Recently we were upgrading the look and feel of some custom CRM 2011 web resources to match the styles in CRM 2013 and my colleague found an interesting Fetch XML aggregate bug. A simple fetch aggregate query, like below, will work just fine in CRM 2011 UR11 and below. When you run the same query in CRM 2011 UR12+ or CRM 2013, you will get “An unexpected error occurred.”.
<fetch mapping="logical" aggregate="true" version="1.0">
<attribute groupby="true" alias="accountid" name="accountid” />
<attribute name="name" aggregate="countcolumn" alias="accountCount" />
After some troubleshooting, my colleague determined that the accountid attribute was the culprit. He changed the alias to something other than ‘accountid’, like below, and it ran successfully.
<fetch mapping="logical" aggregate="true" version="1.0">
<attribute groupby="true" alias="accountKey" name="accountid” />
<attribute name="name" aggregate="countcolumn" alias="accountCount" />
We logged this bug with Microsoft which will hopefully be resolved in the next UR as it unexpectedly breaks previously supported code.
The Convergence 2014 Keynote last week kicked off with the Dynamics Roadmap for this year. There are two big updates set for Dynamics CRM, one being a Spring Update that should be right around the corner and then an Autumn Update later this year. Wayne Morris, CVP of Microsoft, talked about the previous announcements of Marketing, Custom Service, and Social Listening functionality as well as a new addition for the Spring Update called the Unified Service Desk. The Unified Service Desk is a desktop application meant for call center users to help with case management which is shown in more detail below.
Kirill Tatarinov later came out and discussed several key points on how Microsoft Dynamics can deliver amazing experiences with the help of the recent acquisitions such as MarketingPilot, NetBreeze, and Parature.
Wayne Morris came back out to demo the new Microsoft Dynamics Marketing functionality that will be coming this Spring and how it helps him market smarter.
The landing page below shows a nice quick view into your marketing budget and how the budget is being utilized.
Similar to CRM 2013, there is a card-based navigation at the top but clicking a card will expand to show child navigation links within that area. This is very slick and we’re hoping that Microsoft will bring this same navigation into CRM 2013 as currently it is very hard to navigate if you have a lot of entities.
Within Dynamics Marketing, marketers can manage their assets & media which acts as a specialized SharePoint for marketers. This includes file upload, approvals, and version control.
Next Wayne shows a campaign workflow where you can easily drag and drop campaign activities to execute.
He then adds a new Social Media Messages campaign activity that will send Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn messages at scheduled times.
Users can then view the performance of the campaigns using several different charts and filters (e.g., by campaign and by channel). Kirill mentions that the graphs are built using Excel Web Apps.
This all looks very slick and will definitely empower marketers. Currently these are separate applications but there is a connector that integrates data between Dynamics Marketing and CRM (e.g., Leads, Contacts, Campaigns). The question remains how much will this integration be expanded in the future versus kept in separate applications.
Kirill brought out Judson Althoff, President of Microsoft North America, to show how he uses Microsoft products to sell effectively. He pulls up his custom built dashboard that uses Live Tiles to pull in sales data real-time from Microsoft Dynamics. The dashboard is pulling in information from 20 different systems.
Pipeline chart pulling in data from CRM 2013:
Using Windows 8.1 to easily share the Pipeline data and attach it to an email:
Drilling into a record from the Windows 8.1 app automatically snaps in CRM 2013:
Judson shows the app being ran from his Windows Phone as well:
This was a good segment that shows the competitive advantage that Microsoft has over competitors by being able to utilize a suite of Microsoft products to empower your users. Unfortunately the app seems to be completely custom built by Microsoft for their business but it does a good job of showing what is possible. If you are interested in a custom app for your business, take a Mobility Test Drive with us where we will have our UX Architect do a field ride along with one of your users and come back with some high and low fidelity mockups as well as a working prototype.
Kirill discussed the importance of customer care and the ability for customers to self-serve. Microsoft fulfills this requirement with the functionality that the newly acquired Parature brings to the table. Fred Studer, GM of Microsoft Product Marketing, comes to the stage to show off a Parature portal example of BusinessUSA.gov. BusinessUSA.gov uses Parature to categorize their information and provide the ability to search across that content. Using Parature, BusinessUSA.gov is able to keep their branding while Parature widgets run in the background.
Users are able to interact with the site and perform a search to find blogs or KB articles:
Fred then shows how Konami uses Parature to pull the knowledge base information into Facebook so that customers can search within Facebook for similar issues to their problem. Parature is currently running on 6 of the top 10 Facebook apps.
Fred then becomes a call service rep and shows off the new Unified Service Desk and how it can pull in Call Scripts and multiple CRM 2013 tabs into one screen.
Fred then receives a phone call which automatically pulls up the customer’s record within the Unified Service Desk.
Using the customer’s CRM record, Fred can then view the location of the customer in order to help solve the case.
Fred uses the call script to easily open up a New Case form within CRM and creates a case for his customer
The Unified Service Desk looks to be pretty slick and could definitely help customer service reps provide a better customer experience. We hope the telephony integration comes out of the box and would love to see the Unified Service Desk be fully customizable as we know each agent is unique in how they work.
Kirill then brings out a Sonoma Partners customer, New Belgium Brewing Company, onto the stage to show how they use Microsoft Dynamics to help with their operations. Travis Mirrison (IT Director) and Kaitlyn Peot (Sales Support Swashbuckler) talk about how they use technology to enable their sales team to have real time insight and communications with their “Mothership” (home office) back in Fort Collins, Colorado.
New Belgium then shows off the Rangerland app (built by Sonoma Partners!) and how their sales team can use it to make sure their beer is being sold appropriately. With a few simple touches, their sales team can easily flag any issues with their product while they are onsite at a seller.
Overall the keynote felt very organized and had a great response from the audience. Microsoft was able to fill in more details on how the recent acquisitions will help move Dynamics forward and fill in some gaps that were previously missing. Microsoft also makes a strong play with their variety of products such as Office and Windows 8.1 and how they can integrate to provide a full blown experience for users. We are looking forward to getting our hands on the Spring Update as it seems to be pretty promising!
I am excited to announce a new release of Dynamics CRM DevTools! This release provides many additions and enhancements to an already featured packed extension. Head here for the latest version and see below for a detailed list of updates.
- The form tab will now automatically hide when CRM DevTools is opened from a non-record form page in CRM
- Copy Record URL provides the ability to copy the real URL of the current record which is often disguised in CRM 2013 due to the single page framework
- Form Type was updated to display the name of the form type as well as the integer value
- “Is Dirty” was replaced with Dirty Fields which will display a comma delimited list of dirty fields
- User Roles was added to display a comma delimited list of roles for the current user
- Current User will display the name of the current user and the ability to navigate to the record
- Open Record was added to provide the ability to navigate to a selected entity with the provided record Id
- Find Type Code was added to display the type code for a provided entity name
- Find Attribute was updated to use a picklist of available attributes rather than a text box
- Fetch XML input now provides highlighting, auto-completion of nodes and intellisense
- The Plugins tab is brand new and displays all registered plugin assemblies and their details (entity, filtering attributes, and stage)
- Displays number of successes, crashes, and failures for any sandbox plugin (sandbox only)
DB & Server
- The DB & Server tab is brand new and displays information about the Config and MSCRM databases as well as the CRM Server (if user access allows)
- Config and MSCRM Database info
- Data Source
- Initial Catalog
- Integrated Security
- Server info
- OS Version
- .Net Framework
- CRM File Path
Update Rollup 16 for CRM 2011 is now available and it is massive! This update provides more than 140 fixes and roughly 50 of them are for the Outlook client. It is good to see that Microsoft is still hard at work optimizing and fixing CRM 2011 issues. Update Rollup 15 focused on Outlook client improvements so with Update Rollup 16, users should be seeing vast improvements in the Outlook client compared to previous versions.
UR 16 also provides some key UR 12 fixes as well:
- Reports do not render correctly after applying CRM 2011 Update Rollup 12.
- After applying Update Rollup 12 on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Server, users of the offline edition of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Client for Outlook are unable to configure their Offline Scheduled Sync settings under Personal Settings.
- After Update Rollup 12, datetime picklist does not show the selected value when opened.
- Cannot use print preview for draft replied emails with images after Update Rollup 12 & 13.
Head here for the full list of fixes (be prepared to scroll for awhile!) and here for the download. As with all Update Rollups, be sure to regression test on a development environment first before applying to production.
Two weeks ago we released the Dynamics CRM DevTools Chrome extension and so far we have received a great response from the community. In just two weeks time the CRM DevTools hit over 400 users! We want to keep enhancing the DevTools so we created a forum here where would love to hear any feedback on what could make your everyday customizing, developing, and administration easier that we can leverage through this tool.
We are currently working hard on an update to provide even more functionality as well. Below is a sneak peek of the new Fetch tab enhancements that will provide Fetch XML highlighting, auto-closing of nodes and intellisense!
Look out for an update in the near future with these enhancements and much more!
An often overlooked feature of CRM is the ability to easily update numeric fields using simple calculations without having to invest in the services of a developer. Power users, administrators, and business analysts can use workflows to add, subtract, and multiply data in numeric fields.
A simple case of this would be to have a field Contact entity that tracks the number of phone calls made to the Contact. This field can then be used in reports / dashboards for you to further target your highly active Contacts to drive future business, or even send a slightly better holiday gift as a thank you for their continued business.
The first thing you’ll want to do is create a numeric field (whole number, currency, decimal, or floating point number). I’ve added a “# of Phone Calls” whole number field to my Contact form.
Then create a workflow to run off of Phone Call creation, and the only step needed is an Update step to update the Contact record.
In this step, click in your numeric field, and click the drop down for Operator. You’re able to set the field to a specific value, clear it, or use one of the simple math functions provided to perform easy calculations.
Now you can create your phone calls and watch your calculated field increment up with each workflow. You can obviously put in conditions in your workflow in case you only want to count phone calls that are completed, and not all phone calls. Or you can even add workflows for the other activity types in case you’re not interested in just a workflow count, but an overall count of activities made to contacts, or even accounts. Finally, you can add workflows around the deletion event of these activities to decrement the count if you allow your users to delete activity records.
An additional use case for this native functionality would be to roll up child line item costs/expenses/sales, to a parent record. A custom entity could be create to track time for professional service firms. The time records could then roll up to the parent project record to track the overall hours logged against the project, and even be multiplied by the hourly rate to track the overall budget spent at the project.
This functionality, which offers basic math, allows non technical folk to add powerful business logic to their solution, and is often overlooked for the more complex / more expensive “custom development” solution.
I am happy to announce Dynamics CRM DevTools, our new free developer tool for Dynamics CRM 2013 and 2011 UR 12+. CRM DevTools is an extension to Google Chrome which can be found here in the Chrome web store. This extension provides a variety of tools to help optimize customizing and troubleshooting within Dynamics CRM. Currently all deployments of CRM 2013 and CRM 2011 UR 12+ are supported. Below is usage information and a full list of features.
- Using Google Chrome, install the app from the web store - https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/sonoma-partners-dynamics/eokikgaenlfgcpoifejlhaalmpeihfom
- Navigate to a record in CRM 2013 or 2011 UR 12+
- Press F12 to open the Chrome DevTools Panel
- Click the CRM DevTools tab on the far right
Displays the current form’s back-end information
- Entity Name
- Entity Id
- Entity Type Code
- Form Type
- Is Dirty
- Ability to show the current form’s attribute’s schema names
- Ability to refresh the current form
- Ability to enable disabled attributes on the current form (System Administrators only)
Ability to show hidden attributes on the current form (System Administrators only)
Current User Information
- Domain Name
- User Id
- Business Unit Id
- Ability to open advanced find
- Set focus to a field on the current form
- Display a specific User and navigate to the record (by Id)
- Display a specific Privilege (by Id)
- Ability to update attributes from the current form (System Administrators only)
- This is helpful when you need to update values for testing but the fields don’t exist on the form
- Execute any Fetch XML statement and view the results
This version of Editable Grids for CRM 2011 fixed a few defects:
- Fixed a script error when changing views on the editable grids in Outlook 2010
- Fixed inability to tab out of lookup attributes
- Fixed errors on decimal attributes
- Provided a friendly error message when a user tries to save the editable grid with an invalid date format
Sonoma Partner’s Editable Grids is a utility that allows users to quickly and easily update multiple records at one time. The editable grid button is accessed in the application ribbon, so users can always access it quickly. The editable grid button is available on Account, Contact, Opportunity, Lead, and Case out of the box, but can be added to more entities through configuration.
Note that this release of Editable Grids is for Dynamics CRM 2011 only and not Dynamics CRM 2013. These are two separate solutions that Sonoma Partners provides for the latest two major releases of CRM.
This is a free tool that Sonoma Partners makes available to the community. Head over to the Community Site now and download your copy!
In CRM 2011, if you need to reference values in code that would change between deployments, the best practice is to create a new entity (typically called Configuration) and add necessary attributes for configurable values such as a “Server URL” of an integration web service. The sole purpose of this entity is to hold one record that would contain the correct values that your custom code can reference, usually for integration purposes. The downside to this approach is that it adds overhead by needing to create a whole entity that will only ever have one record and you need to manually import that record into your target environment. Below is a step-by-step guide on how we can avoid a configuration entity in CRM 2013 using Custom Actions.
In CRM 2013, go to Settings and then Processes. Create a new Process and set the Category to “Action” and the Entity to “None (global)”.
Once the process is created, click the plus icon to add a new argument and set the name to the configuration value such as “ServerUrl”. Set the Type appropriately based on your value and set the Direction to Output. Do this for each configuration value needed.
Scroll down to the designer and click “Add Step” and then “Assign Value”.
Now save and activate your new custom action.
The custom action is now live so we can use the CrmSvcUtil to generate an SDK message for the action so that we can easily use it with server-side code. You can use the CrmSvcUtil the same way in 2013 as you did in 2011 but you will need to add the “/a” flag to generate an SDK message for your custom actions.
Note: You will need the latest CrmSvcUtil which is provided here in the 2013 SDK.
CrmSvcUtil /url:http://server/org/XRMServices/2011/Organization.svc /out:Demo.cs
/serviceContextName:DemoContext /namespace:Demo.Model /a
Now we can reference the new_GetConfigurationValuesRequest and execute it to get the ServerUrl value from CRM. Even though we specified the custom action as global, we are still required to pass in an EntityReference otherwise CRM will throw an error. Our workaround for this is to pass in the ID of the current user.
var request =
Target = new EntityReference("systemuser", GetCurrentUserId()),
var response = (new_GetConfigurationValuesResponse)_service.Execute(request);
var url = response.ServerUrl;
- A new feature has been incorporated into the update! You may now filter the amount of data returned based on Creation Date.
- Styling has been updated to fit with the new 2013 look and feel
If you have any additional issues or questions regarding Universal Search, please visit our Community Site Forum for Universal Search.