Building A NAV Date Table for Power BI

A date table is essential to data work, whether you’re working in SQL, Tabular Modeling for Power Pivot, Power BI or SSAS. 

Because if you work with any kind of data, and particularly accounting data, you’ll always have to ask for the appropriate time period.

You can find lots of good examples of how to build a data table, both in SQL and in Power BI, if you operate on a calendar year or your fiscal months are calendar months. 

Google is your friend here, so if the links above don’t help, you can find others.

But, if you’re a retailer or another business that operates on some variety of a 4-5-4 calendar (with a 53rd week showing up every couple of years), that’s not as easy to find.  

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NAV Object, Field, and Option Numbers in the SQL Server Database

When writing SQL queries for NAV, you can run into a problem.   

While column names are generally pretty self-explanatory, sometimes the data within those columns requires decoding.  

Those are: 1) Table Numbers, 2) Fields Numbers and 3) Option Numbers

I’ve already covered this in my posts (and presentation) on Understanding the NAV Database.

Here I’m going to repeat myself — and then give you the code you need to get these numbers into SQL.  

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Accessing Dynamics Business Central (NAV) Cloud Data, Part 5 – Going Back to SQL Server

So far in this series, I’ve spent a lot of time showing how we can work with various ODATA web service APIs to get different sets of data from Business Central. 

And as you may recall, the purpose of this series is to describe how you can combine data from Business Central with other applications that may not be in the cloud and may not be using Power BI.  

In this post, we’re ready to talk about this specifically.

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Accessing Dynamics Business Central (NAV) Cloud Data, Part 4 – Going Deeper into the API

So far, we’ve seen how we can extract an entire table from the cloud, in this case the Chart of Accounts. However, we often don’t want to do that (especially on tables like G/L Entries). 

Thus, we need to filter.

The complete reference for ODATA Filtering for Business Central/NAV can be found here:

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Accessing Dynamics Business Central (NAV) Cloud Data, Part 3 – Introduction to Postman

In Part 2 of this post, I reviewed the basics of setting up a web service access key, finding your first API, and then executing the API in your browser. 

But the output we had wasn’t all that user friendly. Further, we asked for EVERY account in the system. In this case, there wasn’t a huge amount of data so it wasn’t a problem. But it’s not something you’d want to do with G/L Entries or other larger tables.

Fortunately, you can do a lot more with these ODATA Web Services than just select everything. Theoretically, you could create ever more complex strings and test them in your browser. But that’s not really efficient.  

Which brings us to a tool that’s called Postman.

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Accessing Dynamics Business Central (NAV) Cloud Data, Part 1: Terminology and Tools

When databases became a common part of ERP systems over 20 years ago, developers would say that no matter what else happened, they would always have SQL. “Give me a connection string and I’ll get you anything you want,” was their moto.

Today, that’s not the case. With the advent of SaaS in general (and cloud-based Business Central in particular), you now need to know things like “ODATA and “APIs” — especially if you want to combine data from multiple systems in a single report or data warehouse.

I joke that the definition of SaaS is “software where companies save lots of money on infrastructure and upgrades, which they end up spending on data and reporting.” (Which is good for me, I suppose. I never liked infrastructure and always liked data.)

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