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Products, 3D 360 Degree Mixed Reality and Product Visualize

At the Microsoft Business Applications Summit this week I had a chance to take a look at and discuss Microsoft Product Visualize. I loved seeing how it worked, but more importantly I had dug into the details of where data is stored and how is it created. 

So first What is Microsoft Visualize? 

Consider the Microsoft Dynamics Product Catalog. You have a list of products associated with an opportunity and each item has a description. This doesn't really offer the most efficient way to quickly grasp all that you want to know. We then consider the flat, 2D ability to add a picture. Great! Wonderful, but can we do more? This is where Product Visualize for Dynamics 365 comes into plan. 

I have my Tablet (Surface/iPad/etc), I am at a client site and I am discussing an opportunity that includes a number of products. I might even have two similar products, because my prospect or client has not decided on what they want.  Product Visualize offers not only a 3D Image of the product, but it offers the ability to show a full 360 Degree 3D View of the product depending on how the "user" (myself, the prospect or customer) moves the tablet. 

So how does Product Visualize technically do this? 

Product Visualize uses a product .glb file stored in an integrated SharePoint library. The library that can be configured when Dynamics 365 is setup and configured. The file contains the 3D model saved in GL Transmission Format (glTF).  gITF offers the ability to store such information such as node hierarchy, cameras, materials, and animations and a GLB file is the binary version of .GLTF files.  

Note: For those of you who are old hands at gITF and glb, please feel free to expand on this.. 

BUT how do we actually get the images and the data for the GLB file? 

I have my product and I have Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement, but I don't have a glb file. This is where the growing momentum in partnerships between the new worlds within the graphical industries and the ever evolving world of customer engagement becomes a huge win/win.  


Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Linux Group Meeting (DLSLUG)

The first Thursday of the month the Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Linux Group meets over at Dartmouth to share knowledge and to geek it up a bit. They kick off their meeting with a meet up at Ramunto's in Hanover, NH and then the group wanders on over to a very cool room on Campus. (White Board, Black Boards, Projectors, Ivy League Classroom) 

Over pizza we discussed NTFS, FAT16, FAT32, files with embedded metadata and general buzz in the world of tech in the Upper Valley. We really do need more opportunities to do more of this around here. There are SO MANY hidden disconnected gems.

Once over at campus Lloyd presented nifties, first on what he has been doing with Python and (dare I mention the word, Microsoft) Azure. It is so thrilling for me to see these two worlds starting to bubble together in the quest for empowering great technology. There were questions, discussions and mind shifts, but good discussions. Even little old me was able to offer contributions.

We also discussed Jupyter .

"Project Jupyter is a non-profit, open-source project, born out of the IPython Project in 2014 as it evolved to support interactive data science and scientific computing across all programming languages."

With a heavy bent on large, concurrent, mathematical and statistical analysis needs. I was not able to add much to the discussions, but I love a chance to push myself out of my comfort zone. My Mom had her doctorate in statistics so in my baby years the word SAS often kicked around our household.  

Other Tidbits Shared 

Information on BASE

More Python Tips

working with distributed data and

using Selenium for things other than testing web applications. 


What's New: Microsoft Office 365, Outlook and LinkedIn

Given my curious nature in the world of what is new in technology, I regularly try to put some time into the new features, products and offerings coming out with the Microsoft Office 365 Offerings. 

They slide in these features so fast that I am often delightfully surprised. 

Today I took a look at http://Office.Live.Com/People

Microsoft made it easy for me to see a few of the items that were new by offering a "What is New" button on the top of the screen. I immediately noticed that I can now connect to my world of contacts on LinkedIn. I must admit I was delighted. It really is not easy to keep up with all the changes in everyone's quickly changing world. 

So if I open a contact in OUTLOOK,  I now have a tab for Linkedin, Click on the tab and if we are "linked" I can see information from Linkedin. I created a contact card for myself to show you what it looks like.

AnneinOutlook with Linkedin


Simplicity in the face of Complex business needs

There is a reason that "Google" quickly became the go to for all things search. A simple white screen with one box. Type what you are looking for and a million results will follow. 

People do not need to be trained to use Google. (in general)

On the other hand if you do get trained in some of the search techniques or advanced search techniques amazing extra value is delivered (for instance, filtering occurs). What you don't want a million results? OK, fine tune your search criteria. What? There is a trick to that? Yes, there are advanced Google skills.

Now apply this same concept to the speed of technology change. OUCH!

"Everything is changing"

"I can't keep up"

"I learned something yesterday that is slightly different today"

These are some of the biggest challenges that business leaders face today. How do they manage the impact of change on their processes, their staff and with the technology products they so depend on? Change Management is one thought and change management is starting to be part of most all projects, BUT change management techniques also must adjust to the speed of today's change. 

Similarly to the shift from traditional marketing, to marketing with the impact of social. Change Management must also adapt to the world of the cloud and Software As a Service (SaaS). The technology world went from 2 year major upgrades to 1 year major upgrades to 6 month major upgrades to was there an upgrade? The SaaS drip, drip, drip software growth utopia.

Business needs software that can manage their complex needs, but they also need software that can be simplified and flexible. This is one of the interesting beauties of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform approach. The foundation is solid technology, proven technical, coding, database and design best practices, and the details are configurable. 

Can you purchase configured modules? Yes

Do you still want to configure them? Yes

Just as each user uses Outlook slightly differently, there are choices for how you might want to approach even the canned modules.  So how do you really get to that place of simplicity? This is where working with people becomes quite interesting.  In an ideal team, each team member contributes how they might approach a given problem and then the team and team leadership figure out the solution that makes the most sense for the audience. This ability to listen to how others might approach a problem is a key skill to keep in mind and one not always found.

I remember a side conversation with one of the geniuses I had the gift of talking with. He said it best .. When building an application sometimes we have to remember to build for the average person, not the vocal and more advanced member of the project team or solution matter expert (SME) audience. The person who is busy, who is focused on their work and who perhaps just wants to be empowered in their position without a lot of heavy training. 

So much new! Doing a Sandbox Reset

There is so much new; although, there is huge value in deeply understanding all that is old. Something I really, really appreciate about the Microsoft Platform. 

Anyway, I decided with so much new that it was time to do a really clean rebuild of my CRMLady instance. I have long used this ORG for various experiments, testing, and knowledge reinforcement. I also use it to totally understand how Microsoft communicates to their CRM Online customers. I am a customer.

The ORG has been a bit beat up over the years and it was showing it's wear and tear. Data was not much of a challenge in this ORG so I decided to do a full replace and start fresh. I wanted to do this without having to create a support ticket so I did a bit of reach out and research.

Low and behold the team over at Power Objects actually have a great blog post on the subject, complete with the steps on how to reset an ORG. I love the CRM Community, so much knowledge share and empowerment!!

So the first step was I needed to switch my Production ORG to a Sandbox ORG.

I did this through the new Microsoft Online 365 Azure Administration Center ( which now allows you to pick from a selection of administrator centers. I went to the Dynamics 365 Administrator Center, Picked Instances, picked my instance and set it to a Sandbox. Once this was done I had the ability to choose the RESET button.

 Isn't it great when you want to get something done and you can just do it without a lot of hassle? 

Vocabulary! Model-Driven vs. Canvas in the world of PowerApps

I had the opportunity to answer a bunch of questions today and PowerApps ... Canvas Apps vs. Model-Driven Apps was key on the agenda. 

In my mind I think .. PowerApps = Dynamics or Model-Driven Apps and  Microsoft 365 + = CanvasApps, but alas I am not quite right. PowerApps actual applies to both. 

What I need to get straight in my head is Model-Driven apps are all the apps I have already built as part of a Dynamics 365 solution (or project). This includes creating apps as a "new" app or modifying an existing app that comes with one of the Microsoft Solutions. (Such as the Sales App). 

The next piece too ingrain in this thick skull is CANVAS apps. I have created a canvas app, but I have not had the chance to create one for an actual customer project. This little app starts from a slightly different interface and brings with it new. It is not that the new is difficult, it is just new. 

Others explain it as either starting with the "interface" (Canvas) vs. starting with the "data" (Model-Driven) AND if you want to watch a great little video on the subject this video is well worth the time to watch. Check this out from PragmaticWorks

Note: Please forgive me Andrew!

In my next post we will tackle other new vocabulary such as the Common Data Service (CDS) vs. the Common Data Model (CDM).