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Walkthrough: upgrading date and time table field pairs into UtcDateTime [AX 2012]

Updated: August 17, 2012

Applies To: Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Feature Pack, Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

If custom Date or Time fields have been added to Microsoft Dynamics AX, you need to decide whether those fields should be merged into new UtcDateTime fields. UtcDateTime fields store date/time data in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).


This information is relevant when you must upgrade from any version earlier than Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009, to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 or later.

During upgrades it is common for a pair of fields, one Date and one Time, to be merged into a new UtcDateTime field. UtcDateTime enables every part of your organization to see the date/time value automatically adjusted for their local time zone.

If Date and Time fields must be merged into UtcDateTime fields, you must make certain preparations before you run the upgrade. The UtcDateTime preparations are only some of the many preparations that you will make before you run the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 upgrade process on your production environment.

This walkthrough illustrates the following tasks:

  • Turning on SysDeletedObjects41 in production

  • Installing a test database

  • Installing the new version in a test environment

  • Turning on SysDeletedObjects41 in Test

  • Identifying date and time fields to upgrade

  • Renaming fields to have the prefix DEL_

  • Assigning SysDeletedObjects41 to the renamed fields

  • Adding replacement UtcDateTime fields

  • Updating X++ code to use the new UtcDateTime fields

  • Running the code upgrade on your test environment

  • Overview of the next steps

  • Adding a method to ReleaseUpdateDB41_*

  • Registering your new method

  • Summary of method relationships

  • Rerunning the code upgrade on your test environment

  • Handling special cases

  • Running the upgrade on your production environment

  • Consider other details

This walkthrough is written for the administrator (or the lead developer) who must upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009.

To complete this walkthrough, you will need:

  • A temporary installation of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009, its Application Object Server (AOS), and its client including the Application Object Tree (AOT)

  • A license file that has access to the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 client

  • A database server accessed by the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 (AOS)

This procedure pertains to your production environment that you have not yet upgraded. You use the configuration key SysDeletedObjects41 to tag items that you want to be able to easily delete after the upgrade completes.

In this procedure you will use the Navigation Pane to keep objects that you mark for deletion. Later you can clear this setting and the objects will be deleted.

To turn SysDeletedObjects41 on

  1. In the Navigation Pane, click Administration, click Setup, click System, and then click Configuration.

  2. In the Configuration form that appears, expand Administration, to reveal the Keep update objects 41 node.

  3. Select the Keep update objects 41 the check box.

In this procedure you will create the test database environment that is required to support the preparation steps for the eventual upgrade of your production system. After your production system is upgraded, this test environment can be discarded.

To install a test database

  1. Create an empty database on a test database server.

  2. As an option, load a copy of your production database into the empty database.

If you choose an empty database, the tables and other structures will be created when you connect the new Microsoft Dynamics AX to it. The synchronization process will create the structures.

In this procedure you must install Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 (or a newer version of Microsoft Dynamics AX) that you intend to upgrade your production system to. This installation is to a test environment that can later be discarded.

This procedure pertains to the new Microsoft Dynamics AX test environment that your production environment will be upgraded to.

Next, you will use the Navigation Pane to keep objects that you mark for deletion. Later you can clear this setting and the objects will be deleted.

The technique is that same as was previously described for the production environment.

In this procedure you will scan all the custom Date and Time fields that have been added to your installation. You must decide which of those fields will be upgraded to the new UtcDateTime type.

Make a list of all the custom Date and Time fields that must be upgraded.

To decide whether to upgrade a date or time field to utcdatetime

  1. Identify pairs of Date and Time fields that are used together (in the same table) to store a precise moment. In such pairs, both fields might share the same name distinguished only by their suffix of Date or Time.


    An example could be a field pair of YourMeetingDate and YourMeetingTime. A new field YourMeetingDateTime would be a good replacement for this pair.

  2. Identify Date fields that are not paired with a Time field, but that do imply a local time. Some legal or contractual obligations of due dates might be examples where a time such as (midnight or 00:00) is implied.

  3. Identify Time fields that are not paired with a Date field, but that would be more useful if represented in UTC. Such time fields are rare.

In this procedure you will rename the Date and Time fields that you identified earlier. Each must be given the four character prefix DEL_.

To rename a field in a table

  1. In the AOT, expand the Data Dictionary node, and then expand Tables.

  2. Expand the specific table that contains a field that you want to rename, and then expand the Fields node.

  3. Right-click the field that you want to rename, and then select Properties.

  4. In the Properties window, click the text box for the Name.

  5. Type the DEL_ prefix to modify the name, and then press ENTER.

In this procedure you will assign the SysDeletedObjects41 configuration key to the Date and Time fields that you want to upgrade to UtcDateTime.

Each version of Microsoft Dynamics AX has a configuration key with a similar name, except the version number at the end differs. Here the version suffix 41 refers to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009.

By assigning SysDeletedObjects41 to a field that you renamed with the DEL_ prefix, you track all the fields that will be obsolete after the production environment is upgraded. The configuration assignment also makes it easy to delete all obsolete fields at one time.

To assign the SysDeletedObjects41 configuration key to fields

  1. In the AOT, expand Data Dictionary, expand your table, and then expand Fields.

  2. Right-click the field that has the DEL_ prefix, and then select Properties.

  3. In the Properties window, click the drop-down list for the ConfigurationKey property, and then select SysDeletedObjects41.

In this procedure you will add a UtcDateTime field for every obsolete Date field, Time field, or field pair that you want to replace during upgrade.

To add replacement utcDateTime fields

  1. In the AOT, expand Data Dictionary, and then expand Tables.

  2. Expand the specific table that needs a new UtcDateTime field.

  3. Right-click the Fields node, click New, and then select UtcDateTime.

  4. Right-click the new field node, and then select Properties.

  5. In the Properties window, change the Name, and any other properties as needed.

In this procedure you will scan your X++ code to find all references to the Date or Time fields that you are replacing.

One way to find the references is to recompile all your X++ code. The compile errors that occur from the earlier field renames indicate the references that must be updated.

You must manually determine the X++ code change that is needed in each case. The new code must reference the new UtcDateTime field.

To update X++ code to use the new utcDateTime fields

  1. Find the references to the old DEL_ fields by recompiling all your X++ code.

  2. Research each error to determine how to fix the code by referencing the new UtcDateTime field.

  3. Recompile your X++ code change.

Dd362070.collapse_all(en-us,AX.60).gifUtcDateTime Functions

The following table lists some of the functions that can manipulate UtcDateTime values.



DateTimeUtil class

This has many methods for manipulating utcDateTime values.

Global class

The Global class has some methods for manipulating utcDateTime values, including the following:

  • clrSystemDateTime2UtcDateTime

  • dateToBeginUtcDateTime

  • dateToEndUtcDateTime

  • utcDateTime2SystemDateTime

  • utcDateTimeNull

Note   utcDateTime2SystemDateTime refers to the .NET Framework class System.DateTime. This function is equivalent to clrSystemDateTime2UtcDateTime (where the prefix clr refers to the common language runtime of the .NET Framework).


The system has X++ functions for manipulating utcDateTime values, including the following:

  • datetime2Str

  • str2Datetime

In this procedure you will run the code upgrade function on your test environment from the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 client. This produces an .AOD file that is used when you perform the upgrade on your production system.

This procedure can be run many times. You might rerun this procedure after each change, instead of waiting until after you make all changes. Repeated runs after smaller sets of changes might make problems easier to diagnose or fix.

For more information, see the documentation for the Microsoft Dynamics AX upgrade.

To run the code upgrade

  1. In the client's menu, click Tools, click Development tools, and then click Code upgrade.

  2. You will see four upgrade related actions. Run each of these actions, one at a time, in the sequence that they appear in the menu.

    1. Detect code upgrade conflicts

    2. Compare layers

    3. Estimation report

    4. Parameters

In the next procedures you will write the X++ code necessary for the upgrade. You will add a method to a class that is provided by Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009. Your method will not be called during the phase of manual preparations. Instead you will register your new method, which will cause the production upgrade process to start your new method.

In this procedure you will add a method to one of the classes that is named by the ReleaseUpdateDB41_* pattern. There are several such classes, each intended for a particular module. Each table is assigned a configuration key. The configuration key indicates the module that the table belongs to. The trailing asterisk (*) in the name pattern is a placeholder for a module identifier. You should add your method to the class that corresponds to the module of the affected table. If you are unsure of which class to use, you can use the ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic class.

By convention and for consistency, the method name should begin with updateToDateTime_*. Include your name as the suffix for easy identification.


Notice that some method names that look the same at first glance actually begin with different words, either update or upgrade. They are not the same method.

The method that you add calls a system-provided method named upgradeToDateTime. The upgradeToDateTime method performs an SQL insert into the DEL_SysUpgradeTimeZone table. Your method can make several such calls.

To add a method to ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic

  1. In the AOT, expand the Classes node, and then expand ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic.

  2. Right-click Methods, and then select New Method.

  3. Add a new instance method that resembles the following example. The name of your method can be anything unique. You new method must call upgradeToDateTime, as shown in the example.


    Pass zero (0) as the value for the fieldId of your time column if your date column is not paired with a time column.


    The final parameter shown is optional, and the default is the value shown (classnum for ReleaseUpdateDB_TimezoneUpgrade).

    void updateToDateTime_Jane
        ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic ::upgradeToDateTime
            tableNum( YourActivitiesTable )
            ,fieldNum( YourActivitiesTable ,YourMeetingStartDateTime )
            ,fieldNum( YourActivitiesTable ,DEL_YourMeetingStartDate )
            ,fieldNum( YourActivitiesTable ,DEL_YourMeetingStartTime )
            ,classNum( ReleaseUpdateDB_TimezoneUpgrade )
  4. In the code editor window, click the save icon, and then close the window.

Dd362070.collapse_all(en-us,AX.60).gifClass ReleaseUpdateDB_TimezoneUpgrade

In the previous code example, the ReleaseUpdateDB_TimezoneUpgrade class is given as a parameter. The class has a method named runSQLCode_UpdateDateToUTCDateTime. This method updates your new UtcDateTime type field by assigning a UTC time value to it (and a time zone to a hidden related field). The UTC value is derived from your obsolete Date and Time field pair, and from the local time zone of your AOS.

The example call to upgradeToDateTime leads to a call of one of the two methods.

Dd362070.collapse_all(en-us,AX.60).gifConsider the Affected Module

The ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic class is not specific to any one module. There are several classes that resemble this class, but that are intended to hold code that is specific to a particular module. One such class is ReleaseUpdateDB41_smm. The others classes follow the naming convention of ReleaseUpdateDB41_*. Your new method can be added to the *_Basic class. However, you are encouraged to add it to the similar class named for the module that contains the items that your method is upgrading.

In this procedure you will write X++ code to register your new method for the eventual production upgrade process. In the example, you call the method addSharedJob. The parameters will be the name of the new method that you added, and the class on which you added your method.

To register your new method

  1. In the AOT, expand the Classes, expand ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic, and then expand Methods.

  2. Right-click initPreSyncJobs, and then select Edit.

  3. In the editor window, inside the method, write the call that is shown in the following example.

        this .addSharedJob
            methodStr( ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic
            ,"Handles new fields like YourMeetingStartDateTime."
  4. Click the save icon, and close the editor.

For more information, see How to write upgrade scripts.

The following table provides a summary of the relationships between the classes and their methods, and other objects that are discussed in the previous sections.




DEL_YourMeetingStartDate, DEL_YourMeetingStartTime (table fields)



Data is read from DEL_YourMeetingStartDate and DEL_YourMeetingStartTime. Time zone information is applied, and then the data is stored in the new field YourMeetingStartDateTime.

.updateToDateTime_You method (on class ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic)

ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic ::upgradeToDateTime


updateToDateTime_You calls upgradeToDateTime.

ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic ::upgradeToDateTime


/* .runSQLCode_UpdateDateToUTCDateTime



The operand class is a parameter into upgradeToDateTime. An important method on the operand class is runSQLCode_UpdateDateToUTCDateTime. When you provide this operand class as a parameter, it is this method that is ultimately run.

ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic ::upgradeToDateTime

DEL_SysUpgradeTimeZone (table)

SQL insert:

The method performs an insert into the operand table. This table is read by the processes that upgrade your production environment.

ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic .initPreSyncJobs

ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic .addSharedJob


initPreSyncJobs calls addSharedJob.

ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic .addSharedJob

updateToDateTime_You method (on class ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic or on a similar class that is more specific to a module)


updateToDateTime_You (a method name) is a parameter into addSharedJob.

This procedure was described previously.

It is possible that your customized Date and Time fields might be designed to work with specialized X++ code. Special application rules might be involved.

The following table describes how to handle special cases.

Special case


Extend the class


You can extend this class to provide the specialized logic that is required to handle your special case Date and Time fields.

The class ReleaseUpdateDB_TimezoneActivityUpgrade is a sample that you can mimic. This derived class contains an override of the runSQLCode_UpdateDateToUTCDateTime method.

Add your method to a class similar to but different from ReleaseUpdateDB41_Basic

The AOT shows there are several classes named by the pattern ReleaseUpdateDB41_*. Some correspond to different modules in Microsoft Dynamics AX. You can add your method to one of those classes

Bypass the upgrade of application Date and Time fields that ship with Microsoft Dynamics AX

It is possible that external systems access a Date and Time field pair. It might not yet be plausible to modify the external system to switch to a replacement UtcDateTime field.

You can bypass the upgrade of a particular Date and Time pair by commenting out the appropriate calls in one of the ReleaseUpdateDB41_* classes.

Administrator has added a table for synchronization at application startup

You may have added a call to the syncTable method in Application .syncApplTables. This practice is not recommended.

Tables that you have added to syncApplTables are not properly upgraded for UtcDateTime. One solution is to comment out the call in syncApplTables for the table that you added. Another solution is to manually upgrade your table after the automated upgrade has completed.

It can take a while to prepare the test environment before your organization is ready to upgrade its production environment. The UtcDateTime portion of the overall upgrade preparation is relatively small.

Now you are ready to upgrade your production environment. The following table describes the two phases of upgrade that directly relate to the UtcDateTime upgrades.

Phase of upgrade



The initPreSyncJobs method is run, as the last step of pre-synchronization. Upgrade does no other processing while this step runs. The processing during this step takes table locks in the SQL database.

This adds your method to a list of methods that the system will run during the post-synchronization phase.

Any executions of the method ReleaseUpgradeDB41_Basic ::upgradeToDateTime after post-synchronization has begun are ignored.


The runSQLCode_UpdateDateToUTCDateTime method is run, as the first step of post-synchronization. This updates the UTC values for your new UtcDateTime column.

Additional details about the UtcDateTime upgrade are as follows:

  • During the upgrade checklist, you are prompted to enter the time zone that you want set for your AOS. Select the time zone that most of your Date and Time data matches.

    Caution noteCaution

    After the upgrade begins to use your selected time zone, there is no way to change to a different time zone. Be sure to select the correct time zone. You must make a backup copy of your database before beginning the upgrade.

  • Null Date values will still be null after the upgrade to UtcDateTime. For these data types, their lowest possible value is treated as null.

  • When upgrade occurs for a Date field that is not paired with a Time field, the time part of the UtcDateTime value is set to 12:00 (at the midpoint of the day). Next, the time zone offset is applied, which changes the 12:00 time setting. The expectation is that the modified time is still within the same day.

  • If the upgrade stops in mid-process, the upgrade to UtcDateTime will complete when the upgrade is restarted. The system tracks status during each step of the upgrade.

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