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Supercharge Power Platform Development with Visual Studio Solution Accelerator - The Guide for Beginners

This blog is dedicated in exploring some of the transformative potential tools residing in XrmToolBox for your Power Platform and Dynamics 365 development.


In this post, we'll dive in the transformative tools available within XrmToolBox for your Power Platform and Dynamics 365 development endeavors. XrmToolBox stands as an open-source, community-driven arsenal crafted to streamline and elevate the customization, configuration, and management of Dynamics 365 components, including ribbon workbench and web resource management.


Specifically, we'll spotlight one of XrmToolBox's gems: the Visual Studio Solution Accelerator. Developed by Daryl LaBar and introduced in 2019, this tool simplifies the process of developing plugins for Dynamics 365 applications. Say goodbye to manual folder creation, NuGet package installations, and tedious configurations. With the Visual Studio Solution Accelerator, a few clicks within XrmToolBox generate a comprehensive solution, complete with all the necessary components, allowing you to focus on what truly matters: building powerful solutions.


Install Visual Studio Solution Accelerator


Open your XrmToolBox and from the menu available above, navigate to Configuration then “Tool Library”


Search for “Visual Studio Solutions Accelerator”


Check the checkbox and then click  “Install” button located at the right side of the application.


Run the Visual Studio Solution Accelerator

Once you have installed the Visual Studio Solution Accelerator, you can use it right away.


But for some cases, you might encounter an error when you clicked the Execute button.


All you need to do is download a NuGet.Core.dll and add it in your XrmToolBox folder. Restart the XrmToolBox.


Now, once the Visual Studio Solution Accelerator is working, there are three things that you can perform with it, the options and their descriptions are also displayed in the tool.


Options:

  • Add Accelerator Isolation Libraries to my Solution - This is the first step that is required to be done once per Visual Studio solution.  A wizard will guide you through the installation process, i.e. what to name the required projects, and what optional items you'd like to include (Unit Tests, Early Binding, Code Snippets, etc.).  It will then perform the requested actions.

  • Add Plugin/Workflow Project to an Accelerated Solution - This is a follow up step to the first.  If you require additional plugin/workflow libraries in your solution, and you've already installed the required projects, this adds an additional plugin/workflow project to the solution.

  • Install Snippets - This installs a hand full of snippets into the current user's VS code snippets directory. Since this can't be done via source control, any new developers or new machines will need this step performed to be able to use the snippets.


Add Accelerator Isolation Libraries to my Solution

Click the “Execute” button. You have the option to add the Accelerators to new or existing solution.


In this demo, we are going to add an accelerator in a new solution. Choose “No” and in the directory text field, replace the default solution name to your preferred name. In this case, I’ll be renaming it “Solution_DemoWithAccelerator”. Then click "Next".


You will be asked to put a root NameSpace. In this example, we will just be removing the “.Xrm”.



Click “Next” button. Then it will ask you to select the version of the Microsoft SDK. We will be using the latest version of Microsoft SDK.


Then click “Next” button. It will ask if you wanted to use the Early Bound Generator to Create the Early Bound Entities.


Then it will ask you to provide the name of the shared common assembly for the project. This folder will include the generated early bound entities and other plugin logics.

Click “Next” button.


It will ask you to provide a name for the shared common workflow assembly. This will be the references to the workflow code for the project. In this demo, we will be using the default provided by the wizard.


Then it will ask you if you opting to you Xrm Unit Testing. In this example, we will be adding all the components that the wizard is asking for.


Once you choose “Yes”, the wizard will going to ask you the following questions:

  1. Test Settings project name.

  2. Shared core test settings name.


Now, the wizard will ask you if you wanted to create a Plugin Project. If you choose “Yes”, it will ask you to provide the plugin project name and if you also wanted to have example plugin classes. In this example, we will include plugin classes examples.

Note: If you opted to include some plugin classes examples. These may contain compiler errors.


Then it will ask you to provide the name for the plugin test project.


It will also ask you if you wanted to create a Workflow Project or not.


Also, It will ask you to provide the name of the workflow test project.


Next, it will ask you if you wanted to have a code snippet installed for plugins and testing and code generation files to your solution.


Once you click Finish, the tool will be performing the requests.


Once the tool completes the processing. A pop-up window will appear indicating that you need to generate early bound entities using the early bound settings found in the display.


Now, go to the path where you save the solution and you will find the solution created.



Now, let’s open the solution in visual studio.


Once you've filled in the wizard with your project details, you'll notice that the Visual Studio Solution Accelerator swiftly creates several components, including references like Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk and Microsoft.CSharp. This automation proves invaluable, especially for beginners navigating the intricacies of project setup.


With the Visual Studio Solution Accelerator, the cumbersome task of manually creating project folders becomes a thing of the past. Now, you can dive straight into plugin development for your Dynamics 365 Applications, empowered by a seamless and efficient workflow.

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