Wednesday, July 20, 2011

CRM ideas and products I discovered at WPC 2011

CRM Solutions

There are some new change management options available in CRM 2011.  With Managed Solutions, you can achieve a layered effect where one solution builds on the next and it is even possible to isolate and rollback individual solutions.  This is particularly important for teams that have multiple simultaneous development projects proceeding at different rates/release dates.  There is a good discussion of the implications of solutions as well as fundamentals of the entire CRM development spectrum in the new CRM Developer’s Training Kit.  This is tricky stuff, so make sure you get it working in a “sandbox” before trying this in your main Dev branch.

CRM Marketplace

I just attended the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference where I had the chance to talk to a number of ISVs and Microsoft engineers.  There are a lot of cool products emerging around the CRM platform.  There are two products that I am particularly keen to try out: NeuDesic’s Pulse and ADX Studios portals.

Pulse is a way to bring social-like conversations into CRM and SharePoint and looks like it would have fantastic application wherever team collaboration is going on.

ADX Studios (makers of the LINQ based SDK that Microsoft ships with CRM) has a number of ready-to-run public facing portals that have built-in claims based authentication to re-use Facebook, Google, and Live accounts.

Plugins, Workflows and Dialogs

Finally, I just came across this helpful CRM team blog post that outlines the best time to use a plugin vs workflow.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Synchronizing CRM Records in Outlook using Local Data Groups

My customer wanted to have all the Contacts owned by their Business Unit synchronized to Outlook and that is easily accomplished using the Local Data Groups feature!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bing Map Browser for CRM 2011

There is a very usable Silverlight Bing Map Browser on Codeplex.  The documentation is a little light so here are a couple of tips on setup:


There are two different HTML resources

1.       LocateAddress – this is used on a form like Contact to find the Lat/Lon of an address

2.       BingMapBrowser – this is the control that maps multiple records based on the FetchXML you configure


Mapping a Contact

I followed the “configure entity form” instructions and added the web resource in a section on a new Contact form.  One thing that was confusing to me, the control only works with Lat/Lon BUT it will do an address lookup and enter Lat/Lon on your Contact form if you press the “FillLatLong” button.


Mapping multiple records

I left the default BingMapConfig.xml settings and the browser mapped all my Contacts and Accounts.  You can test it by clicking on the link in the URL property of the BingMapBrowser web resource.   To add a link in the left nav, you need to export and modify your Sitemap (WARNING: always keep a backup copy).  I added “Maps” to the Workplace bar:

          <SubArea Id="nav_maps" Url="$webresource:new_BingMapBrowser" >


              <Title LCID="1033" Title="Maps"/>