I set a new personal record, 8 blog posts in a single day, with 50 screen shots! So let’s get to it!
One of the things about offering a free, fully customizable app is that users often… well… customize it. But before you run off and start hacking away at RapidStart CRM, or Dynamics 365 for that matter, there is a right way to do it, and then there are all the other ways. With all of the talk about “Citizen Development”, Microsoft has provided very few guardrails to keep you out of trouble. You are freely able to create a giant mess. Almost all of the issues users report to us with RapidStart CRM are related to customizations performed incorrectly. We obviously cannot turn you into a professional customizer in a few blog posts, but we may be able to keep you out of some trouble.
What’s Wrong with Wrong?
You can perform your customizations in many ways, and even if none of them follow best practices, things may still work. So, what’s the risk? The two biggest risks are the potential for your production system to stop working and challenges with upgrading. There is also a risk that whoever is doing the customizations leaves, and you can’t easily figure out what was done. We’re going to attempt to mitigate these risks.
Start at the Beginning
So, you have installed RapidStart CRM, and maybe you have been using it for a while, and you have realized that you would like to tweak it to fit your business better. Great! Before you do a single customization, you would be wise to create a safety net. The absolute safest way to do that is to engage with us! But we realize not everyone has budget to outsource, so for those DIYers, here’s the steps you should take. BTW, these are also the steps we take.
Create a Sandbox Environment. Like the name implies, this is an area where you can do stuff that does not impact your users directly. To do this, start at https://admin.powerplatform.microsoft.com/, and click on “Environments” in the sidebar.
We’ll start by creating a Sandbox environment by clicking “+ New”.
Give your new environment a name. Leave as Sandbox. Tick “Yes” to add a Dataverse data store, and then click “Next”. Note, if you do not have enough capacity, you will not be able to proceed until you acquire more.
If should only take a few minutes for your new sandbox environment to be created. Then select your production environment where RapidStart CRM is installed. Then click “Copy”.
Decide if you want to copy everything, or just the applications without your data. If you don’t have much data yet you may just want to copy everything. If you already have a lot of data, copying it will use capacity, so you may want to just create some demo data later. Select the sandbox environment you created earlier from the dropdown. Click “Copy”.
Go ahead and “Confirm” the overwriting of your sandbox; there isn’t anything in there anyway.
Congratulations! You have successfully created a copy of your environment into a new sandbox and are ready to start your customization journey. If you already did some customizations, don’t worry; we’ll capture those in a future post.
In this Part 1 we have setup your environment for future success. In part 2, we will continue in this sandbox environment by creating a Solution for your Customizations.