NOTE:  THIS IS AN UNSUPPORTED MEANS OF CUSTOMIZING THE ENTITY.  I WILL INVESTIGATE A SUPPORTED SCENARIO AND MODIFY THIS POST.

I have been asked many times, “If I customize this entity can I simply copy the attributes to another entity or do I need to create them from scratch?”.  The answer has been “No, there is no feature in CRM to do this.  You need to create them again”.  So I decided to dig in a bit and figure this out.  I came across the following post from CRM MVP Matt Wittemann which discusses copying the attribute portion of the entity.  There’s the answer.  While a pretty easy solution, it is not as easy as you would expect, unless you know the trick.  :)  So in this post I will show how to copy all the address attributes from the Account entity to a custom entity.

  1. Export the Account entity customizations.
  2. Use an xml viewer (I use Visual Studio 2008) to find the entity attributes.  Ctrl+f using <attributes> usually does the trick or simply collapse the elements under Account.
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  3. Copy the the address attributes (I excluded the AddressId primary key values for both Address1 and Address2 as that didn’t seem logical to copy to a new entity – don’t want to break anything here!).  If you are lazy (and I am sure many of you are) I have posted the address attributes here.
  4. Paste the address attributes into the desired entity.  Make sure insert them within the <attributes> section!
  5. Here comes the trick(s).  In this example we are copying system attributes (not custom attributes) so you will need to update each attribute to replace <IsLogical>1</IsLogical> with <IsCustomField>1</IsCustomField>.
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    • If it is not a system attribute the <IsLogical>1</IsLogical> value may not exist.  In that case simply add <IsCustomField>1</IsCustomField> after <ValidForReadApi>1</ValidForReadApi>.
    • If the custom attribute is a picklist, each picklist has 2 attributes (<Type>picklist</Type> and <Type>virtual</Type>).
      • Update the <Type>picklist</Type> attribute to either replace <IsLogical>1</IsLogical> with <IsCustomField>1</IsCustomField> or simply add <IsCustomField>1</IsCustomField> after <ValidForReadApi>1</ValidForReadApi>.
      • Update the <Type>virtual</Type> attribute by adding <IsCustomField>1</IsCustomField> after <ValidForReadApi>1</ValidForReadApi> retaining <IsLogical>1</IsLogical>.
  6. Import the modified entity customizations into CRM.
  7. You will now have all the address attributes listed within the entity attributes that you can add to the form.
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I have created a custom Partner entity (as seen above) following this process and posted the Partner entity.xml here as an example.  Note: The entity .xml contains the form (including OnLoad, OnSave and OnChange events), views, attributes, and relationships.  In this Partner example I have included the OnLoad and Country OnChange events to make the hierarchical picklist work.  For more details on hierarchical State / Country picklists check out this post.

-Eric Boocock