Forms Pro Flow activity set regarding

Forms Pro Flow activity set regarding

Forms Pro is an awesome new tool that combines the datamodel support that we previously got from Voice of the Customer (VoC) with the look and feel from Office Forms. It also has nice native support for Flow and many other parts of the Power Platform. It is still in Preview, make sure you check it out. A great resource for this is Megan Walkers blog as she has written several artice about this.

One thing that we recently ran into with the new Flow activitiy that can generate personalized sendouts, was how to format the syntax of the regarding field. The reason for the confusion is that it is different than how the Common Data Service (CDS) connector handles the Regarding field, which is with two fields, one for the object id and one for the type. In Forms Pro, it is all in one field in the syntax

<objecttypename> objectid

as can be seen in the picture below.

You can actually get a hint about the syntax if you check the “mouse over”. I wasn’t able to screen capture it.

I want to give a great thanks to Megan Walker and this article for giving me this insight! 

TCP Chimney

TCP Chimney

Today I was working with a customer and we have had some weird SSIS intermittent errors where the Native OLE DB / SQL Client was giving me some trouble with really weird errors.

Errors like these:

CRM service call returned an error: CRM service call returned an error: The request channel timed out while waiting for a reply after 00:01:59.9990005. Increase the timeout value passed to the call to Request or increase the SendTimeout value on the Binding. The time allotted to this operation may have been a portion of a longer timeout. (Error Type / Reason: Timeout)

[OLE DB Destination [611]] Error: SSIS Error Code DTS_E_OLEDBERROR. An OLE DB error has occurred. Error code: 0x80004005.
An OLE DB record is available. Source: “Microsoft SQL Server Native Client 11.0” Hresult: 0x80004005 Description: “Communication link failure”.
An OLE DB record is available. Source: “Microsoft SQL Server Native Client 11.0” Hresult: 0x80004005 Description: “TCP Provider: An existing connection was forcibly closed by the remote host.

After some searching and troubleshooting, I found the following blog which finally seemed to address the error at hand. When I tried removing the “TCP Chimney” , it the error went away. Please read more about it here:

TCP Chimney Setting and SQL Server Error: TCP Provider: An existing connection was forcibly closed by the remote host

SSIS and Kingswaysoft are great tools but sometimes the errors are really tricky and you have to be rather persistant to fint the root cause. In this case it seems to be related to the NIC.

 

Azure guest accounts in CDS/Dyn365

Azure guest accounts in CDS/Dyn365

Azure Active Directory (AAD) has a feature where it allows users of foreign tennants to be granted access to the current tennant. In other word, if you are running contoso.com and a user of northwind.com would like to have access, you can add this user as a guest account in Azure. However, I have found that giving this user access to Dynamics is not fully straight forward, although, it is far from rocket science. In this article I will show how this is done.

Do note that I have heard from people in the product team that there are features of the powerplatfor that cannot currently be accessed using a guest account, I think it was Canvas Apps and Flow. I will have to try this out and get back to you (or someone else could! – I would appreciate a link back to this article) in a later article. I also do think that they are workin on this.

On a high level, what we need to do is:

  1. Add user in AAD
  2. Grant License
  3. Wait for the user to pop up in CDS/Dynamics
  4. Assign a security role in CDS/Dynamics

To start with, we need to go to the Azure Portal: https://portal.azure.com – and click on the AAD menu item on the left.

 

 

Browse to portal.azure.com -> click Azure Active Directory (AAD) -> Click Users

Click “New guest user”

Enter the email address of the user, and perhaps some nice personal email message showing you are not some evil spammer!

Then go to portal.office.com and you will now be able to see the new guest user in here.

Select the guest user and click “Edit product licenses” – Note, I have not been able to set licenses directly by opening the user, only this way.

Assign the license required, P2 or Dynamics Customer Engagement App or Plan – in the example above, a Dyn365CE Plan 1 (trial)

After you have assigned the guest user a license, you have to wait a while until the asynchronous service in O365 provisions the user in the CDS. This often is rather quick, but sometimes takes more time. When I was making this, it took more than 15 minutes.

To find the user in CDS/Dyn365 go to Settings and click on Security. (Old UI)

And then click on “Users” in the Security area.

This is how a guest user look like in Dynamics 365/CDS. It has a # sign in front of it. As you can see, I have another one with my name previously created.

The last thing that has to be done is to grant the guest user the correct role.

After this, just give the user the direct URL to the system and they should be able to log in with their normal users.

This is a very useful method to use when setting up trials for someone as they do not have to sign in with another account to access they system. I strongly recommend it.

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, there might still be some issues with using canvas apps and Flow using guest users, so do be aware that not all features could be available.

 

Uninstalling Employee Self Service Portal – step by step

Uninstalling Employee Self Service Portal – step by step

A customer of involontarily gotten a Dynamics 365 Employee portal installed. I had to remove it. It has 21 (!?) solutions which are interdependent. This is how I fixed it.

As always, I start off by trying to find if anyone else has run into the same issue, almost. This guy had with another portal type:
https://community.dynamics.com/crm/b/dynamicscrmbestpractices/archive/2017/10/14/dynamics-365-uninstalling-microsoft-portals-steps 

And then my Portal buddy Nick Doelman did some heavy lifting (he actually does!) and sent me this link. It did turn out to be a bit old though. Still useful, but the solutions described in it are not entirely accurate.

https://community.dynamics.com/365/b/dynamics365portalssupport/archive/2017/02/27/portal-troubleshooting-part-three-uninstalling-portal-solutions 

Sitemap

First of all, before you do anything else, start by removing the following things from the sitemap (unless you havn’t added more things pointing to Portal components)

1. The entire Portal “Area”
2. The SubArea and Group under Settings for Portal Settings.

Solution removal

So which solutions are we to uninstall? I will take it from the top, in the order I uninstalled them.

1 ESSPortal
2 BaseHtmlEditor_portal
3 MicrosoftForumsWorkflows
4 MicrosoftForums
5 Feedback
6 KnowledgeManagement

When removing KnowledgeManagement I got this error:
The entity with ObjectTypeCode = 10460 was not found in the MetadataCache
Tried different way, after some time, just refreshed and it was gone. Maybe this should be removed earlier. Not entirely sure which entity this was, as it was removed and I didn’t save a metadata reference before starting.

7 MicrosoftAzureStorage
8 MicrosoftBingMapsHelper
9 CustomerService
10 WebNotification
11 MicrosoftGetRecordIDWokrflowHelper
12 MicrosoftIdentity
There are two dialogs that 
Process/Dialog – Change Password, Removed all Steps. Save & Close
Reset Security Stamp – Removed all steps. Save & Close

13 MicrosoftIdentityWorkflows
14 MicrosoftIdentitySystemWorkflows
15 MicrosoftCrmPortalBaseWorkflows
16 MicrosoftCrmPortalBaseSystemWorkflows
17 Portal Timeline
18 MicrosoftWebForms

When removing this solution I also got the same weird error: The entity with ObjectTypeCode = 10439 was not found in the MetadataCache. 

What I found was that it was actually the sitemap that I hadn’t cleaned up from Portal things. This is why I recommend removing all portal related entries from all Sitemaps before starting to remove any solutions.

19 MicrosoftCrmPortalBase
20 MicrosoftCrmPortalDependencies
21 Portal Privacy Extensions

Server Side Sync with Forward mailbox and SMTP

Server Side Sync with Forward mailbox and SMTP

Most often when setting up server side sync, especially in Online environments, Dynamics 365 CE/CDS is connected to Exchange Online. This is rather straight forward. Even in less straight forward cases like On-prem to On-prem or the so called hybrid cases of on-line to on-prem where the involved parties are Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Exchange in some manner are all rather well documented and might be a bit tricky but generally there are some good instructions for how to get it working. Like for instance this. However, if your setups require more complex email management then the documentation and blogs around the Internet start getting a lot sparser. This article will detail a complex setup with Server Side Sync using Forward Mailbox to a proxy O365 exchange account and outgoing email using SMTP using the SMTP service SMTP2GO.
I recently migrated a customer with a complex setup from Email router to Server Side Sync as the Email router has been long deprecated and the indications I am getting from Microsoft are that it is hight time to start transitioning away from it to Server side Sync or to some other solution that can solve it, like for instance Riva. I will not go into the advantages of using that in this post, but generally it can be said that it has a lot more configuration options and logging options available, but at a price of course. Most of my customers try to get the Server Side Sync (SSS) to work and if this cannot be done, then other venues, like Riva or custom code are evaluated.
The background to why this complex setup was required was that my customer had their main Exchange server managed by their parent’s parent company in Germany. If you are not aware of the requirements for setting up Server Side Synchronization (SSS) from Dynamics 365 to an Exchange, it requires the use of an account using “Application Impersonation”. Asking the Exchange admins for this permission, although I have heard (I am no Exchange guru though) that is can be limited to specific users, was perceived to be practically impossible. We could, however, setup Forwarding rules with “Forward as attachment” on the public folders where the incoming emails were received.
As for outgoing email, the story was more or less the same. We could not connect to the Exchange server in Germany to send any emails. However, my customer were allowed controll over the DNS entries of the domains they worked with hence they could add SPF records to other email sending servers. When using the Email router, we had installed this on a VM hosted in Amazon Web Services and then sent email using the Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) on port 25. When we tried this with Server Side Sync, however, we noticed that we were now “outside traffic”, no longer coming from inside Amazons networks, and were hence throttled on Port 25. We tried all other possible SMTP ports for SES but nothing seemed to work with SSS.

Incoming – Forward mailbox

Ok, so how to solve it? Let’s start with the incoming email. As I have hinted the best method for this is to use the “Forward Mailbox” technique. This means that you set up a special mailbox, you actually create a new mailbox in Dynamics of the type Forward mailbox. This is then linked to a normal Exchange mailbox user account. It cannot be a public folder or something else. It has to be a user. You might be able to use a O365 Exchange Kiosk but be aware of the size limitations if you decide to keep the email on the server. Otherwise an E1 is probably recommended. This email address is never seen by any customer, so can be rather obscure, like forwardmailbox@contoso.onmicrosoft.com.

Rules are then set up on the onprem server to forward emails coming in to all relevant email addresses (be it users, public folders, groups or otherwise) as attachments to this forward mailbox. Why forward as attachment you might ask? The reason is that it keeps the entire header of the email intact which allows Dynamics to parse it and connect it correctly. Below is an figure discribing this incoming email flow with two queues. Typically you would have many more queues. My customer has 100+ queues.

Incoming email using forward mailbox proxied via O365

Setting up forwarding rules for “forward as attachment” is done in the following steps:

Using Outlook Web Access, click on the Settings cog (1) and then Mail (2).
Go to Inbox and Sweep rules and press (+) to create a new.

Apply it to all email (if that is what you want) and then select the action – “Forward the message as an attachment to” and select the Forward mailbox contact that either created before or do it in the next step.

This is how you create a contact (this is rather straight forward)

After this, you should have a forwarding rule which is activated and you should be able to start seeing emails landing in the forward mailbox shortly after they have arrived in the normal inbox, and with the orginal email as an attachment.

When creating the forward mailbox you have to remember to get a global admin to approve the email address (1) even if you switched this off for users or queues. You also need to “Test & Enable Mailbox” (2)

Outgoing – SMTP

Outgoing email we solved by finding an SMTP service that did support Dynamics 365. As mentioned above we first tried working with Amazon Simple Email Service but found that there was no combination of settings that would make this work. The best possible option was port 25 using TLS, but as we were “outside” traffic (as compared to when we were using the Email router and running on a AWS VM) we got throttled rather quickly and I couldn’t even get the 100+ queues through the Test & Enable until things started breaking.
It is important here, to understand that there is a difference between SMTP using TLS (more modern way of securing SMTP) and using SMTP with SSL. The former seems to be what Dynamics 365 is using though I havn’t found any really good definition saying this is so.

It turned out that my customer was using SMTP2GO for another service so we tried it out and it worked fine using port 587 using TLS. SMTP2GO, it seems, has a load of different ports and variations of security setup that can be used. According to my customers operations people, they also like it better than Amazon SES as it gives better feedback on bounces and such which is good (data which would be nice to get into Dynamics of course – good ISV opportunity there!).

Outgoing settings are not that complicated – each mailbox has the Server Profile “SMTP2GO” which uses the SMTP protocol to send

To understand some of the details of how the SMTP2GO Server profile is setup, look at this picture.

The Server Profile for SMTP2GO – note that the Incoming Server location is not used/is relevant.

One of the problems I found was that I wasn’t able to set the credentials centrally, on the server profile. It just seems this isn’t supported for SMTP, I do not know why. Hence we had to add the credential (the same) to each and every single queue. I found this was rather easily done in bulk using SSIS with Kingswaysoft or your other favorite tool for this like Scribe or CozyRoc (I havn’t tried them but I guess you could). Or you can of course write a small program. I did try to do it using workflows or bulk edit but that didn’t work. Maybe with some shoehorning you could get that to work. Maybe a Flow could work too. The fields that had to be set can be seen in the picture below:

The queue mailbox record – Note the three fields marked that you need to set as the credentials are set on the queue level. Also note that as the Incoming is “Forward Mailbox” it will not be expected to be tested in the testrun – hence Incoming Email Status :”Not Run”

Testing SMTP Server/Service
When working with this, and testing out different SMTP providers it is sometimes hard to know where the problem is. Hence it is good to have a good tool to test the SMTP email server to see that it works, that your credential for it work and so on. I got a good tip from one of the operations technicians at my customer, which was the service SMTPer as seen below:

SMTPer – www.smtper.net – great tool for testing a SMTP server

Limitations

What are the limitations of using a technique like this for server side synchronization?

First of all I would say it is that you will not be able to get Appointment, Contacts and Task (ACT) synchronized. Hence it is mostly useful in applications where the Dynamics/CDS is set up to work for Customer Service or in other non-personal uses. If you want ACT synchronization I would recommend trying to get a Dynamics-Exchange synchronization working somehow. Talk to some Exchange experts to see if they have some interesting views on how to solve your issue.

The second drawback of this is complexity. This solution has many moving parts and it can go wrong in many places. There are many different accounts and password that it depends on, thankfully everything will not break if just one password is invalidated, but you will see issues. It is also dependent on different technologies like Dynamics email handling, Exchange rules, SMTP services and so on. This requires rather a broad skillset or several people being involved. Especially if something breaks or just doesn’t work supergood.

Conclusions

Hence, this a setup that I would only recommend if you do not have the option of using Exchange. If you have the option of using Exchange, but cannot get it to work for some reason, try harder or ask for help. Using this kind of solution will limit the end users functionality of Dynamics and is hence more of a “last resort”.

New times, new blog – less nagging!

New times, new blog – less nagging!

Time for a new blog engine, time for a new blog title and time for my own domain to blog from and above all, time for Jonas Rapp to stop nagging about me blogging on blogspot. Old blog is still up and running and I will keep it there for some time as long as people find interesting stuff there.

As you might be aware of, I have been blogging on blogspot since May 24 2006. That is quite some time, almost 13 years now. Some periods have been more energetic than others, and I guess that is only natural. During this time my life has changed a lot. Since then I have gone from a CRM developer being employed as the only CRM-expert and SharePoint expert at Humandata  at that time a smaller company of less than 10 people. I have since worked a couple of years at Logica, now CGI, and 2010 I started my own company, CRM-Konsulterna which now has grown to 15 employees. I have also during this time gotten two kids, Nora and Adrian, who are now 11 and 8. The article on my blog about Nora’s birth being the only one not strictly about Dynamics (and SharePoint as it was originally focused on as well). 

Otherwise, it has received several awards for its content and I generally have tried to focus a lot on the who the readers are and attemted to not write anything that would dilute your trust. I have been given many offers during the years of companies wanting to market their products on my blog and I also during a short time tried some ads but I found that it was really counter acting the point of the blog. I would rather share what I know so that people can build trust in that I know what I do so that they do not hesitate to contract me. Diluting this is just dumb.

But now new times! This new blog is running on WordPress with the world famous Divi Theme. I hope you like it and if you have any comments about the layout or anything else, please leave a comment and I will see to that. I have some articles in store waiting to come out (the store is above my shoulders), one regarding complex email setups with Server Side Sync which I think many might find interesting as it is not a very common scenario so when you run into it, a good references might be needed.

I have imported the old blog entries into this blog. They might be sorted a bit weirdly and so, I won’t put too much energy into fixing that, more into writing new stuff.

Hope to hear from you in the future and that I have will have the strenght to continue this blog for the next 13 years.

Gustaf