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June 2009
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August 2009

In the World of XRM

In the world of XRM and training experienced developers to think "CRM" one of the key nice to haves would be a place to show the new developers all the entities that exist that CANNOT be modified. These are the core Micrsoft Dynamics CRM Development Team building blocks.

I have continued to test the  "Request a New Feature" on Microsoft Connect. Recently I requested that a view be added to the Entities view to include a view of all entities that are locked. (I can then show this to new developers and say - you can't change these, learn what they are and work with them ;)

I had the strangest response back  - First they didn't understand what I asked for, second they said that a feature I didn't ask for was in the next version and lastly the fearture they indicated was going to be in the next version is in the existing version. Sigh - sometimes I wonder why I keep trying... here is the response.  

Greetings from Microsoft Connect!

This notification was generated for feedback item:
Custom Entities view: All Locked Entities which you submitted at the Microsoft Connect site.

Thank you for your suggestion. The next version of CRM will only show entities that can be customized. All other entities (for internal use only) will not be displayed. Regards

You may receive a general "Feedback Item Updated" notification as well, if any other changes were made by Microsoft.

Thank you for using Microsoft Connect!

Regards,

the Microsoft Connect Team

Please do not reply directly to this message, as it is generated from an unmonitored email account. If you have comments related to your Feedback, please enter it in the Comments section (post a comment to Microsoft) of your Feedback item by navigating to the Feedback item in the link above.

If you are having trouble accessing the Feedback link above, please go to the
http://connect.microsoft.com/help/ page to report the issue, In your submission, please make sure to paste a copy the link above into the report.


Cool Tools: Entity Mapping

Given that I placed this little tool on my desktop and then totally forgot that perhaps I might build using it into our project I thought I would share it here.

Once you have a Designed Microsoft Dynamics CRM system the following Entity Map Drawing Tool can be a great resource for documenting (or even debating) architecture and relationship design.


Queues

Have you thought about the use of Queues? Sometimes a feature within a software package is so unique that it hints of being a major deal to implement. This means more training, change (everyone's favorite subject) and risk. Yes, change does bring risk.

Still Queues (despite the descriptive and yet fancy name) are a powerful feature that is not necessarily that hard to get your head around.

You can define a Queue in Settings, Business Administration, Queue. You give it a name, an e-mail address and assign it to a Business Unit.

You can add things to a Queue by assigning an Activity or sending an e-mail to the e-mail address you setup when you created the Queue.

How do you get things out of the Queue?

You open the Queue via Service, Queues, Select the Queue.

You then grab an item you want to work on by picking an item from the list and pressing the ACCEPT button.

Did I loose you yet?

Queues have three sections. The main bucket of things to do, the In Progress Bucket and the Assigned Bucket.

If you are not using Queue's but you really have activities that can be assigned to a line as opposed to always the same person perhaps it is worth reading up on them a bit more. The above pretty much sums up the basics.


IDERA

IDERA has a great set of SQL Tools which allow the client to backup the CRM SQL Database with encryption and compression. Speed gain is huge. They also have a set of AUDITING tools that AUDIT each person and each touch to data within the SQL Database (a big requested item for various levels of compliance)

Other tools include SQL optimization, defragmentation and performance. 


Renaming Sub-Account

This week I had a need to rename the Sub-Account. Well sub-account isn't an entity and it isn't listed in any of the places I could think of.

Given that we had a choice of hiding it or renaming it I did a bit of searching and low and behold thanks to the great team at Microsoft support we found the answer. To chance the display of the term sub-account to something different you edit Messages!! (Go Figure)

SubAccounts 

PS Twitter let me down on this one :(  Despite having a focused following of great people some of these stranger questions get lost in the water flowing quickly under the bridge.


ISV Config

The ISV Config offers some interesting options for developers

1) It offers two places where you can add buttons and menus at the application level. The Global Menu Bar and the Application Level Tool Bar. 

2) It also offers three areas where you can add menus, buttons and navigation items at the detail level including the Form menu bar, the form toolbar and the form navigation pane.

3) You also have two areas that can be modified in the Entity Grids which include the Entity Grid Action Menu and the Entity Grid Buttons

Make note that if you change the Web Interface you will also want to change the Outlook Interface.  


Developers and Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Developers diving into the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM have a number of areas of expertise to master. Here are just a few of the many:

  • Extending the Core Microsoft Dynamics CRM code

  • Windows Workflow Foundation 

  • Scriptlets

  • The Icing on the Cake: Silverlight

  • Integrating to SharePoint (WSS and/or MOSS) for complementary Unstructured data

  • Integrating to the world of finance and ERP

  • Dashboards and Business Intelligence Techniques

  • Mobility

What is amazing is when you master all of the above you start architecting from a place that is very different than if you are focused on an architecture using only 2 or 3. Scriptlets are amazing, but they are not good for everything, workflows can be extremely advanted and overlapping and yet and document libraries are more SharePoint than structured data as in CRM and the details continue.

So if you are a really guru, guru developer step up to the challenge AND never forget to get efficient and jump into a few bootcamps with those who might be a bit higher than you on or perhaps just on a different trail on the mountain of excellence.  



WWPC 2009

The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference kicks off this week in New Orleans. In years past Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been part of the conference, but not as big a part as you would expect given that the product really can be the heart and soul of a company. Sitting on every staff members desktop.

This year the buzz indicates that there has been a shift. Microsoft Dynamics CRM has reached a level of maturity where partners are really starting to get it. They get the power that an office product on major steriods can offer for them and for their customers. 

There is still a significant difference between a

1) Dynamics Partner (NAV, AX, GP, long sales cycle, accounting software mindset) and a

2) Microsoft Partner (servers, workstations, operating system software, mix of line of business options, shorter sales cycle), 

3) and what I find unique the CRM Partner (has a wide range of experience with CRM solutions and the CRM industry, understands sales teams and salse process, can do either an agile or a long term custom software development build)  

but more and more there are different perspectives and energies in the space. Microsoft Office 2007 offering the XML standard opened some major doors that to me still seem significantly untapped. Pulling structured data out of Microsoft Dynamics CRM into word documents for instance and Microsoft Office 14 (2010) is also gearing up to blow a few minds...

Will the partner world (and more importantly, clients) be able to keep up and USE these new functionalities?


Differences: Dynamics CRM Online vs. Dynamics CRM On-premise

There are some very minor differences between CRM Online and CRM On-Premise that are worth mentioning.

The one that tripped me up yesterday was my inability to import a new report extracted from one of the new accelerators. I was thinking about running a quick test and not thinking about my rule changes in the CRM online world. Doing what I normally would do in one of my test VPC images I moved forward only to be stopped.

You can not upload custom reports into the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

You can use the Report Wizard, the Power extraction of Dynamic Excel pivot charts and spreadsheets and much, much more so don't go screaming away. Still there are some benefits to having total control of the source.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Rollup 5 Released

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Rollup 5 (v4.0 R5) has been released can be downloaded here.

"The build number of the update rollup packages for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 server, for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 client for Microsoft Office Outlook, and for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 E-mail Router is 4.00.7333.1644."

Key items within this rollup include tweeks to performance such as fixes for the following

956527  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/956527/ ) The Microsoft Dynamics CRM client for Outlook consumes three times as much memory in version 4.0 as in version 3.0

and

959072  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/959072/ ) An entity form loads slowly after you add many fields of several different attribute types in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0