Experience is important for a CRM Developers. You have to learn how things don’t work first 🙂 no shortcuts
CRM Developers have to learn the mysterious ways of CRM development, they need to learn the the quirks and the way things work with Microsoft Dynamics CRM development.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be illogical but we are all used it to now.
If CRM was an animal I think it would be a cat, it’s unpreditable and sometimes very difficult to persuade it to do as you would like
This makes experience very important because to learn how things work, you have to go through the process of things not working (often in many different flavours of not working) before it works
There are some shortcuts but often you have to go through the painful process yourself.
When a CRM developer starts developing a plugin, he will learn the all the steps you need to take and the hoops you need to jump through
I went through some of the common problems in this blog but here is a quick recap
- setup up CRM Developer toolkit
- User has to be CRM Admin
- Isolation mode? if none user has to be a deployment administrator
- plugin needs to be signed
- crmRegister file needs to be checked out
These are the simple things you need to do to create and register a plugin, that’s without even thinking about the code and if it works, testing, debugging etc.
There are lots of tools where you have to put the server, the CRM Discovery URL, the OganisationService url.
At first you guess what they are, fail a bunch of times until you knuckle down and find out where those urls are, what they do and why the tool needs them.
Then one day you find they are hidden in CRM under settings, developer resources!
WHY .NET/C# struggle developing
Sometimes companies don’t want to pay for CRM developer or have C# resources which they think they will use to do some CRM plugin customization.
This theory seems like a sound idea, the actual C# code in a plugin is usually quite small and not overly complex but for a C# Developer with no CRM experience it’s a total nightmare
C# developers with no Microsoft Dynamics CRM development experience don’t understand how data in the CRM website is structured in SQL Server database
- How CRM works with customizations
- The different types of customizations to choose from, without this knowledge how do you pick the correct customization type.
- How do I create a plugin
- How do you register a plugin – common plugin errors
- How do I write a query to retrieve related records in CRM
Whilst the C# developer goes through learning how things don’t work, it takes the developer a lot longer to write the plugin (if they manage it)
The kicker is if they don’t do constant CRM Development, they will forgot all the lessons they learnt from the work above, slide down the snake and have to learn all again next time.
Hands on experience is vital
The reason hand’s on experience is vital for CRM developers is when a CRM developer is creating customizations and code to work, they will have to overcome a lot of situations where the code isn’t compiling, it isn’t working. During this minor setbacks you the CRM developers will read blogs, the SDK and work out why it doesn’t work.
The CRM developer will end up with a working customization, e.g. plugin but will also have a better understanding of creating CRM customizations and a more in depth knowledge of how the CRM customization works.
You cannot get this knowledge and experience through reading about CRM customizations like plugins, custom workflows etc.
Creating the customization gives you a deeper knowledge of CRM development because reading about CRM development won’t tell you about what doesn’t work.
If you think about knowledge as 3 dimensional object, reading about CRM Development gives you one view of the object. Getting it working and overcoming the errors during this process gives you a different view of the object.
Experience is earned
When you start creating CRM plugins, worfklows and other customizations you will run into lots of puzzling problems. Slowly one by one you will overcome the initial problems and find more intricate problems, which usually move towards logical problems and quirks particular to CRM development.
- CRM 2011/2013 – Common Plugin Errors and Isolation Mode
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM not working? check these common causes
- Debugging plugins and getting plugin profiler or remote debugging setup
- You may have problems deploying plugins, like I had which turned out I needed to be a deployment Admin
- Creating early bound classes, do you use crmsvcutil like this blog post or maybe the early bound generator
- Later you may create a post plugin updating loop and then fix it
The point I am trying to make is CRM Developers learn CRM development by overcoming errors and problems and learning not to make them in the future.
I view CRM developer progression similar to driving a car. When you start out driving a car, everything is difficult and you have to think and remind yourself to do these tasks
- Putting on your seatbelt
- Seat right positioned correctly
- Constantly checking all of your mirrors
- Indicating at the correct time
- Changing gears and being in the right gear
- Braking distance
- Estimate distance
- Monitoring speed (and not speeding)
- Understanding what the road signs mean
The driver slowly gets more experienced and begins to do many of the those tasks without thinking, this gives them time to focus on other parts of driving, like not crashing and watching out for idiots on the road. Driving on the motorway, driving in the rain and snow are all experiences built up over time. Slowly the driver will become better (hopefully).
The point is you can’t read how to become a better driver, you have to apply the knowledge and experience it yourself. The same is true about CRM development.
The only way to speed up experience is to do some CRM development outside of work.
Mark McGookin had been working on some CRM development and getting IFrame errors. Errors messages rarely point to the actual problem as most CRM developer find out. Error messages are a sign something went wrong and you need to do some detective work to find the root cause. You can do this by checking your logging, Plugin Trace files, Event Viewer on the CRM server or by debugging the customization.
Mark was trying to use Document Management in his code, eventually he found the iFrame error was actually occurring because the SP Root location was null.
Experienced CRM developers make less errors because they have learnt to stop making these errors through experience and bug fixing those problems.
Due to the experience and knowledge gained through experience and reading they will make better choices about what customizations work well in certain scenarios
One the key roles experience developers have is advising and peer reviewing less experienced developers. Finding problems and bugs earlier in the process can save you hours if those same bugs are found when the CRM customization has gone to the customer.