Scenario 3: Moving from unmanaged to managed solutions in your organization

This scenario aims at a situation where your production environment contains several unmanaged solutions or your customizations were done in the default solution.

With the exception of your development environment, the end result is to only have managed solutions in your environments. More information: Managed and unmanaged solutions.

You can take either of the approaches described here.

First approach

For smaller, less complex projects, you can consolidate all your unmanaged solutions into a single unmanaged solution. Then, export the unmanaged solution as managed to import into your test and production environments.

Second approach

Larger, more complex projects require these tasks:

  • Plan carefully, especially when the outcome you want is to use solution layering properly.

  • Identify the base or common component layer. This solution will provide the foundation for modular solution development.

  • Copy your dev environment to the sandbox environment.

    • Isolate the components of the base solution by removing all components that won't be members from the active layer.

    • After you complete this step, this environment can be used for isolated development of the base solutions.

      Plug-ins can reside in separate solutions, because the assemblies themselves don't generate dependencies.

  • Repeat the process for any modular solutions that extend the common components layer.

    • Create a copy of the original development environment, and remove the unmanaged solutions that hold references to the common components.

    • Next, import a copy of a managed solution exported from the isolated base solution development environment to convert the unmanaged common components to managed. Doing so prevents the creation of cyclical dependencies and prevents solutions from becoming bloated with duplicate references to components.

    • Considerations when importing a managed solution to convert unmanaged components to managed:

      • If components are held in unmanaged solutions that still exist in the environment, all references will have to be removed before the managed solution can be imported.

      • Removing unmanaged solutions causes the loss of the reference container. Without a good understanding of what has been customized, you risk that components become orphaned in the default solution and possibly become hard to track.

    • Converting solutions to managed in a development environment that's completely unmanaged effectively creates a snapshot of the current behavior. To prune unnecessary components that were added when multiple unmanaged solutions were developed in one environment, you need to remove the unneeded components in an isolated development environment.

      For example, assume the Customer entity is created in an unmanaged solution named base, then extended in another unmanaged solution. Any new components added to the Customer entity in the extension solution are automatically added to the base solution. This is the expected outcome, because when an entity is created the behavior is to include all assets and entity metadata.


  • In the second approach, it can be very time-consuming to remove components to isolate the base solution or modular solutions. It can be a challenge to determine where dependencies reside and how best to remove them.

  • It's difficult to migrate to a managed solution and develop a final solution architecture at the same time. Consider breaking the migration into phases such as moving to managed solutions, then establishing a new solution architecture. Isolated development is needed first to effectively create layered solutions.

See also

Scenario 4: Supporting team development