Posted in JavaScript/jQuery Plugins, Power Apps Portals

Power Pages – Autocomplete Lookup / Dropdown

Basic Forms and Advanced Forms in Power Pages are an amazing way to quickly expose Dataverse data to external users for data manipulation.

The way Power Pages works is by reading the Dataverse form metadata to render the controls on the page. Using Basic Form/Advanced Form Metadata, Power Pages also allows us to control styling and behaviour to controls.

One common question I receive is how to convert a dropdown into a autocomplete control, and that’s what we’ll see in this post. Here is an example of what we are about to achieve:

It’s probably obvious, but worth mentioning that this logic is only applicable for the following type of controls:

  • Choices (OptionSet)
  • Lookups (rendered as dropdown via metadata)

I will describe here what my code below is doing, and the things I have considered when putting this together:

  • The function ConvertSelectToAutocomplete takes two arguments:
    • selectName: the schema name of your column (i.e. primarycontactid)
    • selectPlaceholder: optional parameter if you want a placeholder text when it’s blank (i.e. Please start typing…)
  • The function will copy a few elements from the original select element, for example Classes and Readonly attributes
  • Then I am creating a new <input> element pointing to an empty <datalist> and adding this element to the page
  • Now what I do is loop through all <option> within the original <select> element and add the options to the new datalist
  • The original <select> element is no longer necessary, so we can hide it from the page with a .hide()

All actions above are sufficient to convert your dropdown to a HTML5 autocomplete dropdown, but there are still a few more things to get the full solution working properly:

  • If the record being opened already contains value in the Choices/Lookup column, we need to make sure to populate with the original value. For this we will check the current value and try to find the correspondent item within the dataset
  • The last action here is to attach a logic to the OnChange event, the reason for this is that we need to make sure to keep the original column element in the page up to date with the newly selected value as in the form submit is the original element that will be sent to the server

Before we get to the full code, it’s important to note a few things:

  1. Dataset value
    • The control uses a dataset for holding the options available in the dropdown. The dataset value attribute is the text displayed within the dropdown, so I am creating a separate data-value to hold the actual id/value of the item
    • Because of that, every time we need to get the data-value, it has to be done by finding the element within the dataset list (by text)
    • In other words, for this to work properly, your dataset needs to have unique texts, otherwise it might find the wrong item
  2. Invalid entry
    • By default, this control allows you to add an entry that is not listed within the dataset, so we need to prevent this from happening
    • In my code, what I am doing is simply ignoring and removing the selected text, however you can add an error message in the code if it you prefer
$(document).ready(function () {
    ConvertSelectToAutocomplete("<your optionset/lookup dropdown here>");
});

function ConvertSelectToAutocomplete(selectName, selectPlaceholder) {
    selectPlaceholder = selectPlaceholder ?? "";
    var selectElement = $("#" + selectName);
    var selectElementClass = selectElement.attr("class");
    var readonly = $(selectElement).attr("readonly") ?? "";
    var autoCompleteElementId = selectName + "-autocomplete";
    var autoCompleteDatasetId = selectName + "-data";
    var autoCompleteElement = '<input name="' + autoCompleteElementId + '" id="' + autoCompleteElementId + '" class="' + selectElementClass + '" list="' + autoCompleteDatasetId + '" placeholder="' + selectPlaceholder + '" ' + readonly + '><datalist id="' + selectName + '-data"></datalist>';
    var options = "";

    $(selectElement).parent().append(autoCompleteElement);
    $("#" + selectName + " option").each(function (index, o) {
        options += '<option data-value="' + o.value + '" value="' + o.text + '"/>';
    });
    $("#" + autoCompleteDatasetId).html(options);

    $(selectElement).hide();

    var currentSelectedValue = $(selectElement).val();
    if (!!currentSelectedValue) {
        $("#" + autoCompleteElementId).val($(selectElement).find("option:selected").text());
    }

    $("#" + autoCompleteElementId).on("change", function () {
        var selectedValue = $("#" + autoCompleteDatasetId + " option[value='" + $("#" + autoCompleteElementId).val() + "']").attr("data-value");
        selectElement.val(selectedValue);
        if (typeof selectedValue === "undefined") {
            $("#" + autoCompleteElementId).val("");
            // optionally you can add an error message here
        };
    });
};

Conclusion

This is a nice client-side script logic to enhance the user experience in your Portals. I probably wouldn’t use this in every scenario, if you have just a few options like Yes/No/Blank, I would probably not use this; but if your list goes beyond that with 10+ options, this might improve the way users are filling in forms.

Posted in Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365: Web Service plug-in failed – Invalid name character in ‘List`1’ when using Shared Variables

Hi

Recently I had an issue with D365 plug-ins and it took me a lot of investigation and trial & error to figure out the problem.

I will start by explaining my scenario:

  • Dynamics 365 v8.2 on-premise
  • Plug-in registered on the Update message and Pre-Validation execution pipeline
  • Plug-in registered on the Update message and Pre-Operation execution pipeline
  • Also my Pre-Validation plug-in passes two Shared Variables to my Pre-Operation plug-in

If you are not familiar with Shared Variables in plug-ins, they are a great way to pass values through custom code without having to read D365 data again. It is also a great way to avoid infinite loops. Take a look at the documentation for more details: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/sales-enterprise/developer/custom-plugin-handling-shared-variable.

When triggering the plug-in via my application, it threw a very weird exception and for some reason I couldn’t debug my plug-in (a serialization error would come up and not log into the profiler). After a while troubleshooting, I found the below error in the Event Viewer in D365 Server:

The Web Service plug-in failed in OrganizationId: 466f6c23-6896-e811-a824-005056a99671; SdkMessageProcessingStepId: 4d51b0c7-d9c4-ea11-b81d-005056a75ee5; EntityName: contact; Stage: 30; MessageName: Update; AssemblyName: Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.InternalOperationPlugin, Microsoft.Crm.ObjectModel, Version=8.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35; ClassName: Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.InternalOperationPlugin; Exception: Unhandled Exception: System.Reflection.TargetInvocationException: Exception has been thrown by the target of an invocation.
   at System.RuntimeMethodHandle.InvokeMethod(Object target, Object[] arguments, Signature sig, Boolean constructor)
   at System.Reflection.RuntimeMethodInfo.UnsafeInvokeInternal(Object obj, Object[] parameters, Object[] arguments)
   at System.Reflection.RuntimeMethodInfo.Invoke(Object obj, BindingFlags invokeAttr, Binder binder, Object[] parameters, CultureInfo culture)
   at System.Web.Services.Protocols.LogicalMethodInfo.Invoke(Object target, Object[] values)
   at Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.InternalOperationPlugin.Execute(IServiceProvider serviceProvider)
   at Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.V5PluginProxyStep.ExecuteInternal(PipelineExecutionContext context)
   at Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.VersionedPluginProxyStepBase.Execute(PipelineExecutionContext context)
Inner Exception: System.ArgumentException: Invalid name character in 'List`1'. The '`' character, hexadecimal value 0x60, cannot be included in a name.
   at System.Xml.XmlWellFormedWriter.CheckNCName(String ncname)
   at System.Xml.XmlWellFormedWriter.WriteQualifiedName(String localName, String ns)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlWriterDelegator.WriteAttributeQualifiedName(String attrPrefix, XmlDictionaryString attrName, XmlDictionaryString attrNs, XmlDictionaryString name, XmlDictionaryString ns)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.WriteTypeInfo(XmlWriterDelegator writer, XmlDictionaryString dataContractName, XmlDictionaryString dataContractNamespace)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.WriteTypeInfo(XmlWriterDelegator writer, DataContract contract, DataContract declaredContract)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.SerializeWithXsiType(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, RuntimeTypeHandle objectTypeHandle, Type objectType, Int32 declaredTypeID, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle, Type declaredType)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.InternalSerialize(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, Boolean isDeclaredType, Boolean writeXsiType, Int32 declaredTypeID, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.InternalSerializeReference(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, Boolean isDeclaredType, Boolean writeXsiType, Int32 declaredTypeID, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at WriteKeyValuePairOfstringanyTypeToXml(XmlWriterDelegator , Object , XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext , ClassDataContract )
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.ClassDataContract.WriteXmlValue(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext context)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.WriteDataContractValue(DataContract dataContract, XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.SerializeWithoutXsiType(DataContract dataContract, XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.InternalSerialize(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, Boolean isDeclaredType, Boolean writeXsiType, Int32 declaredTypeID, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at WriteParameterCollectionToXml(XmlWriterDelegator , Object , XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext , CollectionDataContract )
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.CollectionDataContract.WriteXmlValue(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext context)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.WriteDataContractValue(DataContract dataContract, XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.SerializeWithoutXsiType(DataContract dataContract, XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.InternalSerialize(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, Boolean isDeclaredType, Boolean writeXsiType, Int32 declaredTypeID, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.InternalSerializeReference(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, Boolean isDeclaredType, Boolean writeXsiType, Int32 declaredTypeID, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at WriteAsyncOperationDataToXml(XmlWriterDelegator , Object , XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext , ClassDataContract )
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.ClassDataContract.WriteXmlValue(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext context)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.WriteDataContractValue(DataContract dataContract, XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.SerializeWithoutXsiType(DataContract dataContract, XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.InternalSerialize(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, Boolean isDeclaredType, Boolean writeXsiType, Int32 declaredTypeID, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.InternalSerializeReference(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, Boolean isDeclaredType, Boolean writeXsiType, Int32 declaredTypeID, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at WriteAsyncOperationDataToXml(XmlWriterDelegator , Object , XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext , ClassDataContract )
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.ClassDataContract.WriteXmlValue(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext context)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.WriteDataContractValue(DataContract dataContract, XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.SerializeWithoutXsiType(DataContract dataContract, XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.InternalSerialize(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, Boolean isDeclaredType, Boolean writeXsiType, Int32 declaredTypeID, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.InternalSerializeReference(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, Boolean isDeclaredType, Boolean writeXsiType, Int32 declaredTypeID, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at WriteAsyncOperationDataToXml(XmlWriterDelegator , Object , XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext , ClassDataContract )
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.ClassDataContract.WriteXmlValue(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext context)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.WriteDataContractValue(DataContract dataContract, XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.SerializeWithoutXsiType(DataContract dataContract, XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.InternalSerialize(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, Boolean isDeclaredType, Boolean writeXsiType, Int32 declaredTypeID, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.InternalSerializeReference(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, Boolean isDeclaredType, Boolean writeXsiType, Int32 declaredTypeID, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at WriteAsyncOperationDataToXml(XmlWriterDelegator , Object , XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext , ClassDataContract )
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.ClassDataContract.WriteXmlValue(XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext context)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.WriteDataContractValue(DataContract dataContract, XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializerWriteContext.SerializeWithoutXsiType(DataContract dataContract, XmlWriterDelegator xmlWriter, Object obj, RuntimeTypeHandle declaredTypeHandle)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.DataContractSerializer.InternalWriteObjectContent(XmlWriterDelegator writer, Object graph, DataContractResolver dataContractResolver)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.DataContractSerializer.InternalWriteObject(XmlWriterDelegator writer, Object graph, DataContractResolver dataContractResolver)
   at System.Runtime.Serialization.XmlObjectSerializer.WriteObjectHandleExceptions(XmlWriterDelegator writer, Object graph, DataContractResolver dataContractResolver)
   at Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.AsynchronousStep.SerializeAsyncData(PipelineExecutionContext context)
   at Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.AsynchronousStep.Execute(PipelineExecutionContext context)
   at Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.PipelineInstrumentationHelper.Execute(Boolean instrumentationEnabled, String stopwatchName, ExecuteWithInstrumentation action, PipelineExecutionContext context)
   at Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.Pipeline.Execute(PipelineExecutionContext context)
   at Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.PipelineInstrumentationHelper.Execute(Boolean instrumentationEnabled, String stopwatchName, ExecuteWithInstrumentation action, PipelineExecutionContext context)
   at Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.MessageProcessor.Execute(PipelineExecutionContext context)
   at Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.InternalMessageDispatcher.Execute(PipelineExecutionContext context)
   at Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.ExtensiblePlatformMessageDispatcher.Execute(PipelineExecutionContext pluginContext)
   at Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.ExtensiblePlatformMessageDispatcher.UpdateWithInvocationSource(BusinessEntity entity, FilterExpression filter, Int32 invocationSource, ExecutionContext context)
   at Microsoft.Crm.Extensibility.ExtensiblePlatformMessageDispatcher.Update(BusinessEntity entity, FilterExpression filter, ExecutionContext context)
   at Microsoft.Crm.BusinessEntities.BusinessProcessObject.UpdateWithPipelineAndExtensions(IBusinessEntity entity, ExecutionContext context)
   at Microsoft.Crm.BusinessEntities.BusinessProcessObject.Update(IBusinessEntity entity, ExecutionContext context)
.

The above error message doesn’t really help much as it happens in an internal plug-in.

Also this sentence from the error message didn’t make a lot of sense (at first): Invalid name character in ‘List`1’. The ‘`’ character, hexadecimal value 0x60, cannot be included in a name.

In my code I wasn’t referencing anything that could have a “`” or any other special character that could be messing things up. My code in the pre-validation plug-in was running correctly and I was able to debug it, I just couldn’t debug the pre-operation one.

After a while troubleshooting and nearly giving up, a colleague suggested that I play around with the Shared Variables I was passing between the plugins and bang!!! That was the issue…

I had two values passing via Shared Variables:

  • GUID – created in the Pre-Validation step
  • List<Entity> – records retrieved in the Pre-Validation step

When removing the List object from my Shared Variables, my plug-in started working with no issues and I could even debug my Pre-Operation plug-in.

Why does this happen?

The issue happens due to how the C# language names a generic list object. Running the simple code below, the exception starts making sense:

            List<string> myList = new List<string>();

            myList.Add("value 01");
            myList.Add("value 02");
            myList.Add("value 03");

            foreach (var item in myList)
            {
                Console.WriteLine(item);
            }

            Console.WriteLine(myList.ToString());

Internally, D365 is probably trying to convert the list object into a string (myList.ToString()) to be used in the next plug-in, and due to the special character created by C#, it throws an exception that Dynamics 365 can’t handle.

Conclusion

The conclusion for this is very simple, don’t pass a list of objects via Shared Variables in plug-ins. In my case, I decided to change the retrieve to the Pre-Operation plug-in. Another thing you can try is an array of GUIDs or other array types, just not a generic C# list object.