Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Extended CrmSvcUtil - A Neater Early Bound Generator

For quite some time I have persisted with late bound objects, because within plugins it makes life a bit simpler. The idea of Early Bound objects is good in theory, but the Microsoft provided CrmSvcUtil just doesn't cut it in terms of how it gives you the code. (1 big SDK file is not my idea of fun). You used to be able to split different aspects of this out, but they have removed functionality in recent versions. This has probably been the main reason I stuck with Late Bound until recently.

Issues with CrmSvcUtil

The biggest issue I have with the existing tool is the lack of naming ability. Say you have a custom entity called "new_project" with an OptionSet attribute on it called "new_projecttype". Ignoring all the other entities that will get exported regardless of whether you actually need them or not, and ignoring all the standard attributes that will be exported, the naming convention you'll end up with is this:

// Class...
public partial class new_project...

// Property...
public Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk.OptionSetValue new_projecttype

// Enum
public enum new_project_new_projecttype

I've chosen the type OptionSet in particular to convey an additional problem, but there are a host of issues with what is generated.
  1. We end up with 1 huge unmanageable file.
  2. Really bad naming convention by default that is not easy to change. Sure, you could manually edit them, but it will get overwritten with each generation of the metadata
  3. OptionSet properties created as the type OptionSetValue. Surely if we are using Early Bound then shouldn't our option set properties be the equivalent enum type? 

So the tool is quite lazy in what it does. It's a bit of a "bare minimum" to get you over the fence, and then you're left to your own devices. Quite frankly, you'd be quicker just writing the classes yourself and as long as you honor the correct attributes it would work perfectly fine.

I have investigated many tools, and all of them fell short. So this and all of the above issues caused the birth of my own pet project which has made my life a lot easier.

Extended Svc Util

It's named simply so, because all it does is extend and build on top of what the existing CrmSvcUtil does. Once the code has been generated it does not intercept the generation of the "monster file", but instead piggy backs the code generated for that to produce its own files. Let's take a look at what you can do.

To fix the problems in the above files you could set up a configuration like this:

  <section name="schemaDefinition" type="CodeGenerator.Config.SchemaDefinition, CodeGenerator" allowLocation="true" allowDefinition="Everywhere"/>
 <schemaDefinition groupOptionSetsByEntity="true" exportAttributeNames="true" entitiesFolder="..\MyProject.DomainModels" enumsFolder="..\MyProject.DomainModels">
   <entity name="new_project" friendlyName="Project">
     <attribute name="new_name"  friendlyName="Name"/>
     <attribute name="new_projecttype" friendlyName="ProjectType" />

   <!-- Global OptionSets-->
   <optionSet name="new_someglobaloptionset" friendlyName="SomeGlobalOptionSet" entity="Global" />

   <!-- Project OptionSets-->
   <optionSet name="new_project_new_projecttype" friendlyName="Project_ProjectType" entity="new_project" />

So what does this do? Firstly, you can add friendly names to your entities, attributes and option sets. Secondly, the export will use the correct enum for your option sets rather than using the out of the box OptionSetValue. So what you'll end up with instead is this:

// Class...
public partial class Project

// Property...
public Proejct_ProjectType? ProjectType

// Enum
public enum Project_ProjectType

The next configuration item I'd like to point out is not only can you depict where the file is generated, but you can decide to group all of your option sets into 1 file per entity rather than separate classes. These are defined at the top of the configuration under Schema Definition. All of this causes 2 files to be generated named:

  • Project.cs
  • Project.Enums.cs

Finally, only entities you have specified within the list will be exported to their corresponding file, all others will be ignored. All of the code will still be exported to the output file you specify so if you wanted to double check that source against what this tool exports you can do so.

All of this makes life much easier and readable in the Early Bound world, and makes it much quicker to generate the classes exactly as you want. I have included a global option set option in there just as an example of how to deal with that. But in effect all of those option sets in this example will be exported to a file called Global.Enums.cs. You can rename out of the box fields, status fields and their accompanying enums too. So you're not just stuck to your custom entities and fields.


I have uploaded the source to github ( There are further instructions up there on how to utilise the DLL it builds with CrmSvcUtil. It's fully open source so feel free to download, edit, and use to your hearts delight. In the root folder of the project I have included the latest built version of the DLL, so if you just want that feel free to download it.

If you find bugs please feel free to submit a comment. I have not fully decided on how best to manage contributions, so if you are interested please contact me and we can discuss.


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

CRM Actions - the mysterious erroneous prefix

Actions were introduced in CRM 2013 and are a very powerful feature of Dynamics CRM. Quite frequently you might have had a particular piece of custom code you wanted to make available in different areas within your code base, such as both JavaScript and plugins. Previously you could not easily encapsulate this code without writing something quite custom and quite frankly a little hacky. For an example of how you could previously achieve this see my blog post about Executing stand alone C# code within crm.

Actions have made this redundant as you can now very easily encapsulate a common piece of functionality that you can call in many different ways and places (See MSDN)

So that's all sweet and awesome, right?

Not quite. As with all new features of CRM you eventually weed out a few bugs, some a little more complex than others. And actions are unfortunately no different. Recently we ran into a mysterious issue on our dev organisation in that it started throwing errors any time we tried to execute an action. The issue did not surface on any of our other environments. On closer inspection I read the error message a little more closely and spotted something
 Request not supported: new_CustomActionName
...Hang on there a second tiger, "new_" is not our default prefix! Where did this suddenly come from?

One thing dawned on us. We had recently recreated our dev from scratch due to some issues with the environment. One of the particular tasks we performed before we reset it was take a backup of the default solution. This was then imported directly after the reset to get us back to base. It all looked hunky dory until we noticed that actions had been impacted by this; they mysteriously got imported with the "new" prefix instead of honouring what our original default prefix was.

The fix?

Luckily this issue had not yet infected our test environment. And doubly luckily the actions hadn't changed since we reset the environment. That meant we could delete the actions on dev, create a fresh solution on our test environment with the (still correct) actions in it, and import this back into dev

I would hazard a guess that if we had changed the default prefix before we imported the backed up default solution we may have avoided the problem. But now I will never know! To be completely safe my advice is to back up all actions in a solution with the correct publisher before you embark on a environment reset under which you intend to restore a default solution.