DevOps (a clipped compound of “development” and “operations”) is a software development and delivery process that emphasizes communication and collaboration between product management, software development, and operations professionals.
DevOps – The new buzzword.
Although I have never actually tried any of the following (but it is on my list of things to do), here are a collection of resources for applying the concept of Continuous Integration and Delivery for Microsoft Dynamics 365.
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.
Part two of my Chat Bot series expands a little on the original blog post. Again, this post is more of a demonstration than a how-to as there are plenty of articles on the Web on how to develop Chat Bots using the Microsoft Framework.
To see it in action, click on the chat area at the bottom of the screen and start typing. If you need help, just type help to see a couple of sample commands. The new feature in the Bot is that you can now report an abandoned vehicle. Why, I hear you ask. Well, in my line of work, reporting a dead animal, reporting dog poo, and reporting an abandoned vehicle is the very key to my day-to-day work (and other things)! I kid you not 🙂
One of the new technologies that I have seen a lot of lately in the news, and tech blogs about Dynamics is the idea of using Chat Bots to improve customer service and to reduce the pressure on customer service front line staff.
I thought I would give them a go and see how they are created.
This post is primarily about my findings on how easy it was to create one, but is by no means a how to guide as there are plenty of resources on the internet.
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.
Over the years I have seen many unsupported solutions for getting nice little icons in a sub grid. Often, this requirement stems from needing some form of traffic light display, and has only been possible by some sort of unsupported customizations where you can manipulate the DOM.
Now, with Dynamics 365 (December 2016 Update) for both online and on premise, you can do this in a very easy way by following the guide linked at the bottom of this post.