Dynamics CRM 2015 Hierarchy Visualizations

Posted by on September 23, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

Microsoft recently announced new features coming out with their next version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 (previously code named Vega).  Check out the Dynamics CRM 2015 Release Preview Guide to see what features are coming with 2015. 

With Dynamics CRM 2015, Microsoft has added a new way to look at records, and their relationships to records of the same entity type.  This new functionality is called Hierarchy Visualizations.  In this post we’ll show you what the hierarchy visualizations look like, but first, let’s show you how to set them up.

First off, you’ll need to go to the Customizations area of CRM, and open up the entity you want to enable hierarchy visualizations for.  Note, after installing 2015, some entities are already enabled and setup for hierarchy visualizations, and you won’t be able to change the out of the box setting (accounts, positions, products, and users).  Other entities are setup to allow hierarchy visualizations but not setup by default.  This includes all custom entities.

A new “Hierarchical” field has been added to the 1:N relationship definition.  Note that setting this to “Yes” will automatically set the hierarchy flag to No for on any other relationship on this entity that was previously setup as hierarchical.  CRM 2015 only allows you to setup 1 hierarchy visualization per entity, and the Parent Entity and Related Entity have to be the same (see limitations below).


After configuring your 1:N relationship, you need to navigate to Hierarchy Settings within the entity definition.


Once there, you can create your new Hierarchy Setting.  The Hierarchy Setting is used to define what 1:N relationship to use, and what Quick View Form for to use for the tiles that appear in the hierarchy visualization.  You can use one of the out of the box Quick View Forms, or create a new one specifically for the hierarchy visualization. 

There are a few important notes to make about Hierarchy Settings:

  • Only the first 4 fields from the Quick View Form will currently display on the tile. 
  • You can only have have one Hierarchy Setting per entity even though the solution explorer makes it look like you can have multiple.
  • Hierarchy Settings are Solution Aware and will be exported / imported across organizations


Once you have your relationship and your Hierarchy Setting setup correctly, when you navigate to a grid for this entity, if there is a value populated in the field for the relationship you setup for specific records, you’ll see an icon in the grid indicating that record is part of a hierarchy.


Clicking on that icon will open up the Hierarchy Visualization for the record you selected, and show any siblings of that record, the parent of that record, and any children related to that record.


One you have the Hierarchy Visualization open, there are a few things you’ll notice.  First off, there’s a list on the left as well as the larger tiles on the right that are showing the 3 levels of the hierarchy based on what record you selected (current layer, parent, and children)

You can also click on the check mark at the bottom right corner of the tile that will select that record so you can take actions on similarly as if you selected it in a grid (such as assign, edit, share, etc.).

Clicking on the main area of the tile (and not the check mark in the bottom right corner), or selecting a record in the list on the left, will color that tile orange and make it the focal point of the hierarchy and redraw the hierarchy tree.

Finally, on each tile (and also on the list on the left), there’s a “pop-out” icon that when clicked, will open up the form for that particular record in a separate tab/window.  If you’re on the form for a record that’s part of a hierarchy, you’ll be able to quickly display the hierarchy view by clicking an icon in the top right corner of the form.


With these changes above, Microsoft also added a couple new operators to Advanced Find.  Note, these can only be used in Advanced Find queries (don’t show up on sub-grids of specific records)

  • Under:  Finds all records that are UNDER a specific node (e.g. all Accounts under North America)
  • Not Under:  Inverse of Under


Also important to note is that all of the functionality discussed above will work on the Mobile Client Application (MoCA) as well.  So this powerful new feature will NOT be only available on the web client, making it even more powerful!

With Hierarchy Visualizations, there are still some limitations to be aware of:

  • Maximum of 4 fields are displayed on a tile
  • Visualization is based on a single entity (not multiple hierarchy) – A relationship between 1 entity and itself
  • At most 1 hierarchical relationship allowed for an entity
  • Only 1:N relationships can be enabled to be hierarchical

As the product matures and Hierarchy Visualizations get more real world exposure, I’m sure Microsoft will invest time into resolving the limitations above (e.g., allowing hierarchy  visualizations between different entities, displaying the visualization somewhere other than the entity form like a chart or dashboard, etc.).  However, this is a great start and something many of our customers will be excited to get their hands on.

Dynamics CRM 2015: Social Insights & On Prem

Posted by on September 22, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

Microsoft recently announced new features coming out with their next version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 (previously code named Vega).  Check out the Dynamics CRM 2015 Release Preview Guide to see what features are coming with 2015.  Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll slowly reveal this functionality one by one and show some of the key highlights of these features.

Next up for our review is reviewing the changes with Social Insights from Microsoft Social Listening.  Previously only CRM Online orgs had access to embed components of Microsoft Social Listening within Dynamics CRM, but now with Dynamics CRM 2015, CRM On Prem customs will also be able to enjoy the benefits of the social data without having to leave Dynamics CRM.

Using a simple wizard based approach, Social Insights can be added to the following:

  • System Dashboards
  • User Dashboards
  • Entity Forms

In order to have both your Dynamics CRM On Premise organization and your Social Insights environment talking to one another, you need to:

  • In CRM, navigate to Settings -> Administration -> Microsoft Social Listening Configuration
  • Copy the Domain URL
  • In Social Listening, navigate to Settings -> Allowed Domains
  • Add the Domain URL copied above to the Allowed Domains
  • Copy the Social Listening URL
  • Paste the Social Listening URL back into CRM



As stated above, Social Insights can bee added to System or User Dashboards by selecting the Insert Social Insights components when on a dashboard section.


When you click this icon, you’ll be presented with a 3 step wizard.  You can select the specific data you want to display from Microsoft Social Listening including what search terms you want to display, what summary information you want to display (e.g., sentiment, volume, etc.), and more.

Note:  You can have one or multiple visualizations on one of the sections of the dashboard so you can see multiple pieces of social information in each section.




Now when you navigate to your Social Dashboard, you’ll see the social data from Microsoft Social Listening displayed to you in a summary dashboard directly from within Dynamics CRM.


Similarly to adding Social Insights to a dashboard, you can add it to a CRM entity form.  From here you’ll be able to see the same social component information that you saw within a dashboard.


Note:  You’ll need to have a Microsoft Social Listening account and be logged into MSL or you’ll get an error when trying to view the Social Insights within Dynamics CRM.


A few additional pieces of information to be aware of:

  • Does not require IFD to be enabled for CRM On Prem
  • Will work with Outlook
  • Multiple CRM instances can point to the same MSL instance
  • This is not available on MoCA (as Social Insights is surfaced in CRM through an iFrame, and there is no support for iFrames in MoCA)
  • Users in CRM need a MSL license (these credentials are used to authenticate to MSL)

Server Side Synchronicity

Posted by on September 19, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

Today's guest blogger is Ross Talbot, a Development Principal at Sonoma Partners

If you have been following our adventures with Server Side Synchronization in Dynamics CRM 2013, we previously detailed some of the gotchas we had encountered with upgraded orgs and some added fixes with communication between Exchange web services and CRM. Recently we found another issue related to an upgraded org, this time revolving around permissions.

After we had resolved the previous issue with the web services on the servers having some issues sending data back and forth, we found that tests for the sync were working for all but 20 users when looking at the sync for Appointments and Tasks. Of course, this was now less than 10% of the users but not all so we went looking for more information. We started by checking the sync filters, trying to determine what set these 20 users apart from the others. The error we were seeing this time around was that the mailbox user doesn't have sufficient permissions on this mailbox. We checked impersonation settings, security roles, and client information to rule out differences. That is where we found the difference, and it pointed to the security roles associated to the affected users. The difference between the affected users and those that were working involved native security roles that had been assigned prior to the production environment going live during the initial user import. With no custom roles defined at that time, all users were given a native security role. Users with higher level security needs were given one of the custom roles and the native role was removed. So why were the users with more privileges having issues?

When creating custom security roles, a good habit or best practice is to make a copy of a native CRM security role and modify only the permissions you need to. That is the approach we take on Sonoma projects, to ensure you don’t have to change every single privilege as you might need to if you started from scratch. When you upgrade your CRM org, whether it is a product version update, a service pack, or a UR being applied, the native security roles are updated with security access to new entities and features. Not the custom roles though.

Here is a custom security role, highlighting a section of the Business Management tab in CRM 2011.


Now, here is a similar look at a role in CRM 2013


There are now a few new entries, and in fact there is a new Privacy Related Privileges section just below these privileges. With all the new features in CRM, including Server Side Sync, Mobile Client Apps (MoCA), Business Process Flows, not to mention adding more with every release, it is becoming more and more important to review the privileges in your custom security roles when testing a new release and especially the features that come with it.

For the sake of future me and all the others that need to search for the privilege names related to these new to 2013 entries shown above, they are listed below.

Mailbox privileges: prvReadMailbox, prvShareMailbox, prvAssignMailbox, prvWriteMailbox, prvDeleteMailbox, prvCreateMailbox, prvAppendToMailbox, prvAppendMailbox

Email Server Profile privileges: prvWriteEmailServerProfile, prvAppendToEmailServerProfile, prvDeleteEmailServerProfile, prvCreateEmailServerProfile, prvReadEmailServerProfile, prvShareEmailServerProfile, prvAppendEmailServerProfile, prvAssignEmailServerProfile

Got your own issue involving server side synchronicity? Don’t rely on a message in a bottle. Contact us instead.

Dynamics CRM 2015 Enhanced Business Rules

Posted by on September 18, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

Microsoft has just announced a slew of new features that are coming out with their next version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 (previously code named Vega).  Check out the Dynamics CRM 2015 Release Preview Guide to see what features are coming with 2015.  Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll slowly reveal this functionality one by one and show some of the key highlights of these features.

Next up for our review is reviewing the changes and enhancements that Microsoft has made with Business Rules (new for CRM 2013).  The following high level enhancements have been made for this next major release of Dynamics CRM:

  • Business Rules can now be executed on the server (previously client side only)
    • Business Rule Scope should be set to Entity when building the rule
    • Ensures your rule will fire when no matter how records are updated and not only via the form
    • Synchronous and would be visible real time
  • Set default values on record creation (e.g., all your Leads are generated in the United States so you can default the country on the Lead record when records are created)
  • Added If.. Else If.. Else support
  • Ability to combine expressions using And/Or

Here’s an example where you can see:

  • The new option “Entity” in the top right corner for the Scope which would make this a server side business rule. 
  • An example of If/Then/Else support. 
  • How you can use “and” or “or” in conditions to make more complex conditions. 
  • The new “Set Default Value” action that’s been introduced.


With these enhancements, there are a set of limitations that everyone should be aware of:

  • Cannot support nested if.. else
  • No grouping of expressions in a condition
  • Expressions can be combined either using And, or using Or, but not both
  • Still single entity only (no ability to reach out to related records)

We’re excited to see the continued investment to make Dynamics CRM a more configurable application putting more power in the hands of System Administrators, and decreasing the requirement to hire application developers to extend the application.

Dynamics CRM 2015 Multi Entity Search

Posted by on September 17, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

Microsoft has just announced a slew of new features that are coming out with their next version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 (previously code named Vega).  Check out the Dynamics CRM 2015 Release Preview Guide to see what features are coming with 2015.  Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll slowly reveal this functionality one by one and show some of the key highlights of these features.

First up for our review is functionality that Microsoft added to their MoCA product when it was released which is multi-entity search.  This feature has been something our customers have been requesting for some time now and to bridge the gap in the previous product, Sonoma Partners built their own Universal Search solution that we make available on our community site for both 2011 and 2013.  If you look at the Sonoma Universal Search, you’ll see some similarities to the one now available in CRM 2015.

In order to setup multi entity search, navigate to Settings –> Administration –> System Settings.  In the General tab, you’ll see the section “Set up Quick Find”.


This section has two settings:

  • Enable Quick Find record limits:  This setting was introduced in CRM 2011 and it uses an organizational database setting to limit quick find search results to 10,000 records to improve performance.
  • Select entities for search:  If you click on the Select button, you’ll be presented the window below where you’re able to select up to 10 entities at a time to enable for multi-entity search.


Entities that are selected here will be used in the multi-entity search results and be displayed in the order that you see them in this list. 

Users will be able to use the multi-entity search using the magnifying glass in the global navigation bar.


Clicking on that magnifying glass will bring you to a page where you can enter any search criteria (no minimum number of characters needed meaning you can type in a single letter), and click search do see your results.


On this search results page, one could:

  • Filter the results to a particular entity using the “Filter with:” drop down on the top right.
  • Create a new record using the + icon next to the entity name
  • Navigate to the record by clicking on the tile

A few things to note about multi-entity search:

  • Uses quick find views to determine the fields to search across
  • Can search activities and notes as well
  • First 3 fields in the Quick Find View are what are displayed in the tiles that are displayed
  • Search from anywhere in CRM using the search icon on the global navigation bar
  • The search results are displayed in the Modern UI

There are currently a few limitations of multi-entity search:

  • Doesn’t work with USD
  • Maximum of 10 entities can be configured for search
  • No hit highlighting and MRU (most recently used) suggestions
  • Only action available on each search result is the ability to open the record

Even though there are a few limitations to multi-entity search, as we expected once the MoCA app was introduced with this functionality, it’s nice to see this much requested feature make its way into the web app. As it stands currently, this is a very powerful tool and key addition to Dynamics CRM.

Dupe Detection on Create/Update Returned to Dynamics CRM 2013…with a bug

Posted by on May 28, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (1)

One of the biggest features removed when Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 was released was Duplicate Detection firing on creates/updates.  While duplicate detection remained via scheduling system jobs, the popular feature of seeing the pop-up appear on creates/updates was removed.

Needless to say the CRM community was in uproar, prompting some users and partners to create their own solutions to backfill the gap that was left by removing this 2011 feature such as this utility by Jason Lattimer.

With the Spring 2014 release that’s started to trickle out to CRM Online orgs, Microsoft has taken this community feedback and put duplicate detection on creates/updates back in.


However, be aware that while Microsoft has pleased many by making this functionality available once again, they didn’t quite get it right.  If you disable duplicate detection rules from running on creates/updates within the settings, the rules still fire and your users will still see the dialog when they create or update records that match a duplicate detection rule.


The only way to disable duplicate detection from firing on creates / updates is to uncheck the “Enable duplicate detection” checkbox which in turn disables it across the board (on data imports, from MS Outlook, and via scheduled system jobs).  Even if you uncheck “Enable duplicate detection” and recheck it (while leaving the creates/updates unchecked), after republishing your rules, the dialog will still fire on create and update. 

Note:  If you uncheck “Enable duplicate detection” and recheck it, you’ll have to republish your rules as disabling it system wide unpublishes all rules.

Hopefully Microsoft will release a patch soon for this slight oversight so that users can take full advantage of the duplicate detection feature as they did pre-CRM 2013.

Controlling Access to Access Team Templates

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

One of the great new features of CRM 2013 is Access Teams.  Access Teams provides a great alternative over Sharing as Sharing should always be used as an exception and not the rule.  Too much sharing will lead to a large PrincipalObjectAccess (POA), which can lead to poor CRM performance.  This blog goes into details on recommendations to keep the POA table as small as possible.

For one of our customers we had a perfect scenario to use Access Team Templates.  The scenario is users should only have access to read their own records.  However, if they’re assigned a to-do that’s grouped together as part of a larger deliverable, they need to be able to see all details of that larger deliverable.  Therefore, adding them to the Access Team of the parent record with Read access, and allowing native CRM customizations to cascade that access down to the child records, the user is now able to see all data in this one grouping of work that they normally wouldn’t with normal security roles.





Access Teams are driven by the Access Team Templates (shown above, and available in Settings –> Administration –> Access Team Templates).

However, there’s something you should be aware of.  If the Access Team Template is ever deleted, all Access Teams that were created and use that template will be deleted from the system.  Therefore you need to provide tight security over who can create / update / delete Access Team Templates.

This is where the tricky part came in.  How do you drive permissions to Access Team Templates?  In native security roles there’s no “Access Team Template” or anything similar to that available in the list of entities or miscellaneous privileges.  So what drives this access?

Through painful trial and error, we identified the “not so obvious” Customizations entity (shown below) drives these permissions.  Therefore it’s recommended you remove Delete privileges to Customizations to prevent Access Team Templates from being deleted (for other obvious reasons as well).  Thankfully out of the box only the System Administrator and System Customizer roles have this privilege.



Big changes coming to the next major release of Dynamics CRM

Posted by on May 15, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (0)

Yesterday Microsoft announced some big changes to the supported configurations for the next major release of CRM after the upcoming Service Pack 1 and Spring ‘14 release.  This time around Microsoft is being more aggressive than they have in the past when removing supported software. 

The biggest changes to support being the removal of the following CRM and SQL Server operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Small Business Server (All versions)
  • SQL Server 2008
  • SQL Server 2008 R2

As well as the removal of the following browser versions:

  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Internet Explorer 9

Some other notable changes are the removal of read-optimized forms and the 2007 SDK SOAP Endpoint that has been deprecated for awhile now.

It’s good to see Microsoft being more aggressive with future releases as they can focus more on providing the best product for the latest technology.  We also welcome the early communication as it gives customers a chance to prepare for the new changes.

If you have any questions or concerns about this announcement, head to our Contact Us page or post a comment below.  We would love to hear your thoughts.

Official announcement - http://blogs.msdn.com/b/crm/archive/2014/05/14/important-information-about-supported-configurations-in-the-next-major-release-for-crm.aspx

An interesting Activity Feeds quirk when customizing an entity’s ‘Follow’ views…

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013  |  commentsComments (0)

Today's guest blogger is Mike Dearing, a Senior Developer at Sonoma Partners

Do you use Activity Feeds / Yammer for your Dynamics 2013 organization?  If so, be advised that customizations to the ‘Follow’ views (‘<Entity Name> I follow’ and ‘<Entity Name> Being Followed’) don’t come over during a solution import. 



A colleague noticed this the other day when he had renamed the contact entity to a more industry-specific term for his client.  He then went through each view and changed the entity name there as well.  Unfortunately upon import of a solution containing this entity he noticed that the names for these 2 views in the target environment were still, ‘Contacts I Follow’ and ‘Contacts Being Followed’.  He ended up having to manually update the names of these views in the target environment to their correct names.

Intrigued by his plight, I spun up two online trial orgs and did some additional research.  It turns out that no changes actually come over on import for these ‘Follow’ views – including filtering, view columns, and sorting.  As such, this has the potential to be quite a bit more troublesome than what my colleague had run into, depending on how customized your client’s environment is.  Further testing showed that custom entities enabled for posting through Settings -> Post Configuration experience the same issue as well.  And since these views just look like any other view, their reluctance to being imported isn’t readily apparent. 

We’ve went ahead and logged a case on Connect for this, which you can view here.

CRM 2011 UR17 has been Released!

Posted by on May 9, 2014 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011  |  commentsComments (0)

Microsoft just released UR17 for CRM 2011 and it comes packed with 60+ bug fixes.  The big news is that with UR17, Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 is now supported in CRM 2011!

The following are some key bug fixes that stuck out for me:

  • After Update Rollup 12 or greater is applied to the Outlook client, the startup time for Outlook.exe can be significantly impacted if the configured organization contains many customizations
  • Recurring Series Expansion job does not complete if Recurring Appointment owner is a team.
  • N:N relationship records are not replicated offline
  • Cannot change owner on create of Appointment after Update Rollup 16
  • When you have an HTML web resource on a form, the web resource is removed when clicking the backspace button in Internet Explorer

And for devs, there was a fix to the OrganizationServiceContext as well

  • SDK OrganizationServiceContext fails to update a related record while in a create transaction.

Head to the following link for the full list of bug fixes - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2915687/en-us.

And here for the actual download - http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=42672.

As always, the best practice is to backup your organization and be sure to install the UR in a development environment first to test all of your current functionality and make sure there are not any issues with it before installing to production.

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