Speaking at eXtreme365 2017 Lisbon

I am very excited to be speaking at the new eXtreme365 (formerly eXtremeCRM) in Lisbon March 13 – 17, 2017!

I will be delivering two sessions at the partner and customer events on Dynamics 365 portals, and excited to make public a new framework Adoxio has been working on to bring extended customization capabilities to Dynamics 365 portals. As part of this we will be demoing, as well making available our core common template that our solutions and products are built on to eXtreme365 attendees.

The purpose of the eXtreme365 conference is to help the Microsoft Dynamics 365 (CRM) community more effectively grow their business by selling, deploying and extending the Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution. eXtreme365 is dedicated to providing insight to the Microsoft Dynamics 365 future vision and strategy and encourages sharing of knowledge among the Microsoft Dynamics 365 community. eXtreme supports critical connections with Microsoft, ISVs and partners – all with a goal of helping the community learn, grow and work more productively together.

If you’re in Lisbon and want to learn about Dynamics 365 portals then it would be great to meet you and to have you at the sessions.


Partner Session: Extend Dynamics 365 portals with Custom Code

14/03/2017 16:45 – 18:00

Reached the limitations of configuration with your Dynamics 365 portal and need to extend it with custom functionality? In this session learn how to create your own portal companion web app using Dynamics 365 Server-to-Server authentication and a secure token service (STS) for seamless integration with your Dynamics 365 portal and the ability to write your own custom C# code.

Attendees will see an end to end solution example and gain access to the templates to kick start your own custom portal development. Build custom integration or a complex API or whatever your business requirements demand with the power of the CRM SDK and the .NET Framework for your portal.


Customer Session: Everything you need to know – Dynamics 365 portals Implementations

17/03/2017 15:15 – 16:15

Interested in learning about Microsoft Dynamics 365 portals and what an implementation looks like? Join our session to learn about best practices, methodology, and get a basic understanding of how this solution can be applied to your organization.

Dynamics 365 portals – Display Activities with Timeline

A new feature launched at the inception of CRM portals but never really documented is the ability to display entity record related activities on the portal through a new timeline feature. This feature was created to enhance the portal case management functionality by allowing the display of any activities related to the entity record (using the regarding field). This functionality is actually configuration based through a new entity form metadata type of “Timeline”, which can also be used with your own entity forms with any entity that is activity enabled.

To add the timeline to your own entity form there are a couple configuration steps you will need to make to successfully setup. To use the timeline metadata type the entity your working with will need to be activity enabled otherwise the metadata option will not display. You can activity enable your entity by opening the System Customizer and navigating to the entity information, on the general tab under Communication & Collaboration ensure Activities is selected.

activity_enable

You can now create an entity form in either Edit or Read-Only modes where you can then add the timeline metadata type. Below is the minimum configuration for an entity form for edit mode:

entityform_general

Once you have your entity form created, we need to add the associated entity form metadata for the timeline. Scroll to the bottom of the entity form configuration or from the related entities navigation select Entity Form Metadata and create a new item. In the new metadata form, select the type as “Timeline”.

metadata_type

Once on the type “Timeline” the options panel below will update to reveal the new configuration options for activities. At this time it is mostly focused around the portal users ability to contribute content as an activity, and what file upload functionality they have. You can also select the “Advanced Options” to reveal a number of additional labels that can be modified.

timeline_options

The portal timeline feature utilizes the activitypointer entity in Dynamics to query for the related activities and supports the following activity entities. It does not support custom activities it appears at this time, however you can expose additional activity types (like task) or custom activities through sub grid functionality.

  • Portal Comment
  • Appointment
  • Phone Call
  • Email

For this configuration to properly function Entity Permissions need to be configured. We are going to assume you have already created an entity permission of the entity, in the case of mine, the entity Economic Development Sites (adoxio_economicdevelopmentsite), with the scope of contact (there is a related contact field that is a lookup to the contact entity), the privileges (read, write, create, append, append to), and with the desired web roles set.

There needs to be 2 additional entity permissions added, one for the activitypointer entity, and another for the Portal Comment activity. Both entity permissions should have the scope of parent and set the parent entity permission to the permission of the entity being viewed. This ensures that only the activities which are related to the record are accessible.

Activity (activitypointer) – Privileges: Read

activitypointer_permission

Portal Comment(adx_portalcomment) – Privileges: Read, Create, Append

portalcomment_permission

Portal Comment is a new activity entity that replaces the use of notes/annotations for user submitted content. This was done so that a entity relationship to contact was established and it would support native entity permissions. Annotations are still used to hold the contents of attachments on the portal comment activity record. Back office staff can create new Portal Comment activities within Dynamics regarding the entity record and once marked complete will be displayed on the portal.

Once all the configurations are complete, you can now view your edit or read-only entity form with an included timeline view of activities.

overview

CRM SDK 6.1.2 Released – Fixes Adxstudio and Dynamics 365 Compatibility

Microsoft has released an update to the CRM 2013 SDK with a new version, 6.1.2. This version includes changes to support the new authentication protocols introduced in v8.1.1 of the SDK. Since the Adxstudio Portal v7 relied on the CRM 2013 SDK, without this new version of the SDK it was unable to connect to Dynamics 365 instances due to the deprecation of the Azure Access Control Service (ACS) endpoint from all v8.2 instances. Now with this new CRM SDK you can include it in Adxstudio Portals v7.x projects so they will be able to connect successfully to Dynamics 365!

The new CRM SDK v6.1.2 has been posted to Nuget – https://www.nuget.org/packages/Microsoft.CrmSdk.CoreAssemblies/6.1.2. This new DLL will likely be included in the next Adxstudio Portals v7 release but until then you can manually add it to your projects via either of the following methods:

BIN folder drop
Use this method if you have not customized the code and only deployed the out of box MasterPortal

  1. Download the updated CRM SDK v6.1.2 Nuget package from nuget.org
    https://www.nuget.org/api/v2/package/Microsoft.CrmSdk.CoreAssemblies/6.1.2
  2. Use WinRAR or 7Zip or other compression utility to open the Microsoft.CrmSdk.CoreAssemblies.6.1.2.nupkg file. Right click the file in Windows Explorer, select Open With… and select your desired ZIP compatible compression program. Alternatively, change the file extension to .zip.
  3. Extract the Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk.dll and Microsoft.Crm.Sdk.Proxy.dll from lib\net45 folder to a local folder location.
    nugetwinrar
  4. Copy the Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk.dll and Microsoft.Crm.Sdk.Proxy.dll files to the MasterPortal\bin\ folder where your portal code is deployed, overwrite both the existing files when prompted.
    Note: When replaced this will cause the portal application to automatically be restarted.

Visual Studio – NuGet Package Manager
Use this method if you are customizing the MasterPortal project and need to recompile the MasterPortal with custom code or update your reference to a new DLL location.

  1. Open your MasterPortal Visual Studio Project. In the solution explorer pane, expand the MasterPortal, right click References and select Manage NuGet Packages…
    managenuget
  2. From the NuGet Manage Packages window, select Browse from the top instead of the default of installed and enter in the search “crmsdk”.
    nugetsearch
  3. From the results select “Microsoft,CrmSdk.CoreAssemblies” the package will be by crmsdk.
    nugetselectpackage
  4. In the right pane of the NuGet window use the version selector to select 6.1.2, and click Install.
    nugetinstall
  5. You will be prompted for a dependency to Microsoft.Identity, confirm the dialog and accept the terms to install the packages.
    nugetreview
  6. Once completed you can rebuild the MasterPortal project and re-deploy your customized portal for Dynamics 365 compatibility.

One thing to be aware of with using NuGet Package Manager is that it can have the side effect of doubling up some of your dependent assemblies in the web.config. A base MasterPortal this was not an issue but something you may want to review your web.config after to ensure it doesn’t have any extra items that you do not need. Also if you use NuGet to add other packages to your project be cautious when updating to not include the Microsoft.CrmSdk.CoreAssemblies in any update.

Alternatively from NuGet you can use the BIN drop method as well with your Visual Studio project. Instead of dropping the updated assemblies in the BIN folder, instead drop them in your reference assembly folder, perhaps called Framework or DllImports. This would replace your existing DLLs in that reference folder.

The new CRM SDK 6.1.2 should also work with any previous versions of CRM, allowing you to pre-update your Adxstudio Portal projects prior to upgrading your CRM to Dynamics 365.


Why this was update necessary:

With the deprecation of Azure Access Control Service (ACS), we have to modify our SDK authentication code by removing all references to ACS. Effective from versions Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2016 Update 1 (v8.1.1) and Microsoft Dynamics 365 (v8.2), we removed Live ID support and ACS dependencies on the server-side.

We also removed Microsoft.Xrm.Client from the CRM 2016 (8.x) SDK client because it was not compliant with the OAuth changes, and replaced it with Microsoft.Xrm.Tooling.Connector. You can use the current Microsoft Dynamics 365 Software Development Kit (SDK) to access Microsoft Dynamics CRM back to version 6.x for both auth and messaging.

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/crm/2016/12/21/dynamics-365-sdk-backwards-compatibility/

For some additional context you can read my previous post – Dynamics 365 and Adxstudio Portals Compatibility