Today I had a chat with @David Musgrave, the brain behind GP Power Tools (aka GPPT), which he completely overhauled back in 2015 after he was let go by Microsoft and regained control over the former Support Debugging Tool (aka SDT).
David mentioned to me some of the good ideas he recently had turned into new functions in the latest build 26 (release date still open for now) and asked me to download a pre-release beta version to test it out. So did I and installed it on an existing (pretty much) pristine Dynamics GP 2016 R2 build on my Azure account and updated the previous build 25 I had from last year.
I’m already a big fan of GPPT and have promoted it largely since I’ve been using the first official build (20) after SDT was put to rest, and even more since the GPUG Summit sessions I had co-presented with David, and which was a huge success.
Recently I had a repeat session online from GPUG Summit with @Steve Erbach about our “Dashboard on a Dime for GP Sys Admins” where we presented each our version of an Excel workbook that can be used to track GP activities in (almost) real-time and also collect statistical use of GP user licenses to make a case for purchasing (or not) new licenses. Following this webinar and also after our Summit session, many attendees had asked about how you could prevent GP users to stick around without doing anything in session and using up a precious user license ? This is also one the questions that pops up quite often on GPUG ForumsWell, the answer was : not much, aside of buying Rockton Toolbox or Willoware GP Powerpack, as those were the only ISV products known to me that would allow gracefully to close any inactive GP user sessions. No longer.. Build 26 introduced 2 completely new features that will provide GP customers a 3rd contender for an auto-logout option.
User Activity Settings
Navigate from the Main GP Menu > Tools > Setup > GP Power Tools > Administrator Settings… > Options
In the bottom section of the form, you’ll find 2 new settings for User Activity tracking and automatic user logoff from inactive sessions. The 1st one is intended for Administrators to collect some user data about logins, logouts and max user counts throughout the day.
Contrary to the GP User Activity feature where you have to select who to track in which company and what activity, this one automatically focuses only on login/logout and even has a clean-up option to prevent the log from growing too large (something you have to remind yourself to do with the GP Activity tracking table on a regular basis).
The Auto-Save option
The 2nd option is what gives the GPPT a whole new dimension ! You can now set an auto-logoff timeout for inactive user sessions. What really sets it apart of other similar add-ins on the market is the ability to not only gracefully logout users, but also to save their current open data forms, if any are displayed on screen and require such confirmation. Any unsaved open form where all the mandatory fields are completed and there is actually a ‘Save’ or ‘OK’ button in the closing dialog box, will be properly closed.
The Timeout feature also has an additional form where you’re going to select most of the time “All Users and Companies”, unless you want a granular control of the logout option, in which case you can select in the user list to which user the timeout is going to apply.
Pay attention to the bottom check box which allows for ‘excluding’ the selected list of users. In my opinion, this is the most interesting feature, as you can decided that most of your users will be kicked out of GP after a given inactive timeout has been reached, but protect some specific users not to be logged off, because you know those are users working all day in GP and would be back anyway within minutes.
This is useful for casual or occasional GP users, that are lazy and walking away from their computer throughout the day for meetings and forget to logoff from their GP sessions. Such activation of a new feature should be preceded by some communication beforehand, to not start getting users calling in because of strange or unexpected behaviour of their GP client..
Where can I see the tracking data?
Navigate from the Main GP Menu > Tools > Setup > GP Power Tools > Administrator Settings… > User Activity Log and if you click on the ‘Max Users’ button, you’ll get another form opened that shows you a nice graph of the license usage (mine hasn’t collected yet enough data to show something meaningful).
If you too are interested in testing new builds to come of GPPT, feel free to get in touch with David and ask him to become a BETA tester. Stay tuned as there is more to come in this new build that I’m going to cover in an upcoming post.
Until then, stay calm & breath!