CRM Power Pane – Review

One of my favourite tools in my CRM Administrator Toolkit (*not an actual thing) is the Dynamics CRM Power Pane extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

The Power Pane add-on has been developed to help developers, testers and power users to accomplish tasks that they may require in their day-to-day role.  Installation of the add-on is as simple as installing the extension in your browser – no need to install any solutions.

Once you have the extension installed an orange lightning bolt icon will appear in the top-left corner of your Nav bar whenever you open CRM, and clicking this will enable the actions for you.

I should caveat at the top that this tool is very much not for end-users, and I’d caution against even making them aware that it exists.  It can undo the security settings you have put in place, and render your customisations meaningless.

With that out of the way, let’s have a look at what it does.   The CRM Power-Pane add-on is comprised of 3 sets of tools:

  • Record Actions
  • Form Actions
  • Navigation Tools

I’ll give an overview of each of these below:

Record Actions

There are 5 options under the Record Actions section

  1. Entity Info – opens a pop-up window with the Entity logical name and the Entity Type Code
  2. Record ID – opens a pop-up window with the GUID of the current record
  3. Record URL – opens a pop-up window with the direct URL of the current record
  4. Clone Record – creates an exact clone of the current record
  5. Record Properties – opens the record properties window

I particularly like the Record URL options – no more clicking “Email a Link” and then copying the link so I can send it to someone in Skype.  I also get a lot of use out of the Record ID option, it’s come in handy more times than I can count.

 

Form Actions

The Form Actions are where this tool really comes into it’s own, and where I think most other developers/administrators will get use out of it.  There are 12 options under Form Actions:

  1. Enable All Fields – makes all read-only fields editable
  2. Show Hidden Fields – unhides any fields that have been set as hidden
  3. Disable Field Requirement – removes any business recommended or business required options on fields, enabling you to save it without filling them in
  4. Schema Names as Label – changes the field labels to show the logical/schema name
  5. Scheme Name Copy Mode – enables the option to copy the schema name for a field by clicking on the field name
  6. Show Optionset Values – prefixes the optionset options with their value
  7. Show Field Value – opens a pop-up window to allow you to input the schema name for a field, and returns the value in the field, and the field type.  Depending on the type of field additional values will also be returned, e.g. for a lookup field you will get the text value, the record GUID, the lookup record Entity Name and Entity Type Code.
  8. Find Field in Form – opens a pop-up window where you can input the schema name for a field, and then moves the focus to that field on the form and highlights the field
  9. Highlight Dirty Fields – adds a highlight to any fields that have been changed since the form was loaded
  10. Refresh Ribbon – refreshes the command ribbon on the form.  This can be useful if you’re testing the visibility of buttons that appear/disappear based on field values
  11. Refresh Form – refreshes the CRM form, without the need to refresh the whole window.

I use a lot of these tools on almost a daily basis, in particular the Schema Names as Label  and Scheme Name Copy Mode.  If you’re writing any code then I’m sure you’ll find these useful too.  Similarly, being able to unhide and unlock fields has saved me numerous times when I’ve been carrying out testing.

As I said at the start, if your Users find this tool it could cause no end of headaches for you, but it also serves as a stark reminder that CRM is just a series of web pages, so if you want a field to be completely secure don’t put it on a Form that is accessible by Users. Reece Campbell wrote a great blog about CRM Forms and security recently, so I’d recommend it for more reading.

Navigations

The last set of tools in CRM Power Pane are the Navigations tools. There are 6 tools here:

  1. Go to record by ID – enables you to open any record by specifying the entity name and the record GUID
  2. Entity Editor – makes it really easy to open the Entity customisation in the default solution.  This defaults to the entity you’re currently in, but you can specify which one you’d like to open
  3.  CRM Diagnostics – opens the CRM diagnostics page to allow you to evaluate network performance
  4. Performance Center – opens the CRM Performance Center to allow you to evaluate the performance of form loading in CRM
  5. Mobile Express – opens the Mobile Express version of your CRM environment
  6. Mobile Client – opens the mobile version of your CRM environment

Conclusion

The Dynamics CRM Power Pane is an incredible useful tool, and I find myself using it pretty much every day.  The array of tools it offers are varied, and they deliver some much needed added abilities for me as a system developer/administrator.  I’d recommend installing it and seeing how you get on with it, just remember not to let your Users know about it.

Some of you may be aware of another Chrome extension called Level Up for Dynamics CRM/365, developed by Natraj Yegnaraman.  Level Up does a number of similar funcitons to CRM Power Pane, and has some additional options.  I have both installed in my browser, and have used them both extensively.  If you’d like to read more about Level Up, Kylie Kiser recently wrote a review of it and I’d recommend you have a look at her blog

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