Archive for November, 2010

How to Reference Assemblies from Plug-ins – CRM 2011

If you wanted to reference an assembly that you had written, your options were pretty limited:

  • Register the assembly on disk with any referenced assemblies in the same directory.
  • Register the referenced assembly in the GAC
  • Include the relevant source code in the plug-in assembly

With the introduction of Solutions in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, the first two options are not very manageable (as they require special setup on multiple servers during the installation of the solution). In addition, those options don’t work in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, since assemblies must be registered in the database in CRM Online. If you include source code, as the last option suggests, then all of the benefits of a referenced assembly are lost, without gaining any real benefits.

Merging Assemblies

Microsoft Research published a tool that can solve this very problem. Click here to read more.

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Social Activity Dashboard for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Over the past few days I have been wondering if the new dashboard capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 would enable me to create a dashboard that monitors activities on various social media sites. Monitoring social media sites is important for small, medium and larger businesses. By doing this a business can keep track of the conversations that people in social communities are having about their brand or service […]

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With the Dynamics CRM Online Beta do we really only get 5 licenses?

For those of you kicking around the public beta of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (www.crm2011beta.com) the default number of user licenses provisioned for each new beta organisation is 5. If you requested the beta organisation you will be the administrator. It is very straight forward to increase the number if user licenses during the beta, and it doesn’t cost anything extra for the beta.

Microsoft Australia explain how to increase your license count here.

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Update Rollup 14

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Sustained Engineering (SE) team released Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Update Rollup 14 on Thursday, November 18, 2010. Click here for more details

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Custom workflow actions in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Online

Microsoft have provided clarity around the use of Custom Workflow activities in CRM 2011, you need to be careful if you go the CRM online route that a plug-in extension solution will meet your needs, Workflow extensions are NOT supported.

Here is the Microsoft article release:

We have received multiple questions and feedback regarding the capability of adding custom workflow activities in CRM 2011 Online and I would like to provide some responses as well as offer some guidance on how to insert custom logic to workflows in CRM 2011 Online.

Due to a technical limitation we are unable to support custom workflow activities in CRM 2011 Online. Custom workflow activities is a widely used feature and having direct support for it in Online is one of our top priorities, we are considering enabling this support in a future release.

Read More here

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CRM 2011 Developer and ISV Whitepaper

CRM MVP Julie Yack announces the release of her current whitepaper title:

Microsoft Dynamics® CRM 2011
Building Business Applications with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011
A guide to Independent Software Vendors and Developers

Some details you can learn about:

  • Modeling of your business data
  • A better user experience
  • Visualization and reporting of data
  • Programmability including OData, WCF, LINQ, Dialogs, Workflows and more
  • Cloud cloud cloud (CRM Online and Azure both covered)

Please visit Julies blog site here.

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Creating a Getting Started Pane in CRM 2011

Objective: Update the Account “Getting Started” help pane (Also known as Help Visor).

In CRM 2011 there is a great new feature called the “Getting Started Pane”. If you look at any of the system entities you will see Microsoft have created and tailored a pane with useful content for each entity. Recently I was asked how do you create one of these panes for a custom entity? Today I am going to explore the steps needed to do this and make it available in your CRM 2011 system.

One thing to note straight away is this process involves customizing HTML and adding JavaScript custom actions. This task would suit a dev type with the support of a functional person who can provide the actual content. You will need the CRM 2011 SDK kit to assist you.

Here are the steps to create a new custom help pane. In this example we will link to a video online, add a new video thumbnail and add in 2 custom content links:

1)      In CRM 2011 you will need a solution ready with your custom entity. For this example I have a custom entity called “Interests”.

2)      Firstly export your Solution with the custom entity and ensure a Site Map has been added as a Solution Component. Save the customizations file on your development machine, we will use this again later.

3)      In the CRM 2011 SDK kit find the Help Visor Template under “\SDK\Resources\GetStartedPaneTemplate”.

4)      Copy the “HelpVisor” folder to your development machine.

5)      In this example will use English (1033) only, so will not be creating new language folders.

6)      In the HelpVisor folder open up the HelpVisorTemplate.htm file in the 1033 Folder and edit it with an editor (like Visual Studio).

7)      To replace the video image you need to add an image to the “image” folder of size 104 x 76px.

8)      In the HelpVisorTemplate.htm  file locate the “VideoContainer” tags and update the image directory to point to your custom image. For my entity “Interests” I am using a bicycle image called “bike.jpg”. I have also changed the video link to point to a CRM 2011 video on YouTube just as an example. You could have a prepared content video and link to that in a Production system. You can also refine whether the video popups up in a new window/tab or is embedded.

9)      Add in “TitleSection” description and a “DescriptionSection” description, in my example I have used “Getting Started with Interests”

10)   By default your Visor has column and row placeholders. These will need to be edited and replaced with your content and actions.  Each link can be an action item or redirect you to a detail page where you have specific information. Below I have added in a custom action for “Business Interests”. In a Production system you could add many of these references liniking to custom pages you deploy within your HelpVisor solution. Better yet you may link to content on your corporate network.

11)   Once complete your Visor should look something like this:

We are now ready to upload this to the “Interests” entity in CRM.

12) Using the Web Resources Utility tool found in the SDK kit. I highly recommend reading the “read me” file associated with the Web Resource utility, it looks and feels a bit like the Plug-in Registration tool, but there are a few more complexities. E.g. Resources must match the file structure for relative links to work correctly.

For example:

DynamicXrmSolutions_/redir.htm

DynamicXrmSolutions _/Scripts/HelpVisor.js

DynamicXrmSolutions _/1033/HelpVisorTemplate.htm

DynamicXrmSolutions _/1033/Content/Content1.htm

Whatever you choose for your naming convention, make sure you note the path to the “redir.htm” file as this is needed in the sitemap.

13) Upload & Publish the files in the HelpVisor folder as Web Resources.

You will see the Resources appear in your Web Resources list in CRM almost immediately

14)  The next step is to update the Site Map and make reference to the new Help Visor. Open the Customizations file you exported earlier and do a search for the “SubArea” with your entity name. In my example the entity schema name is called “dxrms_interests”

The tag we need to modify is the “GetStartedPanePath”. Update the Web Resource URL to point to your root path (As noted when you uploaded the Web Resources linking to the redir.htm file.

15)  Once this is complete, save your customizations file. Add it back into the Solution Zip file you exported (So far it seems you cannot upload a Customizations file separately outside of a .zip or cab .file). Import your Customizations and Publish your Solution. You will also need to refresh your browser to see the changes. You should now see the Getting Started Pane appearing above your custom entity!

Side note: I looked in customizing the system entity Help visors, but this appears to be unsupported. You would need to pull down the entity help visor .htm file from the CRM website and right there I feel we are in unsupported territory. I would be interested to hear other peoples thoughts on this and Microsoft’s stance.

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