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Merit Solutions Named to 2012 VAR Stars

Merit Solutions has been selected as a member of the Bob Scott’s VAR Stars for 2012, a group of 100 organizations honored for their accomplishments in the field of midmarket financial software.

Members of the VAR Stars were selected based on factors such growth, industry leadership and recognition, and innovation. Selection is not based on revenue and those firms chosen represent a wide range of size and many different software publishers of accounting software.

“Each year, 100 VAR Stars are picked from the best organizations that market financial software. It is always an honor to recognize those who contribute to the development of our business,” Bob Scott said.

Windows 8 development - Process Lifetime Management

If you are a developer, starting to work on a Windows 8 application, one of the really important things to understand is the Process Lifetime Management or PLM. Even if you're not a developer, understanding what really happens when you run a Windows Store application or navigate from it could help you use the app better.

PLM is actually one of the major differences between a Windows 8 application and a desktop application. Unlike traditional Windows applications, which will continue to execute in background, Windows Store apps execute only when they are in the foreground. Windows 8 focuses on the apps in the foreground, keeping them responsive and providing excellent performance by allowing the app to use all of the available device resources. Applications that are snapped are running in foreground, too.

Once a user navigates away from the app, the operating system puts the application in the suspended mode to preserve battery. The application remains in memory but all of its thread are suspended. When the user navigates back to the app, it resumes execution where it stopped and you as a developer can't change this behavior. You don't even have to implement any code to make it happen.

This all seems easy and straightforward, but there is a catch. The operating system cannot guarantee that the application will stay in memory until a user decides to use it again. While the app is suspended, the OS can terminate it to free up additional memory. When an app is terminated, all state that has not been saved is lost. As a developer, you cannot allow for this to happen. Since we are not aware whether the application will be terminated, we must ensure the state is saved when the app is suspended and restore this state in case termination occurs.

But do not despair, Visual Studio 2012 does much of the heavy lifting for you. If your app is not complex, the VS project template takes care of this for you, completely. In the Common folder of your Windows Store app you will find the SuspensionManager.cs. VS added the OnSuspending method and following code to existing OnLaunched method in the App.xaml.cs to save and restore the app’s navigation state if the app was terminated by the operating system after it was suspended.

private async void OnSuspending(object sender, SuspendingEventArgs e)


var deferral = e.SuspendingOperation.GetDeferral();
await SuspensionManager.SaveAsync();


protected override async void OnLaunched(LaunchActivatedEventArgs args)


if (args.PreviousExecutionState == ApplicationExecutionState.Terminated)

// Restore the saved session state only when appropriate await SuspensionManager.RestoreAsync();



In case your application requires anything more sophisticated than this, you will have to implement it yourself, but at least you have a decent starting point. To test how your application behaves when terminated, start the app from Visual Studio and select Suspend and shutdown from the Debug Location toolbar (to activate it, navigate to View > Toolbars > Debug Location).

Windows Azure Access Control Service (ACS) 2.0

Access Control Service (ACS) is a Windows Azure service that offers a way of outsourcing authentication. It decouples the application from all the complexity of maintaining a direct relationship with all the identity providers the application is collaborating with. ACS takes care of engaging every identity provider with its own authentication protocol, normalizing the authentication results in a protocol supported by the .NET Windows Identity Foundation (WIF). In just a few clicks ACS can be configured as the authentication manager for the application. Once running, ACS takes care of the application authentication. Furthermore, ACS even offers an UI for the user to choose among the selected identity providers.

Using ACS, applications can:

  • Leverage an existing Active Directory user stores through Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS v2), as well as other stores compatible with the WS* or SAML 2.0 protocols, to multiple Windows Azure applications through a single trust relationship with the ACS 2.0 service.
  • Implement a Single Sign-On.

ACS uses security tokens instead of credentials, which is more secure because credentials are not passed over the network. Also, Building around claims allows separation of authentication logic from application logic.


Microsoft Dynamics AX Role Tailored User Interface Provides Insight and Productivity

Microsoft Dynamics AX provides a RoleTailored user interface which provides instant insight and productivity for your people.

The RoleTailored user interface spans the Microsoft Dynamics AX rich client and Enterprise Portal and helps drive productivity and business insight through its familiar user experience and connection with business processes. Microsoft Word and Excel®, familiar and powerful tools that workers already know and use, work bidirectionally with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 to enhance worker productivity. A flexible Help system provides added support when it is needed.

We believe that the key to helping businesses become more agile and productive in the global economy is to empower individual workers -- giving them tools that improve efficiency and enable them to focus on the highest-value work and a new generation of software is an important ingredient to make this happen. Our implementation of this is “RoleTailored productivity” and it is the key software strategy that enables the people-ready business by combining the worlds of business process automation and personal productivity.

Until now, organizations have had to deal with two distinct worlds of software applications: One involves the world of business process automation software, software that automates processes in areas like accounting, sales, and production. This software has proven to be very good at automating specific tasks, but it has proven to be rigid and hard to change. On the other side is the world of personal productivity software, the tools that we all use daily—Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook®, Microsoft Excel®, and the Web.

In-depth customer research has shown that increasing employee productivity helps drive overall company efficiency. So, how can business management software improve employee productivity? Our idea is to integrate the user experience of Microsoft Office with the user experience of business process applications in a way that is familiar and easy to use for the end user, and built around the way people in the company work - or “RoleTailored.” Software that’s targeted around the specific jobs people do can provide tremendous insight and help drive company-wide productivity. These integrated, flexible business management solutions enable people to make business decisions with greater confidence.

However, the value of a business system is not only about the ease of entering transactions, instead it is about turning those transactions into information, or business intelligence (BI), to help users make faster, better decisions. To do this, business intelligence must be an embedded part of the application, not a separate tool that requires users to take additional steps and switch contexts. Rich, embedded BI is at the core of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 with:

  • More than 30 Role Centers shipped out of the box, to provide the right BI for each user's job role.
  • 11 SQL Analytics Server Cubes that provide data to Role Centers.
  • Key performance indicators that are role based and tailored to each process.
  • Over 800 out-of-the-box reports, all delivered through SQL® Server Reporting Services.
  • Rich interoperability with Microsoft Excel for outputting report and enabling analysis.
  • Interoperability with Microsoft PowerPivot for ad hoc slicing and dicing.
  • InfoParts providing in-context BI fully embedded throughout the Microsoft Dynamics AX user experience.
By automating and streamlining financial, customer relationship and supply chain processes, Microsoft Dynamics AX brings together people, processes and technologies, increasing the productivity and effectiveness of the business, and helping drive business success.

Attending DevReach2012

Merit Solutions is highly devoted to investing in our employees, providing educational opportunities that enable all team members to improve their skills / talent and follow the latest industry trends. All team members are encouraged to attend trainings and conferences, take exams and earn valuable certification in their respective fields.

As an example of this commitment, this year, a couple of our engineers working with industry-leading technologies attended DevReach 2012, the premier developer conference in Central and Eastern Europe. For the 7th time in a row, Telerik, Microsoft, and other valued partners organized this renowned conference which concentrates on developers and testers.

Many prominent speakers presented more than 60 sessions on the following topics:

  • Cloud
  • Web Development
  • Mobile Development
  • Architecture
  • Agile & Testing

Our engineers had the opportunity to share ideas and knowledge and to discuss current projects with top industry experts and came back energized and with plenty of new skills and ideas.

To find out more about DevReach, visit

Top 5 Business Reasons to Go to Convergence 2013: Bond with Your Customers

I had the pleasure of being a guest writer with the Microsoft Dynamics Partner Community Blog for an article on Microsoft Convergence 2013 in New Orleans. The article is being featured as a part of their series, Top 5 Business Reasons to Go to Microsoft Convergence 2013. In my article, I had the opportunity to talk about the reason why Merit Solutions attends Convergence every year, and why we're especially proud to once again be a Bronze Sponsor in 2013: to bond with our customers.

You can read the article below, or on the Microsoft Dynamics Partner Community Blog.

Today’s partner channel is drastically different than what it was 10 years ago: working remote, video conferencing, virtual machines, and other web collaboration tools have allowed for long distances between partners and their customers.

However, when it comes to building a strong, lasting relationship with your customers, there’s really no better substitute than connecting live and in person. And what better place to connect than at Microsoft Convergence 2013 in New Orleans? As the premier event for the worldwide Microsoft Dynamics community, Convergence offers ample opportunities for partners to strengthen their relationships with customers and drive a high ROI for the event.

Here are the top five ways you can bond with your customers at Microsoft Convergence 2013 in New Orleans:

  1. Make Personal Connections. Microsoft Convergence gives you an opportunity to connect with your customers in a more personal way, outside of the traditional business environment. It also helps customers put a face to a name, creating a deeper connection between customers and the vendors that they use. Remember: People build relationships with people, not companies. 
  2. Increase the Value of Their Investments. Microsoft Convergence is a great way for partners to help customers get more value out of their existing Microsoft Dynamics programs and investments. Whether it’s walking through the showroom floor learning about potential add-on solutions or sitting in on an educational session, partners have the opportunity to help customers drive added value for their organization.
  3. Facilitate Networking. As the trusted advisor to your customers, you know a lot about their business challenges and successes. This puts you in a great position to facilitate networking at the unique environment that Microsoft Convergence provides. By introducing customers to other Microsoft Dynamics customers, you can help them learn what works and allow them to share their experiences with peers.
  4. Thank Your Customers. What better way to show your appreciation for your customers’ partnership and trust than taking them out for a night of fine dining, networking, and thanks! Remember, your customers are allowing you to be a part of their success; you can never say “thank you” too much. Plus, if your customers believe that you truly value the opportunity to help them drive success (and not just your success), they will trust you more when you offer additional products or services.
  5. Take Advantage of a Customer Testimonial Opportunity. After spending three days ensuring that your customers receive real business value from attending Microsoft Convergence, ask them to spend some time talking about how much they value your relationship. By asking for a customer testimonial, case study, or video reference for you to use post-Convergence, you can create more value for your clients (free publicity) while gaining reference materials to use in the future!

Imagine the difference between a customer that has mixed feelings about their partner, and a customer who wouldn’t dream of buying from anyone else. The partners who drive the most success from Microsoft Convergence look at the event as an investment instead of an expense. They are investing in their brand, their network, and most importantly, their customer relationships.