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Dynamics 365 Portal: 2018 Year in Review

2018 was a busy year for the Dynamics 365 Portal product! From the end-of-life of Adxstudio v7 to the release of new features like SharePoint and PowerBI integrations, I’ll cover the most exciting developments throughout the year.

Adxstudio v7 End-of-life

August 1st saw Microsoft officially end support for version 7 of Adxstudio. While Microsoft has made great strides with the new version of the product (currently version 9), many legacy customers still exist on version 7, for many different reasons, including:

  • Inability to include custom server-side code, especially if a large investment was made in custom Page Templates in v7.
  • The new Microsoft offering is available for Dynamics 365 Online customers only – if you’re on-premise the new version hosted with Microsoft just simply isn’t an option.
  • Cost/complexity of upgrade

Just because Microsoft isn’t supporting the product doesn’t mean it won’t work. In fact, it will probably work for a while, however at some point something will change in the CRM API which will mean it will actually stop working. We saw an example of this when some SSL-related changes were made, and Microsoft released an update for Adxstudio Portals v7. The next time that happens, Microsoft won’t be releasing a new update.

In order to help with the migration to the online product, and to appease on-premise customers, in 2017 Microsoft released the source code for v8.3 of the Portal product. In early 2018, with the August 1st deadline looming, they released their official guidance for upgrading from v7 to v8, which includes using the source code release as an intermediate step.

If you looking for more details, check out my MSDynamicsWorld article on the subject.

October ’18 Release, and Other New Features

Early in the year we saw a few new features roll out, some targeted at developers, and others meant to assist in making a Portal implementation GDPR compliant, including:

  • Ability to turn off the custom error page to view the “yellow screen of death”.
  • Ability to save error logs to Azure Blob Storage.
  • Ability to renew authentication key.
  • For GDPR support, ability to log when a user last successfully logged in, fields related to if a contact is a minor, and a minor with consent, and the ability to require a user accept terms and conditions.

The exciting stuff, however, came as part of the October ’18 release, which included:

  • Out-of-the-box SharePoint integration
  • Out-of-the-box PowerBI integration
  • Ability to restrict access to a Portal based on an IP address, or range of IP addresses
  • Configuration Migration SDK Tool Schema for moving Portal data between environments

Microsoft also released into preview a new content editing experience. While currently it only applies to content snippets, look for Microsoft to continue working on this in 2019 as they try to make content authoring a more modern experience.

If you looking for more details, check out my MSDynamicsWorld article on the subject.

Power Portals?

As for what to expect in the future for Portals, Microsoft did announce a few things they are working on, including:

  • Making a Portal available for those using the Power Platform, without requiring one of the first-party “Dynamics 365” applications, like Sales, Customer Service, Project Service or Field Service. Microsoft has some work to do to decouple the Portal solutions from some of the entities in the first-party apps, but they assure us it’s coming.
  • A JavaScript SDK that will allow us to perform full CRUD operations against Dynamics 365, with Entity Permissions enforcement.
  • Pre-production licensing so you don’t have to pay full price for a development or testing Portal instance.

Overall, I think the Dynamics 365 Portal ecosystem is alive and well, however I still think there is a ton of opportunity out there. We believe that every Dynamics 365 implementation deserves a portal, even if it’s for something simple like help desk functionality. So, all you partners out there, if you’re not up to speed on how to create a Dynamics 365 Portal, I suggest you add that to your to-do list in 2019!

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Engineered Code is a web application development firm and Microsoft Partner specializing in web portals backed by Dynamics 365 & Power Platform. Led by a professional engineer, our team of technology experts are based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.