Get Started with AL

To start writing extensions for Dynamics 365 Business Central, you'll need a Business Central tenant, Visual Studio Code, and the AL Language extension. Visual Studio Code is a cross-platform editor that you'll use for coding and debugging.

Steps to set up a sandbox environment and Visual Studio Code

Go through the following steps to set up a sandbox environment. Having set up a sandbox environment, you get sample code that compiles and runs with just a few commands.

Note

If you want to create a container-based sandbox, see Get started with the Container Sandbox Development Environment. For information about which sandboxes you can choose, see Sandbox Environments for Dynamics 365 Business Central Development.

Important

It is not supported to publish an extension from Visual Studio Code with the same identifiers as an extension which is already published to AppSource. Identifiers include the combination of appID and version or name, publisher, and version. If you do publish such an extension, it can be removed at any time.

  1. Sign up for a Dynamics 365 Business Central sandbox.
  2. Download Visual Studio Code.
  3. Download the AL Language extension.
  4. Press Ctrl+Shift+P to open the User Settings window; here you can modify the telemetry settings.
  5. Press Alt+A, and right after, Alt+L to trigger the AL Go! command, choose a path to a new empty folder and which version to run. Then choose Microsoft cloud sandbox as the server.

    Note

    If you want to change your configuration at a later point in time, you can choose the Add Configuration button on the bottom right side, and then choose one of the available options.

  6. Enter the credentials that you provided for the sign-up.
  7. Press Ctrl+F5 to deploy and run the extension on your online sandbox tenant.

Note

For some users the Ctrl+F5 shortcut key may not work due to keyboard or other settings. If it doesn't work for you, run your code by choosing Run Without Debugging from the Run dropdown in Visual Studio Code.

You now have a HelloWorld sample that compiles and runs. The JSON files in the project are automatically updated with the settings that allows you to press Ctrl+F5 to build and deploy the solution to Business Central. For more information, see JSON Files.

Tips and tricks

  • Use Ctrl+Space to activate IntelliSense at any place in the code, which will help you identify possible options.
  • Always use the .al extension on new files.
  • Use the built-in snippets for code by typing t and choose the desired snippet from the list.
  • Create objects within the right object ranges, see Object Ranges in Dynamics 365 Business Central.
  • Build and get inspired by our sample library on GitHub.
  • Use Ctrl+Shift+P and select AL: Clear credentials cache to clear the credentials cache if you want to deploy against a different environment.
  • Use F2 to rename objects, types etc. For more information, see Keyboard Shortcuts.

JSON file settings

There are three JSON files in the project; the app.json file, the launch.json file, and the rad.json. The files are automatically generated for your project. For more information, see JSON files and Work with Rapid Application Development (RAD).

AL configuration settings

Use the AL configuration settings to specify general preferences for working with AL projects. For more information, see AL Language Extension Configuration.

Telemetry settings

By default, Visual Studio Code is set up with a telemetry system to make sure that data and errors are sent to Microsoft. If you don't want to send telemetry data, you can change the telemetry.enableTelemetry setting from true to false.

To modify the telemetry setting, press Ctrl+Shift+P in Visual Studio Code and choose User Settings, which opens the settings.json file, and then add telemetry.enableTelemetry and set it to false like shown below.

"telemetry.enableTelemetry": false,

Tip

The settings.json file contains user and workspace settings, these options can be modified to suit your preference. If you want to modify Visual Studio Code editor options and functional behavior settings, see User and Workspace Settings.

Installing and publishing an extension

To make your extension available to users, the package must be published to a specific Business Central server instance. The extension can be installed for one or more tenants. For more information about how to install and publish an extension, see How to: Publish and Install an Extension.

Controlling user access to develop and publish extensions

The access to develop and publish extensions is controlled on a user or user group basis by the EXTEND. MGT. - ADMIN permission set. It's important that the EXTEND. MGT. - ADMIN isn't specified for a specific company, but left blank.

If you add new permission sets and want to control the access to develop and publish extensions, you must include indirect read and write permissions to the Published Application table (read – for downloading symbols, write – for publishing the app) in the permission set.

To prohibit a user from publishing, just remove the user from the EXTEND. MGT. - ADMIN permission set.

Note

The EXTEND. MGT. - ADMIN permission set was introduced in Business Central 2021 release wave 1 as a replacement for the D365 EXTENSION MGT permission set in earlier versions.

Next steps

Now that you have the tools and the HelloWorld example up and running, you might want to create a small sample app in AL. This walkthrough guides you to create an app adding objects, code, and publishing the app to your tenant. For more information, see Building Your First Sample Extension With Extension Objects, Install Code, and Upgrade Code.

See Also

AL Development Environment
FAQ for Developing in AL
Syntax
Building Your First Sample Extension With Extension Objects, Install Code, and Upgrade Code
AL Language Extension Configuration
XML Comments in Code