Letters to Redmond

Letters@Redmondmag.com: April 2006

No life without Microsoft, Microsoft's hardware upgrade and Web services campaigns, and InfoPath.

Ouch!
Your question: "What would cause you to move off of Windows clients and Office?" My answer: "A bullet."
George Mavridis
Greece

Open Sesame
I enjoyed Mary Jo Foley's article in the January issue ["Will Microsoft's Hardware-Upgrade Push Backfire?"].

In regard to small businesses, I believe that Microsoft is going to shoot itself in the foot with the move to 64-bit-only hardware on the server side. The cost of upgrading both hardware and software for many of these businesses is prohibitive. Compared to previous desktop releases, I think Vista will be a huge disappointment (to Microsoft) because of the hardware requirements, because of Microsoft's insistence on the nine or so versions of the OS when it is released, and the reluctance of users to spend the money needed to properly upgrade.

The majority of users are content with sub-$1,000 machines with marginal graphics and slow drives! I've been running the Vista beta on a 2GHz Pentium M with 2GB RAM and I'm not impressed. The machine's great with XP. It's really quick with Linux. It cost about $2,500 a couple months ago. I know that it's a beta.

We're looking hard at other choices, namely Linux. One thing that we all can be sure of with these moves from Microsoft is that the doors will further open for the open source movement and it will gain a lot of ground.
George W. Wilson Jr.
Gaithersburg, Md.

Potential Pitfalls
I'm responding to Barney's editorial in the January issue concerning the Web services proposal from Microsoft ["A Tangled Web of Services"].

He raised some very salient points about potential pitfalls with Web services regarding the susceptibility to hackers and the availability of the Web in general. And thoughts that Microsoft may not be able to adequately safeguard information are the most valid concerns.

One thing that we all can be sure of with these moves from Microsoft is that the doors will further open for the open source movement and it will gain a lot of ground.

But my biggest concern is the ownership of the data. Even if it does reside on a local disk, should the app break, or if there's some dispute with application licensing, Microsoft could, in effect, hold the corporate data ransom in order to achieve its own end. I find this possibility totally unacceptable. And how could we be assured that if data is ultimately stored on Microsoft-controlled data farms, that it's keeping its nose out of it? The concept just offers too many avenues and portals for abuse of the data.
Mark D. Mathewson
Buffalo, N.Y

The Road Less Traveled
I enjoyed Greg Shields' InfoPath article in the March issue ["Down the Winding InfoPath"]. Does he happen to have any sample code for a button that would submit the XML document to a URL? As a Microsoft Dynamics GP partner, we would like to use InfoPath to submit documents into Microsoft Dynamics GP via its eConnect dll, which can be coded for within a Web page. We have done so with ASP Web page coding ... but would like to do so from the context of InfoPath.
David Eichner
Tacoma, Wash.

Contributing Editor Greg Shields responds:
Glad you liked the article. I have zero experience with Dynamics GP, so I can only give you general advice instead of actual code samples. InfoPath offers four possibilities for submittal of forms: e-mail, direct connection to SQL/Access database, submission to SharePoint and custom submission to a Web service or BizTalk server.

That last one is where I think you're going to find what you need. If you have a BizTalk infrastructure, I might guess you can create an orchestration that ingests the InfoPath form and massages the data to make it friendly for Dynamics GP. If you don't have BizTalk, you'll need to create your own custom Web service with Visual Studio. That Web service could assumedly submit the data to the eConnect dll.

Do remember this when you create a form that'll eventually be submitted to a Web service: Always create the submission connection first before adding anything to the form itself. Once you've started formatting the form, the application won't allow you to submit. It's within the submission connection that you'll point the form to your Web services URL.

There are a few books out there that'll help you with this process. I found the series from Wrox to be the best. I think there are two or three books in the series.

Hope this helps!

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This page is compiled by the editors of Redmond magazine from your letters. Write to us at letters@redmondmag.com and if your letter is printed in the magazine, you'll be entered into a drawing for a free Redmond T-shirt.

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