Dynamics 365 – How to install the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Developer Toolkit


I blogged about uninstalling the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Developer Toolkit and released I hadn’t explained how to install the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Developer Toolkit

If you want to learn what the developer toolkit is and why it’s useful, read this page

You can find manually download the toolkit here

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Developer Toolkit marketplace

The quickest way to install the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Developer Toolkit is straight from Visual Studio.

Go to Tools –> Extensions and updates

search for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Developer toolkit




You will then be able to create Dynamics 365 projects and connect to Dynamics 365 projects.

I would recommend getting the latest version of the Dynamics 365 SDK and regularly update the Developer toolkit because it has a few bugs but they are fixing them regularly




Dynamics 365 – Alternate keys can stop duplicates

Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful. Margaret J. Wheatley

Alternative keys allow you to lookup records without having the guid of the record, they give a method to stop users adding duplicates, speed up Dynamics 365 searching and are useful for integrating Dynamics 365 with external services/systems.

Key facts

  • Alternate keys can stop duplicates
  • Alternate keys can increase record lookup speed
  • Alternative keys allow you to lookup records without a guid but with information which makes an alternate key.  E.g. lookup a person using surname and email.
  • Work well with upsert, allowing you to find a record and either update or create
  • Can sometimes cause problems when trying to remove them solutions
  • Added in Dynamics CRM 2016 and available in Dynamics 365 online and on premise

What is an alternate key?

An alternate key can be added to an entity and can be made up of one or more fields on the entity.  Alternate keys use database indexes, this has the benefit of making records unique by stopping duplicates and increasing performance when retrieving records with an alternate key.

Alternate key facts

  • Each entity can have 5 alternate keys
  • You can only use strings, decimals and integers (whole number) to create an alternate key
  • There is a maximum key size to be aware of
  • After creating an alternate key, an async job will create the index and the status will be pending, In Progress, Active and failed.  If you have a lot of records this could take a long time.
  • You can retrieve an alternate key using RetrieveEntityKeyRequest, you delete an alternate key using DeleteEntityKeyRequest.

To learn more about alternate key read the posts

Stopping Duplicates

Alternate keys is they give a way to stop users adding duplicate records.  When you add an alternate key and a user tries to add a duplicate, Dynamics 365 will stop the user from adding the record and show the warning below.







This is better than out of the box duplicate stopping functionality which only warns the user but lets them add a duplicate.  The alternative is to stop duplicates via a plugin, which takes more effort and has a maintenance overhead.


It’s difficult to remove alternate keys from managed solutions, I have had problems where Dynamics 365 didn’t want to remove the alternate key.

The limitation of using numbers and strings can leave you frustrated when you want to use a date field.  You can work aaround this by converting a date field to a string but it‘s messy.

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How Machine learning will change Dynamics 365

Machine learning is working smarter, using data to interact with customers in different ways.  Machine learning analyses your data to help your business to respond using experience and recommendations.

I was reading my colleagues post on Machine learning CRM 2016 Prices + Machine Learning = Profits & Retention and this article – why salespeople need to develop machine intelligence

Companies are focused on capturing new business they often forget to look at existing customers, how they can improve the relationship and improve selling.

You already have a great relationship with an existing customer so a lot of the hard work is done, Machine learning rise prices or offer other products .

When ever I think of Machine learning I think of Amazon’s recommendations, you brought this book

An example of Machine learning is Amazon’s recommendations, you I brought 

it recommended
The recommendation was great, I appreciate they are trying to sell me a product but I often the suggested books are usually tempting (I can’t buy any more books I have a whole book shelf of books to read)

What is Machine learning?

I hear the term, I have read it’s been added to Dynamics 365 but what is Machine learning
Wikipedia – Machine Learning
Machine learning is the subfield of computer science that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.  Evolved from the study of pattern recognition and computational learning theory in artificial intelligence, machine learning explores the study and construction of algorithms that can learn from and make predictions on data – such algorithms overcome following strictly static program instructions by making data driven predictions or decisions, through building a model from sample inputs. Machine learning is employed in a range of computing tasks where designing and programming explicit algorithms is infeasible; example applications include spam filtering, detection of network intruders or malicious insiders working towards a data breach, optical character recognition (OCR), search engines and computer vision.

The description is why it can be difficult for people to understand what machine learning is and how it will be used in the future.

This blog post describes machine learning – machine learning theory an introductory primer

There are two main types of machine learning

  • Supervised machine learning: The program is “trained” on a pre-defined set of “training examples”, which then facilitate its ability to reach an accurate conclusion when given new data.
  • Unsupervised machine learning: The program is given a bunch of data and must find patterns and relationships therein.

These blogs show examples of Machine learning

Examples of machine learning

  • Sentiment on tweets
  • Adds on Amazon/Facebook
  • Self driving cars
  • Imaging tagging in Facebook
  • Text analysis in emails

The examples help to understand what machine learning does, it can crunch large amounts of data looking for patterns you have trained it identify.

Machine Learning and Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Here are some examples of Machine learning and Dynamics 365

How will machine learning change CRM

The most effective environment for machine learning is to analyse activities which happen thousands of time.

Machine learning can analyse the data and learn, the more data the better.  The rules apply for Machine learning


  • Good data in, good data out
  • with machine learning think
  • lots of good data in, useful analyse out.

Amazon recommendations learns from the buying patterns of thousands/millions of customers, the crunching of lots of data enables Amazon to make useful recommendations and not annoy customers with annoying recommendations.

benefits of Machine learning

Recurring activities and data do we get in Dynamics 365

Where will the opportunities for machine learning occur in Dynamics 365

Product recommendations – Lead generation

Customers who buy this product are usually interested in this other product.

One powerful selling points of Microsoft Dynamics 365is offering the potential for customers to use their existing data to increase sales and increase selling effectiveness. If a company could focus on quality leads, focusing on selling products to customers who are interested in those products, it can sell more.

This would allow sales teams to time effectively, selling to existing customers.

Machine learning could automate suggests on what customers would want specific products.  Machine learning gives this knowledge to all the sales people not just experienced sale people

Customer service sentiment

Social engagement has machine learning in its core functionality.  You can train the social engagement to recognise sentiment in tweets and blog posts.  You can create cases based on tweets with negative sentimen

Lead Scoring + Marketing

Machine learning would seem to be a great choice to help evaluate success marketing campaigns, marketing distributions


Machine learning can do customer segmentation, sorting and organising customers.  This could lead to targeted interaction with customers, working smarter not harder.

This article suggests three areas around products

new customers – machine learning can help you find the right product for the right customer. Machine learning to analysis who you sell to and make recommendations on the target audience.

Retain customers – Customer service

Respond quicker to tweets and emails by using Machine learning to identify problems with sentiment in communication (SMS, tweets, Facebook, email)

Sell to existing customers

Machine learning can help with Cross sell, upsell and targeting new products to existing customers.  Think of Amazon recommending items based on your purchase history.  This could be used in Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Machine learning plus automation = Awesome

It’s a great moment when you are selling/demoing Microsoft Dynamics CRM to a potential client and you explain how workflows work.
Workflows enable business to automate some of the manual steps in a process, giving the business the double benefit of
  • Not forgetting to do part of the process
  • users not needed to do part of the process

The potential of workflows to save time and add value is obvious, the difficult part is mapping out the processes.  Processes having three paths

Don’t just test the happy path

Workflows need inputs to trigger them, this can  change of status, an email coming in.

Machine learning is an informed assistant, it analyses repetitive actions and uncover patterns and successful strategies.  This learning is what  humans called experience e.g. learning what not to do and what to do.  We can tell machine what’s good, what’s not and then it goes through the data and applies the criteria we have given it.

This could simulate an experienced person going through the data and advising what they think we should do.  The benefit with machine learning is it can sift through data and advise what records to focus on.

The future of Dynamics 365 and machine learning

Machine learning in Dynamics 365 will need developers to understand what machine learning is and how it works.  Most people have heard of machine learning but few people understand how to use it with Dynamics 365 or have experience of implementing it.

Once the Microsoft Dynamics 365 industry gets used to machine learning, gets practical and theoretical knowledge, Solution architects will become adept at seeing where machine learning can be used.

an opportunity for businesses to change and adapt their processes to use machine learning.

It will not be a smooth a ride, taking time for Microsoft Dynamics 365 professionals to understand machine learning and sell it to customers.  Selling the business benefits of machine learning is difficult because customers can’t see what they will be getting.  It‘s not a dashboard, a portal or something visible.

Marchine learning is a long term investment with potentially dramatic benefits

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