TOOL HIGHLIGHT: CRM 2011 Web Resource Linker/Publisher

I’ve blogged previously about why I like the approach CRM Solution Manager uses for authoring web resources in Visual Studio.  While I think CRM Solution Manager is a fantastic tool, there are ways to get some of the benefits of it’s approach to web resource authoring with a couple other free Visual Studio addins.  The first tool is CRM 2011 Web Resource Linker/Publisher.  This tool provides the ability to map a file in a Visual Studio project to a web resource in CRM.  Because of this, I can organize my scripts in a folder structure which aligns with the relative path naming convention that’s recommended in the CRM SDK.  See for more details.  In the picture below, I just started with an empty web app and added the dkdt_ structure below:


Then, I simply link/publish the files:


Here’s an example of what initial linking looks like:


Notice that you can also create a new web resource right from the linker dialog.  Once you’ve linked the files, you can do things like multi-select in Solution Explorer and deploy/publish just the files you care about:


But wait, there’s more.  Since this is just a standard web app project, I can take advantage of all the goodness that Visual Studio 2012 has to offer.  For example, I can use NuGet to add the CRM 2011 Client Side VSDoc to get JavaScript Intellisense for Xrm.Page and simply drag and drop the file from Solution Explorer to the open JavaScript file that needs Intellisense and Visual Studio takes care of adding the reference:


I can also take advantage of addins which are designed to work with web projects such as Web Essentials 2012.  One example is the JavaScript Minification feature:


…which will give me a production optimized version of my JavaScript file.  Because these are just files, I can just relink if I want to test the minified version.  To hit home the “because they are just files” point, I’ll give you another example.  I’ve grown fond of TypeScript.  There’s even an Xrm.Page TypeScript definition file.  Because TypeScript ultimately produces JavaScript files, those files can simply be linked/published.  I think you are starting to see the “it just works” pattern here.

So, for me, I’ve stopped using the Developer Toolkit for Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Create and Deploy Web Resources because many of these things I talk about don’t work with the supplied template.  Furthermore, the Developer Toolkit forces you to deploy all of your web resources every time and it doesn’t publish.  You have to do that manually.  I’ve found the approach I lay out in this post to be the most productive way of using Visual Studio to develop web resources.  However, I still use the Developer Toolkit to Create and Deploy Plug-ins and Create and Deploy Workflow Libraries.



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