for you.

If I click on the oddly phrased "Update to the latest" button, I see this dialog.

Automatically update dependencies

Business Central is offering to update the dependencies first, and then update the app.  Once I click Yes, Business Central starts the update process.

App Updates in Progress

And after a minute or so, if I refresh the apps list, I see that both apps were updated.

Up to date!

As you can see, this is a fairly simple process, but is a task that is performed through the Business Central Admin Center, and not within the Business Central application itself.

Should you test an update in a Sandbox Environment first?

Yes.  Definitely.  Update in a Sandbox with a recent copy of Production to make sure the update installs successfully.  Then perform some basic tests to confirm the app works as expected, any known bugs are fixed, and any new features work as expected, etc.

Should you regularly update AppSource Apps?

My personal opinion is that unless you are aware of a specific reason to upgrade (a bug you are seeing, or a specific feature you want), I would not regularly update AppSource Apps.  If you see a new ISV app version available, I would contact the ISV and ask them about the new version, and ask them if you should update.

Should you update AppSource Apps after hours or during a maintenance window?

I am open to input on this one, but based on what I've learned about Business Central so far, I would personally recommend having all users log out of Business Central Online before updating apps.  There may be some cases where an app update won't affect user activity, but given the number of things that can potentially change during an app update, I think it is safest to schedule a maintenance window where users will be out of the system.  The updates typically only take a few minutes, so it should not be too inconvenient to schedule a brief maintenance window for app updates.

I hope that tip was informative.  If you don't have a copy of Andrey's book, Administrating Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Online, I recommend it.  It's a practical, hands-on guide for performing Business Central Online admin tasks.

Steve Endow is a Microsoft MVP in Los Angeles.  He works with Dynamics 365 Business Central and related technologies.

You can also find him on Twitter and YouTube, or through these links:

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