I wanted to see what are some of the tools Dynamics consultants are using every day, so I posted a question on Linkedin, and somebody mentioned Sonoma Partners’ Dynamics CRM DevTools. So I was looking at it tonight trying to figure out if it should be added to the Dynamics Toolbox, and, quite frankly, I ended up being on the fence about it.
First of all, if you want to see it for yourself, here is the link:
I admit that the concept is brilliant. This is a chrome extension, so, unlike some other tools it’s available directly in the browser. Yet you don’t need to deploy it as a Dynamics solution.. it’s sort of the best of both worlds – it does not “pollute” your Dynamics environment with any additional components, so you don’t even need to approve the solution.. and, at the same time, it requires minimal installation/configuration efforts outside of Dynamics.
Here is a screenshot:
What I am a bit unsure about is the functionality. For example, there is no doubt Ribbon Workbench can make your life much easier if/when you need to customize the command bar. With the CRM DevTools it’s not that black and white, it seems.
Quick update on this one (contributed by Christopher Fernando.. who actually introduced me to this tool in the first place)
It’s great when taking over an existing solution by looking at schema names on forms, showing hidden fields, and providing guids of the current record.
This actually makes total sense. You’ll see some screenshots below where the tool allows you to display hidden fields, to show labels, to see schema names.. When reverse-engineering an existing solution, this could be a useful alternative to going to the form designer since you can do all that in “real time”.
Anyway, even though I don’t feel this tool would be on everyone’s list, it does offer an original deployment concept and it provides some useful functionality, I am going to add it to the Dynamics ToolBox for now.
Here is a quick overview of what you can do with the tool.
1. You can see some extra details about the form
And, as you can see from the screenshot, there are a few buttons you can use to run certain actions. For example, Copy Record URL makes quite a bit of sense to me considering that I don’t have Outlook Client installed right now.. so I can’t, really, use “email a link” button. Other buttons seem to cover some very special troubleshooting scenarios (for example, you can show hidden fields to see what’s stored in them)
2. You can get some information about the logged in user
This can definitely help with troubleshooting. There could be a Dynamics user complaining that he/she cannot access a record. Using CRM DevTools, you can easily identify the security roles assigned to that user without having to navigate to the “Security” page in Dynamics.
3. You can change attribute values
Technically, you can do it directly on the form as well. However, CRM DevTools give you the ability to update any attributes (not just those which are visible on the form).
4. You can run fetch
This is yet another rather useful feature, even if it’s probably not going to be that widely used. It’s a rare occasion when somebody would prefer to run fetch (which has to be prepared manually) instead of using the Advanced Find. Of course, there are some things we can’t do with the advanced find. But, like I said, those are rare occasions (and, then, we have XrmToolBox for that).
As I mentioned earlier, it would be nice to hear your feedback regarding this tool. More specifically, I’d really like to hear a compelling story where it saved the day.. so I could post it here:)