Understand the execution context

The Event Execution Pipeline passes registered plug-ins a wealth of data about the current operation being processed and the plug-in's execution environment. You can access this data in your plug-in code by setting a variable that implements the IPluginExecutionContext interface:

// Obtain the execution context from the service provider.  
IPluginExecutionContext context = (IPluginExecutionContext)

This IPluginExecutionContext provides some information about the Stage that the plugin is registered for as well as information about the ParentContext which provides information about any operation within another plug-in that triggered the current operation.

But the rest of the information available is provided by the IExecutionContext interface that this class implements. All the properties of this class provide useful information you may need to access in your code, but two of the most important are the InputParameters and OutputParameters properties.

Other frequently used properties are SharedVariables, PreEntityImages, and PostEntityImages.


A good way to visualize the data that is passed into the execution context is to install the plug-in profiler solution that is available as part of the plug-in registration tool. The profiler will capture the context information as well as information that allows for replaying event locally so you can debug. Within the plugin registration tool, you can download an xml document with all the data from the event that triggered the workflow. More information: View Plug-in Profile data


All the properties of the execution context are read-only. But the InputParameters, OutputParameters, and SharedVariables are ParameterCollection values. You can manipulate the values of the items in these collections to change the behavior of the operation, depending on the stage in the event execution pipeline your plug-in is registered for.

The ParameterCollection values are defined as KeyValuePair<TKey,TValue> structures. In order to access a property you will need to know the name of the property that is exposed by the message. For example, to access the Entity property that is passed as part of the CreateRequest, you need to know that the name of that property is Target. Then you can access this value using code like this:

var entity = (Entity)context.InputParameters["Target"];

Use the Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk.Messages and Microsoft.Crm.Sdk.Messages documentation to learn the names of the messages defined in the SDK assemblies. For custom actions, refer to the names of the parameters defined in the system.


The InputParameters represent the value of the OrganizationRequest.Parameters property that represents the operation coming in from the web services.

As described in Use messages with the Organization service, all operations that occur in the system are ultimately instances of the OrganizationRequest class being processed by the IOrganizationService.Execute method.

As described in Event Framework, operations go through a series of stages and you can register your plug-in on stages that occur before the data is written to the database. Within the PreValidation and PreOperation stages, you can read and change the values of the InputParameters so that you can control the expected outcome of the data operation.

If you find that the values in the InputParameters collection represent a condition that you cannot allow, you can throw an InvalidPluginExecutionException (preferably in the PreValidation stage) that will cancel the operation and display an error to the user with a synchronous plug-in, or log the error if the plug-in is asynchronous. More information: Cancelling an operation


The OutputParameters represent the value of the OrganizationResponse.Results property that represents the return value of the operation. The OutputParameters are not populated until after the database transaction, so they are only available for plug-ins registered in the PostOperation stage. If you want to change the values returned by the operation, you can modify them within the OutputParameters.

Shared variables

The SharedVariables property allows for including data that can be passed from a plug-in to a step that occurs later in the execution pipeline. Because this is a ParameterCollection value, plug-ins can add, read, or modify properties to share data with subsequent steps.

The following example shows how a PrimaryContact value can be passed from a plug-in registered for a PreOperation step to a PostOperation step.

public class PreOperation : IPlugin
    public void Execute(IServiceProvider serviceProvider)
        // Obtain the execution context from the service provider.
        Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk.IPluginExecutionContext context = (Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk.IPluginExecutionContext)

        // Create or retrieve some data that will be needed by the post event
        // plug-in. You could run a query, create an entity, or perform a calculation.
        //In this sample, the data to be passed to the post plug-in is
        // represented by a GUID.
        Guid contact = new Guid("{74882D5C-381A-4863-A5B9-B8604615C2D0}");

        // Pass the data to the post event plug-in in an execution context shared
        // variable named PrimaryContact.
        context.SharedVariables.Add("PrimaryContact", (Object)contact.ToString());

public class PostOperation : IPlugin
    public void Execute(IServiceProvider serviceProvider)
        // Obtain the execution context from the service provider.
        Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk.IPluginExecutionContext context = (Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk.IPluginExecutionContext)

        // Obtain the contact from the execution context shared variables.
        if (context.SharedVariables.Contains("PrimaryContact"))
            Guid contact =
                new Guid((string)context.SharedVariables["PrimaryContact"]);

            // Do something with the contact.


Any type of data added to the shared variables collection must be serializable otherwise the server will not know how to serialize the data and plug-in execution will fail.

For a plug-in registered in stage 20 or 40, to access the shared variables from a stage 10 registered plug-in that executes on create, update, delete, or by a RetrieveExchangeRateRequest, you must access the ParentContext.SharedVariables collection. For all other cases, IPluginExecutionContext.SharedVariables contains the collection.

Entity Images

When you register a step for a plug-in that includes an entity as one of the parameters, you have the option to specify that a copy of the entity data be included as snapshot or image using the PreEntityImages and/or PostEntityImages properties.

This data provides a comparison point for entity data as it flows through the event pipeline. Using these images provides much better performance than including code in a plug-in to retrieve an entity just to compare the attribute values.

When you define an entity image, you specify an entity alias value you can use to access the specific image. For example, if you define a pre entity image with the alias 'a', you can use the following code to access the name attribute value.

var oldAccountName = (string)context.PreEntityImages["a"]["name"];

More information: Define entity images

See also

Event Framework
Write a plug-in