Exploring Microsoft’s Adxstudio Portals: Part 3

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Installing Adxstudio Portals

The following is a step by step guide to installing Adxstudio solutions in your Microsoft Dynamics CRM system and also have a local copy of a portal running on your workstation.

Note: If you are not a developer or you do not have Visual Studio or IIS Express installed on your workstation, then you should follow the steps on the Adxstudio website to get the Adxstudio demo to setup your trial portal on Azure connected to your Dynamics CRM online. When choosing a sample portal, I suggest you select “Community Portal”. You can then follow Parts 4-5; there will be subtle differences but have patience and follow along.

I have added steps below to allow you to run the portal on your workstation using Visual Studio or IIS Express.

These instructions assume that you have some knowledge about Microsoft Dynamics CRM and can import solutions, navigate records, etc. If you come from the web world and got asked to build a portal connected to this thing called “Dynamics CRM” then you might be a bit lost but don’t fret, there are a lot of great resources on the web to get you ramped up.

I’ve broken the steps into 2 parts. If you remember from my previous post, Adxstudio is really a “portal kit” and comes with CRM solutions and a Visual Studio project. Our goal is to ensure everything is working seamlessly.


You must be running Dynamics CRM 2013 or higher. If you are using CRM 2011 or lower, you will need to download Adxstudio Portals v6.

Ideally, if you are just learning, testing or playing around, you should be doing this on test/sandbox organization and not your live CRM. You can easily get a fully operational Dynamics CRM environment for free for 30 days here.

  • These steps will work with both CRM online and on-prem.
  • You will need a workstation with Visual Studio 2012 OR IISExpress installed.

If you don’t have access to Visual Studio, then you can setup a demo portal from Adxstudio as described above or follow the steps below to run it locally using IISExpress.

Alternatively, if you have access to a VS developer, get them to download the solution, update the web.config, compile the code and deploy to a IIS server or an Azure cloud service and play in that environment. Stay tuned for future blog posts describing ways to go about that.

Part A – Install the Adxstudio Portal Solutions to Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Step Screenshot
Navigate to Adxstudio and click “Free Trial”


If you are not a developer, but want to learn and play around the Portal application, choose Create a 30-Day Hosted Trial Deployment.


You will need a CRM Online trial setup.  Note that you will need to configure it to use English language and US$ currency.


If you are a developer and/or want to use Adxstudio against your CRM on-prem system, choose Download a Trial Version.


The rest of the steps in these instructions will follow setting up a development portal on your workstation.  If you are opting for the demo portal hosted by Adxstudio, skip ahead to part 4.


If you are planning to use Adxstudio for the first time then I suggest you download the latest version.


If you are trying to replicate an existing environment, then choose the version that best matches the environment that you are trying to replicate.


Adxstudio provides most of their previous versions for download.

You will need to authenticate to the Adxstudio Portal in order to download. Don’t worry, its free! 4
An installer file will download. Once downloaded, double-click to begin the installation process. 5
The setup wizard will start. Click Next. 6
Read over the license agreement in detail and then choose Next. 7
Choose the default destination folder or a location you prefer.


Click Next

Click Install to begin the installation  9
The process essentially will extract and copy files. This should not take very long. 10
When the process is complete, click Finish.


All this installer did was extract both the solution files and the master portal solution to your workstation.

Launch Dynamics CRM, navigate to the Solution area and choose to Import a solution. 12
Browse to the location where you installed Adxstudio Portals.


Default location is

C:\Program Files (x86)\Adxstudio\xrmportals\7.0.00xx\Customizations\

Select and Import the managed solution. 14
When the installer has imported, click on the solution itself. 15
You will be presented (again) with the license agreement, click on Accept. 16
By default you will see a list of Adxstudio features.


At this point, we only want to install a minimal set of features.

From the drop down in upper left corner of the feature list, select Website Gallery. 18
The website gallery will show a list of starter portals. Choose the Adxstudio Portals Base Portal and choose the Install (1) to select.  Then select Install (2) to initiate the install of features and data. 19
The installer will import the separate managed solution components as well as sample website data to get started. 20
After a few minutes, the solutions should be installed. In rare cases, the installer might hang; you need to restart CRM and install again.


Click Finish when all solutions have imported.

You will see from the features list that various features have been installed. If we need other features, we can install as needed. 22
From the UI, you should now have a Portals area (you may need to refresh or relogin into CRM to see this). A list of Adxstudio specific entities should appear.


CRM Online screen shown… can’t wait to have this UI available for on-premise!

Choose Websites and the Basic Portal website should appear.


Note the name of the website (Basic Portal) we will need that to update our Visual Studio project.



Part B – Setup the Portal Code and run a local copy of the portal on your workstation

At this point you might be wondering when you can actually see a working CRM connected portal! Finally, the last step is to load and build the Visual Studio portal project.

Details Screenshots
From the location where you installed Adxstudio Portals, copy the folder. We may end up working on multiple portal projects so we want to maintain a “master” set of files to work with. 25
Paste the folder into the directory where you keep Visual Studio development projects.


I prefer to rename the folder to reflect the project I am working on, plus leaving the version number for later reference.


For all projects, I also load the project to TFS for source control. This isn’t necessary for this learning exercise but something to consider for real projects as you quite possibly will be working with other developers and designers.




Running the Portal from Within Visual Studio

The following steps will set you up to eventually develop custom page templates and user controls. If you don’t have Visual Studio installed, then follow the “Running the Portal from IISExpress” steps below.

Details Screenshots
Within the folder, navigate to the Samples folder and locate the AdxstudioPortals solution file. Double-click to open in Visual Studio. 27
In the solution explorer, you should see the MasterPortal project. 28
Navigate to the web.config file (this should be in the root under Master Portal). 29
In the <connectionStrings> section, update the connection string to match your CRM system. Note that you will need to be able to navigate to your CRM system from your developer workstation. 30
In the <Portals> section, add the websiteName=”Basic Portal” attribute to the XRM portal details. 31
Make sure you have MasterPortal selected.


Either hit F6 or from the menu, build the solution.

Once the project has finished building, again make sure that MasterPortal is highlighted, press F5 or from the Debug menu start running the portal. 33
After a few seconds, you will get a message stating your license for Adxstudio portals is not valid. We will worry about this later. Wait 10 seconds and refresh the browser. 34
The Basic Portal will appear.


Congratulations! You now have a running portal connected to your Dynamics CRM system.



Running the Portal using IISExpress

Running the portal from IISExpress will allow us to play around with some of the portal features. Eventually if you want to create custom page templates and controls, you will need Visual Studio.

Details Screenshots
Navigate to the MasterPortal folder in the Adxstudio files you had copied over earlier. 36
Using NotePad or some other text editor, open the web.config file, modify the XRM key in the Connection String section to reflect your CRM environment.


In the Portals section, add the websiteName to Basic Portal to reflect what is in CRM.


Save the web.config file.

Move up one level and run (double click) the “StartExpressPortal.cmd” script. 38
If everything worked correctly, then the portal should be running locally on your workstation!  39


Effectively, we now have all the components of the kit running. In later posts we’ll talk about strategies and methods to deploy the actual master portal to an IIS server or an Azure cloud service. For the rest of the examples, we can either use the demo portal provided by Adxstudio or run the portal in Visual Studio or IISExpress from our workstation. Be sure to catch-up on previous posts of this series here in the Related Posts links below.

Need help with your Microsoft Dynamics CRM Portal project? Contact BDO, we can help!

Nick Doleman
CRM Manager at BDO Solutions
Email Nick Doelman


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