I have decided to release my Visual Studio Template for Microsoft Dynamics. This allows you to quickly create a Solution within Visual Studio that holds separate projects for keeping your assemblies, web resources and data organised.
Since Microsoft have now removed the standalone SDK download, instead offering it via NuGet packages, they have also released a handy PowerShell script that allows you to keep them updated on your machine. Very useful.
Most CRM Developers either use, or have at least heard of CrmSvcUtil for generating early bound classes for developing code and using the resulting classes to manipulate CRM data. I personally do not like working with early bound entities as the resulting class files are huge, and I personally prefer working with the standard Entity Framework for creating and updating entities, and for Linq queries.
Often, I use some helper class libraries that I can use to represent the custom entity names and attributes, so that they can be referenced in code and provide a degree of separation from the actual Schema names and to make code easier to write, and support Intelli-sense.
Something like the code sample below:
public static class Contact
public static const string EntityName = "contact";
public static const string Name = "fullname";
This would then allow you to do the following:
public void createContact()
Entity contact = new Entity(Contact.EntityName);
contact[Contact.Name] = "Joe Blogs";
I was offered a suggestion by a fellow developer that wouldn’t it be good if my CRM Utilities for Visual Studio allowed you to generate this kind of Class file automatically. Well, I thought it was a brilliant idea, and so thanks to the wonderful gentleman of XRTSoft, here it is.
Its split into two options, one to generate classes for your Custom Entities, and one to do the Standard CRM entities.
The resulting file will look something like this:
Notice that for each Entity, it will add the Logical Name, Primary ID Attribute, and the Primary Name Attribute as standard, and then all of the attributes as well. It will also add sub classes for any Option Sets to allow you to reference specific Option Set Values without having to look them up in CRM.
Microsoft Dynamics includes a nice Tablet experience UI right out of the box, and its possible to preview this using a desktop PC web browser.
To make it easy to do, I have developed a nice little Bookmarklet which you can drag to your bookmark bar within your browser. Now, if you browse to your CRM or D365 instance and are logged in, clicking it in your bookmark bar will launch a new window showing you the tablet interface.
So go ahead, just drag the below button to your browsers bookmark bar, and away you go.
I have decided to release a small utility that I developed and have been using for a long time when developing Web Resources for CRM within Visual Studio.
It allows you to publish Web Resources to CRM straight from within CRM, and if you attach it to a Keyboard Shortcut, means you can publish it with a press of a key as soon as you have finished editing it.
It allows you to edit JS, HTML, XML and images as part of a Visual Studio Solution. It saves your connection string locally within a project, and remembers which files relate to which CRM Web Resources. It also allows you to run FetchXML queries, and you can save your queries as part of your Project.
It can be downloaded from here, and full instructions on how to use it are also available.
Very often there is a requirement to create Web Resources to be used in Dynamics CRM that provide some form of user interface. Sometimes it may just be to display some data that you otherwise could not display using QuickView Forms, sometimes its to provide some buttons to trigger integrations that need to be on a Dashboard.
I have seen instances where the standard Windows Grey buttons are used, and also seen Web Resources that are graphically styled like they have come straight out of the Web 2.0 UI style guide. These often look inconsistent with how Dynamics CRM looks, and can either be distracting, or look like a dog’s dinner.
Often, most good CRM developers will create a standard style sheet, upload it to their solution, and reference it from any Web Resource that needs it. I would say that this is still a good thing to do, but I wanted to enhance it a bit so that a UI provided by a Web Resource would blend in with CRM without any additional work. This has especially become crucial when a lot of companies will brand their Sandbox environments different to their Production environments (sometimes using garish colour schemes) to instantly alert their users as to which environment they are on. CRM provides Custom Themes for this task, and although they are still quite limited, I wanted to be able to tap in to this feature.
So, I had the idea of creating a mechanism that would automatically retrieve the Theme and style up any User Interface elements using those settings.