Using Dynamics 365 CRM lookups and alternate keys in Microsoft Flow

I’ve written a blog a while ago on using alternate keys with the Dynamics 365 / CRM WebApi. You can read the blog here. The post guides you in creating an alternate key and identifies some usage scenario’s.

Lately I’ve been working on an integration between Eventbrite and Dynamics 365 / CRM with Microsoft Flow. Currently I’m going back and forth between enthusiasm and disappointment. Sometimes it does more than you would expect and sometimes you’re missing the details you are looking for.

Lookup

Most often you would want to set a lookup value in a record you are creating and updating. With flow this might be a bit hard as looping is cumbersome, or even impossible, to implement (e.g. nested loops are not supported).

The first thing you could do it set hard coded values. E.g. when creating a product in CRM it’s sometimes feasible to hard code the unit of measure. Simply pasting in the Guids works fine in such case:

Alternate key

Other time you want want to set a lookup to a record you are also integrating. E.g. with Evenbrite you have the ‘entity’ Events that I integrate with a custom entity Events. Event tickets I’m integrating with a custom entity Event tickets. On that event ticket entity I need to set the lookup to the related event. One option would be query for the event in CRM using Flow and setting the value.

However, to simplify things, I’ve created an alternate key on the Event entity in CRM, using the EventId from Eventbrite. Now setting the lookup is fairly easy, and we don’t have to query CRM to fetch the record. This sample works perfectly:

Conclusion

For now, Microsoft Flow seems to be a perfect tool to do lightweight integration scenario’s. Using alternate keys might really help in making your life a little easier in extending the options you have with Microsoft Flow.

Creating animated gifs

Sometimes you find tools that you would have love to have had earlier. One of those tools is ScreenToGif. It’s an open source and free tool to record your screen, webcam or sketchboard and save it as an animated gif.

I found it because I was looking for a tool like this to create animated gifs for my blog. But now I use it quite often in training materials and manuals. It’s super easy to create an animated gif and embed it in any web page or PowerPoint presentation.

Some of the things to be enthusiastic about:

  • You can snap the tool to the part you want to record. E.g. when I want to record a part of the browser, I simply click and hold the button and drag to the part you want to record. And it has some great intelligence on what part it should snap to.
  • You can easily change the frame rate of the recording
  • It receives regular updates

And you can even run it twice, so I could create this animated gif to show you how to use it:

Dutch Dynamics365 / CRM User Group

Working in both the SharePoint and CRM / Dynamics365 products gives you some good insights on how things are done in other products. Especially with regards to updates, tooling and communities. SharePoint has a vibrant community and the community has always been very open and welcoming. Here in The Netherlands we have the very active Diwug with a focus on Office365 and SharePoint and there are more usergroups around Offic365.

When you’ve experienced such an open community where people with a passion for the product share knowledge and experience around the product in an informal way, you long for it in other products as well. Most certainly in CRM.

The Dynamics world seems te be a bit more closed than the SharePoint and Office365 world. Especially in The Netherlands. So there’s no user group in the style of other user groups found abroad or in SharePoint. Where you can just signup for events, attend for free and that’s organized amongst enthousiast.

I’ve been thinking about starting an user group for a while now, using the popular Meetup platform. Only after my co-worker Marc Gerner started to talk about it, we’ve decided we would create this new user group. We’re hoping that we can encourage enough people to join and to actually organize the first meeting.

The Meetup page has been live for a week now. If you’re interested in joining, please signup. There’s no hidden agenda, we just want to create a group of Dynamics365 / CRM enthousiast and share knowledge and experiences.

Nederlands

Wanneer je zowel met SharePoint als CRM / Dynamics365 actief bent, dan krijg je goede inzichten in die zaken die verschillend zijn in beide groepen. Zeker wanneer het gaat om zaken als updates, tools en communities. Zo heeft SharePoint een zeer levendige community die erg open is. In Nederland heb je bijvoorbeeld de Diwug die zich richt op SharePoint en Office365. Er zijn echter nog meer user groepen rondom ditzelfde onderwerp in Nederland.

Wanneer je ervaren hebt wat een user groep kan betekenen, met een open en informele sfeer, waarbij enthousiastelingen kennis delen met elkaar, dan krijg je ook de behoefte om user groepen met andere onderwerpen te bezoeken. Voor mij dan met name in CRM / Dynamics365. Helaas is zo’n user groep, naar mijn idee er nog niet. Zeker niet één waar je als individu kunt deelnemen, kennis kunt delen met anderen en je gratis events kunt bezoeken. De Dynamics wereld is helaas wat meer gesloten, zeker in Nederland.

Ik liep al een paar maanden rond met de gedachte om een user groep met die insteek te gaan starten en daarbij gebruik te maken van Meetup. Pas toen mijn collega Marc Gerner er ook over begon, hebben we vrij snel de knoop doorgehakt en hebben we een de pagina gelanceerd. Nu hopen we genoeg mensen te bereiken en enthousiast te maken om deel te gaan nemen aan deze groep. We kijken er al naar uit om het eerste event te organiseren.

De Meetup pagina is nu ongeveer een week live. Wil je ook kennis delen met andere enthousiastelingen? Schrijf je dan in en neem deel aan deze Meetup.