Item Attributes were added in Dynamics NAV 2017 and are also in Dynamics 365 for Financials and you know what, they are really, really nice. They give you the ability to extend the data you can store against the Item record by adding your own attributes (like custom fields) to them. The really important bit is that they don’t require any development and anyone can add them. (apart from you, no only messing, you can add them too.)
Why does it matter?
One of NAV’s greatest characteristics is that developers can modify the base application so that we can store data that it couldn’t store before, that we can display this data to our users through forms/pages and that we can write C/AL to do clever things throughout the application. As a result of this, fields (for example Colour) have been added to tables (for example Item) since forever, leaving some users with very modified systems which although perfectly functional, may require additional time and attention to upgrade and maintain on the latest version of Dynamics NAV.
Also, another reason why Item Attributes are such a breath of fresh air is that in previous versions if a customer wanted a new field on their Item record, they had 3 options:
- Ask your NAV partner to add the field
- Hire an in-house NAV developer
- Buy a development license and learn development yourself
Let’s say we wanted to add the Colour field to the Item table, it requires development:
Item Attributes allow you or your end users to add these “attributes” yourself, without any development knowledge and without sending an e-mail or picking up the phone to your partner. Let’s have a look:
On the Item List, there is an “Attributes” button top in the “Actions” tab. You can press this to view and assign attributes to the selected record.
When you press this you get the following Item Attributes Value page for that record and out-of-the-box there are a couple of Item Attributes that Microsoft have added as standard, like Colour, Depth, etc. Then depending on the setup of the Attribute, you can either type in the value or select it from a pre-defined list, for example the colour one allows you to select from a list of colours.
You can create your own Attributes by pressing the New button you see there. For example you could create one called “Brand”:
As the “Type” for that is Text, it will allow the user to type in a value directly into the field, otherwise you can change it to Option and then enter in the options you want your users to select from there. By going back to the previous page, I can select this newly added Attribute and enter a value:
If you then look at the Item Card or the Item List, Microsoft have added an “Item Attribute FactBox” which you can see on the right hand side. As we have now given this Item an attribute value, you’ll be able to see this here.
On the “Home” tab, there are buttons you can use to filter the Item List based on an attribute value.
When you assign an Item Category to an Item, these can also be used to default Attribute Values to this Item, which can be very useful in the setup of a new Item record. If you edit an Item Category, you will see the attributes assigned to this category and then the default values which will be assigned.
What’s worth keeping in mind is that obviously, these have only been added to the Item record so you can’t add these to a Customer record *maybe one day* and that you can’t do everything with them that you would do with normal fields added with code, these can definitely be used to replace a lot of the fields that customers will often want adding but adding fields to tables (perhaps as an extension) is still the way to go in some cases.
So that’s it, Item Attributes in the time of you having your coffee. Overall, they are really nice and it’s interesting to see Microsoft take this approach to empower the end user and to give users another way to get more out of their NAV / D365 for Financials system.
Anyway, let me know what you think or if you have any questions, feels great to finally have my first proper post under my belt!