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Back to Learning Microsoft Technologies

The last week was hectic.  At work, the team needs to create a POC project that uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 for case management.  Since Christmas is coming, almost everyone took off for the holidays.  Right before that, I volunteered to configure or create the CRM entities, based on the logical data model I’ve been worked on for the last 5 months.

So, I’ve downloaded the Dynamics CRM SDKs, learned how to query the entities and perform CRUD operations using the early-bound (with code generated by CRMSvcUtil.exe) object model.  I’ve also tried using the late-bound API to do the same.  In the configuration side, I’ve learned how to modify the existing entities by adding fields, relationships, and forms.  In addition, I’ve learned how to create a new custom entities.

When it comes to the data, I’ve use the settings feature to first download a Data Import Template (an XML file).  The fields in the template is based on the form I’ve created for the entity.  I then open the XML file in Excel and populate the template with real data rows.   I saved the file and use the Import Data wizard from the Settings feature to import the data rows into the CRM entity.  It then walk my through the steps where I can define the mappings between the Excel file columns and the target entity’s fields.  What’s interesting about it is that, for the “lookup” column, you can put in any field that can uniquely identify a record in the lookup entity.

My next step, after complete the configuration of entities in CRM, is to write a test harness or client app that perform simple case management activities.  The PM may not want me to do it, but, I think I should just do it myself and learn something.  I am thinking of creating a Lightswitch app to connect the OData services exposed by Dynamics CRM.  This article has good info:  There are lots of samples here.

I’ve noticed that Lightswitch let you create application based on the data endpoint.  The choices (for VS 2013) can be either database, SharePoint, OData Service, or WCF RIA Service.  The last one piqued my interest so I am going to try it.  I don’t remember whether I’ve heard about the WCF RIA Service before or not.  This post has a good walkthrough that I am going to try soon:

I have not done any extensive application development since 2007 because my focus shifted to BI.  There were so much to learn and I can say I am 80% on top of the Microsoft BI stack now.  With my renewed interest in coding, there are so much to catch up.