Saturday, August 15, 2020

Updating from NavContainerHelper to the new BcContainerHelper

 By Steve Endow

UPDATE: If you're interested in a convenient way to run the BcContainerHelper PowerShell commands, check out Krzysztof's Azure Data Studio Notebook with sample BcContainerHelper commands.  Jupyter Notebooks are a great way to include documentation and commands in a single convenient format.

On August 11, 2020, Freddy Kristiansen announced that he had released BcContainerHelper.

You can read his blog post here:

          https://freddysblog.com/2020/08/11/bccontainerhelper/

You will definitely want to read the entire blog post carefully, and perhaps read it a few times, as he shares quite a few important details about the new BcContainerHelper.

Same Great Container Helper, But Updated and Upgraded!


I made a video showing how I updated from NavContainerHelper to BcContainerHelper.  The process went flawlessly.


Here are the PowerShell Docker commands that I used to perform my update.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Learning Business Central Development from Scratch Video Series

By Steve Endow

If you are new to Dynamics 365 Business Central development, join me on a journey to learn how to develop Business Central Extensions using VS Code and the AL language.

I have been developing business software for many, many years, but I am completely new to Business Central, AL, and VS Code.  And I am also new to Docker and PowerShell.  

Basically, I'm having to learn everything from scratch.  

I'm writing blog posts and making videos to share the learning resources I'm using and share my learning journey.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Business Central Download Symbols Error: No such host is known

By Steve Endow


UPDATE:  After researching this type of Windows hosts file name resolution issue, it seems there are dozens of possible reasons why the problem can occur.  I suspect my case was one of the simpler versions, and fortunately flushdns worked for me.  Here is a forum thread with examples of several rather odd causes and solutions.


This morning I tried to create a new Business Central AL project in VS Code.  I used AL Go! to create the project, set the server name in the launch.json file, and then tried to Download Symbols.

Very simple, very easy, right?

Nope.

No soup for you!

What? I performed these exact same steps 2 days ago on this same machine, and I was able to download symbols without any issues.

Here is the full video of the troubleshooting process:




I closed VS Code, relaunched it, created a new project, and tried again.  Same error.

Looking at the error log in VS Code, I saw "Error: No such host is known".  Say what?

Monday, August 3, 2020

Automatically Update NavContainerHelper - Improved Script

By Steve Endow

UPDATE: If you're interested in a convenient way to run the BcContainerHelper PowerShell commands, check out Krzysztof's Azure Data Studio Notebook with sample BcContainerHelper commands.  Jupyter Notebooks are a great way to include documentation and commands in a single convenient format.

I previously wrote about creating a simple scheduled task to automatically update NavContainerHelper.

While that simple script does work, it didn't have any logging or notification. I never knew when NavContainerHelper was updated.

I recently created a fancier PowerShell script to automatically build my Business Central Docker Containers every day, and while working on that script, I learned how to record elapsed time, log all activity, and send an email notification.

Based on that new learning, I wanted to upgrade the script that updates NavContainerHelper.

I wanted logging, elapsed time, and email notification if NavContainerHelper was updated to a new version.

Email notification when an update occurs


Here's what I came up with.  You'll need to adjust the file paths and email address, and generate your own email password file.

If you think of any other features the update could have, let me know!

 #v2.0 - August 1, 2020  
 #  
 $server = $env:COMPUTERNAME  
 #Define date values  
 $simpleDate = Get-Date -Format "M/d/yy"  
 $dateTime = Get-Date -Format "M/d/yy HH:mm"  
 $fileDateTime = Get-Date -Format "yyyy-MM-dd HHmm"  
   
 $body = ""  
 $message = ""  
 $updated = $false  
   
 #Specify file location for activity transcript log file  
 $transcriptFile = "D:\BCPowerShell\Logs\" + $fileDateTime + " " + $server + " NavContainerHelper Update Log.txt"  
   
 #Start recording transcript  
 Start-Transcript -Path $transcriptFile  
   
 #Record the start time  
 $StartTime = $(get-date)  
   
   
 #Define email configuration  
 $emailFrom = "email@gmail.com"  
 $emailTo = "email@gmail.com"  
 $smtpServer = "smtp.gmail.com"  
 $port = "587"  
 #Email password file created using: Read-Host -AsSecureString | ConvertFrom-SecureString | Out-File -FilePath D:\BCPowerShell\Gmail.securestring  
 $passwordFile = "D:\BCPowerShell\Gmail.securestring"  
 $securePassword = ConvertTo-SecureString (Get-Content -Path $passwordFile)  
 $smtpCred = New-Object -TypeName PSCredential ($emailFrom, $securePassword)  
   
 $subject = $server + ": " + $simpleDate + " NavContainerHelper Update Log";  
   
 $started = "Start time: " + $StartTime  
 $body += $started + "`n`n"  
   
   
 #Define the module name  
 $moduleName = 'NavContainerHelper'  
   
 #Get currently installed version  
 $currentVersion = (Get-InstalledModule $moduleName).Version.ToString()  
 #Get the latest version available  
 $latestVersion = (Find-Module $moduleName).Version.ToString()  
   
   
   
 #If we don't have the latest version installed  
 If ($currentVersion -ne $latestVersion)  
 {  
   
   $message = "Current version: " + $currentVersion + "  Latest version: " + $latestVersion;  
   $message += "`n`nUpdating to version " + $latestVersion;  
   #Remove existing version(s)  
   Uninstall-Module $moduleName -Force -AllVersions  
   #Install latest version  
   Install-Module $moduleName -Force  
   
   $updated = $true;  
   
   #Verify version number  
   $currentVersion = (Get-InstalledModule $moduleName).Version.ToString()  
   $message += "`nUpdate complete";  
   $message += "`nCurrent version is now " + $currentVersion;  
       
   $body += "`n" + $message;  
   
   Write-Output $message  
 }  
 Else  
 {  
   #If we are on the latest version, log that info  
   $message = "You are on the latest version of " + $moduleName + ": " + $currentVersion;  
   Write-Output $message  
 }  
   
   
   
 #Record end time  
 $EndTime = $(get-date)  
 $output = "`nEnd time: " + $EndTime  
 $body += "`n" + $output   
 Write-Output $output   
   
 #Calculate elapsed time  
 $elapsedTime = $EndTime - $StartTime  
 $totalTime = "{0:HH:mm:ss}" -f ([datetime]$elapsedTime.Ticks)  
 $output = "Elapsed time: " + $totalTime  
 $body += "`n" + $output   
 Write-Output $output  
   
 $body += "`n`nFull log file is attached"   
   
 #Finish the transcript recording  
 #The Transcript must be stopped before trying to send the email,  
 #otherwise the log file will be locked, causing the email to fail  
 Stop-Transcript  
       
 if ($updated)  
 {  
 #Send the email  
 Send-MailMessage -From $emailFrom -To $emailTo `  
   -Subject $subject `  
   -Body $body `  
   -Attachments $transcriptFile `  
   -SmtpServer $smtpServer `  
   -Credential $smtpCred `  
   -Port $port `  
   -UseSsl  
 }  


Steve Endow is a Microsoft MVP in Los Angeles.  He works with Dynamics 365 Business Central, Microsoft Power Automate, Power Apps, Azure, .NET, Dynamics GP, and SQL Server.

You can also find him on Twitter and YouTube

https://www.precipioservices.com

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Fully automate the Business Central Container build process

By Steve Endow

I don't like maintenance tasks.  I don't like having to remember to do something on a regular basis.  I don't like having to do low value tasks constantly.

While it has been valuable for me to manually run NavContainerHelper the last several months, I think I am finally at a point where I sufficiently understand how it works and what it does.  I'm now ready to automate my Business Central Container build process so that I don't have to do it manually.

Just tell me how it went...

This isn't anything new--I'm just finally getting around to doing it for me with the features that I want.  If there are other ways or better ways to do this, let me know.

I share the background, my thinking, and my journey creating the script in this video.



In short, I've just wrapped the call to New-BcContainer in some additional PowerShell script to enable full logging, some basic error handling, and email notification.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Recording Business Central NavContainerHelper benchmarks

By Steve Endow

As I've been using NavContainerHelper, it's become clear that there can be a lot of waiting as it downloads gigabytes of data for the images and hundreds of megabytes for the artifacts.  It then has to mash all of that together to build a Business Central Container.  It can take a while.

Sometimes it seems the process is pretty quick.  But sometimes the process seems to take forever.  When it's in the middle of doing its thing, I can't tell whether it's taking longer than normal, or if it just feels like it's taking a long time.

So I'm now measuring how long it takes for NavContainerHelper to create containers.

Ya gotta measure things

If the container setup process takes longer than normal, I'll want to know why.  Was it a performance issue downloading images or artifacts?  Or is there a performance issue with the VM?  Or did some error cause the script to fail prematurely?


Here's the PowerShell script I've setup to record the start time, end time, and elapsed time of the New-BcContainer process.  This is a sample that uses the values for building a BC container in my environment--you'll want to adjust the New-BcContainer parameter values to your preferred values.


 $StartTime = $(get-date)   
  Try {   
   $output = "Started: " + $StartTime   
   Write-Output $output    
   $containerName = 'bc1'   
   $password = 'P@ssw0rd'   
   $securePassword = ConvertTo-SecureString -String $password -AsPlainText -Force   
   $credential = New-Object pscredential 'admin', $securePassword   
   $auth = 'UserPassword'   
   $artifactUrl = Get-BcArtifactUrl -type 'Sandbox' -version '' -country 'us' -select 'Latest'   
   New-BcContainer `   
    -accept_eula `   
    -containerName $containerName `   
    -credential $credential `   
    -auth $auth `   
    -artifactUrl $artifactUrl `   
    -imageName 'myimage1' `   
    -dns '8.8.8.8' `   
    -updateHosts   
   }   
   Catch {   
    Write-Error "Um, something didn't go well:"   
    Write-Error $_   
   }   
   Finally {   
    $EndTime = $(get-date)   
    $output = "End time: " + $EndTime   
    Write-Output $output    
    $elapsedTime = $(get-date) - $StartTime   
    $totalTime = "{0:HH:mm:ss}" -f ([datetime]$elapsedTime.Ticks)   
    $output = "Elapsed time: " + $totalTime   
    Write-Output $output   
   }   


At the top of the script, I record the start time, then output that time in the log so that I can see when the script started.

I added a try/catch block so that even if the script fails, my script outputs the end time and elapsed time.

In the finally block, I record the time again, then calculate elapsed time.  The elapsed time is then output to the log.

Building a new named image vs. using an existing named image

In this example, I see that when the script had to build a new named image, it took 13 minutes to create the named image and then create the container.  But when it was able to use an existing named image, it only took 1 minute.

Good to know!

Now I can use this script to see how my dedicated physical server compares to my VMs.  I assume that the VMs will be slower, but I'm curious to see how much slower.


Steve Endow is a Microsoft MVP in Los Angeles.  He works with Dynamics 365 Business Central, Microsoft Power Automate, Power Apps, Azure, .NET, Dynamics GP, and SQL Server.

You can also find him on Twitter and YouTube

http://www.precipioservices.com



Automatically Updating NavContainerHelper

By Steve Endow

One of the challenges I've had using the Business Central NavContainerHelper module has been managing the versions and updates.  Freddy Kristiansen is constantly updating NavContainerHelper to add features or fix issues, so a new version might be released within 24 hours of the prior release.

It seems like there is at least one update per week.  As a result, I always forget to update NavContainerHelper and often end up using an older version, which can sometimes result in errors.

I wanted to automate the update process so that I always know that I have the latest version of NavContainerHelper installed.  And ONLY the latest version--making sure that I don't have any older versions installed side-by-side.

I don't know if this is the best method, but I think it should work.  If you know of a better way, let me know!

Here's the script I'd like to run automatically every day:

 $MyModuleName = 'NavContainerHelper'  
 Uninstall-Module $MyModuleName -Force -AllVersions  
 Install-Module $MyModuleName -Force  

The Script

I want to install the latest version, but I want to make sure that I don't have an older version still installed.  There are a few ways to do this, but I figure with this script, it removes all existing versions, and then installs the latest version.

I normally don't recommend Install-Module -Force if you are running the script manually, but in this case, I believe I need -Force in order to bypass the verification dialog that appears during installation.  Also, since I know that I've just uninstalled all versions before installing the latest version, I think using -Force should be okay in this particular case.

I saved the above 3 line script to a .ps1 file.

I then opened Windows Task Scheduler using Run As Administrator.

Windows Task Scheduler
I created a new folder called Steve to make it easier to find my tasks.

I then created a new task (not a Basic task).

Task - General Info

I gave the task a name.  Then I set the task to use the Local Administrator user.  This is on one of my dev VMs, and I know the PowerShell script will need Admin rights, so I chose Administrator just to avoid any hassles.  If you are on a company network / domain, you'll need to figure out which domain user / rights you need to allow the script to run as a task.

Nightly update
On the Triggers tab, I setup a schedule to run Daily at 8pm.

On the Actions tab, I created an action to call powershell with the -File argument, based on this blog post.



The argument I used looks like:

     -File C:\BCPowerShell\UpdateNavContainerHelper_v1.ps1


I then saved the task and tested it. 

It seems to work, so I'll keep an eye on it for a week or so to verify that NavContainerHelper is always on the latest version and that I don't have any old versions installed side-by-side.


Steve Endow is a Microsoft MVP in Los Angeles.  He works with Dynamics 365 Business Central, Microsoft Power Automate, Power Apps, Azure, .NET, Dynamics GP, and SQL Server.

You can also find him on Twitter and YouTube

http://www.precipioservices.com

Disable Two Factor Authentication on Business Central Demo Sandbox Environments

 By Steve Endow I have created a Business Central SaaS demo sandbox tenant by following the steps outlined by Erik Hougaard in his video her...