CRM 2011 – Tool – Ribbon Browser for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

The excellent CRM tools creator Tanguy has woken from his slumber and created another interesting tool to make our lives easier in CRM 2011.

He has created a tool to browse the Ribbon in CRM 2011.  I have to admit the Ribbon is a bit of a tricky beast to get used to, so any help with working with it is very welcome indeed.

you can find the tool at his blog (where you can also donate some money if you are feeling generous) here

or you can go to codeplex and download it

http://ribbonbrowser.codeplex.com/

Project Description
This tool helps developer to browse ribbons in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

It makes easier to identify ribbon controls properties.

Application Prerequisites
This application requires the following components installed:

  • Framework .Net 4
  • Windows Identity Framework

Application Screenshot

Ribbon Browser

CRM 2011 – How to increase the records per page to more than 250 rows

I had an unusual problem today, I wanted to delete 3000 accounts which I had imported into a test organisation (to import them again without the missing data)

I thought I would do this using the advanced find but I could only delete 250 at a time.  So I decided to increase the row limit.  Unfortunatly there is no way to do this using the system so you have to adjust the setting on the SQL database table directly.  This is obviously unsupported so I would definetly think carefully about doing this on a customer site, also if you extended this value you will be retreiving more rows of data when using CRM and this will put more strain on the SQL server.

What I am saying is if you were to change this value for some end users CRM might start to work slower because you will be retrieving more records when you are viewing accounts, contacts, orders etc in CRM.

you need to open SQL Server Management Studio and then create a new query for the organisation database

{orgname}_MSCRM

here is the sql you need to run

SELECT SystemUserId, FullName FROM SystemUser WHERE FullName = 'your name'
e.g.
SELECT SystemUserId, FullName FROM SystemUser WHERE FullName = 'Ben Hosking'

then you use the guid value you have just retrieved and run the sql below
UPDATE UserSettings SET PagingLimit = WHERE SystemUserId = ''
e.g.

UPDATE UserSettings SET PagingLimit=1000 WHERE SystemUserId = '2A01D976-322E-E011-9645-00155D106B02'

You can set back the rows returned by using CRM and going into

FILE/OPTIONS

and then on the General tab you can set the Records per page

CRM 2011 – Using Dialogs and Dialog gotchas

I read a good blog entry by Gareth Tucker about Dialog gotchas.  Dialogs are a fantastic addition to CRM 2011 and a really powerful way to interact with the user, get values and respond.

There is a couple of quirks with Dialogs

Dialogs – You can’t save dates or bits

I have written a blog post – Dialogs can’t store dates, which basically tells you can’t stores Dates, bits or lookups.  I do love dialogs and they are a great improvement it just seems the functionality needs a bit of polishing.

if you want to learn about CRM 2011 – dialogs, here are some links

Video – how to create dialogs

Dialogs – using variables

there is also a couple of good dialog entries here Dialogs Part 1 and Dialogs Part 2

Gareth has also written a good blog entry on Dialogs here

anyway here are the gotchas from Gareth’s blog entry

  1. If your Dialog has branching logic make sure you don’t use the Responses from those branches in any later actions after the branching as those Response values will not be available in those scenarios when the user branches the other way, and CRM doesn’t like that.   To get around this make use of Variables within your Dialog.  Initialise a Variable at the start of your Dialog, update it within your branch and then you can happily refer to the Variable later in the script.
  2. Beware of placing actions such as creating records and sending emails in amongst Pages of your Dialog, they’re better placed at the end of your script firing only after the user has clicked Finish in the Dialog.  Reason for this is the Dialog UI happily allows users to navigate backwards and forwards within the Dialog.  If you have a record creating firing between pages 4 and 5 of your script that record creation will happen not only the first time the user progresses to page 5 but if they hit previous, go back to page 4 and then progress on to page 5 again then yeap you guessed it you will get another record created

CRM 2011 – CRM online diagnostic tool

I saw this article today  talking about an inbuilt CRM 2011 online Latency tool, you can read the original link here

it basically does a diagnostic to check things are working and in a timely fashion.

CRM 2011 Online latency tool

If you are running CRM 2011 Online we might ask you to provide us some additional information regarding our environment. This tool improves our capabilities for gathering data. It is located at the same relative path off of every organization:
https://OrgURL/tools/diagnostics/diag.aspx

OrgURL = The URL that is used to sign into your CRM 2011 Online organization

 

The tool collects the following data (it has no impact on the client machine):
It runs a couple tests, measuring latency to the datacenter, bandwidth, and performs a few Java script performance tests to measure the CPU/browser performance of the machine.
Steps that need to be performed

  1. Launch the tool (via https://OrgURL/tools/diagnostics/diag.aspx) as a user in an Admin role in Dynamics CRM.
  2. Click the Run button for All Tests.
  3. When the tests are complete, click E-Mail Results.
  4. Use the button Copy to Clipboard on the page to paste the results into the E-Mail message that is displayed.
  5. Before you “click send” we strongly recommend that you modify the recipient email address. The information / data makes most sense if it is collected / analyzed in combination with an open support ticket. Therefore we strongly recommend to enter the email address of the support engineer you are working with.

 
Tool screenshot below

image

 

CRM 2011 – Free Developer Training Course for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Released

I saw this flash up on twitter the other day and when I have looked at it again I realised that this was released quite a while ago but it’s always good to refresh information.  The original link went to here which actually gives a very succinct summary of the training course

it covers these sections

  • Introduction to the Dynamics CRM 2011 Training Course
  • Solutions in Dynamics CRM 2011
  • User Experience Extensibility
  • Visualizations and Dashboards
  • WCF Web Services
  • LINQ and oData
  • Plug-ins
  • Processes
  • Client Programming
  • Silverlight
  • SharePoint and CRM
  • Azure
  • Upgrading from CRM 4.0 to CRM 2011
  • Dynamics Marketplace

The course is based around the excellent channel 9 videos and although it downloads 127 megs of data the videos are not downloaded and when you click on them it basically streams them off the internet.  I felt this was a bit disappointing because you might want to work on this offline but then really everyone is online these days.

I had to use CRM 2011 whilst it was in beta and these videos were extremely helpful, especially in terms of understanding OData, LINQ, solutions, WCF and Plugins.

to go download the course go here

Dynamics CRM 2011 Developer Training Course

to read about the different aspects of the training in more detail go to this page

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh237511.aspx

an example is this is how they describe solutions in the training kit.

Solutions in Dynamics CRM 2011

Presentation/Video Description Hands-on Labs
Solutions – Data Modeling Describes the metadata-driven data model and tools that are used for customizing data to build xRM (Anything Relationship Management) and extended Microsoft Dynamics CRM business applications.
Solutions – Introduction Introduces the new Solutions feature that allows packaging of the customizations and code. Solution Packaging
Solutions – Managed and Unmanaged Covers managed and unmanaged solution package types.
Solutions – Publishing Explains various options for configuring and publishing a solution.
Solutions – Modularization Covers best practices for creating one or more solutions, particularly for modularizing and sharing components within a solution.
another useful link they have on that page is a link to the entity model
this would probably be pretty useful if you are starting out in CRM development, if you have been developing CRM for a while then you will have learnt about the relationships the hard way

CRM 2011 – How Skype could push Microsoft Dynamic CRM to the next level

I read an excellent article about how skype could be Microsoft’s best acquisition ever, well this is a bold statement.

I have read previously why Skype could be a good purchase for Microsoft because Skype already has 500 million users and if Skype continue to get more users and Microsoft can integrate Skype in CRM or office then it will have been a great purchase.

I think buying skype fits in with the direction Microsoft is heading towards.  I think Microsoft are going to integrate social media into CRM and Skype could certainly join it.  I have written why I think Microsoft will soon be leading the CRM market

here is a quote from the article about Skype

And I’m not just saying this because we sell Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM product.  I’m saying this because, when implemented the right way, any good CRM system will track all the communications between a company and anyone who comes in contact with that company.  So nothing falls through the cracks.  And everyone knows what’s going on with customers, prospects, suppliers and partners.   The clients I know who have succeeded with CRM not only realize these benefits now but are also building an asset that will significantly contribute to their future valuation.

But there’s one thing missing in Microsoft’s CRM application, like many of the CRM applications on the market today.  And that’s phone integration.  Easy integration.  For years my clients have asked for help making their CRM systems “talk” to their phone systems.  They want a contact screen to “pop” up when someone calls into the company (or gets transferred to a sales or service rep).  They want to be able to make outgoing calls immediately when clicking a contact name.  They want to be able to record phone calls and link them to a person’s account in the system, not only to keep an historical record of the call but also to sometimes cover their butts when people are trying to remember what was said.

 

The article finishes off with a nice summary

I’ll tell you why:  Skype’s technology, if it’s part of Outlook and Dynamics CRM out of the box, will make it quicker and easier for us to communicate with our customers.  And that will increase our sales.  And that’s what’s fun for me.  And my clients too.  Buying Skype could be Microsoft’s best acquisition ever.

 

 

 

 

CRM 2011 – Online demonstration kit released

Microsoft have released an online demonstration kit today.  This is a great idea because it will enable people selling CRM to show off lots of aspects of the new features in CRM 2011.

I know that really we should ourselves create something like this but I did think Microsoft could do with creating some examples and scenarios to really show off the new functionality and that’s what they have done.

I have imported the default import but it doesn’t have many accounts and the examples are quite sparse in many ways.

 

The interesting part is they have done this using a solution, which makes it a very neat and tidy example in my opinion.  To find out more about the online demo you can go to this page Below is the main contents but it is worth going to the page below because it gives you the solution file and detailed instructions on how to install it.

Scenarios
Included in this Kit is more comprehensive data, Dashboards, Workflows and Dialogs illustrating core CRM capabilities in expanded scenarios.  Read on below to find detailed instructions on how to download and setup these assets.

What’s covered in this kit:

  • Extensive Sample Data
  • 13 Dashboards
  • 17 Workflows
  • 2 Dialogs
  • 1 Web Resource (phone number auto-formatting jscript)
  • 1 Option Set (Timeframe drop-down list to use across entities)
  • 2 E-mail Templates

CRM Online Scenarios

CRM 2011 – Excellent CRM Blog – CRM in the Field

I found an excellent CRM blog today, it’s odd even though I subscribe to Microsoft CRM blogs this one didn’t seem to appear.  The blog is called CRM in the field, it’s a blog written by a number of people but the quality of the articles are excellent.

I blogged about a post on it yesterday – where to find timeout settings in CRM

here are some of the good articles on the blog

PrincipalObjectAccess–PerformanceRecommendations

Performance Analyzer for Microsoft Dynamics

Using Fiddler HTTP Debugger for CRM Troubleshooting and Performance Tuning

How to Create a Simple Webpage Leveraging The CRM 2011 IOrganizationService Web Service

Workflow and Async records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

CRM 2011 Server Setup Commonly Asked Questions

CRM 2011 Outlook Client: Ten Tips Prior to Uprading

CRM 2011 – The difference between a plugin and a workflow

I was asked recently the difference between a plugin and a workflow and when it was best to use either.  At the time I was asked my mind went blank and I wasn’t sure.  In my mind they are both similar, so I set out to find out what the difference was.  The main difference I could think of was a workflow is asynchronous and it can fire off child workflows.

there was a good article about workflows and plugins for CRM 4 which you can read here

but then Gonzalo Ruiz has recently updated this and added in some dialog information as well, this is one of many great blog entries he has written recently

 

CRM 2011 – Where to find the timeout settings which effect CRM

I read this article today about timeout settings in CRM, go here to read the full blog entry.

The author of the blog has listed the various timeout settings which can effect CRM, they can be found in the various technologies used in CRM which vary from .NET, IIS, CRM SDK

 

  1. Registry on CRM application server(s)
    1. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSCRM\OLEDBTimeout
      1. In seconds
      2. The OLEDBTimeout value controls the SQL time-out value that is used for a single SQL query
      3. Default is 30 seconds
    2. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSCRM\ExtendedTimeout
      1. In milliseconds
      2. The ExtendedTimeout value controls the ASP.NET time-out value
      3. Default is 1,000,000
    3. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSCRM\NormalTimeout
      1. In milliseconds
      2. Specifies the SOAP call timeout for most operations
      3. Default is 300,000
  2. Web.config
    1. <httpRuntime executionTimeout=”300″ />
      1. .NET 3.0: “timespan” attribute.  The default is “00:01:50” (110 seconds)
      2. .NET 3.5 and 4.0: an integer in seconds.  Default is 110 seconds.
      3. Specifies the maximum number of seconds that a request is allowed to execute before being automatically shut down by ASP.NET.
  3. IIS/ASP.NET configuration
    1. IIS 6.0 -> Website Properties -> ASP.NET tab -> Edit Configuration button -> Application tab -> Request execution timeout (seconds)
      1. Related to this type of situation in CRM 4.0:http://blogs.msdn.com/b/crm/archive/2008/11/20/asp-net-2-0-50727-0-warning-event-id-1309-due-to-request-time-out.aspx
  4. When using the CRM SDK, there are also timeout settings that can be set via custom code:
    1. CRM 4.0 example:
      1. CrmService service = new CrmService();
      2. service.Timeout = 300;
      3. In milliseconds and default is 100,000
    2. CRM 2011:
      1. ServiceProxy.Timeout property (Timespan)