I've been meaning to write this post for quite some time but, of course, I'm doing it the very next day after the trial has expired and I can't use the product. It's been about 3 months since we've added CRM Solution Manager to our toolbelt and just over a month since version 2 has been released (which is a bit of a shame, of course, considering that the product picked up first good mentions in July 2012).
We work in a small but team nevertheless, and my main gripe about version 1 was its use of private SQL database to store configuration and solution details. What it meant is that the configuration had to be recreated between the developers' machines and, what's more critical, was impossible to version or include as part of the project source. Considering other product features, that was a big letdown in my books and our use of the product was left to individual developers and was never part of the development lifecycle (and, yes, we did purchase the licenses).
Kudos to product author (s?) for listening to all the feedback so skip to version 2. Since I personally was pernickety about ALM features these two made my day:
- Configuration data is now stored in an XML file which can be diffed and versioned.
- MSBuild is now supported through several custom targets.
I'm not going to bore you to death with listing all the product features or explanations how they work. It's already been taken a good care of by the people behind the product. Instead, I wanted to show something that I know will be appreciated by fellow developers who work with plugins and custom workflow activities.
Plugin publishing process involves
pluginregistration.exe tool (included with CRM SDK) which is cumbersome at best. The only way to register or update plugin is to switch away from Visual Studio, and complete the process in the tool, the process that involves anywhere between 14 and 56 clicks. There is also a CRM Developer Toolkit to deal with plugins but it's notoriously slow to publish and besides, try changing deployment mode for a plugin from Database to Disk, for example. I thought of including a small video how easy it is to register a plugin using CRM Solution Manager but turns out, the process is simple enough to demonstrate using ancient technology of animated GIFs:
The product is distributed as a Visual Studio extension and can be downloaded from Visual Studio Gallery.
Disclaimer: I did get one free license from the Simpler Software as a result of this blog post. As I mentioned, I did purchase in the past and won't hesitate to purchase again, if needed.
Last revised: 29 Dec, 2013 11:07 AM