CRM 2011 – The Best Weekly CRM articles – March week 4

The weekly articles which I have liked this week


Data templates and import wizards

Reporting using BIDS

Is CRM really better than salesforce

5 minute walkthrough intergrating CRM and linkedin

html rendering in an iFrame

transferring data between organisations


CRM 2011 – Entities filter out null attributes

I was looking at the CRM 2011 entity today.  I was having to search the entity attributes to find a the value of a variable/field.

Initially when I did this the entity variable is ent


I was getting nothing

I then did a count on the number of attributes in the entity


it returned 51 but the entity had 83 attributes.  Which meant I was missing 32 variables.

I found out that it only lists the attributes that don’t have a null value.  I worked this out because I went and gave one of the missing fields a value and then it appeared in the list of attributes.

This makes sense really because why bother including lots of variables which haven’t been set and don’t have a value but it can be quite confusing if you aren’t expecting it and have put some logic in based on the variable


Will we see Google Enter the CRM Market

I have read a few articles recently wondering if Google will enter the CRM market.  In fact I expect to see more articles on the subject, mainly because some people would like to see it happen and others are concerned about it.

If you want to read a couple of good articles on the subject click on the links below

Personally I don’t think Google are heading in this direction but people think because they have created email, calendars and office applications (word, excel etc) the next logical step is to move towards CRM.

I don’t really see this is of interest for google.  The reason Google made the office applications is because all users would use this and calendars etc.  I think the everyday home user is Google’s target market.

To create a CRM product you need a piece of software to link everything together like sales, marketing, orders, invoices.   This takes a lot of time and development, even Microsoft who entered the CRM market quite late had to spend a lot of years of developing CRM to get it to the standard it is today.

I could be proved wrong of course but I don’t think Google will enter the CRM market, instead they will aim towards creating an operating system and concentrate on cloud storage and maybe a cloud pc, allowing people to have a simple computer to access it.

CRM 2011 – Importing/exporting data between organisations

Today the Microsoft team blog had a really useful blog post.  It gave instructions on how to transfer information between organisations using exports and imports.  This is very useful for transferring data between test systems.  It is also useful to export the data to an excel file and then you can always import the data when ever you need it.

Click here to read the article.

This is also similar to the way you can export data, change it and then reimport the changes

CRM 2011 – Free 30 day trail – great way to demo to customers

Microsoft are offering a free 30 day trial of CRM 2011 online.   This is a great way to not only demo to customers CRM 2011 but also to allow potential customers to sample CRM 2011 and quickly put some of their own data in and see if it can satisfy their needs for a CRM system.  The Company I work for Crimson Ltd have recently used an online version of CRM 2011 to show potential customers how their CRM might look.  We have done a quick day’s development to modify the vanilla CRM, add in a few custom entities and workflows.  The cusotmer then has a chance to see what CRM is like and import some data.  It allows the customer to have a good play around with CRM 2011 and see what it can do and if it’s a good fit for their company.

With the 30 day trial it doesn’t cost anyone any money.  If you are interested in the 30 day free CRM trial then you can find out more information here.  I would say it’s beneficial to get some help from a Microsoft gold partner so they can quickly help the customer to modify the initial CRM 2011 Installation.  I think it would be in Microsoft’s interest to help people taking up this offer to get someone local to help the interested party to setup their initial system.

I think the 30 day trial is a great idea for the following reasons.

  • it is well suited to CRM 2011 because CRM 2011 has a lot of quick wins which can get users excited like dashboards, quick reporting, document management.
  • CRM 2011 looks better than CRM 4.  CRM 4 was a bit clunky looking where as CRM 2011 has smoothed some of the edges.
  • It’s a great way to show how easy it is to use CRM 2011 online, Itis also a lot cheaper for some small customers to use the online version because they don’t need to buy any hardware.
  • The user can customize their trail version of CRM 2011 as much as they want.
  • With CRM 2011 the solutions enhancement means you can easy export all the changes you have made with the trial version.  So if you decide you want to have an on premise version you can easily import the changes.  You can even export the changes and then import them later in the year if you don’t want to use CRM 2011 straight away
  • It means companies don’t have to use their own servers and CRM installations to demo to users what their solution might look like. You also don’t use up any of your CRM licences.
  • Gold/silver partners get an amount of free licences for the cloud, so why not use them.

Remote Debugging in ASP.NET

For the 70-515 .NET 4 web certification there is a chapter on debugging your web projects.  This is a pretty useful thing to know about.  In fact the last chapter I read was about setting up profiles in web sites/web applications which I also found quite useful.

I have never really done any remote debugging of web applications so it is a useful tool to understand.  Usually I prefer to run a test program on my machine which connects to the data but I appreciate there will be occasions where that isn’t possible.

I also had some problems today when.the visual studio wasn’t ran as administrator.  Although I set up Visual studio to run as an administrator, it didn’t seem to do this if you open it by clicking on a project file.

I have found a couple of good articles about setting up remote debugging

How to:setting up remote debugging

I have also found a couple of interesting youtube videos on the subject


CRM 2011 – Stopping pops ups CRM 2011 and CRM 4

I read this article today – IE9 Tabs instead of New Windows for CRM 2011, I have had a few users of CRM who have complained about the number of windows they can soon have up on their screen, sometimes you can easily get 8 screens open and then you spend ages opening all the screens trying to find the one you want.

The blog linked shows you how to set pop ups to tabs in IE9 but after reading the instructions it seemed the key to stopping CRM creating lots of new screens was stopping the pop screens.  These settings can be also be set in IE8 as you can see below.

I am going to give it a go for a while to see if tabs are better than pop ups


CRM 4 – Can’t assign FilterExpresion it’s read only!

I am up to my eyes in workflows today and I was trying to do a query to retrieve some items, so I had to refresh myself how to do it in CRM 4.  I thought I would try the sample code and when I pasted it a bit in, I got this error


Property or indexer ‘Microsoft.Crm.Sdk.Query.FilterExpresssion.Conditions’ cannot be assigned to — it is read only

The problem line of code was this one

filterPrincipal.Conditions = new ConditionExpression[] {conditionPrincipal};

There is nothing more frustrating when the sample code doesn’t work or compile.  The answer was oddly simple and I assume they must have changed how it worked sometime after CRM 4 was released and maybe I haven’t updated my sample code.

Anyway as the message said read only I used a bit of of intellisense to see what I could do with the condition and found there was an add.

So instead of assigning the Condition you have to add it like this.


one day left of free Sharepoint 2010 training

There is one day left of the free Sharepoint training

All you have to do is register and the training is free

it looks to have some interesting topics, day 3 has some information about web services and workflows

Day 3 (Live Meeting 3 hours) 1:30 – 4:30
•         Client Object Model: The Client OM can be accessed via web services, via a client (JavaScript) API, and via REST
•         Accessing External Data: Business Connectivity Services (BCS) enables integration with back end systems
•         Workflow: A powerful mechanism to create functionality using Windows Workflow Foundation

CRM 2011 Tool – Jscript Soap Request Formatter

This blog seems to be the head of the Jamie Miley appreciation club this week and marvelous Miley has done it again today by releasing the CRM 2011 Jscript Soap Request Formatter.

Firstly you can read about it on his blog from his latest blog post here.  You can also download the tool at codeplex here.  I have to say I am always very grateful when someone from the CRM community creates a project on codeplex, these kind souls have saved me, hours/days with their excellent tools.

The reason the marvelous Miley has featured on my blog so much this week is because he has been devoting his time to Javascript, which is one of those areas I am yet to master, so all help is welcomed.

The blog entry features a link to a great article from the updated SDK CRM 2011 – Walkthrough: use the SOAP endpoint with Javascript.  This is a very useful article because it shows you how to capture the soap messages from calls to the iOrganizationservice by creating a soap logger.

The CRM 2011 Jscript Soap Request Formatter basically takes the soap message logged out and then creates some Javascript for you.  Nice, this could save you a lot of time creating the  javascript manually, especially with the += when creating a string which contains a soap message.

I was also interested to see an example of doing a soap call.

firstly calling the XRMservice

 var OrgServicePath = "/XRMServices/2011/Organization.svc/web";
and then the full call using the execute method of the CRM web service.

req.setRequestHeader("SOAPAction", "");


Good work the Marvelous Miley