CRM Online Spring 2015 – Plug-In Trace Log

Posted by on May 11, 2015 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

With the release of CRM Online Spring 2015 Update, Microsoft provided a long awaited feature for developers that we are really excited about.  That feature is a built-in Plug-In Trace Log that allows developers to utilize the existing ITracingService and provide a way to see any traces without requiring an error to occur to see the trace.

Here’s how it works:

  • First we need to enable the Plug-In Trace Log within the System Settings under the Customization tab.  You can choose to log only Exceptions or both Exceptions and Traces.

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  • Next, utilize the ITracingService to write out a trace and/or throw an Exception within a plug-in

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  • Next, register your plug-in on the desired step as normal.  In my example I am registering it on Create of an Account
  • When I attempt to Create an Account record then I receive an error message with the exception that I wrote in the plug-in

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  • Now Navigate to the new link in Settings –> Plug-In Trace Log

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  • You should see a grid of all the Plug-In Trace Logs per plug-in execution

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  • Open up the trace record and you will see the details of any traces and exceptions that occurred with the plug-in.  It also provides the duration of the plug-in execution which will definitely come in handy for performance testing.

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As you can see, this feature will come in handy and should eliminate the need to use a custom entity to store any log entries.  It also eliminates the need to require users to click the “Download Log” button on the error dialog in order to send the log file when an error occurs.

CRM Online Spring 2015 – Folder Level Tracking

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

Microsoft recently announced the General Availability of the CRM Online Spring Release ‘15 and we wanted to share yet another one of the new features that has been rolled out to CRM Online.  This post will cover the new Folder Level Tracking feature that CRM Online users should start seeing, and CRM On Prem users should hopefully see in the near future.

What is it?

Folder Level Tracking is another way for users to track emails in Dynamics CRM from Exchange.  With Folder Level Tracking, you don’t need to have the CRM Outlook Client installed.  This means that Folder Level Tracking will work with native mobile apps.  For example, if you use a Windows Phone, you can move emails from Exchange to CRM by directly using your Windows phone and we’ll describe how below.

How does it work?  Well there are two main scenarios that Folder Level Tracking supports:

  • Quick Track:
    • This is the scenario where you want emails to quickly be tracked in CRM without setting a regarding.
    • This is equivalent of clicking the “Track” button alone in the current CRM Outlook Client
    • Users can move emails to a specific folder (e.g., “Track in CRM”) and all emails moved to that folder will be tracked in CRM automatically
  • Set Regarding:
    • This scenario is where your emails will be tracked in CRM, and be regarding a specific record in CRM
    • This is equivalent of clicking the “Set Regarding” button in the current CRM Outlook Client

How do you set it up?

Folder Level Tracking has a few requirements for it to work.  First there are system level settings that need to be enabled.

  • First off, Server Side Synchronization needs to be enabled and configured within CRM System Settings
  • Also, Folder Level Tracking needs to be enabled within CRM System Settings
  • The User’s Mailbox in CRM also needs to be setup and enabled

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Now the users themselves also have to go within their Personal Options –> Emails –> Configure Folder Tracking Rules.  From here they can select the Exchange Folder, and then the CRM Record (optional) they want to track the emails against. 

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As you can see from above and as stated earlier, these are user specific configuration rules so each user can have their own synchronization setup.  That’s it!  Pretty simple right?

 

What does this mean for me:

This is a new powerful option to track emails.  The beauty of this is that you don’t need to have a separate client installed, but it’ll work with any native client you’ve been using for emails.  This is available for ALL mail apps on ALL devices.

There are a few tips we recommend when using this option.

  • You can setup Exchange rules to move emails to specific folders (including the generic “Track in CRM”) to have the emails automatically track in CRM based on your Folder Level Tracking configuration rules
  • As stated above, you can move emails using your native mail clients (Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, etc.) and have the Folder Level Tracking rules apply and create the email in CRM

A few notes that you should be aware of:

  • The mapping between the Exchange Folder and CRM Record are using their respective ID’s, so you can change the name of the Folder or Record, and the tracking will still work.
  • If an email is already tracked, and you remove it from the Exchange folder, it WILL NOT be removed from CRM.  It will remain to be tracked.
  • Removing a rule WILL NOT remove / delete the emails from CRM that were tracked because of it
  • There is SDK support to manage the configuration rules (create, retrieve, modify)
  • You can always specify a regarding for your rule at a later time if you don’t set it up upon create
  • The Folder list in the Rule UI is updated periodically when the mailbox is synced via Server Side Sync and the last sync displayed on the mapping dialog

I hope you’re as excited for this new feature as I am.  I’ve been a part of many mobile projects where the CRM Outlook Client isn’t installed (can’t be installed), yet the client wants to send an email from the device and have it tracked in CRM.  To date there’s been no simple way to use the native mail client, and have those emails tracked, but Folder Level Tracking should solve that problem.  Enjoy!

CRM Online Spring 2015 – Immersive Excel

Posted by on May 1, 2015 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

Microsoft recently announced the CRM Online Spring Release ‘15 and subsequently lifted the NDA around the release and therefore it’s time to start posting about all the great new features coming!

This post will cover the new Immersive Excel feature that Microsoft is rolling out.

What is it?

Immersive Excel is Microsoft’s new way to have a richer Microsoft Excel experience directly in Dynamics CRM.  You’re no longer required to export your data to Excel to be able to perform more complex analysis on it (though this functionality still remains).  You can now perform this analysis directly within Dynamics CRM.

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What can it do?:

So what can the new Immersive Excel feature within Dynamics CRM do?  How close to actual Excel do I get when I use it?  Well the answer is that Immersive Excel is actually using Excel Online from within the CRM browser window.  Therefore anything you can do with Excel Online,  you can do with Immersive Excel.

This includes the ability to work with Excel Formulas directly from your list of CRM data, without leaving CRM.  You can calculate what the Commission you could make for your Opportunities, by multiplying the revenue by 10%, if the probability is at least 90%.

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You can make updates to records which honor field validation (e.g., you cannot enter a string into a date field, you can only select from the available option set values, min and max values, etc.), and then click on Save Changes to CRM.  Or you can simply return back to the CRM list without saving your changes.  Immersive Excel allows you to change multiple records quickly acting like an editable grid.  However, you must click the button to save the changes before the records are updated.

You currently cannot do perform a Save As to save an Excel Doc (due to technical limitations) but you can copy/paste from the embedded Immersive Excel page to another Excel document. Hopefully this will be fixed in a future release.

Requirements

In order to make use of this new functionality, the following requirements must be met:

  • CRM Online (currently we are unaware of any plans to bring this to OnPrem)
  • Separate O365 License required (Online version of Office)
  • Export to Excel Security Role Privilege
  • Available in the Web Client only (not available for the phone, tablet, or Outlook clients yet)

Miscellaneous and Summary:

Immersive Excel is a neat new tool that will provide CRM users with an additional option to perform some more ad-hoc quick queries, reports, dashboards to analyze data on the fly.

Note that this functionality is recommended purely for “on the fly” analytics, and not for someone to save the Excel file locally.  Use Export to Excel for that functionality.

After 5 minutes, the file is regenerated per view per user. There is an indicator in the top right of the page shows when the file was generated.  Take note of this time as Microsoft doesn’t want to bombard the servers with constant regeneration, but they also don’t want the data to become stale.  Therefore if you’re using this functionality to make changes to records, remember to save early and often to make sure none of your changes are lost.

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Also note that the import of the data from Excel Online will take time.  A data import async job is kicked off to perform this functionality that you can monitor to see when it completes.

I hope you’re as excited about this functionality as we are, and hope you’re able to get your hands on it soon!

CRM Online Spring 2015 – OneNote Integration

Posted by on April 15, 2015 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (1)

Microsoft recently announced the CRM Online Spring Release ‘15 and subsequently lifted the NDA around the release and therefore it’s time to start posting about all the great new features coming!

This post will cover the new OneNote Integration feature that Microsoft is rolling out.

How it Works

Now with the new release, there will be a new OneNote tab that’s part of the activity Social Pane (posts / activities / notes / OneNote).  This functionality isn’t limited to only the web, but is also available on the Phone and Tablet clients as well.

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A few key features and benefits of the OneNote integrate with CRM are:

  • You can take photos, record voice, manage to-dos, preserve HTML & hyperlinks, use handwriting, have tables, embedded Excel docs, etc.
  • Uses the native CRM Security Model for access
  • Allows version history
  • When performing a search, it actually searches the content of the note, and not just the title like traditional notes
  • Stores notes in SharePoint not in CRM Database
  • Each record in CRM has a dedicated notebook in SharePoint
  • SharePoint Notebook name = CRM Record name
  • Each notebook can have multiple sections with multiple pages
  • All users share the same notebook
  • Web Client: opens OneNote Online in a separate tab
  • Tablet Client in Windows: opens OneNote app in the side-by-side experience with CRM
  • Phone Client: opens OneNote App
  • Notebook can be auto created when OneNote tab clicked (in the Web Client only)
  • Navigate to OneNote to add new notes

Best Practices

There are some best practices that you should be aware of if you’re interested in using the OneNote integration with CRM.

  • Pin notes on your device.
  • Use side-by-side experience for windows
  • Take notes quickly using Quick Notes and move to page later
  • Close notebook when not using it to save OneNote performance and search results

Setup and Requirements

The OneNote integration currently is only available for CRM Online.  Also, you must have the SharePoint integration enabled as the OneNote notebooks are stored in SharePoint.

You need to enable the SharePoint integration (Document Management) for the specific entities that you’re interested in storing OneNote documents for.  Once you enable this on the entity definition, you then have to go into the OneNote Integration settings area, and enable OneNote for those entities.  The list of entities that appear in the OneNote Integration settings are those entities which have SharePoint enabled.

Note that the OneNote integration can also be enabled from the entity itself once Document Management is enabled.  So you can go to a global area to see all the entities where OneNote is enabled, or you can do it from a single specific entity.

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CRM Online Spring 2015 – Office Groups Integration

Posted by on April 8, 2015 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

Microsoft recently announced the CRM Online Spring Release ‘15 and subsequently lifted the NDA around the release and therefore it’s time to start posting about all the great new features coming!

This post will cover the new Office Groups Integration feature that Microsoft is rolling out.

Office Groups

First off let’s discuss what Office Groups are.   Office Groups are a new space to collaborate with a group of O365 users.  These don’t have to be CRM Users, but instead just users of O365.

With Office Groups, you easily indicate what content from different Office products should be shared with other O365 users.  This can be content from Outlook, OneNote, OneDrive. 

To be more specific, the following content can be shared from these Office products:

  • Outlook:
    • Calendar (Outlook Appointments)
    • Conversations (Outlook Emails)
  • OneNote:  Notebooks
  • OneDrive:  Documents

CRM Integration

Now that we know the basics of what Office Groups are, how does it integrate with Dynamics CRM? 

For each CRM record identified to have an Office Group created, an Office Group will be created behind the scenes for that record.  The CRM Record Name will become the Office Group Name.

Then, on the CRM record form itself, there will be a tab “Items Shared with Group”

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This tab will allow you to collaborate with non-CRM users who are O365 users.  On this tab you’ll be able to:

  • See across the various office products (Outlook, OneNote, etc.) items shared to the specific office group
  • See Yammer like conversations for emails
  • For Opps Only, adding people to the Sales Team will automatically add the person to the O365 group

Setup

Currently this is a solution that’s available on the O365 Admin portal. In order to take advantage of this functionality, you’ll need to download and import this solution to your CRM organization.

Once the solution is imported, it’s as simple as typing in the entity name that you want to enable Office Groups for, and then also indicate if you want an Office Group automatically created for new records that are created of that entity type.

A new Security Role is provided in the solution that you’ll have to assign out to your users to take part in this new functionality.  This role provides access to create/view the Office Group entities that are provided in the solution.

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Currently this functionality is only available on CRM Online and Office Online.  I can see down the road this being applied to CRM On Prem, and Office On Prem so that users could have a hybrid of CRM and Office solutions and still take advantage of this functionality.

Also, the functionality of Office Group emails on the record form are very similar to Yammer.  There may be an opportunity here for the Yammer and Office Group teams to talk and consolidate products.

Finally, the functionality to have people automatically added to the O365 group from the Opportunity Sales Team, would be beneficial to have extended to other entities and not just Opportunities

So when would you use this new Office Group functionality?  When you need widespread collaboration for people that are internal that don’t have access to CRM with those that do have access to CRM

CRM Online Spring Release ‘15 - Theming

Posted by on April 6, 2015 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

Theming is a brand new feature coming in the Spring Release ‘15 which has been requested by many organizations for many years now. Themes can be created to change the colors of certain UI elements as well as add a logo to the navigation bar. Multiple themes can be created which is managed through a view in Settings –> Customizations as shown below.

theme grid

When opening a theme record, you will see a variety of options for UI elements as well as the navigation logo and colors. The logo is a Lookup to a web resource image and can have a custom tooltip for when a user hovers over the logo.

Theme form

Below is a custom theme in action with a custom Excel logo. As you can see the navigation bar, grid row selection and even the Command Bar buttons can all be customized.

ribbon theme

Here is what a record form can look like with a custom theme. Header fields and Business Process Flow links can be customized as well.

Process Flow theme

Themes can be built brand new or there is an ability to clone an existing theme and make changes. They can also be previewed before publishing to all users. Unfortunately themes are not solution aware at this time but can be exported and imported into a new environment using native record export / import.

Besides branding your CRM system, theming can also come in handy when trying to distinguish your many different environments from DEV to QA to PROD by creating unique themes for each environment.

Happy Theming!

CRM Online Spring 2015 – USD and Parature KM

Posted by on April 3, 2015 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (3)

Microsoft recently announced the CRM Online Spring Release ‘15 and subsequently lifted the NDA around the release and therefore it’s time to start posting about all the great new features coming!

This post will cover the changes coming to Unified Service Desk around Parature Knowledge Management.

USD and Parature KM

First off are the changes that are coming to USD regarding Parature Knowledge Management. 

Users can now perform actions / automations around the Knowledge Base such as Copy Link, Send Email, Link/Unlink KB Article, Browse web pages, etc. within USD sessions.

Also, the KB Search Panel is now independent, and not tied to an entity form.  Previously you could only perform a KB search when on a specific record / form.  The KB Search Panel can be displayed in different layouts / areas of USD (right panel, pop out, etc.).  This provides a much richer experience with multiple applications and session management for the USD Agents.

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USD Technical Updates

There were also a bunch of technical updates applied to USD and what actions/controls are available for use. 

  • A new type of Hosted Control was added for the KM integration (KM Control)
    • Inbuilt Actions:  Search, SetArticleContext, Associate, Disassociate, SetSearchProps
    • Associated Events:  ResultOpen, SelectionChange, SearchComplete
  • Navigate() action now supports Post-Method for Web applications
  • New Actions:
    • SetVisualProperty (automate visual properties such as height, width, color, and background)
    • CopytoClipboard (allow copy/append text data to the system clipboard)
  • New Panel RightPopUpPanel gives an option to display article previews

USD and Parature KM Setup and Install

To install and setup the new functionality for USD and Parature KM, the Package Deployer can be used to deploy all the components needed for the core User Interface Integration (UII) and USD solutions along with sample data to CRM.

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Then when in CRM, navigate to Settings –> Service Management –> Setup Knowledge Base Management to setup the record types you want KB management on.  You can also configure your Parature connection details from this location as well.

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Finally, you need to configure your Parature KM Hosted Control and you should be set to go!

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CRM Online Spring Release ‘15 – Navigation Enhancements

Posted by on April 1, 2015 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

Microsoft recently announced the CRM Online Spring Release ‘15 and subsequently lifted the NDA around the release so we can now blog about all the great new features coming!

This post will cover the feature we’re most excited for in the Spring Release – Navigation enhancements.

New Navigation Bar Shelf

One of the biggest complaints about CRM 2013 / 2015 is that the main navigation was much worse than its predecessors.  Users weren’t able to see many entries at once which required them to scroll horizontally for a long time to find the area of the site map they’re trying to navigate to.  While this was a pain for all users, it was even more painful for those users who had hundreds of sitemap entries, and trust us, we have customers who fall in that camp.  Countless partners and customers started creating their own custom solutions to be able to see more entries at once.

If you’re familiar with the navigation in Dynamics Marketing then you will recognize the new navigation bar that is coming with the Spring Release ‘15. We’re very excited for the new navigation bar as it now provides the ability to see a lot more sub areas on a single screen instead of having to scroll for days if your organization has a lot of entities. Now when you hover over a main tile like Sales, a new shelf will drop down to display a lot more sub sections and links as shown below.

Navigation

MRU

Microsoft is once again listening to the community and adding back features that were in past CRM’s but removed from 2013 (similar to Advanced Find in the global navigation bar). Now Microsoft is adding back the MRU (most recently used) functionality.  An MRU icon was added to the navigation bar to the left of the Quick Create icon that will show you a list of your most recent views and recent records as shown below.

MRU

Pinning

Once inside the MRU pane, you can hover over a recent record and click the pin icon to pin that record to the top of the list so it is always visible and easily accessible.

pinning

Quick Create

The Quick Create pane was also updated to be a consistent look and feel. It now has the same pane as the new navigation and lists the entities in a vertical manner to be able to show more entities on a single screen without having to scroll horizontally.

quick create

Form Navigation

A new icon was added to the right of the record name which displays a list of tabs on the form. Clicking a tab name will navigate directly to that tab on the form. This makes it easier to navigate taller forms.  It’s also a great way to quickly navigate back to a tab of the main form if you’re currently viewing a related Associated Grid of the main record.  Previously in 2013 and 2015, once you navigate to a related Associated Grid, you’d have to go back to the top tab of the form, then scroll down to the tab you’re interested in.

form navigation

As stated earlier, we are super excited for these enhancements as they have been highly requested for awhile! The one downside is you can only get your hands on it this Spring if you are on CRM Online.  On-premise customers will unfortunately have to wait a bit longer until Fall 2015.

Form Record Navigation in CRM 2015

Posted by on March 24, 2015 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

If you’re like us at Sonoma Partners, and have upgraded to CRM 2015 already, you’re also getting used to the different UI of 2013/2015 compared to 2011.

I may be one of the odd ones where I enjoyed 2011 opening each link in a separate tab (I changed my IE settings to open in a tab, versus a new window).  This way I could multi-task and have many different tabs for different records that I was working with.

However, in order to get this functionality with CRM 2013/2015, I now resort to right clicking in a list/grid, and selecting “Open in a New Window” and now I’m back to the navigation that I’m used to.

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However, doing this comes with a price of losing some other functionality.  Another great CRM feature is the previous/next navigation arrows on a record form to navigate quickly between records from the view you came from.

However, if you right click and open your new record in a separate window/tab as I did above, these arrows don’t appear.  If you navigate the way 2015 was built (double clicking a row and having it open in the current window/tab), then these arrows appear.

Just something to be aware of as you choose your own adventure for how to navigate around CRM 2015.

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CRM 2015 – Custom Help Content

Posted by on February 13, 2015 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

With CRM 2015 Microsoft added the ability to customize help content on a global level as well as an entity level.  Your content will then be surfaced by clicking the question mark icon at the top right of CRM. 

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Depending on what entity grid or form you are on, CRM will either take you to the custom help URL specified for that specific entity or if a URL isn’t specified then it will take you to the custom help URL specified at a global level with context information passed in as a parameter.  If a custom help URL isn’t specified at an entity or global level then it will display the native CRM Customer Center.

To setup custom help at a global level:

  • Go to the System Settings in CRM (Settings –> System Settings)
  • On the General tab, scroll down towards the bottom to find “Set custom Help URL”

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  • Set “Use custom Help for customizable entities” to Yes
  • You can now specify a URL in the “Global custom Help URL” field
    • This URL can also be a relative path to a custom web resource, for example: /WebResources/new_/help/content/global.htm
  • Set “Append parameters to URL” to yes if you would like the following context information to be appended to your custom URL
    • User Language Code: userlcid
    • Entity Name: entity
    • Entry Point: hierarchy chart or form
    • Form id: formid

To setup custom help at an entity level:

  • Navigate to the entity information in the solution
  • Check the “Use custom Help” box

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  • You can now specify a URL in the “Help URL” field
    • This URL can also be a relative path similar to the global custom help, for example: /WebResources/new_/help/content/account.htm
  • Publish Customizations

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