New and Improved Metadata Browser for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Almost 2 years ago I announced the Metadata Browser for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. I created this managed solution HTML web resource metadata browser and included it in the tools folder of the downloadable Microsoft Dynamics 2011 Software Development Kit (SDK).

The metadata browser is a valuable resource for developers and customizers to get information about entities, attributes, entity relationships and privilege information for entities. The information comes from your organization database so it reflects the current state of customizations applied to your organization. For more information, see Browse the Metadata for Your Organization.

For Update Rollup 12 and the December 2012 Service release, I updated the metadata browser to include the following top 10 improvements and changes:

  1. Works on multiple browsers

    The metadata browser was tested using Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. It requires Internet Explorer to be version 9 or version 10. Internet Explorer versions 7 & 8 are not supported by this version of the metadata browser. With other browsers your experience may vary.

  2. Allows for the ability to filter by most metadata property values

    Do you need to find out which entities are valid in Advanced Find? Or which entities are Business-Owned entities? Or perhaps which Business-Owned entities are valid in Advanced Find? You can filter by almost any property or combination of properties.

    For text based properties like names, numbers or MetadataId GUID values, use the Text Search box. What entity is represented by object type code 9600? With the Text Search for entities you would be able to quickly discover it is the Goal entity. If you have already memorized all of these – maybe you should step away from the keyboard from time to time!

  3. Provides the ability to filter properties displayed

    Sometimes you are only interested in the values for a few properties. For example maybe you are only interested in the CanCreateForms and the ObjectTypeCode property values. You can choose to filter out other properties so you don’t need to scroll through a long list to identify just those properties as you select different entities, attributes, or relationships.

  4. Replaced context menu options with buttons that are easier to discover

    I got feedback that the context menu options in the old metadata browser were not discoverable. Lesson learned. This time I’m keeping it simple.

    • To view entity details, select the entity row and click the View Entity Details button.
    • To open the Microsoft CRM application entity editor, select the entity and click the Edit Entity button. This button will only be enabled it if is valid to edit the entity in the application. This works the same way for attributes and relationships.
    • To copy the text displayed, simply select the text you want to copy and use whatever method you prefer to copy text from content displayed in your browser. I prefer the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C.
      I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have Visual Studio IntelliSense and I have a choice to type a case sensitive value or copy it, I will copy it every time.
  5. Improved the grid control to allow for sorting of most columns

    All columns containing simple text values can be sorted. Some property value columns that contain complex nested data such as Labels or OptionSet options cannot be sorted.

  6. Grid footer displays the number of records displayed

    If you filter out the items in a list you can the number of filtered items and the total number of items. It will display something like ‘Showing 23 of 52 properties’.

  7. Reduced the number of HTML web resources

    The browser is now made up of just three HTML web resources. This way your organization is not cluttered with a large number of individual web resources needed to support this solution. All the supporting JavaScript, Image and CSS files have been embedded in the HTML web resource content.

  8. The Metadata Browser is no longer launched from a link added to the SiteMap

    Developers said that they didn’t like the fact that installing the solution updated the SiteMap and that they needed to uninstall the solution each time they wanted to export their own solution that included changes to the SiteMap. Now, after you install the solution you can launch the metadata browser from buttons provided on the solution configuration page.

    Tip: After you open the metadata browser, save the page to your favorites (or bookmarks) using the method appropriate for your browser. For most browsers the keyboard shortcut is CTRL+D. This way you don’t need to come back to the solution each time you want to open the metadata browser.

  9. Switch entities from the Entity Metadata Browser

    The metadata browser has two UI pages: Metadata Browser and Entity Metadata Browser. The Metadata Browser shows a list of all the entities and from that page you can filter entities and browse their properties. But to view entity details, such as the attributes, you need to press the View Entity Details button and to view them in the Entity Metadata Browser page. Now, the Entity Metadata Browser has a drop-down list that lets you switch to a different entity without going back and opening it from the Metadata Browser page.

  10. More improvements
    • The old metadata browser had a number of quirks how the contents displayed when the window was re-sized. These have been fixed.
    • There is a more modern look and feel.
    • Some of the expanded information about OptionSet properties wasn’t presented well. The expandable information about the OptionSet properties now closely represents the structure of the objects returned by the metadata APIs.

I hope that you enjoy using this new metadata browser!


Jim Daly