AppSource, as it stands today, is primarily an Experience platform. Geared up to help the end-customers find and try apps that will help in their situations. As a platform, they have desires (and are actively working behind the scenes) to develop it further into handling payments, and even licensing/security (posts for another day!) but for now lets focus on what’s possible now.
One of the key publishing/listing requirements of AppSource is to choose an App Type.
This determines how the end-customer will consume the app.
There are three options, one of which must be chosen, however only two are supported now for Dynamics 365 (CRM) apps:
Your app is free of charge
Your app has a cost, but you offer a 30-Day trial with option to buy and continue using.
Request for Trial* (no longer offered for Dynamics 365 / CRM apps)
Allow the end-customer to notify you of their interest, so you can reach out to them.
The story behind this no longer being offered is fairly simple.
Apparently too many were using it as a quick way to try and generate leads, and it didn’t necessarily offer a good “user experience”.
Let’s deep dive a bit further on these options, and what they mean in real terms.
Displays as “Get It Now” button on AppSource. So your app is free, and end-customer will install your packaged solution file directly on their own Dynamics 365 / CRM instance. As there is no charge for this, technically it should operate without impediment for now and as it’s free, not sure what that means for future updates/patches?
This is the option most will take, and is the primary focus of D365 apps on AppSource and probably requires the most discussion.
Displays as “Free Trial” button on AppSource. With this option the end-customer will install your packaged solution directly on their own instance.
To allow the user to “experience” your app, you will need to have a 30 Day trial capability built into your app/infrastructure. This means they can have a go for 30 days, after which they will be so impressed with your app they’ll want to buy. If they don’t, some/all of your key functionality would ideally not continue to work.
It’s very important to consider the risk implications of offering your solution up to anyone via AppSource via this method. Similarly if you were to send out your solution package to anyone via email the usual protections should be put in place. Managed solutions, code obfuscation etc. This is because once the solution is out of your hands, there’s no telling what may be done with it. Protect yourself for peace of mind. Once again a whole other post on this required!
To complicate things a little more, there is a new kid on the block, the Test Drive!
Now this is a completely separate thing, and is almost run outside of the normal scenario described above.
It is optional, and consider it an add-on to either FREE or TRIAL above.
This one requires a decent amount more setup, some Azure resources, a CRM tenant, and some licenses, but is not too tricky once you get the hang of it. Essentially you setup some Logic Apps to provision/deprovision the end-customer in your own Tenant’s AD. It allows them to access your Dynamics 365 demo instance where you can set up a nice controlled guided experience to show off your wares.
You can control the length of time allowed, for example 1 hour, or many days (not sure of the theoretical maximum).
The real beauty of this concept is two fold. Your curated experience can showcase the functionality quickly/easily as it’s already setup and you can obviously tailor the environment to fully demo the benefits (think sample data, custom apps, sitemaps, guided experiences etc). Plus as it’s in your own environment the end-customer has only minimal security privileges, no access to the solution files, nor settings etc. Win win in my book.
That’s enough high-level for one sitting, so I’ll leave it there. Plenty more to cover in future posts!