Posted on 29. March 2013

Asynchronous loading of JavaScript Web Resources after U12/POLARIS

UPDATE: This article is outdated - please refer to https://www.develop1.net/public/post/CRM-2013-Script-Loading-Deep-Dive.aspx 

We all know that UR12/POLARIS was a monumental release for Dynamics CRM what with the new Process Forms and Cross Browser support, but also included were some performance optimisations. One such improvement was a change to the way JavaScript Web Resources are loaded on forms so that they load and execute asynchronously rather than in the order that they were added to the form. The drawback with this optimisation is that it can cause the '..is undefined' script error if you have scripts that depend on other scripts being loaded first.

This post describes the loading behaviour and some possible solutions.

How did it work before UR12/POLARIS?

In my example I have 3 scripts, each dependant on the last. Mscorlib.js is the Script# system library that is needed before any other libraries can be loaded. I'm not talking about code that runs in the 'onload' event of a form but global code that is run after the script has downloaded used to define the prototypes of the objects that are used by the onload code.

In the Client.js, I might have some Script# generated code that requires a core Script# (ss.IEnumerable) type that is defined in a different script file.

Xrm.Sdk.DataCollectionOfEntity.registerClass('Xrm.Sdk.DataCollectionOfEntity', null, ss.IEnumerable);

For this code to run, the mscorlib.js must be loaded and executed first. The same applies if you are using jQuery and jQuery-UI.

The form definition used to have each script added in order so that they would be added to the 'head' section of the page as follows:

<head>
..
<script src=”/%7B635001685810000000%7D/WebResources/fdocs_/js/mscorlib.js” type=”text/javascript”></script>
<script src= /%7B635001685810000000%7D/WebResources/fdocs_/js/Xrm.js” type=”text/javascript”></script>
<script src=” /%7B635001685810000000%7D/WebResources/fdocs_/js/Client.js” type=”text/javascript”></script>
..

The resulting load pattern would be something like:

  • The script load/execution would be approximately:

    1. Mscrolib.js downloads and then executes
    2. Xrm.jsd downloads and then executes after mscrolib.js has completed executing since it follows it in the <HEAD> section of the page
    3. Client.js downloads and then executes after Xrm.js has completed executing since again it is added to the <HEAD> section in this order.
    4. The On Load event code then runs when all the scripts have loaded and finished executing

     

     

    What changes with the UR12/POLARIS update?

    Scripts are no longer in the <HEAD> section but are loaded asynchronously via the 'loadScriptAdv' function:

    loadScriptAdv('\x2f\x257B635001707050003339\x257D\x2fWebResources\x2ffdocs_\x2fjs\x2fmscorlib.js', '\x2f\x257B635001707050003339\x257D\x2fWebResources\x2ffdocs_\x2fjs\x2fmscorlib.js', false);
    loadScriptAdv('\x2f\x257B635001707050003339\x257D\x2fWebResources\x2ffdocs_\x2fjs\x2fXrm.js', '\x2f\x257B635001707050003339\x257D\x2fWebResources\x2ffdocs_\x2fjs\x2fXrm.js', false);
    loadScriptAdv('\x2f\x257B635001707050003339\x257D\x2fWebResources\x2ffdocs_\x2fjs\x2fClient.js', '\x2f\x257B635001707050003339\x257D\x2fWebResources\x2ffdocs_\x2fjs\x2fClient.js', false);
    

    The new asynchronous load behaviour results in the OnLoad being run after a smaller wait time since each script can execute without waiting for the preceding ones. This is a good performance gain but causes scripts to fail if the dependant scripts are not loaded at the point of execution.

  • The interesting thing is that this wasn't immediately apparent or was only an intermittent problem because once the scripts are loaded into the browser cache, the execution would usually be in the correct order. I can consistenly reproduce the issue by clearing down the browser cache and then disabling all caching.

    Ribbon JavaScript

    It's been a common technique to add dependant libraries to Ribbon Commands by adding them as Command Actions with a function of 'isNaN'

    <Actions>
    <JavaScriptFunction Library=”$webresource:mscorlib_crm.js” FunctionName=”isNaN”/>
    <JavaScriptFunction Library=”$webresource:xrm.js” FunctionName=”isNaN”/>
    <JavaScriptFunction Library=”$webresource:RibbonCommands.js” FunctionName=”someCommand”/>
    </Actions>
    
    

    It seems that the same issue exists with these libraries since they are loaded in an asynchronous fashion.

    Solutions

    Unfortunately, any solution that uses depending scripts in this way has to be updated – and like with all things, the right solution depends on your specific case.

    1) All script in a single library

    By far the simplest solution is to put all of your scripts into a single file in the correct order.

    I didn't' settle for single script option for the following reasons:

    1. A single script is harder to maintain
    2. Common libraries can't be shared between solutions
    3. All code must be downloaded on first use, rather than only downloading what is required at the time.

    2) RequireJs or HeadJs

    There are some good JavaScript loading libraries out there such as RequiresJs or HeadJs. These libraries allow you to dynamically load dependant script before you execute code that needs them.
    Gayan has an example of this technique on his blog. Maarten also has a good tutorial on his blog.

    I didn't settle for the RequireJs/HeadJs option for the following reasons:

    1. It requires you to manually set the Cache key to ensure that scripts are not downloaded every time they are needed
    2. It completely bi-passes the Dynamics CRM script loading mechanism in an 'unsupported' way
    3. There is some possibility that a backward compatibility option may be added into a future release (I'm ever the optimist!). Adopting this approach would make it harder to revert back to the standard script registration approach.

    3) Manually wait for required libraries to load

    The approach I took was to build a simple wait function to wrap code in that prevented execution until the required scripts had loaded. Each time a script completes, it adds its name to a semaphore array that is waited on by other libraries. The result is much the same as before UR12:

  • The difference here is that the scripts start executing as soon as they are loaded, but then wait using setTimeout until the required scripts have completed. The code will work on pre-UR12 systems as well, but because the wait is unnecessary, the code will simply execute the script without checking dependancies. setTimeout is used to release control to other scripts because Javascript is single-threaded.

    The Code

    Each script that has dependencies must be wrapped in the following:

    waitForScripts("client",["mscorlib", "xrm",],
    function () {
    //Original Code goes here
    });
    

    The first parameter provides the name of the current script, and the array is the list of scripts that must be loaded first.

    So in the Xrm.js library, you would wrap it in:

    waitForScripts("xrm",["mscorlib"],
    function () {
    //Original Code goes here
    });
    

    Each script must also include the waitForScript function at the bottom:

    function waitForScripts(name, scriptNames, callback) {
        var hasLoaded = false;
        window._loadedScripts = window._loadedScripts || [];
        function checkScripts() {
            var allLoaded = true;
            for (var i = 0; i < scriptNames.length; i++) {
                var hasLoaded = true;
                var script = scriptNames[i];
                switch (script) {
                    case "mscorlib":
                        hasLoaded = typeof (window.ss) != "undefined";
                        break;
                    case "jquery":
                        hasLoaded = typeof (window.jQuery) != "undefined";
                        break;
                    default:
                        hasLoaded = window._loadedScripts[script];
                        break;
                }
                allLoaded = allLoaded && hasLoaded;
                if (!allLoaded) {
                    setTimeout(checkScripts, 10);
                    break;
                }
            }
            if (allLoaded) {
                callback();
                window._loadedScripts[name] = true;
            }
        }
        // Only check for async loading of scripts if later than UR12/POLARIS
        if (typeof(APPLICATION_FULL_VERSION)!='undefined' && parseFloat(APPLICATION_FULL_VERSION.replace('5.0.',''))>9690.2835) {
    	setTimeout(checkScripts, 0);
        }
        else {
    	callback();
            window._loadedScripts[name] = true;
        }
    }

    Script# 'Script.template'

    I almost exclusively use Script# in my Dynamics CRM projects. What made this solution really work well for me was that I just include the code in the Script.template file to wrap the '#include[as-is] "%code%"'. The beauty is that I can now forget it's there and it just gets minified along with the rest of the code when deployed.

    This issue has affected a number of people I know, and I'm sure it'll start to become more of an issue as people start to upgrade to the latest Rollup. If you have any suggestions/comments, please let me know.

    The code was originally posted by me in the MSDN forums:

     http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/crmdevelopment/thread/fdca4779-e866-4e51-bab9-97a159f9cd37

     

    UPDATE: This issue is now fixed in UR15 -http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2843571

    @ScottDurow