Changing the Options in a Dynamics CRM OptionSet (Picklist) programmatically, using the SDK

I recently needed to make a deployment routine remove unwanted options from out-of-the-box Option Sets (Picklists) like Campaign > Campaign Type and Contact > Preferred Contact Method. I needed to do this because even if you remove them on a Dev environment, they are not deleted when a solution is imported into a Test or Production environment.
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Set the Locale of a Dynamics CRM Organization and all users

The default locale of Dynamics CRM is of course English (United States) so one of the first things those of us in the rest of the world need to do when provisioning a new Organization (I know, with a ‘z’) or CRM Online instance is to change this.

Using the SDK this is very easy, and it’s also possible to change the locale of every user at the same time, very helpful if you’ve just imported 500 users then sighed when you noticed wrong-way-round dates.

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Automatically respond to emails in Microsoft Office 365 Exchange Online using a Windows Service

I recently migrated from Google Apps to Office 365 (included with the Microsoft Action Pack). I had been using the Google Labs Canned Responses tool to send an automatic reply to emails I received from recruitment agencies, containing my current availability and the types of projects I’m looking to work on. Unfortunately there is no similar capability in Office 365 Exchange Online.

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Using the Integration Hub to submit Gift Aid claims

The Integration Hub is a set of .NET components I have developed to facilitate communication between two or more systems, built around the concept of Activities. An Activity involves extracting data from a Source, converting it into a format or formats understood by one or more Destinations, sending the converted data to those Destinations, converting back the responses, and finally updating the Source if required.

The Integration Hub defines a framework for:

  • Creating re-usable plugins which understand how to communicate with specific Sources and/or Destinations
  • Converting between data formats using XSLT
  • Logging and Tracing to screen, files, event logs, email or custom providers
  • Triggering Activities via an executable (manual or scheduled), desktop application or a Windows Service

I have teamed up with Datech to offer a solution for submitting Gift Aid claims to HMRC, built on the Integration Hub. Continue reading

Automating Handbrake Video Conversions using a Windows Service

I have an HP Microserver onto which I’ve loaded copies of all my DVD and BluRay discs using the brilliant MakeMKV. This allows us to easily play anything in our library through XBMC on home-theatre PCs in either our living room or in the den area of the kitchen. While the 1080p/TrueHD files that MakeMKV creates are great for home use, they can be a bit cumbersome when copied to a tablet or mobile, not to mention large enough to chew up the limited storage available.

Handbrake allows me to convert these movies into smaller, more lightweight versions (720p with stereo audio) which play much more happily on mobile devices. Because the conversion process can take a long time, I wanted a way of setting it up once and forgetting about it, so I wrote a Windows Service to automate Handbrake conversions.
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Managing Web Forms within Dynamics CRM

It’s a common requirement to capture data on a website through web forms, and use that data within Dynamics CRM, for example to create or update records, or set off workflows. A recent project, to process applications for grants using Dynamics CRM Online, included the requirement to be able to alter and modify the web-facing forms each time a new grant scheme was launched. This project allowed me to implement something which I have been thinking about since first working with CRM: a completely generic integration solution, allowing complete control over website forms, and how they are processed, from within CRM itself.
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