Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Light “spackling” for your Activity Feed walls

Today's guest blogger is Jacob Cynamon-Murphy, a Technical Specialist at Sonoma Partners.

I'm a big fan of Activity Feeds, the social CRM feature in Microsoft Dynamics CRM introduced with release 7 (R7) in November.  Not only can users manually post to "record walls," but power users can use Activity Feed Rules or custom workflows to create auto-posts when meaningful events occur on records or in the system.  Internally, we have updated the Sonoma Vibe desktop and iPad clients to use the new Activity Feed Post and Comment entities as well, making it very easy to share news and knowledge (not to mention fun) with the rest of the company.


As a technical specialist at Sonoma Partners, I am responsible for managing the demo environments that we use.  Benefitting from a little slow time while everyone is on holiday, I decided the time was right to deploy the managed solution for Activity Feeds to all of our demo orgs that my colleague in IT had updated to R7.  While deploying the solution and enabling activity feeds for the primary entities, I quickly noticed that the bit field to enable record walls sometimes remained at 'No' despite everything I attempted to set it to 'Yes'.


I wondered if this might be a common issue, so I checked the Microsoft Dynamics CRM forum and the CRM Team blog.  On the blog, I discovered an article about enabling record walls manually; in short, the plugin that processes Activity Feed Configuration records is designed to only add a record wall to an entity's form if there is only a single form of type "Main".  The article goes on to walk through the manual steps to add the tab and HTML web resource to each form, attach the JavaScript web resource to the forum, and register an event handler from the JavaScript to the tab; that last step cleans up the form by hiding the record wall until a user accesses it from the form navigation on the left-hand side.


While this approach works fine if you have one or two forms to modify, I had dozens; several of our demo environments have managed solutions or manual customizations that use role-based forms.  I decided to write a quick-and-dirty utility that prompts the user for a server name and an organization name (and saves up to 9 server/org pairs), credentials and an entity logical name and automates these form customization steps for each "Main" form of the entity.


If you have a complex implementation including entities with multiple forms, this utility - available for download - will save you time configuring and get your organization more social, and patch up record walls so your users can share information more effectively.


Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011