Hosk’s Top Dynamics 365 Articles of the week – 14th – August

Quotes

But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated. Ernest Hemingway

Articles of the week

awesome-1

Best of the rest

Programming/Scrum

Other

The Hosk – currently reading

Hosk’s CRM Developer Articles

A collection of my favorite CRM Developer articles I have written

CRM 2016 – Tips on passing the MB2-712 customization and config exam

All the CRM 2016 content to help you pass the exam

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Dynamics 365 – You cannot stop Dynamics 365 updating but you can be prepared

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Frederick Douglass

Dynamics 365 will always surprise you #HoskCodeWisdom

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is evolving. Patches, revisions get added without knowledge or consent of users, major changes must be scheduled and customisations tested.  Most patches fix bugs and improves Dynamics 365 but sometimes changing code causes bugs and problems.

Microsoft Dynamics versions

Version numbering for Dynamics 365 is like Dynamics solutions versions

Major.Minor.Build.Revision 

The current release is of Dynamics 365 8.2.1.341

Read more New naming conventions for Microsoft Dynamics CRM updates

Major releases and numbers

Dynamics 365 as a service

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a service,  developers cannot access any servers (Front end, back end or SQL server).

Microsoft installs, configures and maintains the servers for our Online Dynamics 365 instance, charging you for this work in your monthly licence cost.

Developers have less control and flexibility.  We cannot scale up servers, SQL databases or performance.  We can’t change database or server settings, we don’t have access and need to work with what is there.

The lack of scaling, configure servers and limitations of Dynamics 365 online developers need to to move heavy processing out of Dynamics 365 and into Azure (avoids performance being throttled) and to enable long running processes.

Plugins and custom workflows in Dynamics 365 online run in sandbox mode which has many limitations, one of the fundamental limitations is plugins/custom workflows must finish within 2 minutes (yes even async workflows run in the sandbox) – Understanding Plugin sandbox mode.

This post covers best practices of Dynamics 365 online architecture

What are the limitations of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and how do you work with them?

Upgrades and updates

Microsoft Dynamics 365 delivers a major release every 2 years (the first number, current version 8) and a minor release every is 6 months.  Microsoft Dynamics 365 has added functionality which allows you to delay updates but you must update once a year (you cannot delay) or before a major release.

You need to manage and plan for updates

Manage Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) updates

There is pressure to keep up with the releases and not waste time testing the new releases because they cannot avoid taking them.

For the Major and minor releases, admins decided when to apply the update and test the update on sandbox instances.

For build and revision releases Microsoft can apply these any time and regularly applies small patches to fix minor bugs.   Microsoft promises not change anything significant in patch updates.

Patch releases are not always minor

At Extreme 2017 heard a story where Microsoft depreciated a security protocol but hadn’t removed it from the code yet.  Developers were told not to use it, Microsoft being busy didn’t get round to removing it until a few months later and then did so in a patch release.

When the release went live Microsoft noticed a massive drop in Dynamics 365 usage in Australia, lots of code using not supported security protocol stopped working.  Microsoft  naughty making major changes in a patch release rolled this back within in a couple of hours.

A CRM 2011 upgrade which after installed, changed their database and their Dynamics CRM didn’t work.   This lead me to writing the post

Should you keep up with Microsoft Dynamics CRM release cycle?

Microsoft moved to parallel JavaScript loading, which broke everyone’s form load script with the infamous CRM 2011 rollup 12.  I wrote about it in the post

CRM 2015 SP1 – Turbo forms use asynchronous JavaScript web resource loading

Scott Durow saved many a CRM developer with his post Asynchronous loading of JavaScript Web Resources after U12/POLARIS

I recommend you follow Scott’s blog and use the awesome Ribbon Workbench.

When patches attack

Microsoft applied a small/patch release and broke our DevOp‘s automatic deployments.

Over a weekend Microsoft updated our  instances from version 8.2.1.289 to version 8.2.1.341 over weekend.  We noticed because a trial instance was  8.2.1.341, our instances were 8.2.1.289.

This caused problems, the extract customisations script stopped working because the new version of Dynamics 365 needs new versions of client assemblies (8.2.0.556 to 8.2.0.749).

It’s obvious when you know the cause but it we came in to automatic deployments not working and a generic error.  It took a few hours of investigation to find the solution.

Better way

A minor release shouldn’t need an update of client assemblies to interact with Dynamics 365.  If Microsoft wants Dynamics 365 to deliver Enterprise projects, they need to improve the communication and effect of updates.  If they alerted about updated assemblies we could have avoided wasting time diagnosing the problems.

When working with Dynamics 365 online and other online services you have to be ready to diagnose problems, deal with upgrades and potential problems.

Change will happen whether you are ready for it or not #HoskWisdom

Dynamics Salary survey 2017

Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. Warren Buffett

Money should never be the key factor in any decision #HoskWisdom

Nigel Frank do a salary survey every year and it’s improved the insights in the report year on year.

The key highlight is the average wages Dynamics roles earn but there are other interesting insights to make Dynamics professionals and employees think.

The survey won’t cost you to download but you need to give contact details (email, phone) and I’m sure you will be rewarded by being contacted by Nigel Frank in the future.

Nigel Frank Salary Survey 2017

I previously wrote about salary survey in 2016

Interesting Insights

Take into account the survey is a global survey and across all the Dynamics products (Dynamics 365, CRM, AX, NAV, etc)

Below are the insights which interest me

85% of candidates we place stay in their current position for over two years.

 

People will move job 20 times their career, so staying in the same job for 2 years for a career for 40 years is broadly right.

After getting 2 years experience in a new role, external employers will pay more for that experience than the company who is employing them.  This is the difference between a company paying a percentage increase (lets say 5%) and a new company offering a larger pay increase (the value of the experience gained).

2 or 3 years will be people looking to make the next step in their career, many people can get stuck in a position and their career stagnate, looking opportunities elsewhere.  e.g. Career + more pay = move.

21.3 % have been in their current role less than a year

 

A fifth of the people responding to a the Nigel Frank survey had only recently moved, maybe they filled in the survey because Nigel Frank helped them find a new role.  It seems a lot.

Career Development – Lack of progression opportunities cited as the main reason for job dissatisfaction, while only 39% of respondents were happy with in-house training.

 

Most companies don’t seem to invest in people, seeing this as a cost instead of an investment.  It reminds me of this quote from Richard Branson

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” Richard Branson

 

I find the lack of training surprising and disappointing because in Microsoft Dynamics industry its all about the people.  Most companies in the Dynamics 365 industry don’t have products and mainly deliver projects and consultancy.  It would make sense to invest in training for those people

Salary – 54% of professionals were satisfied with their salary, while 67% felt that gaining the right type of experience is more important than salary.

 

People always want more money but I believe if you get the experience and skills then you will be paid the money you are worth.  Focus on learning, become awesome and you will get the wages you deserve.

 

85% are male

less than 2% are under 24 – Why is there so few graduates in Dynamics?

39 % are older than 41 with 41% between 31 and 40.

 

I understand Dynamics isn’t a sexy industry to attract people from university and graduates but its a low figure. Experienced people are maybe more suited to Dynamics projects which usually involve more customer interaction.  Dynamics can’t be delivered by coders alone, the projects need close interaction with the business and users.

Most common challenges of Implementing Dynamics products

  • Data migration 52%
  • User adoption 38%
  • Lack of appropriate skills 36%
  • Cost of custom integration 33%

Top reasons to move jobs

  • 37% lack of leadership and vision
  • 50% lack of career or promotion prospects

Here are the salaries for the popular roles, there are more in the survey so check it out.

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Dynamics 365 – Solutions and stage for upgrade

Courage is fear holding on a minute longer. George S. Patton

Don’t try to avoid failure, make sure you recover #HoskWisdom

Stage for upgrade is useful functionality which allows you delete customisations and components from managed solutions, this post talks about solutions, holding solutions, stage for upgrade and bugs

Solutions

Before you can understand holding solutions and stage for upgrade you need to understand solutions. start with these posts

Microsoft Dynamics 365 uses managed solutions to copy customizations from one Dynamics 365 environment to another (e.g. Development –>Test –> SIT –> UAT –> production).  Managed solutions make  customizations non editable in the target Dynamics 365 environment.

key points

  • Solution is they are additive and they can only add customisations.
  • When you delete a solution it removes the data too.

below are some interesting post I have written on solutions, best practices and problems

Holding solutions

To remove unwanted customisations you needed to use a holding solution to temporarily hold customisations whilst you deleted one solution, an updated solution is imported the customisations removed.

This post walks through the process How to – Delete Components from Managed Solution in Dynamics CRM 2016 without using Holding Solution

Microsoft has simplified this process by automating the holding solution process and having a stage for upgrade checkbox (which uses a holding solution in the background), read this post for more details

This post covers stage for upgrade and patching – Solution Patching in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

Microsoft documentation – Create patches to simplify solution updates

Problems

There is a bug in the stage for upgrade functionality/holding solution process which fails to import the solution or fails to apply the solution upgrade.  The error happens during the import of the solution and you can’t import a solution into the environment.  We can consistently recreate this if any of the entities has an SLA enabled.

There have been other problems with stage for upgrade and removing customisations but we can’t work out what the problem is because we can’t see the SQL environment.

You can reset the Dynamics 365 CRM instance, import  solutions and data on a clean Dynamics 365 CRM instance.  The Capgemini Dynamics team store code and CRM customisations in source control, giving the ability to create solutions with the latest customisation and deploy solutions into an environment.  The deployment scripts can import configuration data with different data for sprint and dev environments.

This approach is OK for sandbox environments (DEV, test, etc) but if this happened in production it causes major problems because the environment cannot be reset without loosing all the data.

Resetting Dynamics 365 environments

We have problems resetting sandbox environments it becomes stuck and the only way to resolve the problem is wait for Microsoft to run an SQL script (which they do around midnight) which fixes the environment.  It’s frustrating we have to wait a whole day, particularly when we have had it twice on one day.

If Microsoft wants to promote Dynamics 365 online and enterprise projects (which use multiple Dynamics 365 instances) then it must provide the tools necessary to manage multiple environments and allow enterprise projects to be delivered using Dynamics 365.

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