Seven Steps to Certification Success

I bumped into this forum posting today about the right way to prepare for the Microsoft Certifications.  I will paste the forum post here but I recommend you go to the forum to read the follow ups because it sparked a very interesting debate.

I talked about passing the CRM Dynamics 4.0 customizations and configuration certification, it had some similar advice but I would say my blog entry wasn’t as detailed as the forum post written by Michael D. Alligood

You can also read Microsofts’s reasons for passing certifications here

Here is the forum post in full, very well written and it will hopefully help lots of people to pass what ever certification they are studying for.

Seven Steps to Certification Success

Before writing this article, I posed a question to many certified individuals. The question I asked was, “What was the hardest part of your certification journey?” You would expect to hear that the hardest part was the exam(s) themselves. However, many people responded that the most difficult challenge was that they simply did not know how or where to start. They would describe how they heard of a certification, bought a book and started studying. There was no research performed, no plan established, and no evaluation afterword to debrief and learn from the experience.


When I created the seven steps to success outlined below, I did so to help guide myself through my day-to-day activities and work; certifications played no part in the creation of any of these steps. However, over time I noticed that these steps could be applied to the achievement of I.T. certifications. Although these steps can be used with any day-to-day activities, it is my goal to provide you with a structured agenda to assist you in the achievement of your certification goals.

It should be strenuously noted that nothing compares to actual hands-on experience. Studying using books, computer-based training videos, and even instructor-led training should only be a supplement to working with the product and technology you are hoping to be certified on. Certifications are designed validations only. Being certified in a specific technology only means that you have successfully negotiated the required exam(s) as prescribed by the vendor. In short, your certifications should compliment your proficiency, not substitute for it.

One question you should ask yourself before traveling down the long and costly road of I.T. certification is, “Why do I want this certification?” What is the end result you desire? Many individuals new to the I.T. field hear about certifications and seek to acquire them, with little thought about why they are doing so. Without asking this basic question, you run the risk of wasting valuable time and resources on a certification that may not serve your needs. This pattern can prove detrimental to both yourself and the certification program. Certifications do not carry any promise. By achieving them; you are not guaranteed a job, a promotion, or even respect. Your proficiency (combined knowledge and experience) is your money card. Without that, certifications are only worth the paper they are printed on.

The second step of this process will help you determine if you qualify for your desired certification. Almost every certification vendor lists an audience profile on their website. This profile provides information to candidates outlining recommended experience in order to see if they are qualified. If you do not have the recommended experience with this technology, it is possible to still pursue it, but it is not recommended. Remember, experience leads to certifications – not the other way around. With that said, let’s begin reviewing the seven steps to certification success.

1.)Start. How often have you said, “I’ll get around to it”? How many times have you procrastinated in doing the things you actually want to get accomplished? Starting is a huge step and one that many people fail to do. Ironically, your chances of failure are the highest during the Start and Finish steps of this agenda. The failure rate is high during these stages because we try to Start and Finish everything in one enormous motion. We look at a single ominous task and come up with every excuse in the book to not get started. These are normally excuses made out of laziness or fear of failing, because starting something means you’re committing yourself to a project.

2.)Research. I spend a great deal of time in the public and moderated Microsoft newsgroups. Many individuals new to the certification world post the same questions day after day. I do not mind answering these questions, but the questions baffle me because it is so much easier to review a vendor’s website than to post questions on a newsgroup. I highly recommend that you visit the vendor’s website for the certification(s) you are interested in achieving. By doing so, you can obtain key information such as recommended experience, required exams pertaining to your desired certification, and other vital information to help you make an informed decision. Do the research beforehand, and then ask questions to confirm your findings or clear up confusion.

A popular question that floods the newsgroups is, “What is the best study material?” This is a question that is open to interpretation and opinion. What works for one may or may not work for another. Some individuals can read through technical books without much effort, while others cannot get past one chapter without rereading it three times. If you are interested in technical manuals or training kits, visit or your local bookstore and examine the differences between the publishers of training kits. Keep in mind that books contain errors. It would be wise to visit the publisher’s website to check for an erratum. An erratum is a list of errors and their corrections inserted in a book or other publication, usually on a separate page or slip of paper.

Classroom instruction is always an option. However, there is the issue of time, cost, and what institution to consider. If Instructor-Led Training (ILT) sounds appealing to you, open the yellow pages and see what centers are in your area. Visit these facilities and talk to some of the students, instructors, and Account Executives. Make sure that these centers are accredited or certified learning partners with the vendor of the certification you are interested in achieving.

There are also “virtual classrooms” known as CBT (Computer Based Training) videos. With CBTs you can learn at your own pace and on your own timetable, revisit lessons that you did not fully understand, and skip lessons that you already understand. Although you can enjoy the comfort of viewing the courses ‘on demand,’ they can be the same cost as classroom training without the benefit of a live instructor to answer questions. Visit the websites of a number of CBT providers and check out their demonstrations. If they do not offer demonstrations you need to decide whether you want to invest your money in a product that you cannot sample first.

Research can be performed without spending a dime. Asking questions and performing research will save you time, money and frustration. Remember, at this point, you are simply researching – nothing more.

3.)Plan. I am certain you have heard the saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Achieving your certification(s) will not happen overnight. There is a lot of information to consume and process. Take the time to properly plan your studies. Unless your employer has set a specific date to achieve your certification(s), there is no rush. So grab a calendar, open up Outlook, or get out your day planner and map out a reasonable timeframe to complete your studies. You might want to consider scheduling your exam(s) at this time. You increase your odds of passing by 50% by simply scheduling your exam(s). One thing to keep in mind concerning your plan is that it should be fluid, meaning it can change and adapt. Allow for this and adjust accordingly, because there will be times when life will interfere. Situations that are not conducive to studying will come up. This is where proper planning comes in. When your scheduled plan hits life’s potholes, do not toss out your entire plan; simply adjust to the changes and keep moving forward.

4.)Perform. This step involves executing your plan. You have started a project, researched your goals and options, created a plan, and now know what needs to be done. Just do it.

5.)Finish. This is another step individuals forget to perform. They may start, research, plan and perform but never finish. One reason people never finish is because they are scared to. If you finish, that means you must “know it all, and be ready to take the exam.” That is when self-doubt creeps in. You begin to question if you can pass the exam(s) because you don’t “know it all.” Therefore you adjust your plan to reflect your fear of sitting for the exam(s). When this happens you begin thinking, “This sucks. I will never learn all of this. I might as well just quit.” By not planning to finish, how can you finish your plan?

6.)Test. Now comes the big day – the event you have been working toward. What last minute advice do you need? Simply put: relax. Remember the Karate Kid, “Win, lose no matter. You make good fight.” Here are the facts – you will either pass or fail. If you pass, congratulations – pop the bubbly. But what if you fail? When planning, you need to consider that you may not pass the first time — and this is okay. You evaluate your score, find your weaknesses and start again. Failing an exam is only truly a failure if you do not learn from it.

7.)Evaluate. This is another step individuals seem to skip. You have started, researched, planned, performed, finished, and tested; now you have to evaluate. Sit back and reflect on what went right and what went wrong. Learn from your experience and use that experience to assist you in your next goal. Evaluating forces you to debrief. Performing this crucial step allows you to review, tweak, change, or adjust your future plan for your next goal.

Well there you go – the Seven Steps to Certification Success. Obviously I cannot promise you that by utilizing this process you will pass every exam every time. However, it will help structure your studies and relieve stress by having an organized process to follow. Each one of the steps relies on the one before it and the one after it.  How you perform each step is up to you; however, I recommend that you use all seven steps in order. I designed the steps themselves as mini-goals for you to achieve – providing satisfaction throughout the entire process.  By completing each step you move closer to your desired certification with the confidence of knowing what has been accomplished and what needs to be done. By using the Seven Steps of Certification Success, you know instantly where you stand on the path to completing your certification.

I truly hope you have found this article inspirational and informative. My goal has been to help you assess and achieve your certification goals by providing you with a structured process to assist you along the way. The road to certification will not occur overnight, and it will not come easy. Remember that certifications are merely by-products of your proficiency. Respect the integrity of the certifications by not cheating the program or yourself by taking shortcuts just to be certified for the sake of being certified. By doing so you devalue the certifications, your trade, and yourself. Good luck and passing scores…


CRM 2011 – Sonoma Partners 10 Video course on CRM 2011 new features

The Sonoma Partners have done a good 10 video course on the new features in CRM 2011.

They concentrate on the features you use and change within Microsoft CRM, so these are the customizations a consultant would probably make rather than a CRM developer.

CRM 2011 – Video – Listing your App in the Dynamics Marketplace

I think the CRM Dynamics Marketplace is a good idea, there hasn’t been much information about it.  Then slowly but surely the information is appearing and things are becoming clear.

but finally Microsoft made a blog with the  FAQ’s, it contains details about costs and the testing (and where) you need to do to get your app listed in the Marketplace

I then found this excellent video which runs through the 5 steps you need to go through to get your apps listed

I would add that some of these steps won’t be taken by developers because listing the company involves putting in lots of data and you will need to describe your company

CRM 2011 – Sonoma Partners give Vibe add on away for free

everyone who has used CRM will have heard of Sonoma Partners and will have been onto their blog/website.  They also wrote the excellent CRM programming book and the CRM Step by step.
There latest blog entry they have announced they are giving away Vibe.
From what I can tell Vibe is a CRM accelerator which is a framework for you to view various different feeds from blogs, twitter, facebook etc.
This allows you to view all the different items you are subscribed to in an orderly manner, search all the content, great groups and share the content between them.  Here is how sonoma partners describe some of the benefits/features
The end result: An environment for communities and collaboration in your organization that helps drive user adoption of your Microsoft Dynamics CRM system.

User and Group Feeds: Updates are comments related to a feed, specific to a Microsoft Dynamics CRM user, business group or team. All feeds and entries are stored in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

User Profiles and Subscriptions: Users select the feeds to which they want to subscribe so they see the information most relevant to them. They also can opt to receive real-time notification of updates in Vibe, a daily or weekly e-mail report of their feeds, or access their updates from Vibe’s mobile client.

Automated Content: In addition to status updates and comments posted by users, you can configure automated updates with Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s workflow engine for milestones such as launching a marketing campaign, winning an opportunity, or resolving a case.

they have a video here to show you what it can do
The other reason I found this interesting was because they have made it available via the CRM Market place.  This is the first thing I have seen there, it’s also interesting because it’s FREE.
Here is the Market Place link
I like the fact the reviews all have a pro’s and con’s section.  This is an excellent way to review things because you can see the niggles with the add on rather than just the pro’s.  The review section for vibe can be seen here
Excellent work from the Sonoma Partners who certainly have given quite a lot to the CRM community.

CRM 2011 – Simple CrmSvcUtil example for creating early bound classes

if you want to use early bound classes in CRM 2011 you will need to use the CrmSvcUtil to create the cs file to enable you to bound the classes early.

The way I view this, is the CrmSvcUtil basically creates a bunch of objects/classes for the entities in your organisation.  This then enables you to create them and use them whilst using the CRM sdk.

the CrmSvcUtil command line tool is here


you will need to open a command line tool and CD yourself there.

I am doing an AD example

CrmSvcUtil.exe /url:https://myport:555/MyOrg/xrmServices/2011/Organization.svc /out:GeneratedCode.cs 
   /username:administrator /password:password

here is a slightly adjusted example

CrmSvcUtil.exe /url:http://crmdevmscrm/CRM2011DEV/xrmServices/2011/Organization.svc /out:HosksGeneratedCode.cs    /username:Hosk /password:Hoskpassword


The example above will create a cs file called HosksGeneratedCode with all the entities in the organisation referenced.  If you want to see examples for other types of authentication check here

Here are the other parameters you can type in


The following table lists the code generation utility parameters and a gives a brief description of their use.

Parameter Shortcut Description Required
deviceid di Device ID used when you connect to the online server for authentication. False
devicepassword dp Device password that is used when you connect to the online server for authentication. False
domain d The domain to authenticate against when you connect to the server. False
url   The URL for the Organization service. True
out o The file name for the generated code. True
language l The language to generate the code in. This can be either ‘CS’ or ‘VB’. Default value is ‘CS’. False
namespace n The namespace for the generated code. Default namespace is the global namespace. False
username u The user name to use when you connect to the server for authentication. False
password p The password to use when you connect to the server for authentication. False
servicecontextname   The name of the generated organization service context class. If no value is supplied, no service context is created. False
help ? Show usage information. False
nologo   Suppress the banner at runtime. False


Microsoft CRM 2011 – Reasons to Upgrade

This blog offers a good summary of the new features in CRM 2011.  Not only does it list all the enhancements but it gives a concise description of each enhancement from a users point of view rather than a salesman.


Microsoft CRM 2011 – More Reasons to Upgrade

I blogged about some of the more important Microsoft CRM 2011 End User Features several months back.  I’ve recently put together a list of additional items that you’ll want to be aware of when considering an upgrade, or new install, to CRM 2011.

The features listed in the Core CRM section have a broad impact across both users, and administrators.  You’ll find that there are a number of the items listed below will positively impact your business.

  • Dashboards
    • We’re happy to say that dashboards have been included into CRM 2011. These dashboards will allow your group to construct multiple sets of charts and grids that make the most sense for your business. Several dashboards are shipped out of the box.
  • Charts
    • You’ll find the ability to view charts all through the application. These charts can be created and customized with the appropriate security roles.
  • SharePoint Integration (Document Management)
    • Ability to easily configure CRM to allow for SharePoint document management within CRM forms.
    • SharePoint 2007 and 2010 are supported. Microsoft SharePoint 2007 versions will be shown in Microsoft Dynamics CRM inside an iFrame, while Microsoft SharePoint 2010 can be shown with rich integration features if the Microsoft Dynamics CRM List Component is installed.
    • The two major advantages of using SharePoint 2010 are:
      • The List Component enables you to achieve the appearance and behavior of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM view while using SharePoint functionality.
      • You must have folders created in Microsoft SharePoint to store the documents for your Microsoft Dynamics CRM records. You can either create the folders manually or you can let Microsoft Dynamics CRM automatically create folders in the context of Microsoft Dynamics CRM records on Microsoft SharePoint. To let Microsoft Dynamics CRM automatically create folders and deliver the documents stored on SharePoint with the same appearance and behavior as the Microsoft Dynamics CRM lists, you can install Microsoft Dynamics CRM List Component on a site collection on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.
  • Auditing
    • Organizations need to track changes made to records for many purposes. These include maintaining security, examining the history of a particular record, documenting modifications for future analysis, and record keeping necessary for regulation compliance. Auditing allows customers to effectively track creates, deletes, and updates.
  • Field Level Security
    • Allows administrators to set permissions on each field to allow a user to Update, Create and/or Read that specific field. (limited to custom attributes in CRM 2011)
  • Multiple Forms
    • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 introduces the capability to define more than one main form for each entity. Use multiple forms to create forms that are customized to specific roles or tasks in the organization. Use Security roles to control which groups will be able to use the forms you create.
  • Team Ownership
    • Teams in CRM 2011 can own records. It’s also possible to assign security roles to teams. This allows customers to manage overall security at a team level, rather than a user level.
  • FetchXML Reports
    • In CRM 2011, it is possible to create both FetchXML reports and standard SQL RS reports. Fetch-based reports use the Microsoft Dynamics CRM proprietary FetchXML queries to retrieve data for reports. Because these reports use FetchXML queries instead of SQL queries, they do not need to use the filtered views in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM SQL database to retrieve data for reports. Since FetchXML reports no longer have to use filtered views in order to honor CRM security, the time that it takes to execute these FetchXML queries should decrease quite a bit.
  • Data Import Wizard (and reimport)
    • The Import Wizard facilitates a smooth data import process by providing an easy way to migrate your legacy data into the Microsoft Dynamics CRM System. Several new features in CRM 2011 are:
      • Support for CSV, TXT, XML, or ZIP file types
      • Support for Option Value Mapping (aka picklists)
      • Support for Lookup Mapping
      • Support for a single source file with multiple entities (Account & Contacts)
      • Support for Bulk Update of records via Import Wizard
  • Application Related
    • Get Started Pane
      • It’s best that CRM users be given some training before setting them lose on the application. The system does have a great Help feature that will answer many of your CRM questions. New in CRM 2011 is the “Get started pane”. The pane provides your users with relevant information for the grids they are viewing.
    • Connections
      • In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 you can create and view the relationship between two records by using Connections. Connect a lead to the account that referred it to you. Connect one contact to another to show employer and employee statuses. Connect a record to yourself and identify each as a colleague, friend, employee, or other relationship. The Connections feature is available for most CRM entities.
    • Attachments & Bulk Emails
      • It’s now possible to include attachments when sending bulk email. Only one actual attachment will be stored in the database when sending out multiple bulk emails with an attachment.
    • Negative Pricing
      • The Negative Pricing feature allows for negative quantities, amounts, and negative prices.
    • Enhanced Decimal Precision
      • Decimal precision can now be set based off of the Pricing Decimal Precision (System Settings), Currency Precision (set at the currency level), or Field Precision (set at the field level).
    • Opportunity Enhancements
      • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 allows you to create Write-In Products on the Opportunity and also to create a Quote, Order, or Invoice directly from the opportunity.
    • Sales Goal Management
      • Sales Goal Management is for users and managers who need to manage and monitor their achievements. They need to monitor things like how many units were sold and how much revenue was earned. The monitoring periods can be annually, quarterly, or even weekly.
    • Recurring Appointments
      • The recurring appointment type is available in CRM 2011 as a new activity type.
    • Dynamic Marketing Lists
      • In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, you can specify a query in the Marketing list. Depending on the list type those Leads, Accounts, or Contacts that fulfill the criteria are automatically added as the members of the list whenever the list is used. This is a change from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 where users can have only a static list of members.
    • Queue Enhancements
      • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 brings many enhancements to queues. These enhancements include:
      • Queues are securable through role privileges.
      • Default queue added to Users and Teams.
      • All entity types can be enabled for queues.
      • The Queue entity can be customized.
      • Queue and Queue Item are supported in Processes “Workflows”.
      • Separation of Queue Item assignment “Working On” and record ownership.
  • Solutions (Managed & Unmanaged)
    • Solutions are the new functionality in CRM 2011 that will allow you to move your customizations in and out of your CRM organizations. Solutions are used to author, package, and maintain a single unit of software that extends Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. You can distribute your customization work as Solutions so that organizations may use Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 to install and uninstall the business functionality as defined by the Solution. Solutions can be unmanaged (you can add, remove, update, test, and export or import any of the components of the Solution) or managed (cannot be modified or exported once it is imported and deleting a managed solution will uninstall all of the solution components….including any data that has been entered in the system from entities created by that solution). Using managed solutions is a great way to control the customizations that will move between your environments.
    • Once plug-ins are brought into an organization through the plug-in registration tool, they can be added to a solution. After that, the plug-in will be contained within the solution. Therefore, it will not be necessary to bring the plug-in over to the new organization in a separate manner.
  • Bulk Record Deletion
    • Allows users that hold the correct security role to bulk remove data from the CRM system via an advanced find-type tool.
  • Processes
    • You’ll notice that we now have Processes in CRM 2011. Processes are either workflows, or dialogs. For the most part, workflows have the similar look and feel to CRM 4.0. A dialog, when presented to an end-user can be a conversation and a guide, which helps achieve a set of tasks in a standardized and repeatable fashion. Dialogs enable any user (sales, marketing, support) to interact with the customer in a standardized manner, using a script as a guide to enable an effective customer engagement. Since work typically involves complex interconnected tasks, a script detailing the tasks will be used as a guide to complete the tasks.
  • IFD/Claims Authentication
    • Since the release of CRM 4.0 a number of developments have happened in the Industry around standards based Authentication. A number of Auth protocols have matured since CRM 4.0 namely WS-Trust , WS-Federation, and SAML 2.0(protocol) . Microsoft Windows Server released Claims based access platform where it added support for these protocols. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 discontinues the 4.0 IFD design and snaps into the new Claims based options. After Claims is properly enabled in your environment, it will still be necessary to go through the CRM IFD setup steps to make your CRM application accessible outside of your network.
  • Administration & Customization
    • Global Option Sets
      • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 now enables the use of Option Sets (previously picklists) on multiple entities, called Global Option Sets. Global Option Sets are sets of values that are available to be re-used.
    • Form design
      • Now possible to drag and drop customizations easily on the form.
      • Access to customize forms from the ribbon
      • Easily customize the form elements (ex. navigation area)
    • Web Resources
      • Web Resources are “virtual files” that are created within the context of a Solution, stored in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM database, can be retrieved using a unique URL address. They represent files that might normally be placed on a web server to extend Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. Using Web Resources, you can store and use common types of web content that will enable you to create rich client-side extensions, such as HTML pages, JScript libraries, and Silverlight applications.
    • Filtered Lookups
      • In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, lookup dialogs did not have any filtering capabilities. For example, a lookup dialog for an Account record would display all Account records in the system to which the user has access. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 enhances lookup dialogs and offers several methods to filter lookup values. It is possible to easily do this through the UI in the customizations section. It is also possible to enable filtered lookups at runtime by programmatically filtering lookups using APIs included in the SDK.
    • Custom Activities
      • Provides the ability to add new activity types to your CRM system. The Activity Party fields are automatically available to the custom activity when this option is selected.
  • Setup
    • Specify Server Roles (via setup wizard)
    • It’s now possible to specify specific server roles for CRM server install when using the install wizard.
  • CRM Update Rollups & Windows Update
    • CRM 2011 will make Update Rollups available through Windows Update. If using Windows Update or WSUS to push out updates, this functionality will be very beneficial.
  • Dynamics Marketplace
    • The Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace will help customers discover applications and professional services that extend the value of Microsoft Dynamics. The Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace will be accessible directly from within Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, making it even easier to find solutions.
  • SDK Enhancements
    • Sandbox
      • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online support the execution of plug-ins in an isolated environment. Plug-ins can be registered to this isolated environment, also known as a sandbox, and make use of the full power of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM SDK to access the Web services. Access to the file system, registry, system event log, network, and more is prevented in the sandbox. However, sandbox plug-ins have access to external endpoints like the Windows Azure platform.
      • The sandbox is the recommended execution environment for plug-ins as it is more secure, supports run-time monitoring and statistics reporting, and is supported on all Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployments.
    • Jscript Libraries
      • JScript libraries refer to JScript Web Resources that contain functions you can use to: 1) handle form and field events, 2) perform actions for controls configured in the Ribbon, 3) support other functions.
      • JScript libraries allow developers to consume JScript libraries in multiple places such as forms and ribbon. With JScript libraries, you can more efficiently manage code used in Web Page (HTML) Web resources or Ribbon Commands by linking them to a shared library of JScript functions.
    • Showing and Hiding UI Elements
      • All form elements in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 support the ability to be shown and hidden using the supported JScript method setVisible().
    • Backward Compatibility
      • When a Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 organization that contains JScript code is upgraded to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, the existing code is automatically upgraded and should still continue to function.
        • Note:  There is no guarantee that ALL Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 client-side code will upgrade correctly (especially in the case of unsupported code). However, every attempt has been made in order to ensure most Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 code will upgrade correctly.
      • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 includes support for executing plug-ins developed for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. A limitation of using Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 plug-ins is that they are not able to take advantage of any new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 capabilities such as executing in the sandbox (isolation mode) which includes running on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, using tracing to help in debugging, and more.
    • Test and Debug JScript Libraries
      • You can edit scripts through the Web Resource form or from the Events tab where you configure form libraries and event handlers. The ability to make changes this way facilitates small, easy changes as needed.
    • WCF in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011
      • In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, the service-oriented architecture design is extended with a WCF endpoint. The WCF implementation:
        • Improves overall performance
        • Improves the data integration experience
        • Improves compatibility and interoperability support through improved use of native .NET capabilities
        • Streamlines the Microsoft Dynamics CRM developer experience


CRM 2011 Discovery and Web Service Urls

I am starting to write code for CRM 2011 and a problem I kept having was forgetting the darn WCF urls to connect to CRM 2011.

The I found this webpage which has them on.  For some reason it’s always difficult to find them in the SDK.  I have also created a txt page with these urls on with my on premise urls so I have them at hand.  I thought I would create this if you were like me and kept forgetting to whack them into a text file.

Discovery and Web Service Urls

For CRM On-premises customers:
http://{server}/XRMServices/2011/Discovery.svc for the Discovery service endpoint
http://{server}/{OrgName}/XRMServices/2011/Organization.svc for the Organization Service endpoint (SOAP)

For CRM Online customers:

The following URLs should be used to access the discovery service (use the appropriate URL for your location): (North America) (EMEA) (APAC)

The following URLs should be used to access the Organization service(SOAP endpoint):

https://{Organization Name} (North America)
https://{Organization Name} (EMEA)
https://{Organization Name} (APAC)

Where {Organization Name} refers to the Organization that you specify in the URL when accessing the Web application. For example, for, the {Organization Name} is Contoso.

The following URLs should be used to access the Organization Data service(OData REST endpoint)

https://{Organization Name} (North America)
https://{Organization Name} (EMEA)
https://{Organization Name} (APAC)

Type Mapping Between Versions CRM 2011 and CRM 4

I found this good article today describing the type mappings between CRM 4 and CRM 2011.  They have had a change mind and gone towards .NET types.  I was watching a video and the speaker said this was because .NET had brought in Nullable values which is what CRM 4 introduced before .NET did.

In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, the programming model has been changed to use native .NET types whenever possible.

Type Mapping Between Versions

The following table shows the mapping between the defined type for an attribute, the type that is used in a record and the type that was used in Microsoft DynamicsCRM4.0.

Attribute Type Microsoft DynamicsCRM2011 Type Microsoft DynamicsCRM4.0 Type
AttributeTypeCode.Boolean bool or System.Boolean CrmBoolean


DynamicEntity[] orcalendarrule[]
AttributeType.Customer EntityReference Customer
AttributeType.DateTime System.DateTime CrmDateTime
AttributeType.Decimal decimal or System.Decimal CrmDecimal
AttributeType.Double double or System.Double CrmFloat
AttributeType.Integer int or System.Integer CrmNumber



Not used in records.

Not used in records.
AttributeType.Lookup EntityReference Lookup
AttributeType.Memo string or System.String System.String
AttributeType.Money Money CrmMoney
AttributeType.Owner EntityReference Owner
AttributeType.PartyList EntityCollection or ActivityParty[] activityparty[] orDynamicEntity []
AttributeType.Picklist OptionSetValue Picklist
AttributeType.PrimaryKey System.Guid Key
AttributeType.String System.String System.String
AttributeType.State OptionSetValue or enumeration generated for the entity state EntityNameStateInfo
AttributeType.Status OptionSetValue orint Status
AttributeType.Uniqueidentifier System.Guid UniqueIdentifier
AttributeType.Virtual System.Object 

Not used in records.

Not used in records.

Other Type Changes

The Microsoft Dynamic Marketplace is up and running but will it be a success

The Microsoft Dynamic marketplace is up and running.  I was pondering if it would change the way companies sell their CRM 2011 offerings.  I think the main benefit will be to standardise the way people search for apps and accelerators.  One of the questions I asked myself is what would stop people looking at the offerings and just copying them and selling them cheaper.  I wonder if a good enhancement would be a place where people could offering enhancements for free, like codeplex.  I feel Microsoft is missing a trick but not offering a system where they could benefit from the CRM community working on offerings collectively.

I get the feeling most people who buy CRM Accelerators and apps are CRM consultants looking for a shortcut in the solution they are offering a customer.  I don’t think CRM consultants are going to pay much money for apps/accelerators.   So with that in mind I don’t think it will make much of a impact in the short term.  Will CRM consultants learn to work differently, I’m not sure.

I saw a good article with the title

Driving Success with the new Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace

I had tried to find information on the CRM dynamics marketplace before but the information was extremely difficult to find and I wasn’t sure if it was true or useful.

I think the Microsoft Dynamics marketplace is a good thing and the changes in CRM 2011 will certainly help.  The solutions management enhancement means it’s easier to package up your changes and the move to bring more things into the database (web resources etc) means solutions will work in the cloud and on site.

I looked at the Microsoft pinpoint before the new Marketplace buzz and it was very sparse and didn’t seem to contain many companies or solutions.

So what is the Dynamic marketplace, well basically it’s an app store.  Where companies will hopefully sell their apps and get some other work on the back of it.

you can look at the marketplace here –

I have to say it’s a bit confusing and doesn’t have many solutions in yet.  Then again how did we search for solutions and apps for CRM 4, we did a google search.  So having a marketplace has to be an improvement with regards to making it easier to search for apps and accelerators.

The pricing is a bit wierd, there are no prices on the site for the couple of apps I clicked on.  I appreciate people may offer different prices depending on other work etc but without a price how potential customers know if they are interested, it could end up with a lot of wasted time.

From the link these are the interesting questions and answers. I have finally got an answer to the question is it free to list. It is free to list but certifying your app will cost $2800.  If you wanted to put an app for freeware you aren’t going to pay that amount are you.

Q:           Are there special qualifications required for Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace listings?

A: Yes.  A Microsoft partner needs to have either the CRM or ERP competency in order to get listed on the marketplace.  For solution listings, partners must be an authorized reseller of Microsoft Dynamics solution or have a solution that is verified as Microsoft Platform-Ready.  Additionally, there is an optional Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CfMD) designation available for an additional fee.

Q:           Is there a fee for listings on the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace?

A: Listings on the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace are free for Microsoft partners, however solutions and applications must meet the competency and Microsoft Platform-Ready requirements. There are fees for the optional Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CfMD) designation.

Q:           What are the fees for Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CfMD)?

A: Fees for the Certified for Microsoft Dynamics designation begin at $2,800 depending on the solution. More information about the CfMD program is available here.

Q:           Who does the testing, and decides the criteria for testing?

A: For Dynamics CRM, it’s a self-test accessible through For Dynamics ERP (AX, NAV, GP, SL) testing is available through Lionbridge/VeriTest.  More information can be found at

Q:           What can partners list and the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace, and what are the listing options?

A: Partners have five options for what they can list on the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace:

  • Freeware – You can develop a compelling freeware application and use it to generate interest in billable hours work.  A freeware offering can be a good way to attract leads.
  • Open Source Samples – An open source sample can be an effective way to court interest from Dynamics developers who are building their own solutions.  The open source sample can be the catalyst for building a business relationship with the developer who uses it.
  • Widgets and Add-ons – In some cases, you might develop a user-facing solution component that complements a larger application or offers distinctive functionality.  Widgets are a good example of this kind of component.  In addition, you may list application “building blocks” that developers can use to accelerate their solution delivery.  Examples of these types of add-ons include templates, dialogs, workflows, and .net objects.
  • Turnkey Solutions – It is possible to develop a fully featured, turnkey solution based on Dynamics CRM.  Examples include industry-specific CRM solutions, integrations with other applications, and applications customized to specialized information worker roles.
  • Listing Only – This option is for professional services firms that want to list themselves for billable hours work.

Visual Studio 2010 forgets references when building

Wow, this was really driving me nuts.

I added in my CRM references, then when tried to build the solution I got errors complaining it couldn’t find the references to CRM.


Finally I found out what was causing the problem

I had to go into project propertise and then change the target framework from

“.NET Framework 4 Client Profile”


“.NET Framework4”

I finally found the answer here