12 March 2020

Business Central Product Management Update March 2020

At this time, it is with pride that we can announce that our Connectivity Studio, Replication Management, Notification Management, EDI-Studio, as well as our Industrial Equipment Manufacturing solutions are released in 2019 Wave 2, update 2 (a.k.a. version 15.2) on-premises.

This release marks a significant shift in our way of maintaining and upgrading solutions. Not only has the code-language changed, but we have also transformed the way we deliver our solutions. We have split up BIS into separate components and made changes to our support-policy. The changes are described in the rest of this document and are valid for TI-solutions released on version 2009 Wave 2 and beyond.

Please read the information below carefully as it has a potential impact on how to serve our mutual customers:  

Splitting the solutions

As we no longer deliver a .fob file that contains all of our code and need a way to prepare for the future single codebase for both online and on-premises solutions, we have decided to split up our solutions in multiple apps. Some of these apps contain no user-faced functionality, but because they are shared across our solutions, we deliver them as separate apps, which we internally call depend-apps. At the same time, we have decided to split up the BIS solution into a depend-app called BIS and separate solution apps such as CS, NM, RM, and EDI-Studio on top of that. Shortly, BC Anywhere will also be released, using BIS as a depend-app.

However, because we are also dealing with embed-apps (solutions that contain both the modified Business Central base-app and the vertical solution on top) such as IEM and FOOD, we are moving into a complex landscape of apps and dependencies.

In short:

We deliver a number of depend-apps that will not show up in your extension list in Business Central, but they are necessary for our solution apps. Examples of these are TI-Common, TI-Lifecycle Base, and TI-BIS.

On top of those, we will deliver solution apps such as Connectivity Studio, EDI-Studio, BC Anywhere, etc.

On the other hand, we deliver our embed-apps such as IEM and Food (which already have TI-Common embedded but by default no longer require BIS).

More information can be found in the online help on our website: https://business-central.to-increase.com/md/en-US/sc_common

Delivery of our solutions

From this version forward, we will be delivering a zip-file with subfolders containing individual (depend) apps. Installation of these apps requires a specific order due to dependencies. For our partners not to worry about this, we have created and published default installation scripts on our help-site that you may copy and adjust to your needs. Please note that these scripts are delivered as-is, and we do not provide support on these scripts.

Please take a look at https://business-central.to-increase.com/md/en-US/sc_installation.md for the initial install or update of our on-premises solutions. At this moment, the Initial BIS, Initial IEM, and the Update IEM pages are delivered—the other pages are still under construction.

The content of the packages for our embed apps (IEM W1 and FOOD W1) also contains a Sources.zip file. This file contains the source .AL files of the solution, just like the .FOB file in C/AL. We deliver this to our partners when they have to create a localized version of our embedded solution for their country.

Changes to the ‘update’ policy

We will be changing the way we provide fixes and updates to become more aligned with the Microsoft policy. Accordingly, starting with the 2019 Wave 2 release of our solutions, we will strive to bring out monthly updates. The goal is to have this schedule fixed and in place by the end of the year for all our solutions.

The monthly updates will not only contain fixes, but they will also include new functionality. As a result, we will no longer deliver a new functionality during a major release but will spread that across multiple updates. This new functionality may not mean much initially, but as updates are released, the system will make use of earlier changes to deliver new features. In this way, we spread the internal workload for documentation and testing, and we allow our partners and customers to adopt new functionality gradually.

We will maintain our idea on a “Final Freeze” update. This means that when a major version is no longer updated on the Online platform, we will consider that version to be our Final Freeze. For example, the current version 15.3 will be the last update for the 2009 Wave 2 major release online. The online platform will be updated to 16.0 after that, but Microsoft will keep delivering updates on Version 15 until April 1, 2021 (to be used for On-Premises installs only). The 15.3 update To-Increase delivery will be the final freeze version of our solutions for this major release.

Changes to the support policy

With the release of 2019 Wave 2, Microsoft announced a change in its support policy (see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/business-central/dev-itpro/terms/lifecycle-policy-on-premises for more information).

To-increase will follow this support-policy with some additional elements. Please note that the following is for V15 versions, and later ONLY, the policy for previous versions will not change.

To-Increase will support all versions under the new policy in the same way Microsoft does. This means that we will provide support for 18 months for a version. After 18 months, the version will no longer be supported free of charge. If additional assistance is necessary, this will be charged to the customer. Within the 18-month period, we will deliver regulatory fixes at all times.

Delivery of bug-fixes will, by default, take place in the next update that will become available. If a bug is discovered in an earlier version of our solution, we will create a fix in the final freeze update of that version, as well as the next update for the current version.

Situation 1:

Versions available on Online Platform: 16.1 – 16.2 – 16.3

Bug found in Version 15 or Version 16 and not solved in 16.3

  • Bug-fix delivered in version 16.4 as well as in the 15.3 Final Freeze update.

Situation 2:

Versions available on Online Platform: 16.5 – 17.0 – 17.1

Bug found in Version 15 or Version 16 and not solved in 16.5

  • Bug-fix delivered in version 15.3 Final Freeze, 16.5 Final Freeze, and 17.2 next update

The consequence of this policy is that the moment a version of Business Central is no longer available on the Online platform, that version becomes what we now call our Final Freeze Cumulative Update. It will be the last version that bug-fixes have been delivered for. The only exception to this rule is the existence of a priority 1 issue or bug. If all parties have agreed that a priority 1 bug has been found in any of the Microsoft supported versions and there is no easy upgrade possible to the latest version, To-Increase will create a private fix for that customer on that version.

The reason we are very strict in this is that with the use of extensions (even our embed-app is considered an extension), we expect our partners to no longer do in-line code modifications in the original AL-code—but they need to customize the behavior of the solution by creating a separate extension. This clears the way for updating our solutions every month, even for on-premises customers.

Looking to the future

For the near future, we will be working on 3 major projects:

  • Releasing BC Anywhere, Product Engineering, and FOOD on 2019 Wave 2 update 2 à expected early in Q2
  • Moving Connectivity Studio, Replication Management, Notification Management, EDI-Studio, and BC Anywhere to the online platform à expected in Q3
  • Creating support for translating our embed apps à expected early in Q2

Longer-term will see the breakdown of our Embed-apps into smaller extensions that can be installed through AppSource as well as delivering new features for all our solutions. Our next product management update will contain more details of our roadmap.

Luciano Cunha
Luciano Cunha,
Luciano Cunha,
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

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