Moving Customizations from Dev to Test to Production when ClickDimensions is Installed

Many times an Organization will have multiple versions of CRM setup to manage deployments and testing. Typical names for some these environments are as follows:

  • Production (Prod) – This is the main CRM environment that is open to the end user. Any changes done to this environment typically went through a testing and release process prior to being deployed.
  • User Acceptance testing (UAT) or Quality Assurance (QA) or Sandbox– These environments are typically used for testing and to verify the quality of the application and find any issues that need to be addressed prior to moving over to production.
  • Development (DEV) – This is where new customizations are developed. This environment should resemble the production environment as much as possible to prevent issues where the software acts differently on production.

There may be more or fewer of these environments and they may have different names and purposes depending on the deployment processes of your organization.

Common questions regarding managing multiple CRM environments with ClickDimensions

  1. Do I need to register each environment?
    If you want each environment to have a functional integration with ClickDimensions (ie, so you can send emails or design forms and surveys) you will need a different solution for each one. However, if you don’t need to use the ClickDimensions features in your non-production environment, you can import your production solution file into the non-production environment(s). This is useful for migrating the ClickDimensions entities between environments, testing customizations to a ClickDimensions entity or referencing a ClickDimensions entity in a customization.
  2. What is the impact of refreshing a test environment with a copy of our production CRM database?
    If you have registered separate solutions for each environment: Many of the ClickDimensions records in CRM reference what is called the Account Key. This is a unique identifier in each solution. If you restore a copy of your production CRM database to a test deployment, you would then need to import the solution that was provisioned for your test deployment on top of the existing one in order to overwrite the Account Key that is embedded in the CRM database.It is always recommend to import the ClickDimensions Solution file for the correct environment after a refresh to ensure the site map is correct. Additionally you may need to edit the sitemap to put in the correct Account Key. Instructions can be found here.

NOTE :  As of ClickDimensions version 8.2.0 in CRM 2016 environments, it is now also possible to update the Account key by going to Settings > Solutions, opening the ClickDimensions solution and entering the Account Key, Token and Region on the Configurations page.

  1. What about Email Templates and Web Content (Forms, Surveys, landing pages, subscription pages)?
    Every registered environment has its own storage on the ClickDimensions servers for the hosted web content HTML. A combination of the Account Key and record ID (or GUID) from CRM is used to link the record to the current web content. This makes it impossible to refresh the actual HTML content for Web Content records between environments. You will not be able to access the designer for Web Content if it was designed in a different environment. It would need to be recreated manually. (You can export Email Template records and import them into a different CRM deployment of the same version of CRM by using our Export/Import tools, found on the ClickDimensions Settings page in CRM.)
  2. How do I move a Campaign Automation from one environment to another?
    You cannot move a campaign automation (or other integrated records) from one CRM organization to another. The only exception to this is if you are switching your ClickDimensions account to connect to a new CRM and stop connecting to the CRM where you built the Campaign Automation. In that case, you would need to use a migration tool like Scribe or Kingswaysoft to move the CRM record (including its record ID, or GUID) to the new environment, have the same ClickDimensions solution/account key in the new environment, and then have ClickDimensions support update your account to point to the new environment. Essentially this would be similar to copying your CRM database to a new location and having ClickDimensions update your account to point to the new location of your CRM.
About Matt

Director, Technical Solutions at ClickDimensions
Microsoft Dynamics CRM MVP
Author, The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Administration Bible