Building a RapidStart CRM Addon

by | Nov 18, 2021

We frequently get information requests from Microsoft partners, ISVs and others on how to build a RapidStartCRM addon and publish it to our fast growing user base. We are publishing a free addon to add Competitor Tracking to RapidStartCRM, so we thought we would review the steps we took to create it.

The Need

Not every customer needs to track their competitors, but some do, so we identified enough of a need for a capability to associate competitors to opportunities, and built this feature as a free addon. Obviously, you should determine that there is a need for your addon.

The Finished Product

We’ll start by showing you the end result, and then go through the steps we took to create it.

As you can see below, we have added our new “Competitors” table to the navigation, and created a new tab on the RapidStartCRM Opportunity form. On that tab we have created a subgrid where known competitors can be linked, and a lookup for when we lose to a known competitor. We also made use of our existing Quick Steps button control.

On the Competitor Record form we have added a few things also, including our Hashtags feature, a timeline and a subgrid of all open opportunities where this competitor is linked.

In addition, there are some workflows for incrementing the number of times we lost to a competitor. We also added a workflow that in the event a lost opportunity is re-activated, it will decrement that number.

We finish the Addon off with a New Dashboard

So now let’s disect building something similar.

Development Environments

Start by creating two Dataverse environments from the Power Platform Admin Center and installing RapidStartCRM from AppSource on both. It does not matter if these are sandbox, production or trials as long as they have a Dataverse database created. One will be used for Development of your addon, the other will be used for your Testing. You may want to install the Sample Data in both environments. In your development environment create an unmanaged solution that you will build in. You can see below, we created a production environment called “RsComp addon” for development, and a trial called “AS Testing” for our testing.

Adding Languages

RapidStartCRM includes 13 languages, and all of them are being used around the world. If you want your addon to be available to any or all of these languages, you should add them to your development environment. This is done via Advanced Settings/Administration/Languages. The Languages that RapidStartCRM supports are: Arabic, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and our base language of English. After you add your supported languages, and have completed your development work, export the translations file from your solution. Edit the strings to the corresponding languages, and then reimport the translations file.

Adding RapidStart CRM Components

All of RapidStartCRM‘s components are 100% customizable. To keep your addon “slim”, only add the components and/or sub-components that you need to actually modify. If you plan to use some components like the Quick Steps Control, it is not necessary to add that control to your solution, only add items you will be modifying. Ideally, you would include the RapidStart Apps and add your capabilities to these. Building a separate app could have cost implications to the customer.

Adding New Components

If you are building an addon to RapidStartCRM you most likely will have new Tables, Columns, Forms, Views, Workflows, Plugins, etc that are related to your addon. All of these will be created in your unmanaged solution. Review the optional, but highly recommended, design standards for RapidStartCRM so your addon looks native to RapidStartCRM.

Testing your Addon

Export your finished solution as “Managed” to your local machine. Then Import your managed solution into your test environment where RapidStartCRM is also installed. Review any import errors and go back to your development environment and fix. Repeat this process until your addon not only installs, but works the way you intended it to. In addition, you should test uninstalling your addon.

AppSource

The process for publishing an app to AppSource is documented here. To make sure your addon appears in searches for RapidStartCRM, include the word “RapidStart” in your listing title.

Since RapidStartCRM is a pre-requisite for your addon, you should add the following to your AppSource Package, example below:

<?xml version=”1.0″?>
<configdatastorage xmlns:xsi=http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance xmlns:xsd=http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema
       installsampledata=”false”
       waitforsampledatatoinstall=”false”
       agentdesktopzipfile=””
       agentdesktopexename=””
       crmmigdataimportfile=””
       performdependencychecks=”true”>
   <solutions>
      <configsolutionfile solutionpackagefilename=”your-addon_managed.zip” publishworkflowsandactivateplugins=”true” missingdependencybehavior=”Skip”>
         <dependencyoverrides>
              <versioncheck uniquename=”RapidStart CRM” minversion=”00.00.00.00″ />
         </dependencyoverrides>
       </configsolutionfile>
    </solutions>
</configdatastorage>

Make sure to enter the current version of RapidStartCRM that your addon was built on in minversion above.

 

RapidStartCRM Certified Addon

When you publish an app in AppSource, it goes through Microsoft’s certification process. When is passes, you will be given the opportunity to preview your listing before you click to go-live. If you would like your addon to be “Certified” by us, then before go-live, send us the preview link. We will install your addon from the AppSource preview into our test environment and make sure it works. Our testing is limited to Installing and Uninstalling only, functionality is on you.

When your addon passes our tests, you will be authorized to use our green helmet logo to indicate that your Addon has been “Certified” by us. It will also stand out nicely on the search results page. It has been sized to fit the Logo in the Marketplace Media section on the Offer Listing tab.

This is not a requirement, but it will signify to our users that we have tested your addon. You can click the image below to download it and use it in your AppSource listing.

 

Don’t forget! Checklist

In working on our own Addons, and helping others, we have discovered a few common issues you should check before you are done.

  • Confirm that you have added your Custom Components to the RapidStartCRM Apps.
  • Make sure you have added your custom entities and processes to any relevant RapidStartCRM Security Roles.
  • If you created an Addon App, make sure you enabled relevant security roles for it.
  • If you created a Custom Security Role, make sure it’s name begins with “RapidStart CRM” so it will appear to Power Users in the Settings area. 

 

How can we help?

In addition to being an ISV ourselves with RapidStartCRM, our parent, Forceworks is also a highly skilled Custom Project Services shop, and a Microsoft Gold Application Development Partner. We can offer you consulting on building and GTM for your addon, or our development services to build it for you.

Wanna talk about it? We love hearing from RapidStartCRM addon creators! Click here to schedule a free exploratory call with our Microsoft Business Applications MVP/CEO.

RapidStart CRM is built on Microsoft’s Dataverse, the core of the Power Platform. This means that RapidStart CRM is just as customizable as any of Microsoft’s first-party applications, like Dynamics 365 Sales, for example. We designed RapidStart CRM as a basic Sales and Service app “accelerator”. While it is a fully functioning app, it is the starting point for much more for many. Get or Test Drive RapidStart CRM on Microsoft’s AppSource here.

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