CRM 2011 – Dynamics CRM 2011 Developer Training Videos

I found this brilliant set of videos regarding CRM 2011 Developer Training.

http://channel9.msdn.com/Series/DynamicsCRM2011/

Before I found a good youtube series from the Sonoma Partners, 10 videos containing the front end customizations and this highlights the changes you can make without doing any developing or code based solutions

but this new resource focuses on the new features in CRM 2011 in the development area.  It runs through things like solutions, the ribbon, plugins, linq, odata, WCF webservices, visualization, JQuery and silverlight.  It is a very extensive collection and only last week they added 6 more videos so it’s worth keeping an eye on this page.

Here is the list of current CRM 2011 Developer Training videos

Introduction to CRM 2011 Training Kit

Introduction to CRM 2011 Training Kit

Solutions – Data Modeling

Solutions – Data Modeling

Solutions – Introduction

Solutions – Introduction

Solutions – Managed & UnManaged

Solutions – Managed & UnManaged

Solutions – Publishing

Solutions – Publishing

UX Extensibility – Intro

UX Extensibility – Intro

UX Extensibility – Ribbon

UX Extensibility – Ribbon

UX Extensibility – WebResources

UX Extensibility – WebResources

Processes – Introduction

Processes – Introduction

Plugins – Registration & Diagnostics

Plugins – Registration & Diagnostics

Plugins – Introduction

Plugins – Introduction

oData endpoint

oData endpoint

LINQ Provider

LINQ Provider

Web Services – Entity Class & Querying

Web Services – Entity Class & Querying

Web Services – WCF Endpoint Intro

Web Services – WCF Endpoint

Visualizations – Dashboards

Visualizations – Dashboards

Visualizations – Charts

Visualizations – Charts

UX Extensibility – Filtered Lookups

UX Extensibility – Filtered Lookups

UX Extensibility – Client Scripting

UX Extensibility – Client Scripting

Processes – Workflow

Processes – Workflow

Processes – Dialogs

Processes – Dialogs

Processes – Performance & Versioning

Processes – Performance & Versioning

Role based UI

Role based UI

Field Level Security

Field Level Security

jQuery & oData

jQuery & oData

Silverlight & CRM – Part 1

Silverlight & CRM – Part 1

Silverlight & CRM – Part 2

Silverlight & CRM – Part 2

SharePoint & CRM

SharePoint & CRM

Azure AppFabric & CRM

Azure AppFabric & CRM

Windows Azure & CRM

Windows Azure & CRM

Upgrading from CRM 4.0 to CRM 2011

Upgrading from CRM 4.0 to CRM 2011

 

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CRM 2011 – Quick start not so quick

I was trying to run the quick start project today in the CRM 2011 SDK.

Quick Start : A simple Program

As usual with CRM, nothing is easy, there is always that something that needs to be installed or tweaked etc.

So after trying to run this, I am getting this error

Could not load file or assembly ‘Microsoft.IdentityModel Version=3.5.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35’ or one of its dependencie. The system cannot fine the find specified.

Now what initially threw me was the fact I had to put in CRM server and Port and then Domain and username.  Sometimes when you put in these details you can get something slightly wrong, this could have course been a lot easier if I had a form to fill in and adjust it, rather than add in all the details and if you get it wrong you have to do it all again.

After decided it wasn’t me typing in something wrong, I started looking for a reason, then I found the problem is I don’t have the Windows Identify Foundation Pack installed on my Windows 7 machine.  To resolve this problem, I downloaded and installed the Windows Identity Foundation Pack.

After trying to install the wrong package I found this line at the bottom

Instructions


This download offers you the benefits of registering with Microsoft. Click the Continue button near the top of this page to register. After you have gone through the registration process, you will be returned to this page to begin the download. 

Download the x86 or x64 runtime package appropriate for your system as follows:

  • For Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, select the msu file with name starting Windows6.0.
  • For Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, select the msu file with name starting Windows6.1.

This is of course my problem for not reading the instructions but after that I was up and running

Development in CRM 2011 – SDK Changes

I am starting to get into the nitty gritty of programming using the SDK.

When I tried to run through the Ribbon example in the SDK, it was a nightmare. Adding a button into CRM 2011 is a lot harder than the adding a button in CRM 4.  The main reason for this is because of the Ribbon.  Although the Ribbon is good because it provides context to all the screens, tabs etc it makes it very painful to add in buttons.

It was difficult running through microsofts walkthroughs, now this to me says the using the ribbon is difficult if you struggle to understand a step by step walkthrough.

This blog has a nice quick summary of the CRM 2011 SDK

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

For the good I agree that improvements for solutions management, improved Javascript, reusable Javascript.  Although Solutions do provide some bad because you can’t import any of your CRM 4 entities because they are not in a solution.

One of the good things he mentions is Early Bound Entities. I hadn’t used this yet but I think it’s basically involves using code generation tool (CrmSvcUtil) to create classes that you can use to access business data in Microsoft CRM.

From my brief look at the SDK document (more investigation to follow) it creates one class for each entity, a couple of links for you from the CRM 2011 SDK

Use the Early bound entity classes in code

Use the Early Bound Entity Classes for Create, Update and Delete

The Bad

In the bad he basically describes that working with CRM is not easy for developers.  There are lots of xml files to be edited manually and not many tools to help you get this right.

Deploying CRM code is tricky and can often lead to mistakes.  It would be a big help if Microsoft created some kind of installing software to help automate the process to make sure we didn’t miss anything out and didn’t accidently change some of the settings.

I am going to quote the ugly part because he describes the pain perfectly

The Ugly

I wish I could say there’s nothing truly ugly about CRM 2011, but that would be a lie. There is one new component who’s implementation from a development perspective is so painfully clunky, that uglyness just scratches the surface. The Ribbon.

Don’t get me wrong, I love how the ribbon enhances the end user UI experienceand brings CRM inline with all of Microsoft’s new products. And I love how the new ribbon offers alot of flexibility in terms of when and how things display. But implementing changes to the ribbon is far more painful than it should be.

First off, the xml schema for the ribbon is fairly complex, and the SDK doesn’t do a good job explaining how all the parts play together. I actually plan to give a brief internal presentation for the developers who haven’t worked with it yet, just so they don’t have to spend so much time trying to parse through the samples Microsoft provides to understand it.

This complexity in itself wouldn’t be bad. In fact it’s because of that complexity that the ribbon is so flexible. But the problem is that it means that there are at least 5 actions you have to take in order to implement any change, even just adding a single button. There’s no quick shortcutting and it’s easy to forget and leave something off.

Which brings me to the main problem. When you have something that’s complex and easy to mess up, easy debugging is crucial. But the process of editing, and then deploying the ribbon is almost unconscionably painful. To start, you have to export your entire solution. Either that or create a separate solution just for the entities whose ribbon your changing and export that. You have to unzip the solution, edit customizations.xml directly, rezip everything, import back into CRM, and publish. In my experience, each change takes 2-3 minutes to deploy. Not quick debugging at all.

What’s even more problematic from a change management perspective, is that your ribbon is lumped in with other entity customizations. If you edit the ribbon while I’m adding or changing attributes, you may overwrite what I am doing.

I did a little research to see if it might be possible to develop a standalone ribbon management tool, kind of like the plugin registration tool provided by Microsoft, but it appears that’s not supported. The entities that hold ribbon customizations (RibbonDiff, RibbonRule, RibbonCustomization, RibbonCommand) are almost all noted as “for internal use only” in the sdk. I can only hope that means Microsoft is planning to create some sort of internal tool to ease the pain here.