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What's new in document exchange (AIF)

Application Integration Framework (AIF) enables companies to electronically integrate and communicate with other business processes and partners. As the replacement for the Commerce Gateway, AIF enables more secure business-to-business and application-to-application integration scenarios, with reduced cost to develop and customize documents based on industry-standard XML.

With AIF, the document-based interface to Microsoft Dynamics AX has been renewed, XML schemas have been simplified, and performance in the supply chain process has been improved. Also, the XML Common Business Library (xCBL) document standard has been eliminated. You can still map to xCBL standard documents, but this is no longer required.

Improved setup and customization features make it easy to translate data into XML for export to other internal and external software applications or to a different Microsoft Dynamics AX installation. Exporting data is handled through Web services or in batches, for example, by using the Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006 adapter. XML documents are imported by AIF through the same channels, and AIF helps ensure that the appropriate business logic is applied before data is written to the Microsoft Dynamics AX database.

AIF includes out-of-the-box support for an enlarged set of frequently used documents. This set includes the following:

  • ASN (Advance shipping notice - outbound)

  • Exchange rates (outbound and inbound)

  • Free text invoice (inbound)

  • Inventory balances (outbound)

  • Inventory counting journal (inbound)

  • Inventory profit and loss journal (inbound)

  • Inventory transactions (outbound)

  • Inventory transfer journal (inbound)

  • Ledger chart of account (outbound and inbound)

  • Ledger dimensions (outbound and inbound)

  • Packing slip update (inbound)

  • Picking list (outbound)

  • Price discount agreement journal (inbound)

  • Price list (outbound)

  • Purchase invoice (inbound)

  • Purchase order (outbound)

  • Sales invoice (outbound)

  • Sales order (inbound)

  • EDI 820 remittance advice (inbound)

Partners and customers can easily customize and extend the application programming interfaces (APIs) by using the Microsoft Dynamics AX software development kit (SDK). The SDK includes a new wizard that developers can use to easily create custom documents.

AIF provides a pluggable framework that supports multiple transports to reliably exchange documents with trading partners or other systems.

  • Send documents – Microsoft Dynamics AX sends documents to another system.

  • Receive and create documents – Microsoft Dynamics AX receives documents from another authorized system and creates new records in the Microsoft Dynamics AX database.

  • Respond to read requests – Microsoft Dynamics AX receives requests for documents from another authorized system, retrieves the requested information from the Microsoft Dynamics AX database, and returns it to the requesting system, with appropriate filtering and security.

Microsoft Dynamics AX supports the following asynchronous adapters:

  • File System

  • Message Queuing

  • Outbound Web Service Adapter

  • BizTalk Adapter

Additional custom asynchronous transport adapters can be developed by using the SDK.

AIF supports the following character encoding formats:

  • UTF-8

  • UTF-16

  • UTF-16be

  • GB18030

AIF also provides a Web services interface for exchanging documents synchronously. This interface provides a seamless integration experience for .NET and other Web clients. The Web services are generated automatically from the Microsoft Dynamics AX business logic so that developers with limited Web experience can easily create their own Web services.

Exchanging documents with another system or trading partner is now fully customizable. With action policies, you can exactly specify the documents to be exchanged with an external party. Use data policies to further refine your document exchange: for each document, you can specify which data elements can participate in the exchange and whether they are required.

You can use the out-of-the-box documents or use the Axd Document Wizard to create your own documents for exchange. The Axd Document Wizard takes you step-by-step through creating your own documents from existing Microsoft Dynamics AX queries or from your own custom queries.

To support document transformations, AIF provides a pluggable pipeline architecture with configurable components. A value substitution component is provided out-of-the-box that administrators can use to define simple value maps without programming. Partners can develop other custom pipeline components by using the SDK and the hooks provided by the pluggable architecture to address specific transformation needs.

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