Dynamics CRM Parallel Development with Solution Packager
The Solution Packager is a very useful tool that has been released with Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 10 and is currently also available in Dynamics CRM 2013 Sdk. Traditionally you can only move CRM components around between two environments using CRM Solutions. You will soon start to see the limitations of this if you are doing one of the below:
- You are working on a team where each developer has their own virtual machine or CRM organization for isolation purposes
- You are on a project with one or more parallel streams of work where each stream has their own environment and different release schedule but working on the same CRM Solution
In all of the above cases you will need to bring all the pieces together once the work is ready and release them into your main CRM environment for testing or further packaging as CRM solutions. You will find that the only way to merge these changes with the existing solution is to place your changes into a new/existing solution and deploy that to your main CRM environment that contains the existing changes (Note these could have moved on since you started to work your specific feature). Below are a few issues you might encounter with that approach:
- When you deploy the CRM Solution containing your changes this might potentially override customizations that are already in there. You might end up re-doing some of work manually in two places.
To help make this easier I have created a sample PowerShell script that automates some of the activities discussed above.This is included in the latest xRM CI Framework along with the required assemblies. This script will do the below.
- Check-out your existing extracted files from TFS (optional)
- Export your managed and unmanaged solution from CRM
- Find the deltas and mark the files under TFS with add/delete/check-out accordingly
- Check-in the updated files back into TFS (optional)
You can use the sample script below and make any changes as required. Don’t forget to download and install the assemblies for the xRM CI Framework or plug-in your own utilities.
Below is also a sample script that invokes the script above with some predefined parameters to get you started.
If you this approach and you are using TFS for managing your backlog, I would strongly recommend you associated your check-in of the CRM Customizations (Extracted using the above) and any source files developed in visual studio with your product backlog item. This way you can later see what were the changes that were done to meet that specific requirement or bug.
Having said all of the above, parallel development adds an overhead and additional complexity. So only go for that option if you really need to. If you decide to ahead anyway, avoid making changes to the same customizations and components by different team members/teams and remember communication and a good process in place is always important. Bare in mind you can still use the solution packager for keeping a backup or your customizations and viewing deltas overtime which can be helpful in troubleshooting as well.
In the next post I will showing you how to automate the build of these extracted solution files and produce solutions that you can then deploy to other environments or ship to your customers.