## Blog: Ramón Soto Mathiesen

### Background

Not everybody has the same approach as we do (we make software solutions) while working with the MS CRM platform. Therefore you cannot always expect to have a perfect scenario where the blueprint of the solution is saved to the source control and from a specific tag, it’s deployed to both the TEST and PROD environments as a managed package. When we take over other consultancies soltions, we usually see that they just deploy the Default solution to both TEST and PROD as an unmananged package. There are a lot of reasons why this is not a best practice, but lets try to keep this blogpost positive.

Another issue that we sometimes meet is that a customer wants to upgrade to a newer version of MS CRM and they ask us if we can visualize how many changes there are from their solution compared to a Vanilla from the version they want to upgrade to.

Note: Vanilla is the name we use to denominate a MS CRM solution that is not modified with any configurations or customizations. In other words, standard out-of-the-box.

Back in the days, MS CRM 4.0, we had the Customization Comparison Utility which could load two MS CRM customization files and provide a visualization in order to see what the differences between the source and target are, if any:

This tool helped us a lot in the way that we could always point out to the customer that they had once again made a change to PROD environment whithout notifying us and therefore the change would be overwritten by the DEV package when deployed.

It also gave us the possibility to export all the differences to an Excel Spreadsheet, where it was a bit easier to make diagrams and other visualizations for better customer understanding.

### Diff of solutions

Because we missed this tool a lot we decided to implement the logic as a module in Daxif in order to provide this functionality.

It’s very easy to use, lets take the example that we have just created a solution, see previous How to Daxif, basic setup blogpost, and we have now retrieved both the managed and unmananged solution and stored them in our source control:

#### DG.Delegate.HowToDaxif.SolutionExportDefault.fsx

Note: We also export the Default solution in order to compare to a Vanilla On-premise solution.

You should have the following solutions (you need to get a Vanilla unmananged from a trial On-Premise):

Now we can begin to play with the diff of solution module by comparing:

1) Unmananged vs managed

2) Unmananged vs Unmananged (GIT)

3) Default (Online Demo) vs Vanilla (On-Premise 2016)

4) …

#### 1) DG.Delegate.HowToDaxif.SolutionDiff.fsx

Note: Only difference is the managed flag

#### 2) DG.Delegate.HowToDaxif.SolutionDiff.fsx

Note: The only difference is that the assembly was rebuilt before packaging, therefore, even though there are no code differences, the hash code of the binary changes due to compilation strategies (non-deterministic) and therefore not producing the same binary.

#### 3) DG.Delegate.HowToDaxif.SolutionDiff.fsx

Note: In order to get a better view of the summary .CSV file, just convert to an Excel Spreadsheet, enable Data filters and apply the following filter on Source (does not contain a dot, which exclude all files paths)

### Background

As mentioned in a previous post, and because Daxif is now Open Source, I will be blogposting on a weekly series of How to Daxif: …. The first topic will be how to setup Daxif as part of a Visual Studio project.

Our XrmFramework is (was) based on the Developer Toolkit for Microsoft Dynamics CRM but since it’s not been updated lately, we have decided that we will follow our own path.

Note: The only thing we needed to do was to remove the following lines from our .SLN files

The reason we followed Microsoft on this matter was that we see a lot of other consultancies creating monolithic frameworks which are almost impossible to get away from. We would like to think that our approach is a bit more fair in the way that if our customers would like to replace us, the consultancy taking over, just need to have the basic understanding on how the Developer Toolkit for Microsoft Dynamics CRM works.

As you can see it’s more or less the same: Plug-in and Workflow projects are the same and the CrmPackage is just replaced by Daxif. We have added the BusinessDomain, generated code from the MS CRM datamodel, and the BusinessLogic, reusability of code projects; as well as the Blueprint project to store the MS CRM solution in our source control system.

Daxif has helped us out where the Developer Toolkit for Microsoft Dynamics CRM wasn’t good enough:

• Easily generate strongly typed proxy classes without having to run CrmSvcUtil.exe

• Edit and register plug-ins without using the Plug-in registration tool

• This component has never worked properly and to solve this issue, we have added the syncSolution to Daxifs Plugins module. There will be a blogpost on this topic very soon.
• Create new web resources or extract existing web resources, add them to your solution, edit them, and deploy changes all within Visual Studio.

• When adding files to this componenet, it actually moves web ressources to a specific container (HTML Page, JScript File, Style Sheet, … folders) which most certanly would break any HTML5 app that was built for MS CRM, no relative path will work. We have taken the approach that what you see locally in your source control, should be mapped 1:1 to your MS CRM solution (code should always be master). We handle this matter in Daxif with the syncSolution in the WebResources modules. There will also be a blogpost on this topic soon.

### Install Daxif from Nuget and keep updated

Back to the setup of Daxif, the only thing that is needed is to add the Daxif NuGet package to the Daxif project in Visual Studio:

and ensure regularly that is updated:

### Nuget limitations

The final thing that needs to be done is to execute from inside Visual Studio the DG.EnsureAssemblies.fsx. This is needed due to some limitations in Nuget:

1. Open the script file

2. Mark all the text (CTRL+A) and send to F# Interactive (ALT+ENTER)

And you should see the following output:

Note: The reason we use F# scripts is:

• Intellisense and autocompletion when updating scripts in Visual Studio.

• Executing scripts from Visual Studio, no need to leave the IDE.

• Re-usability of code made in Daxif.

• Typesafe scripts: Scripts will be checked for inconsistency before executed by the F# interpreter. Neither Cmd or PowerShell can provide this.

### Update Auth and Config information

Now all Daxif scripts can be executed but you will still need to update these two scripts files so their match your current setup:

### Create your publisher and solution

When this is done, you should be able to create your Publisher and Solution by executing:

#### DG.Delegate.HowToDaxif.SolutionCreateDev.fsx

Note: As I created the publisher before, Daxif will give an error as duplicate publishers are not allowed

### We don’t make MS CRM solutions, but software solutions

We tend to say that we don’t create MS CRM solution but software solutions. As you can see, by combining Daxif with our XrmFramework (MS Developer Toolkit) We are able to spend less time with the technical stuff that just should work everytime, automation by removing the human part will always ensure a more robust approach, and by spending more time implementing business logic, we think that we are giving our customers more value for their money.

• Daxif:

### Background

Last CRMUG meeting, 2015-11-20 @ BRFkredit A/S, we heard that a lot of members had some difficulties in using the Microsoft Solution Packager tool.

As we at Delegate A/S have been using the tool since MS CRM 2011. This allows us to store the blueprint of our solutions in the code repositories, which then gives us the possibility to recreate a solution based on a code commit tag. By using this approach, it’s easier to maintain a solution as we are just creating software and hereby we can use known approaches to Application Lifecycle Management (ALM).

Therefore we would like to showcase a demo where we go from A to Z explaining every step. Code samples are available @ DG.CRMUG.SolutionPackager.

### What is it?

Microsoft defines SolutionPackager as a tool that can reversibly decompose a Microsoft Dynamics CRM compressed solution file into multiple XML files and other files so that these files can be easily managed by a source control system.

Folder structure and file naming scheme of the decomposed solution file: Solution component file reference

### Why use it?

• Application Lifecycle Management (ALM): By splitting the solutions customizations file into smaller parts which can be stored in a source control system, it gives us the possibility to re-create the solution at any given code commit which is almost indispensable when making/maintaining software solution.

• Multiple developers: It will also allow several people working with their own local solution and when a component is ready, then merge into the stagging solution which will be built and deployed to a TEST solution and afterwards to PROD.

### How to use it? (“correctly”)

Microsoft states: “When the SolutionPackager tool extracts the component files it will not overwrite existing component files of the same name if the file contents are identical. In addition, the tool honors the read-only attribute on component files producing a warning in the console window that particular files were not written. This enables the user to check out, from source control, the minimal set of files that are changing. The /clobber parameter can be used to override and cause read-only files to be written or deleted. The /allowWrite parameter can be used to assess what impact an extract operation has without actually causing any files to be written or deleted. Use of the /allowWrite parameter with verbose logging is effective”.

“This enables the user to check out, from source control, the minimal set of files that are changing. The /clobber parameter can be used to override and cause read-only files to be written or deleted”.

This is the main reason why TFS as source control is broken. If you have made a change to a file (Edit) and afterwards delete it, then TFS will complain that it can’t commit the edited file because it’s deleted (it’s stores both actions). Also there is the issue that TFS handles files that are read-only in the file system as committed and those who are not as checked-out. Unless you have to, please don’t use TFS as your source control.

It’s possible to make SolutionPackager work with TFS, but we discovered it made us change our natural code commit behavior (always commit before Extract/Pack even though code was not ready). If you want to set up TFS correctly, please follow this guide:

#### What we usually see

1. Add assemblies to DEV environment with Plug-in registration tool
• Assemblies are built with the Debug Profile
2. Manually extraction of Default.zip (not even a subset solution)
• Eventually save the hole .ZIP file in the source control system (SVN, TFS, …)
• Impossible to work with on a multiple DEV setup (diff of files in Visual Studio is not possible)
3. Deploy extracted .ZIP file from DEV -> TEST and go through Test Cases
• Finally deploy extracted .ZIP from DEV -> PROD

#### What we would like to see

1. Add assemblies to DEV environment with Plug-in registration tool (or better tooling :))
• Assemblies are built with the Debug Profile
2. Retrieve the unmanaged and managed subset solution from DEV (ex: FooBar.zip)
• Extract the solution to the source control system. Managed and Unmanaged extracted solution are saved in the same folder structure. It’s important to use the SolutionPackager mapping file in order to tell the tool that code (Plug-in and Workflows as well as Web Resources) are handled by a Visual Studio solution
• Merge diff locally before committing to the source control system as you would normally do when you are working on a software solution
3. Deploy the packed .ZIP from the source control system GIT -> TEST and go through Test Cases
• Ensure that Assemblies are built with the Release Profile
4. Finally deploy the packed .ZIP from the source control GIT -> PROD

#### Two very important remarks:

1. SolutionPackager doesn’t like long paths. Your source control folder should be as close to your drives root:
• Wrong: C:\Users\foo\Documents\Visual Studio 2015\DG.CRMUG\DG.CRMUG.FooBar.sln
• Correct: C:\git\DG.CRMUG\DG.CRMUG.FooBar.sln
2. When pointing to assemblies in the SolutionPackager mapping file, names must not have dots:
• Wrong:
• Correct:

### Samples based on Live Demo at CRMUG

We showcased the following scenario in order to point out how important it is not to deploy Debugged code to PROD:

1. Retrieve solution from DEV and Extract (Use Visual Studio to see Diff between CRM and GIT)
2. Deploy .ZIP file from DEV -> TEST and see it fail
• Show code where if Debug, code will fail
3. Pack from source control and deploy to TEST and see it succeed

Plug-in code that fails when compiled with the Debug Profile:

#### Deploy packed managed solution from GIT -> TEST with Daxif see it succeed

Remember to build the solution with the Release Profile (normally being handled by built script).

### Delegate.Daxif is released under our Open Source License

Due to this fact, I will blogpost on a weekly series of How to Daxif: … based on a specific topic each time and where we will show the features the tool has to offer in order to create more robust MS CRM solutions. Stay tuned.

Other Delegate Open Source tools are available @ Delegate GitHub

• MSDN: