Citizen Integrator – Microsoft Flow and Dynamics 365

Yesterday at Melbourne Microsoft Dynamics 365 User Group meeting Bill Chesnut (Azure MVP) delivered a much valuable talk “Citizen Integrator – Microsoft Flow and Dynamics 365”.

From some basic to latest updates around Flow were covered. Luckily Bill has shared his talk and slides. There is slight buzz in background but it is still good.





ConditionExpression error “expected argument(s) of type ‘System.Guid’ but received ‘System.Guid[]”

Today while writing query expression I was getting error:

Condition for attribute ‘sf_contract.contractid’: expected argument(s) of type ‘System.Guid’ but received ‘System.Guid[]’.

We can pass a single or multiple values in ConditionExpression using appropriate comparison operator(s). In this example ConditionExpression was comparing multiple GUID values (stored in object array) with an attribute using “IN” comparison operator.

ConditionExpression have a few constructors, and I was trying to use one that accepts params object[] as argument but it didn’t work as per expectation.

This error was gone when I changed my collection to attribute’s base type, so basically I changed object[] to Guid[]. Hope this explanation will save someone’s time.

QueryExpression error, “The formatter threw an exception while trying to deserialize the message”

Today I wrote a QueryExpression which was throwing exception “The formatter threw an exception while trying to deserialize the message”.

The complete error message was:

“The formatter threw an exception while trying to deserialize the message: There was an error while trying to deserialize parameter The InnerException message was ‘Error in line 1 position 2016. Element ‘’ contains data from a type that maps to the name ‘’. The deserializer has no knowledge of any type that maps to this name. Consider changing the implementation of the ResolveName method on your DataContractResolver to return a non-null value for name ‘EntityReference’ and namespace ‘’.’. Please see InnerException for more details.”

I was using ‘EntityReference’ in a condition, and error message gives hint that somehow there is an issue with ‘EntityReference’ format, and it is not being deserialized correctly. To use ‘EntityReference’ in condition we need to pass its ‘GUID’, and not complete ‘EntityReference’ object.

In the following QueryExpression, the condition will produce a similar exception which can be avoided by passing GUID instead of passing ‘EntityReference’ object as parameter.

QueryExpression query = new QueryExpression();
query.EntityName = “new_document”;
query.ColumnSet = new ColumnSet(“new_name”);
query.Criteria.AddCondition(“new_authorid”, ConditionOperator.Equal,currentDoc.GetAttributeValue<EntityReference>(“new_authorid”));
EntityCollection results =org.RetrieveMultiple(query);

#dynamics-crm, #queryexpression, #sdk, #the-formatter-threw-an-exception-while-trying-to-deserialize-the-message

The ‘orderBy’ expression is limited to invoking the ‘ ‘ parameter

LINQ is widely used in projects and it makes querying very handy. Using LINQ for querying CRM data has some limitations though, some of the standard LINQ features are not supported to use with CRM.

One such limitation is when we are joining entities and also sorting results. To use orderby, we are limited to the first entity only (the left side entity in join). So the query in Example 1 works perfectly fine:

Example 1:

var results = from c in ContactSet
join a in AccountSet
on c.ContactId equals a.PrimaryContactId.Id
orderby c.FullName
select new

But trying to sort by columns of other entity is not supported. So if we try Example 2 it will throw the following NotSupportedException

The ‘orderBy’ expression is limited to invoking the ‘c’ parameter.

Exaple 2:

var results = from c in ContactSet
join a in AccountSet
on c.ContactId equals a.PrimaryContactId.Id
orderby a.Name
select new

Of course if you run similar quires directly on SQL Server database they will work fine.


If you are getting this exception there are two possible solutions:

  • Modify your quey as per Example 1 and put orderby columns’s entity firs or on the left side of join
  • For queries involving orderby from multiple entities, select data, store it in memory and use a separate LINQ query to sort it.
    This MSDN document list limitations of LINQ for CRM

Enjoy working with CRM 🙂

Parent child lookup fields in Dynamic CRM

Showing parent-child records in drop-down lists is a common requirement of business applications.

Some examples:

  1. Manager > Employees
  2. Country > State or Province > City
  3. Account category > Account sub-category > Account number

In Dynamics CRM same behaviour can be implemented by using multiple lookup fields with “Related Records Filtering” which is an out of box CRM feature. For this demo consider an entity “Car Finance Application”, which needs some related details like car brand, model and variant.





  • Create the following entities and their relationship as described below:
    • Brand
    • Model, it has N:1 relationship with Brand
    • Variant, it has N:1 relationship with Model
  • Add brand, model and variant lookup fields in consumer entity which in this case is CarFinanceApplication:
  • Add brand, model and variant fields in the form
  • Double click on Model lookup field, and do the “Related Records Filtering”  configurations as shown below:  
  • Double click on Variant lookup field, and do the “Related Records Filtering”  configurations as below:


  • Save changes + build customizations + test working of lookup field

Form and lookup fields have been configured and selecting brand will show relevant models. As user selects a model, variant look up will list relevant records but there is a catch. If user changes brand or model after selecting variant, values in three lookup fields will not be in sync. Saving record in such scenarios will basically save  incorrect data  and you will agree many times even user will not realise this. An easy approach to fix this issue can be to reset model and variant look up fields when brand field changes and reset variant lookup field when model field changes.

  • From same form window add the following JS as a code library:
function ClearLookUp() {
for (var counter = 0; counter < arguments.length; counter++) {
if (typeof(arguments[counter]) === "string") {
var field =[counter]);
if (field != null && field.getValue() != null)
  • Double click on “Brand” lookup field and add “ClearLookUp” javascript function on its “onChange” event. Pass execution context and name of lookup field(s) as comma-separated arguments which will need to reset.


  • Double click on “Model” lookup field and call “ClearLookUp” function on its “onChange” event. Pass execution context and name of lookup field(s) as a comma-separated argument.
  • That’s it, test your work and go enjoy a coffee if you like 🙂


  • Any number of lookup fields can be configured with this approach
  • Javascript function is a sort of generic, it can be configured with any lookup field without modification. Also just by calling once it can reset any number of lookup fields, the only requirement will be to pass the name of lookup fields as comma-separated arguments.


Before this post, I found a similar implementation by Rashan which I have improved.








Turbo forms with new form rendering engine

For faster and efficient form loading CRM Online 2015 Update 1 (v7.1) introduced a new form rendering engine. New engine renders forms up to 8 times faster than legacy form.

New form rendering uses cache and an improved process for form loading which results in better performance for end user but for CRM techies it is more than that. With new process unsupported APIs and direct DOM manipulation may not work and it requires careful testing in sandbox particularly if it is an upgrade. A  dialogue reports such errors:



CRM team has provided the following examples that may be unsupported:

  • Any attempt to access DOM in the content iframe using JS, jQuery or other 3rd party libraries (document.getElementById() or jQuery selectors)
  • Creating a new HTML content in the parent window for persistent content (and assumed that the parent window was the main CRM iframe.
  • Window.load, parsing iframe/form URL
  • Attempting to use unsupported (non-XRM) APIs, especially undocumented ones that may have been shipped with CRM for internal usage only
  • Accessing window.parent() from a web resource that may assume for example there’s a variable set in the current window context.

Some other examples:

  • Form freeze
  • Cannot select or type in a field
  • Java Script do not perform intended functionality
  • Any thing else unexpected that happens in form

Strategies to identify Potential issues:

  • Use CRM 2015 custom code validator to validate deprecated and unsupported APIs
  • Switched off new rendering engine from below setting and test unsupported code

Settings -> Administration -> System Settings -> General -> Use legacy form rendering

Form rendering engine settings

  • If a third party solution is used, check with vendor if the solution is verified with new rendering engine
  • Analyse client side code, a simple test can be removing client side code segments
  • Try different browsers and their development tools
  • Try removing effected fields from form, test and drill down

Form rendering engine effects whole CRM instance it is not per entity or form. Legacy form rendering is still supported and rendering engine can be switched but CRM team’s plan is to remove it in future.


Understanding leads, opportunities, accounts and contacts in CRM

Leads, Opportunities, Contacts and Accounts are entities in CRM. In this post I will explain their role in CRM. Lets start with easiest one.

Accounts are companies we are doing business with.

Contacts are people working in other companies (which are Accounts in CRM), it is anyone working in other company if we are dealing with them, it can be for taking orders, approvals or invoices.

Leads are potential sales. They can be someone new to business or an existing customer. Depending on organizational sales process initial processing (it may be reviewing a lead or contacting the person or something else) qualify or disqualify a lead. In CRM qualified lead become opportunity.

In CRM an opportunity can be created in two ways:
1. A qualified lead becomes an opportunity, also it becomes contact automatically
2. We directly can add an opportunity without having a lead for it