I am finding myself being asked to create demos with Adxstudio Portals more and more so I thought I would write a few blogs on setting up a basic site using the product. This will be the first of three blog articles. In this one I will talk about the set up of a demonstration site. The second I will talk about setting up the navigation and pages and in the third I will talk about exposing CRM forms and views through to the portal.
What is Adxstudio Portals?
Adxstudio is a company acquired by Microsoft towards the end of last year. In doing so, the MVP community lost the passionate Shan McArthur as he went over to the Microsoft payroll. Fortunately, as I had hoped, Shan is still very active with the MVPs and continues to improve CRM from the inside.
The product most commonly associated with Adxstudio is the portals product. This, in some ways, turns Dynamics CRM into a CMS, allowing you to craft forms and views and publish them up to a public web site for viewing or data entry.
When used right, Adxstudio Portals is a very powerful tool for creating a portal without a lot of pesky code which, of course, means it plays directly to my strengths.
Setting Up CRM
The first step is to have an instance of CRM running. An existing one is fine, otherwise, spin up a 30 day self-start trial.
No credit card required and you are up and running in a few minutes. Please make sure the base language is English otherwise you will not be able to link Adxstudio to it.
This will act as the foundation for your portal. The next step is to spin up an Adxstudio trial and link it up to the CRM instance.
Setting Up Adxstudio Portals
To set up the Adxstudio Portal trial, go to http://demo.adxstudio.com and set up an online hosted trial.
Once you click the green button, you will be asked to log in with an ID. Pick whichever one you feel comfortable using.
You will then be warned against using a CRM instance outside of North America (it will still work but there may be some latency when browsing the portal).
You will need to give your portal a name (I usually use the same name as my 30 day trial for simplicity), the CRM administrator login and password for your CRM site (I will explain why in a bit) and select which portal modules you want loaded. You can browse the Adxstudio web site for details on them but, if in doubt, select the Customer Portal. This is a preconfigured set of Adxstudio modules which show off the portal functionality nicely. You can always apply others later, if you need to.
Once it kicks off, it will take a while. It can be hours. Feel free to close the window and wait for the email.
What it is doing is automatically applying solution files to your CRM instance which your portal site will use to load the web pages when you browse to it. This is why it needs your administrator login and password.
In the example above, I have modified the event in CRM (Adxstudio creates a new Event entity in CRM for this) and it is immediately reflected on the Adxstudio portal. Otherwise this is how your portal looks out of the box and it is available for anyone who knows the URL to browse to.
Applying Other Modules
If you decide to add additional functionality or update the existing functionality, this is done through CRM. Browse to Settings – Customizations and click on the ‘ADXSTUDIO INSTALLER’ button in the top left corner.
From here you will be presented with the individual modules available for loading. Details on them can be found on the Adxstudio web site.
Click on the ones you want and, again, it will automatically load the solution files into CRM.
There you have it. A portal linked to CRM with commonly-requested functionality built in, and requiring precisely no code to set up. If you are excited, jump in. Otherwise you can wait for my next blog where I will show you how to adjust the navigation and the look and feel of the portal.