Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Check Dynamics 365 solution quality with the new PowerApps Solution Checker

End of November 2018, Microsoft quietly launched a preview of the  Solution checker for Dynamics 365 as part of the Common Data Service for Apps platform update.  The solution checker analyzes the different solution components for unmanaged solutions within your Dynamics 365 tenant. I accidently stumbled upon it when reading this interesting article from Steve Mordue – How about some solution quality?. The solution check will analyse the different artifacts or components within your solution like plugins and custom workflow activities, web resources as well as Dynamics 365 configuration such as SDK messaging steps.

The solution checker has been built based upon the experience and internal tooling of Microsoft Premier Field Engineers (definitely check check out the Dynamics 365 PFE blog Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement in the Field) and has been already used quite extensively at big customers in the past couple of weeks.

Solution checker currently only works for Dynamics 365 Online and is only accessible from within the user interface but I suspect that Microsoft will make this accessible using an API since it makes sense to integrate this check in your Dynamics 365 continuous build process.

Solution checker for Dynamics 365 is made available within and to install you can  follow the steps as outlined in Make higher quality apps with solution checker.  It is installed from within AppSource but can only be found in AppSource when starting from the PowerApps web portal. The solution checker will need to be installed per instance for which you want to check the solutions. Since it only checks unmanaged solutions - you will typically only install it on your development organization/instance.

It might take a couple of minutes before the PowerApps Checker solution is installed - on this page you will also see when it is completed successfully.

It is a good idea to run the solution checker on a regular interval as Microsoft is continuously expanding the code quality rule sets which are used.

The result of the solution check is a zip file which contains the result in CSV and Excel format. The excel will contain an overview page with a summary of the issues and a second sheet with details of the different issues.

For each issue you will have a detailed description of the issue explained using multiple fields. Some  values in fields are only relevant to plugins/workflow assemblies whereas other apply to all types of artifacts/components.

Report field Examples Description Applies to
Issue il-avoid-specialized-update-ops The title of the issue identified in the solution – take a look at ..
to see an overview of the different types of issues which are being
Category Performance, Maintainability, UpgradeReadiness, Supportability Categorization of the issue identified All
Severity Low, medium, high,informational Represents the potential impact of the issue identified. All
Guidance Link to the guidance articles – most of them link to a section underneath
the new Best practice and guidance for the Common Data Service Apps but
some links point to older reference articles which still apply. Microsoft plans
to consolidate all the guidance relevant for CDS in one location in the end but this is a work in progress
Component Configuration, plugin, webresource, … The solution component where the issue was identified All
Location The location and/or source file of the component where the issue that was identified occurred, such as the assembly or JavaScript file name. All
Line# ...The line number reference of the issue in the impacted web resource component. Web resource
Module Module name where the issue identified in the assembly was detected. Plug-in or custom workflow activity
Type Type of the issue identified in the assembly. Plug-in or custom workflow activity
Member Member of the issue identified in the assembly. Plug-in or custom workflow activity
Statement The code statement or configuration that resulted in the issue. All

Solutions which do not follow the guidance will cause lot of support issues down the line especially with Microsoft rolling out a steady stream of updates of the Dynamics 365 platform.  So start using solution checker to make sure that you can concentrate on adding value with your Dynamics 365 solutions and apps.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Microsoft cloud IT architecture resources available

Summary: Learn core cloud architecture concepts for Microsoft identity, security, networking, and hybrid. Review prescriptive recommendations for protecting files, identities, and devices when using Microsoft's cloud. Learn how to deploy a modern and secure desktop with Windows 10 and Office ProPlus.

These architecture tools and posters give you information about Microsoft cloud services, including Office 365, Windows 10, Azure Active Directory, Microsoft Intune, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and hybrid on-premises and cloud solutions. IT decision makers and architects can use these resources to determine the ideal solutions for their workloads and to make decisions about core infrastructure components such as identity and security.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Dynamics 365 monthly reading list December 2018

Technical topics (Configuration, customization and extensibility)

Topics for Dynamics 365 CE business analysts, project managers and power users

Whitepaper– Artificial Intelligence in Belgium and Luxembourg: Outlook for 2019 and beyond

Microsoft recently commissioned a study with over 277 European companies on how companies currently manage their AI activities and how they see the challenges and opportunities ahead – 21 companies out of Belgium and Luxembourg have participated in this study amongst them Ageas, Afga Gevaert, Alpro, Arcelor Mittal, Katoe Natie, KBC Group, Proximus and Solvay – some interesting findings:
  • Machine learning (81%), smart robotics (62%) and NLP (48%) are most useful for companies in Belgium and Luxembourg. Smart robotics ranks considerably higher than the European average (44%)
  • Current use cases highlighted by executives include predictive maintenance, using demand forecasting to optimize supply chain operations and automation of logistics
  • Advanced analytics is considered to be one of the most important capabilities (out of 8 capabilities) necessary for AI success in Belgium and Luxembourg
Download AI in Belgium and Luxembourg: How 277 major European companies benefit from AI

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Integrate Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps with Microsoft Teams (Preview)

Warning: This preview is currently only fully available for organizations in the North American region.

Microsoft Teams is a chat-based collaborative tool, where people can work on documents, exchange information using chat – check out the what is Microsoft Teams video from the Microsoft teams video training series if you have not worked with it previously. One of  the interesting capabilities of Microsoft teams is that it allows you to add new apps within your team workspace – these apps are available in the Teams store, and can be custom built by you for distribution through the store or directly to your users (also Take a look at 30 invaluable integrations that you should be using with Microsoft Teams for some great examples of apps that are available)

In November 2018 Microsoft added a “Dynamics 365” app to this ever growing list of apps – it currently provides 3 important capabilities:
  • Provide  Dynamics 365 chat bot functionality in the team  conversations
  • Work with Dynamics 365 records directly from within Microsoft Teams.  Teams now has the possibility to link an existing Dynamics 365 record so that users are able to both view and edit information about this Dynamics 365 within Microsoft teams and even navigate to related records without leaving Microsoft teams.
  • Link Microsoft Teams files to Dynamics 365 records
In the next sections we will delve a little deeper in some of the functionality.

Working with the Dynamics 365 bot in Teams
After you have installed the Dynamics 365 App from the Teams store (See Install and setup the Dynamics 365 App for Teams for more details) , you will be able to use the new sales bot functionality within the Conversations tab of the app

When you first open the bot you need to connect it to a specific Dynamics 365 organization instance – afterwards you are able change this setting.

For the moment the functionality is still rough on the edges basic but more functionality will probably be added throughout the preview.  The bot allows you to lookup information in Dynamics 365 using natural language – e.g. you can search for an opportunity “Audio equipment” by just typing “search audio equipment” or “lookup audio equipment” or “find audio equipment” which will surface a card with information about that opportunity.  Behind the scenes the bot will connect to the LUIS Azure Cognitive Services to understand the intent of your message to retrieve the most important information. Through the bot you will also be able to update basic information of this opportunity like the amount, close date, etc… This functionality is also available from within the Microsoft Teams mobile app

Working with Dynamics 365 records from within Microsoft Teams
You can now also add a new tab to the top of your channel which uses a specific app – if you link the Dynamics 365 app here you can connect it to a specific Dynamics 365 record.

Users who do not have a Dynamics 365 license or not a valid security role in Dynamics 365 will not be able to access the information but will receive a warning

Linking Microsoft Teams files to Dynamics 365 records
When you create a new Microsoft team behind the scenes a SharePoint Online site is being used, and each channel in a team gets a folder within the default team site document library (Read How SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business interact with Microsoft Teams for more details and watch the video Foundations of Microsoft Teams to get an architectural overview)  So basically the integration between Dynamics 365 and files in Teams is being built on top of the existing SharePoint integration for which the fundamentals already existed.

To be able to link Microsoft Teams files to Dynamics 365 records you will first need to activate preview functionality within your Dynamics 365 system settings (Settings>Administration>System settings)

Next a new button will appear in your mean which allow you to link to a specific team and channel.

The linked  Teams documents will appear in the same place as linked SharePoint documents (under the cover they actually are stored in SharePoint  - take a look at Showing SharePoint document properties in Dynamics CRM views for a more detailed explanation of how this is done).

For the official documentation on this preview see  Preview: Integrate Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps with Microsoft Teams