What are the alternatives to using the DTW in 2005 to import customers, item codes, update UDF's, etc.?
you can use the Import from Excel utility to import and update BP's and Items. however, UDF's are not supported.
if you are doing massive updates, you may want to check out a solution called Examin Fusion, which is an import tool for SBO, which is pretty robust.
We looked into Fusion but it is too pricey just to update customers, inventory codes, user-defined fields, etc. Is SAP going to include a better tool than the Excel import which would include user-defined fields?
The best part about SBO is the fact that the SQL tables are all there, and can be seen and modified. You can easily create backups of databases, modify item properties, and restore if things didn't work out. Of course, this requires a working knowledge of SQL, but SQL Query Analyzer includes some amazing help files. Note of course that this is nothing that should be done willy-nilly, and things like Sales Orders / Invoices and whatnot should NEVER be added or updated with direct SQL queries. But if you want to set all of your products in a certain category (almost certainly a UD field there) to have one of those 64 properties "checked," for example, then SQL queries can work great for doing that.
I have found this to be the most practical (and economical) way to work around the severe limitations of SBO's import / export tools. Even if Robeez has to send you or someone else to a class or two on SQL, Karen, they will probably be getting a lot more for their money than they would with an overpriced piece of software that's only used for routine maintenance of product and customer data.
SQL is also useful for mining data from the database, too, to overcome other limitations of SBO - for instance, getting the cost of Sales BOMs out so that one can find out whether they are profitable or not (Sales BOMs don't work too well in SBO whatsoever). The Query Generator can do a lot, but when it comes to more complex things (like using SUM or COUNT functions), it doesn't quite cut the mustard.
As a SAP Business One consultant, I prefer you as little as possible using the backend of SQL.
Note that is you corrupt the Database in some way, SAP will not be able to support you, and you will have to restore a backup before the change.
With that said, I do agree that in some cases, a simple SQL query can save you many hours. So if it comes to that, please do it on a test environment first, and only after you are positive there are no other tables affected by this change.
If you install the SDK help center, you will find the DB schema there, which can help you identify affect on other tables
As for the standard tool, we are working on a more robust import tool, using the NetWeaver technology to replace the DTW, but it will only be out in about a year...