Auto-deployment of linked items in new version of CRMQuickDeploy

Since a couple of versions back, CRMQuickDeploy has a “link item” feature that allows you to share source code (Liquid/HTML, CSS and JavaScript) between multiple Portal artefacts (web pages, entity forms and web forms). When you deploy the source item however, the linked items are not automatically deployed and you had to trigger their deployment separately. If you forget to do this, then the linked artefacts would become out of sync.

I have released a new version of the extension that eliminates this issue. Now when you deploy an item, the extension automatically adds all linked items that reference that item to the deployment list. This means that you will no longer need to separately trigger deployment of linked items, and that your linked artefacts will automatically stay in sync.

Download CRMQuickDeploy

You can download CRMQuickDeploy from the Visual Studio Marketplace.

Posted in CRM, CRM Portal, CRMQuickDeploy | Leave a comment

Use web templates as functions in Dynamics 365 Portal Liquid

In Dynamics 365 Portal, web templates are most often used to define reusable page layouts. Web templates however can also be used to create “functions” that “return” values, which you can then use to streamline your Liquid code.

I have put “functions” and “return” in quotes above because technically you can’t define functions with web templates. In fact, there are no ways to define a true function in Liquid that I am aware of! With some creative workaround however, you can come pretty close to achieving the same goals/benefits of functions with web templates. I will detail the approach in this post.

There are 3 main concerns that we need to address when it comes to function:

  • invoking the function,
  • input parameters, and
  • return values.

To invoke a web template from a web page, you can use the following liquid:

{% include “Name of the Web Template” %}

To pass input parameters to the web template, we can update the call above to be as follow:

{% include “Name of the Web Template” param1: value1, param2: value2 %}

Return values requires a bit of a workaround. Web templates predominantly render content and do not return values. However, any Liquid variables you create and assign value to in a web template are also available for use on the calling web page, i.e. outside of the web template. We can use this workaround to return values to the calling web page.

As an example, let say you want to list all the open Opportunities for a given Account on a page. On some other pages, you need to display them in a carousel. You therefore would like to encapsulate the retrieval of open Opportunities into a reusable function.

Create a web template function

First, create a web template, e.g. Get Open Opportunities For Account, with the following code:

{% fetchxml query %}
	<fetch mapping="logical" distinct="false"&gt;
		<entity name="opportunity"&gt;
			<attribute name="name" /&gt;
			<attribute name="customerid" /&gt;
			<attribute name="estimatedvalue" /&gt;
			<attribute name="statuscode" /&gt;
			<attribute name="opportunityid" /&gt;
			<order attribute="name" descending="false" /&gt;
			<filter type="and"&gt;
				<condition attribute="statecode" operator="eq" value="0" /&gt;
				<condition attribute="parentaccountid" operator="eq" value="{{ accountId }}" /&gt;
{% endfetchxml %}

{% assign opportunities = query.results.entities %}

This simple “function” expects an input parameter called accountId. It executes a Fetch query and returns the resulting records in a variable called opportunities.

Create the web page

Create a web page with the following code:

{% include "Get Open Opportunities for Account" accountId: request.params["accountid"] %}

{% for record in opportunities %}
	{{}}<br /&gt;
{% endfor %}

This simple web page invokes our function and pass in the account ID from the query string. It uses the returned result (in the opportunities variable) to render the list of Opportunities.

Other things to note and limitation

By creating multiple variables in your web template, you can return multiple values to the calling web page. In the example above for instance, you can create a separate return value to hold the total count of matching Opportunities.

In terms of limitation, the biggest I see is the readability of the code (the syntax isn’t the most natural for functions), and the discoverability of the input parameter(s) and return value(s). I’d suggest you workaround this by using the {% comment %} tag in your function web template.

One more thing…

Do a lot of coding with Dynamics 365 Portal? You should check out my Visual Studio extension CRMQuickDeploy. This extension allows you to deploy HTML, Liquid, CSS, and JavaScript to a wide range of Portal artefacts (e.g. web templates, web pages, web files, entity forms, etc.) seamlessly from Visual Studio. Not only this would allow you to leverage the powerful editing features of Visual Studio, but also to source control your code – and facilitate multiple developers working on the project concurrently.

So there you have it…

Function is not a native concept in Liquid, but with a simple workaround, you can still encapsulate your logic into reusable blocks and use them throughout your code-base as if they were functions.


Posted in CRM, CRM Portal | Leave a comment

Fixed bug with web file deployment in CRMQuickDeploy 3.5.3

The previous version of CRMQuickDeploy introduced a new feature where it was possible to use folders in the Visual Studio project to specify the targeted language for Portal web page deployment. This means that you no longer have to name the root and localised web pages differently in CRM in order for the tool to target the right record for deployment.

Unfortunately this introduced a bug for web file deployment. In the DeploymentSettings.xml deployment configuration file for web files, you need to specify the name of the targeted parent web page for the web files. When you enable the “Use Folders to Determine Web Page Language” feature, the name of the root and the corresponding localised web pages in CRM are typically the same. Web files however should be attached to root pages only, and the tool did not filter out localised web pages when searching for the parent page during deployment.

I however could not simply just add the filter to look for root web pages. This is because this would not work when targeting Portal v7.x. The ability to localise web pages (and hence the concept of root web pages) were introduced from Portal v8.x.

To continue to support all versions of Portal from v7.x onward, I have added a new configuration attribute to the DeploymentSettings.xml config file.

This attribute is targetPortalVersion7=”false|true” and can be placed on the root node of the configuration file, i.e. DeploymentSettings. This attribute is optional, and the default value is false.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<!-- targetPortalVersion7: Optional. Specifies whether the target Portal is v7.x. Default is false. This setting impacts how the parent web page is located for a web file. Localisation of web pages was added to Portal from version v8.x. This means there could be multiple web pages in the system with the same name (one is the root page, others are the localised pages). When this attribute is true, the tool will not look for root pages when retrieving the parent web page for a web file. When this attribute is false, only root web pages will be considered when retrieving the parent web page for a file. -->
<DeploymentSettings targetPortalVersion7="false">

Setting this attribute to false causes CRMQuickDeploy to apply a filter for root web pages when retrieving the parent web page for a web file deployment.

Configuration file update required for existing developers targeting Portal v7.x

Since the default value for this attribute (including when it is not present) is false, developers currently targeting Portal v7.x needs to update their DeploymentSettings.xml to set this attribute to true.


You can download CRMQuickDeploy from the Visual Studio Marketplace.

Posted in CRM, CRM Portal, CRMQuickDeploy | Leave a comment

Improved password management in new version of CRMQuickDeploy

In previous versions of CRMQuickDeploy, if your connection string requires a password, then the password needs to be specified as clear text in the connection string. While the password is not checked in to source control, and is not saved to disk in clear text, it can still lead to some pretty awkward situations.

With the latest version (3.5.3) of CRMQuickDeploy you now have the option of not specifying the password in the connection string. When a deployment is triggered, the tool examine the connection string to see if a password is required. If a password is required, and is not specified in the connection string, then a dialog is shown to prompt you to provide your password. The password that you provide is not written to any file and is cached for the remaining of the Visual Studio session.

The tool determines that a password is required if it encounters one of the following parameters in the connection string:

  • UserName
  • User Name
  • UserId
  • User Id

You can still specify the password in the connection string if you wish, although this is generally not recommended (unless you are using a dummy account for deployment). If you do this, CRMQuickDeploy will work as it always has been and you will not receive the prompt to enter your password on deployment.


You can download CRMQuickDeploy from the Visual Studio Marketplace.

Posted in CRM, CRM Portal, CRMQuickDeploy | Leave a comment

Better support for localised Portal web pages in new version of CRMQuickDeploy


When deploying Portal web pages, CRMQuickDeploy uses the web page’s name in CRM (and the filename of the project item) to identify the target web page for deployment. Since version 8 of CRM Portal however, we have the ability to localise web pages. This created a small problem for CRMQuickDeploy, since by default the name of the localised pages are the same as the name of the root page. Below is how the root and localised pages would look by default:

The workaround (before now)…

The way we have worked around this was to edit the name of the localised web pages to make them unique. We appended the language name to the name of each localised web page, e.g. Contact Us (English) and Contact Us (Spanish), and named our Visual Studio project items accordingly.

Issue with CRM Portal v9…

The above workaround was a bit annoying but it worked well and did not take up too much time. It recently came to my attention however that CRM Portal v9 (i.e. the cloud version) automatically reverts the name of the localised web pages back to be same name as their root pages.

Yes, in CRM Portal v9, you can edit and save the name of the localised web pages. However, if you later on reopen the localised web page record in CRM’s web client, then the form automatically reverts the name back to be the same as the root page. This means that the workaround described above is no longer viable.

Improved web page language targeting in CRMQuickDeploy

To address this issue I have released a new version of CRMQuickDeploy that allows you to define the target language for web pages by placing the Visual Studio project items into a folder. The name of the folder is the name of the target language.

So for the above example, the structure of the Visual Studio project would look like this:

Under this approach, English\Contact Us.html for example would be deployed to the Contact Us web page where the language of that page is set to English. Note that only the immediate parent of the VS project item is used to determine the target language.

Enabling web page language targeting

To prevent this new approach from breaking your current project structure, this new feature of web page language targeting must first be enabled in Visual Studio. You can do this by going to Tools \ Options \ CRMQuickDeploy \ Deployment Options and set Use Folder to Determine Web Page Language to True.

When this option is enabled, each web page must be placed in a folder (underneath the PortalWebPages folder). The name of the immediate containing folder will be used as the target language for its children web pages.


You can download CRMQuickDeploy from the Visual Studio Gallery.

So there you have it…

This new feature allows you to target web pages more efficiently, and works against both on-cloud and on-prem (v8) CRM Portal.

As always, would love to hear from you with feedback and suggestion!

Posted in CRM, CRM Portal, CRMQuickDeploy | Leave a comment

How to set value for date-time field by JavaScript in CRM Portal

Date-time fields in CRM Portal is a bit tricky when it comes to setting value dynamically using JavaScript. Behind the scene there are two HTML input fields that we need to worry about.

First is the field that actually contains the value that will be submitted to the server. This field has the CRM attribute name as its HTML ID. This field is not displayed on the page. The second is the field that holds the display value and enables the date-time picker. Below is what the HTML of these fields would look like:

We’d need to set both of these fields in order for the date-time field to work correctly.

The trick is the value that you set for these fields need to be in a particular format. For the submit field, the value should be a UTC date-time string in the format 2018-07-24T02:13:36.0000000. Note that the fractional second part (the last part) requires 7 digits.

For the display field, the value should be a local date-time string in the format determined by the current page (based on the page’s localisation). You can find this format in the data-date-format attribute of the HTML element for the display field.

Luckily CRM Portal uses moment.js by default and we have access to this library on our pages. This makes converting and formatting date-time easy. Below is the complete code to set value for a date-time field. Please review the inline comments.

//fieldId: ID (CRM attribute name) of the field we are setting.
//dateValue: The date-time value to set to. This should be of type Date. 
function setDateTimeFieldValue(fieldId, dateValue) {
	//Get the submit field
	var $submitField = $("#" + fieldId);

	//Get the display field
	var $displayField = $submitField.nextAll(".datetimepicker").children("input");

	//Get the display date format
	var dateFormat = $displayField.attr("data-date-format");

	//Set the submit field. Remember this needs to be in UTC and the format must be exact.

	//Set the display field using the page's date format
Posted in Adxstudio, CRM, CRM Portal | 3 Comments

Introducing VSTS Quick Reply: a Chrome extension that helps you collaborate quicker in VSTS discussion

Teams often leverage the discussion feature, in particular the ability to @mention team members, in VSTS for work items to collaborate on requirements, tasks and bugs. In large teams it is common to @mention several team members on messages to ensure that the relevant people are involved in the discussion.

VSTS however currently does not have a “Reply all” feature, which means you have to manually @mention each member in the previous message when replying to a discussion post.

I have developed a simple Chrome extension, VSTS Quick Reply, to help with this. This simple extension adds a Reply and Reply All links to each discussion message that have been posted against the current work item. When clicked, these links add all the @mentioned users and/or the original poster of the selected message to your new message entry textbox so that you don’t have to manually type them again.

Currently this extension only supports VSTS. You can install this extension from the Chrome Web Store.

That’s it! I hope this simple extension can give you a small productivity boost when collaborating in VSTS. I would love to hear from you with feedback and suggestions!

Posted in TFS, VSTS | 5 Comments