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Using Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 as a Development Platform

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 provides a robust development platform for server-side developers. Find out how web services exposed by the MS CRM SDK can be used to build line-of-business custom solutions on CRM data.


icrosoft has significantly enhanced the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to not only simplify customization, but also to allow developers to use it as a development platform and build custom solutions.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Web Services

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 (MS CRM) exposes a set of SOAP-based APIs that provide access to the core CRM data model and business objects so developers can leverage existing MS CRM functionality in their custom CRM solutions. The services support both object-based and role-based security, which allows the core model to be exposed in a secure fashion.

The following web services are exposed by the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 SDK:

  • CRM Discovery Service. A single instance of MS CRM server can host multiple organizations and each organization has a CRM Service associated with it. This service helps you identify the CRM Service endpoint for your organization.
  • CRM Service. This is the primary MS CRM service that is used to access CRM entity instances. The CRM Service methods also support offline function.
  • CRM Metadata Service. This service allows access to the CRM entity, attribute and relationship definitions of your organization.
Author's Note: The web services exposed by Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 SDK are compliant with WSI Basic Profile 1.1. This makes the services interoperable with non-Microsoft platforms.

In this article you will see how these web services allow developers to leverage MS CRM as a development platform to create configurable CRM entity web parts for an ASP.NET application. You'll also see how third-party applications can consume MS CRM data using an example web part that displays weather information based on the user's MS CRM Contact Entity zip code.

What You Need
  • Basic understanding of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0
  • Understanding of ASP.NET web part framework
  • Partner ID and license key from weather.com to subscribe to the weather data

ASP.NET 2.0 provides a very flexible web part infrastructure suitable for building dashboard style views for business data. The example project in this article uses that infrastructure to provide a dashboard view of MS CRM contact and account information, allowing users to configure the entity fields that the dashboards display by exposing them as web part properties.

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