In a summit held this year, the author Michael Megel expanded on the application of Business Central's features such as using virtual tables in the Dataverse environment. Virtual tables prove to be a better integration method compared to Data Sync and Connectors, due to their ability to connect different systems without copying data. They resemble physical tables in usage, making them comparatively easy and efficient to use.
A Virtual Table is similar to a Dataverse physical table, but its data remains in the external system. A Virtual Table is actually a custom table in the Dataverse consisting of columns with data from an external source. The external source of the data could be an Azure SQL Database for instance.
Virtual tables appear as regular table rows in the app but the data is sourced from an external database. Main benefits of virtual tables are their compatibility with Microsoft's model-driven applications and their customization capabilities. A virtual table can connect to an external datasource like Business Central. This connection means that the table data isn't stored in the Dataverse but in Business Central.
The Business Central feature provides an Assisted Setup "Dataverse Connection Setup" that aids in setting up everything. First, it requires selecting the Dataverse environment and administrator sign-in. It leads the user to install the Business Central Virtual Table app in the Dataverse. This setup is accomplished through Microsoft App Source app for the Dataverse where the user selects the target environment and initiates the installation.
The wizard's completion in Business Central involves a final question, with the answer facilitating the use of virtual table applications in the Dataverse. Consequently, there is a provision of all necessary Business Central data alongside some helpful tasks for navigation.
Initially, no table is added in Dataverse, but this can be modified in the available Business Central Tables. Once this is done, virtual tables will be listed as records based on available API Routes in Business Central. Once the system finishes creating the virtual table, it is ready for use in native Dataverse technologies like Dataverse connectors in Power Automate Flows.
Virtual tables can also be used in model-driven apps. The table used is a virtual table for the Business Central customer table. Business Central's virtual tables can perform CRUD operations (create, read, update, delete) along with CUD events (create, update, delete).
Business Central's virtual tables in the Dataverse are quite beneficial. They can support native Dataverse technologies such as Triggers and Actions in Power automate Flows. In addition, all actual references in Business Central can be added to Dataverse virtual tables. Despite these advantages, there are a few limitations such as the base currency requirement between the two systems and the restriction on the number of companies that can use Business Central virtual tables in one Dataverse environment.
Business Central's virtual tables in the Dataverse have eased the incorporation of external data into business processes in the Dataverse. These tables simply reference the external tables and records in Dataverse instead of copying the data, thus providing an efficient means of data management. More insightful information on this topic will be shared in the near future.
This blog post has discussed how Microsoft's Dataverse and Business Central can work together to create efficient data management systems. Virtual tables serve as the bridge between these two platforms, providing a seamless method for data integration without the need for copying data. Their flexibility, functionality, and potential for customization further enhance their effectiveness in integrating various systems - a critical aspect in today's data-driven business environments.Read the full article Business Central in Dataverse
As a Microsoft enthusiast, the concept of Business Central in Dataverse surfaced in the 2022 Dataverse Summit comes as an intriguing area to delve into. With the constant goal of enhancing user experience and efficiency through integration, Microsoft has introduced the feature of virtual tables in Dataverse.
Virtual tables present themselves as the ultimate tool for seamless integration. Especially useful in scenarios where copying data from one system to another is unnecessary, virtual tables outshine their counterparts including Data Sync and Connectors. Functionally similar to physical tables, virtual tables make a user's navigation and usage convenient, thereby making them superior to connectors.
Let us clarify the concept of a virtual table further. Simply put, a virtual table imitates a physical table in Dataverse, with the data remaining in the external system from where it is retrieved. In more technical terms, Microsoft Docs defines a virtual table as a custom-developed table in the network-capable Microsoft service ecosystem. Consisting of columns with sourced data from an external source, users experience them like regular table rows. Yet, these hold data pulled from an external database, such as Azure SQL Database, hence making them 'virtual'.
The advantages of a virtual table are significant. Firstly, with this table belonging to the Microsoft ecosystem, the user has the flexibility to utilize it in model driven apps. On top of that, the opportunity to setup and customize views and forms for the table is an added bonus.
Second aspect is, having a virtual table is like having a gateway to an external data source such as Business Central. Therefore, instead of storing it in the Microsoft service ecosystem, the table data remains in the external data source, which in this case is Business Central.
In addition, there is also the provision to create synthetic relations between the virtual tables and physical tables, which opens up an array of opportunities for Power Apps and Power Automate Flows.
Setting up these virtual tables is thankfully a straightforward process in Business Central. It all begins with an Assisted Setup named 'Microsoft Ecosystem Connection Setup', and it guides the user through the setup process in a matter of a few minutes.
During this setup, firstly, the user selects their environment for the Microsoft service ecosystem and signs in as the system administrator. Post which, the wizard aids in installing the necessary Business Central Virtual Table applications in the Microsoft environment.
Once these steps are accomplished, the user has successfully setup the foundation for using virtual tables in the ecosystem. They can go ahead and explore the necessary Business Central information and also perform some crucial actions, to get a feel of the possibilities that ensue.
Moving forward, the system does not automatically add any table in the Microsoft ecosystem. However, this setting can be altered in the table namely, 'Available Business Central Tables'.
One can view all the available virtual tables listed as records based on all available API Routes in Business Central. These routes also include the user’s own APIs. Keeping the system’s efficiency in mind, one crucial recommendation would be to always filter and use the latest API before you go ahead and make a virtual table visible.
Finally, we arrive at the advantages and limitations. The former includes being able to use native Microsoft service ecosystem technology, and the latter brings the issue of base currency matching and singular company use from a one ecosystem environment. Overall, though certain drawbacks exist, the benefits of integrating virtual tables are immense, making this an excellent opportunity to merge external data into business processes within the ecosystem.
Stay tuned for future posts on this exciting topic!
Originally posted on Never Stop Learning.
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