CRM 2011/2013 online – you can change the base language but it will cost you money and data

I read a forum question this week, where the user asked if it was possible to change his base language from French to English and he was a CRM 2011 online user.

It was quickly explained to the user that it’s impossible to change the base language.

This is a commonly known fact for experienced CRM users and might even be one of the questions on one of the CRM exams.

Suddenly from out of no where a CRM Support engineers flies in with this answer

  It is correct that in the past changing the Base Language was not possible. I must inform you though that it can be achieved now by opening a Support Ticket with the Technical Support team. The base language change has it’s cost though, it can only be achieved by de-provisioning/re-provisioning your organization (deleting/recreating) which means that any data or customizations you have on the organization will be lost during this process. You will need to take care of backing up the data yourself if that is needed.

you can click here to read the forum post

So now it seems if you are willing to give Microsoft some cold hard cash they can change the base language but it will remove all your data and customizations will be lost.  This sounds suspiciously like they are just creating a new blank CRM to me and getting paid for it.  This is a rather drastic measure which I can’t really see anyone going for but file it away in the good to know (but not that useful) draw.

CRM 2011 installation error – SQL Server: The instance name must be the same as computer name

I got this error on a recent CRM Install.

The reason for this error was because the name of the SQL Server machine had been changed after SQL Server 2012 had been installed.

So what I think basically happens when you install CRM it creates the default instance with the same name as the computer – server name.

So I believe the CRM 2011 installation was looking for the service name which is the same name as the server and couldn’t find one.

luckily there is a couple of good blogs written on this

http://community.dynamics.com/product/crm/crmtechnical/b/zhongchenzhoustipstricksandportaldevelopment/archive/2012/04/28/dynamics-crm-2011-installation-error-the-instance-name-must-be-the-same-as-computer-name.aspx

http://mscrmuk.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/sql-server-instance-name-must-be-same.html

The answer to this problem is to rename the instance name with some SQL commands I never come across before.

Open up an SQL Query window and type

sp_helpserver 

This will give you the name of the current server instance and a bunch of other values (but don’t worry about those)

We now need to drop this name by running the SQL command below, You put the value of the incorrect server name in the quotes  (where I have INCORRECT SERVER NAME”

SP_DROPSERVER “INCORRECT SERVER NAME”

now run the command below and the name in the quotes is the name of the server, don’t forget to add the comma local at the end otherwise the sql statement will error.

SP_ADDSERVER “DATABASE-1”, local

After you have done the change you can run

sp_helpserver 

It should return the changed value.

You now need to run restart SQL Server and try the CRM install verification again

The account specified to run the Microsoft Dynamics CRM application does not have Performance Counter permissions.

If you have installed CRM 2011 you will have almost definitely seen this message.

I am doing it with a Windows 2012 server install and I know how to fix the error but finding Local Users and Groups setting is a puzzle in itself.

The cause of the problem is the CRM service users you specified in your install are not in the Performance Log Users windows group (WHY can’t the installer add them in !!)

To find the Local Users and Groups I went the right, got the right bar with Search, Start and Settings on.

I hit the search

changed the search to settings

type in edit local user

 

(there is probably a much quicker way of getting to Local Users and Groups but I am currently slowly stumbling my way around Windows server 2012 and Windows 8)

  1. Add the service accounts to the Performance Log Users group.
  2. Press the Back and Forward button on the CRM install

You should no longer receive that error which will leave you to work on any other errors which might pop up

 

CRM 2011 – Instructions on installing the Outlook Client Add on

One of the benefits of using CRM 2011 is utilizing CRM 2011 inside the outlook client, which makes tracking emails and appointments for CRM records quick and easy.

Before you can get these benefits you need to install the CRM Outlook Add in.  I have found some great resources on the subject.

I would say installing the outlook client for CRM 2011 is quite a straightforward process, although it can be a little bit tricky if it’s on citrix or terminal services because I think you have to install it but turn off the configuring choices by default.

Here is a guide to installing outlook for CRM Online

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=1582

Here is a link to download the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Outlook client

http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/download/details.aspx?id=27821

on here it has the system requirements

System requirements

Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook can be installed on computers that have any combination of the following:

Windows operating systems:

  • Windows 7 (both 64-bit and 32-bit versions)
  • Windows Vista (both 64-bit and 32-bit versions)
  • Windows XP with SP3
  • Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003 when running with Remote Desktop Services (formerly Terminal Services)

Microsoft Office:

  • Microsoft Office 2010 (32 or 64-bit versions)
  • Microsoft Office 2007 (32-bit versions)
  • Microsoft Office 2003 SP3 (32-bit versions)

Below are some videos which go through the process of installing the Outlook Client for CRM 2011

This first one is good because it goes through the pre requisite requirements.

Session 1 – Installing the Outlook client for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0FO6iNK0pI

Installing the CRM 2011 Outlook Client

Outlook Client Overview – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Series by Zero2Ten

CRM 2011 – in plugins only select the fields you need and not ColumnSet(true)

usually when I am first developing some code in a plugin I will select all columns in the query

e.g.

account Account= (account)service.Retrieve(account.EntityLogicalName, id, new ColumnSet(true));

Once I know the code is working I will change this to pass only retrieve the fields I need because this makes the code run quicker and it’s basically just lazy to select all the columns

I usually pass in a list

List<string> fields = new List<string> { “name”, “accountnumber”, “creditlimit” };

and set that to the columns.

 

Today I had to do this to fix a puzzling problem I was having.  My CRM was acting a bit wierd, I got a few timeouts when just viewing a custom entity form.  I couldn’t understand this at all because there wasn’t loads of field on the entity and there also wasn’t a lot of records so there was no reason I could the SQL should be running slow.

On the custom entity I did have a workflow which checked if certain fields changed and if they did it would set some fields on another entity.

I also had a plugin which was kicked off on the update event and in this plugin it was retrieving all the custom entity fields and then doing an update.

What was happening is I somehow triggered a loop which the workflow ran and this kicked off the update plugin, my criteria on running the update plugin were always being hit and then I was saving the whole record.  This triggered the plugin.  I ended up with initially 200 workflows had been kicked off for my custom entity.

Even after I fixed the criteria to run only when certain fields had been changed my workflow was still firing a few times.

This was valid because the custom entity was correctly being updated by the plugin but because I had retrieved all the fields the workflow was being triggered, this was not correct because the fields the workflow was monitoring were not actually have any data changed.

So I modified my code to only select the fields I was going to check/change and after I had done this the workflow stopped getting triggered incorrectly and a bonus my code ran a lot quicker.

Perhaps there is a lesson here for me, get the code selecting the correct fields from the start and don’t be lazy with retrieving and writing all the fields of an entity.

 

 

CRM 2011 – Reassigning records in CRM 2011

someone at work recently left and someone replaced them and I hadn’t thought anything about it until I started thinking about all the records assigned to this user?

 

Interestingly you cannot delete users in CRM 2011 you can only de-active them.

 

so I know had to find out how to reassign the records from one user to another.

To do this you need to go to the user record in

SETTINGS –> ADMINISTRATION –> USERS

open the user record and you will notice there is a Reassign button

 

 

 

 

One you press reassign button you can then choose who you want to reassign the records to.

 

Before you start assigning records you should take a bit of time to consider the effect this might have.  This button will reassign all records, historical, closed, everything.

Assigning records might change some reports if the user was a sales person etc.

This blog post goes into the potential problems in more detail and I would advise reading it, just so you are informed of the potential banana skins

http://mscrmonline.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/danger-of-reassign-all-records-owned-by-the-current-user-function/

 

http://www.mhacloudcomputing.co.nz/top-navigation/news/2011/10/17/caution-when-reassigning-records-in-crm-2011.aspx

 

 

 

CRM 2011 – CRM and Portal information

I was asked about portals and CRM 2011 today.

I have been googling information about it.  In my mind this is fantastic functionality that clients want but setting it up and maintaining it can be difficult.  The main problem I have is to use a portal you have to set up a seperate website and then it’s a case of managing the security settings and I am not to hot with security settings.  The major benefit of the portal is it does provide a method of doing the security settings and managing this from within CRM.

I also tried to setup the portal once and it was a day of frustration before I got had to leave it.

my experience shouldn’t scare people off, I bet there are loads of people who have successfully got CRM portals working.

I thought I would list the portal information I have found

The first is slightly unusual but the Customer Portal is listed twice on the market place, one has one review of 5 stars and the other has 9 reviews of an average of 3.5.  This does seem quite low for a Microsoft endorsed accelerator (1o reviews!)

http://dynamics.pinpoint.microsoft.com/en-US/applications/Customer-Portal-for-Microsoft-Dynamics-CRM-2011-12884910826

http://pinpoint.microsoft.com/en-gb/applications/customer-portal-for-microsoft-dynamics-crm-2011-12884910826

I have found a video on setting up the Customer portal

The link below has some FAQ’s about setting up and getting starting with portals. It contains some of the common problems you might run up agaisn’t so if you are having trouble it would be worth visiting the site below

FAQ for Customer and Partner Portals

There is also a whole section in the CRM 2011 SDK

Portal Developer Guide for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

The document above is very useful, below are the sections it covers

Prepare for Portal Development
Prepare for portal development and read about best practices. 
ASP.NET Web Forms and Data Binding
Learn how to use the portal toolkit for data binding into Web forms.
Manage Portal Content
Learn about content management with the portal toolkit.
Portal Authentication
Learn about authentication with the portal toolkit.
Use the Web Site Copy Tool
Learn how to use the Web site copy tool.
Portal Walkthroughs
Step-by-step instructions on how to create a portal console application, plug-in and Web application.

CRM 2011 – How to apply a security role to multiple users

sometimes when you create a new entity and access the system as Admin you forgot you need to change the security roles to add access to the new entity.

it can be quite a hassle to edit all the security roles to add the correct privileges to all the different security roles.  So you might find this tool useful – Role Updater for Microsoft Dynamic CRM 2011.  This tool and the other CRM 2011 tools shows the value of allowing developers to access values through code, they end up creating lots of free tools for you.

there is another way around this, you can create a new security role and then add this security role to the users you want to access the new entity or you might want to apply this security role to everyone.

I was in this scenario because I wanted to give everyone the new Activity feeds role but how can I give multiple users the same security role.

The answer is

Go to SETTINGS -> Administration -> Users

You will then see a list of users and at the top of the screen you can see a manage roles button

If you press the manage roles you can then select the security roles you want to give to all the selected users.

Click here to visit the Metaphorix homepage to see how Metaphorix uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM and NAV and other products and services.

CRM 2011 – 73 Percent of CRM 4 deployments to be upgraded to CRM 2011 in the next 6 months

I have been working with CRM 2011 for 3 months and during these time I also have been some work on some CRM 4 developments.  The changes between CRM 2011 and CRM 4 are quite signnificant.  CRM 2011 has a lot of excellent new features but it also looks and feels different and from a developers perspective the changes are quite dramatic, which is why it can be quite confusing when you flip between CRM 4 and CRM 2011.

The main changes in CRM 2011 from a developers perspective are

  • Javascript – it has changed from using crmForm to using the new functionality added in.
  • plugins – You now can use early bound entities and Linq.  The dynamic entity is now called entity.
  • Javascript soap – the urls have all changed.
  • you also have things like oData, silverlight and jquery.
  • The Ribbon – to add a button into CRM is much more complex because the ribbon means everything is context related.

 

After thinking about these changes I wondered over what time period companies would change from CRM 4 to CRM 2011.  CRM 2011 is great from a sales point of view because it has a lot of juicy things to interest potential clients with.  It also has a lot of functionality which you had to pay for add ons or develop them yourself, so upgrading would certainly be tempting.

I found a survey on Mitch Malam’s blog, which you can see here.  Although he has only got 142 votes (although that is actually quite a lot), I would also suggest the people who read his blogs are probably CRM developers.  His results suggest that 33 percent of companies are going to use CRM 2011 straight away and 73 percent are going to move to CRM 2011 in the next 6 months.  This is a very impressive speed of uptake.    Interesting stuff.

Polls

When are you moving to CRM 2011

  • Immediately (33%)
    You Have Voted For This Choice  - Immediately -> 33% (47 Votes)
  • 6 Months (27%)
    6 Months -> 27% (38 Votes)
  • 12 Months (14%)
    12 Months -> 14% (20 Votes)
  • 3 Months (13%)
    3 Months -> 13% (19 Votes)
  • More than 12 months (13%)
    More than 12 months -> 13% (18 Votes)

Total Votes: 142

 

 

Connections in CRM 2011

I was in meeting/discussion about CRM 2011 and we were discussing how to view accounts in a list, should we use the owner of the account or maybe add a new field onto accounts.

then someone said lets use connections.  Now at this point connections to me were one of the new features added in to CRM 2011.

there are lots of new features added into CRM 2011 which I am not quite sure how they work….yet.

The person linked the account to a user using connections and then we viewed the accounts connected to the user. pow.  It’s one of the new features in CRM 2011 which when you see what it does you think “that’s really useful, nice one microsoft”.

so connections are really relationships between two entity records in the system.  It’s a way to create a relationship (link) between two entities records

entity’s like Accounts and contacts

here is how the SDK describes the benefits of Connections

Connections provide the following capabilities:

  • An easy and flexible way to make a connection between two records of most Microsoft Dynamics CRM entity types. All customizable business and custom entities can be enabled for connections.
  • An option to add useful information, such as description of the connection and the duration.
  • An ability to create connection roles that describe the relationship between the two records, such as a relationship between a doctor and a patient, or a manager and an employee.
  • A quick way to create multiple connections and roles for a particular record. For example, a contact may have many relationships with other contacts, accounts or contracts. In each relationship a contact may play a different role.
  • Information for building queries and creating graphs. You can search for all connections and connection roles for a particular record and create graphs and charts for visual representation of the connections.
  • Support for workflows and auditing for automating and improving the business processes.

Here is a video on youtube about connections in CRM.

There is another video called – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 – Connections

Finally there is a good blog post on Connections here

The interesting aspects of connections is you can have a time span for the connection and you can also report on the connection.

I have to say I’m not sure how it does it behind the scenes but it’s quite a cool little feature to be added.

It’s basically a loose relationship between entities.

The article mentions something I didn’t know about you can have connection roles for frequent connections

Documenting connections using connection roles

If certain users connect frequently to certain records, or if certain records are frequently connected, we can use connection roles to formalize this. Connection Roles are defined under Business Management under Settings

The article also concludes with a good summary

Comparing with normal relations between records, it has the following advantages:

  • We don’t need to customize the system for every type of relation that could occur
    • This makes the system more flexible when processes change
    • And we don’t bother the user with all the possible fields/lists for these relations
  • We can add a lot of detail to these Connections. Description texts are already better than only providing a link. With Roles we can add even more depth.
  • Adding these Connections is faster than adding a true relation with the special button on the ribbon.