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. Here at Sonoma Partners, we just released a solution of our own titled QuickNav that solves this very problem. It can be downloaded here: https://www.sonomapartners.com/Downloads/QuickNav
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Microsoft’s Convergence was last week and we’re recovering from a long and exciting week in Atlanta but we wanted to share with the community some of the hot topics being talked about in the Dynamics community.
The focus of this year’s Convergence keynote was how Microsoft empowers people, industries and organizations to achieve more. Satya Nadella and Kirill Tatarinov took the stage separately to talk about how Microsoft technologies work together to help transform businesses and while doing so, they announced a handful of new tools.
Power BI is a cloud service that leverages Excel to provide shareable analytics through reports and dashboards. Power BI is now available in the U.S. and more than 140 markets around the world. The following data sources are coming soon – Google Analytics, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, Zuora, Acumatica and Twilio.
Delve is a new tool which surfaces content from email and social feeds within Office 365. It uses machine learning to highlight information that is relevant based on your work and your colleagues. Delve can surface content from Yammer as well as Exchange Online. It was announced during the keynote that Delve is now globally available.
Skype for Business
Lync has been rebranded as Skype for Business and can now leverage all your Skype contacts. It was announced in the keynote that the technical preview starts today. The full version will be available starting in April.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM was finally discussed towards the end of the keynote when Julia White came out to unveil the new Spring ‘15 Release.
InsideSales Predictive Intelligence
Julia announced and did a demo of Dynamics CRM integration with InsideSales.com’s Predictive Intelligence which helps sales users determine which lead they should be focused on right now by displaying the Neural Score and Contactability front and center on the Lead form.
On the Activity Feed for a record there is a new link for OneNote which lists all the related OneNote entries for the current record.
When a OneNote entry is clicked on, it navigates right to the note in OneNote Online which can then be edited directly in OneNote. This feature is exciting for us as a lot of CRM users use OneNote as well. It provides a better rich-text experience versus the standard text box that CRM provides with native notes.
On the product line items for an Opportunity, there is a “Suggestions” link in each row which will display a list of related products so that they can be easily added to the Opportunity as well with a single click. This feature comes in handy for cross selling or when you’re selling a product that has a lot of related accessories.
With a Windows Phone device, Cortana can now be used to open records through voice commands. Julia said the command “CRM open opportunity called Trek 3D printer upgrade” which then proceeded to open the specific opportunity record in the MoCA app for Windows Phone without any hiccups! I’m still skeptical of how well the voice commands will work but it looks very promising based on her demo and I’m excited to see what else can be done with Cortana and CRM in the future.
Julia briefly showed off the new Outlook 2016 and announced the release of IT Professional and Developer Preview of Office 2016. Attaching a file will now display the most recently used documents. There are also new attachment options so you can use a link to OneDrive or the standard inline attachment. The release version of Office 2016 is expected to be available in the second half of this year.
Lastly, Julia showed off the new Surface Hub on a 84” HD 4k touch sensor screen with WiFi, speakers, microphones and cameras. It supports two-way integration so the content can be manipulated from either the Surface Hub or individual devices that are connected to the Hub and it looked pretty smooth and slick! The Surface Hub website notes that it is coming later this year.
Unfortunately we were hoping for some more stage time for Dynamics CRM but the features that were shown from the Spring ‘15 release look very promising. Now that the NDA is lifted on the Spring release, we will be covering the new features over the next few weeks so check back in the near future!
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.
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”
- 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
- 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
Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) is a financial and professional services firm that specializes in commercial real estate services and investment management. With an impressive workforce of 52,700 employees spread across 200 corporate offices worldwide, JLL turned to CRM to improve visibility into the core business of real estate availability. But with their original out of the box solution, sales reps found CRM to be cumbersome and difficult to navigate. Information about real estate availability wasn’t always accurate within CRM and too much information on each screen was a point of confusion for end users. What they needed? A customized global deployment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
“If we are going to remain a thought leader in commercial real estate, it’s crucial that we not only have the right data analytics tools, but also have systems that are agile and flexible.”
- Greg Adams, Managing Director of Information Technology for JLL
Today, JLL uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SharePoint and Office 365 to get the job done. But for JLL to grow, they needed agility and flexibility - two things the cloud could give them.
The following is an excerpt from the full customer story published by Microsoft:
JLL used Microsoft Dynamics CRM on premise for several years, but is working now to add 3,500 Microsoft Dynamics CRM online seats to their current 2,000, allowing their offices in Asia, EMEA, Australia, the US, and beyond to have access to the same data analytics tools and more seamlessly integrate across continents. They envision their Microsoft Dynamics CRM system as a hub of information for their properties, accounts, and services so their people not only have the right information, anywhere, on any device, but also can be more proactive in their discussions with customers. The company is also planning to move its full Microsoft stack to the cloud, and is considering adding Microsoft Social Listening.
“With a company our size, you have to have customizations around business processes – both for individual offices and across the entire company.” Adams says. “As we look to the future, if it can’t operate in the cloud, we will probably look elsewhere.”
Today’s post is co-written by Kyle Gerstner, a Principal Mobility Architect at Sonoma Partners.
With the rush of the holidays, you may not have noticed that the Microsoft Dynamics CRM team released a new set of sample mobile code that demonstrate how to connect and interact with Dynamics CRM from Windows Phone, Android and iOS devices.
Microsoft asked Sonoma Partners to create a sample code solution specifically for iOS and Android developers. In these discussions, we wanted to showcase more than a simple mobile example connecting CRM. We believed we could come up with a quick, easy to understand reference application that leverages the code samples mobile developers would use in common applications, but also be immediately valuable to the user community. Our key solution tenants were:
- Provide framework for custom mobile applications
- Phone-based application
- Simple & common use case
- Stand-alone reference application
- No CRM solution changes required
We focused our use case on something every mobile user can appreciate: the ability to quickly find a contact’s details and record an interaction with that person. The results are the Activity Tracker phone sample application!
While we focused on the iOS and Android versions, Microsoft developed the Windows Phone in parallel, providing you the code to natively work with whichever device makes sense for your organization.
This starter application code was designed for mobile developers looking to get started with Dynamics CRM for the first time, as well as seasoned Dynamics CRM developers. Activity Tracker demonstrates how to find a contact and submit one type of activity interaction (a check-in task). However, the code is open source, so you have a framework to easily add additional activity types, brand the application to your color scheme, and also add additional entities (such as account and opportunity). You can also look to extend the use case slightly for more advanced scenarios.
To demonstrate, we have extended the application for our internal use to bring back tweets from a contact. We simply added a ‘Twitter Handle’ field to the contact form and use that to make a call to Twitter, retrieving all public tweets associated with that twitter handle. As you can see from the screenshot, we also altered the design of the activity history to use a horizontal scroll, for better usability with more information sources.
The Microsoft team also has demonstrated extending the application. They have a sample that enhanced the Windows Phone example to use Cortana – bringing the power of voice commands to your CRM data entry!
From a technical perspective, the samples show you how to connect to both the SOAP and OData endpoints that Dynamics CRM uses. As a mobile developer using Dynamics CRM, you will probably use both endpoints in your custom applications.
The OData endpoint is a more common approach for connecting mobile applications, and is the primary approach taken in this sample. For example, we use OData to fetch details of the contact and get the recent records list, which comes back in an easy-to-consume JSON format. However, not all of the Dynamics CRM API methods are currently supported with OData. One example of this, is using the Execute method which was needed to mark an activity as completed. Hence the need to also demonstrate how to interact with the SOAP endpoint.
We also made use of Microsoft’s ADAL library for Objective C and ADAL library for Android, which uses OAuth to authenticate the user to CRM. Like many mobile applications, this means your user authenticates from their appropriate authentication endpoint, with the credentials they already know and commonly use. More importantly from an application development perspective, the custom application does not need or has access to your username and password. The OAuth model gives the user and system administrators the ability to revoke access if a device is lost or an employee leaves the organization, helping to further reduce the security risks generally associated with mobile applications.
We believe these mobile samples will allow you to more quickly deploy a customized mobile application for your organization and make your mobile workforce more efficient and engaged.
Ready to mobilize your workforce? We can help. Contact us to learn more about mobile CRM applications for your business.
The following is a list of the new API methods from this MSDN article. We are particularly most excited about the ability to dynamically hide/show the business process flow control.
Change the process when there are more than one process available for the entity.
Use Xrm.Page.data.process.getEnabledProcesses to retrieve information about enabled processes that the user can choose for the entity. Then use Xrm.Page.data.process.setActiveProcess to make one of the enabled processes the active one.
Move to the next stage when all required steps are completed to make it the current active stage.
Move to the previous stage and make it the current active stage.
Select a stage to view the status of the steps in the stage.
Use Xrm.Page.data.process.getActivePath to retrieve information about the stages that have been completed, the current active stage, and valid stages available from the current active stage. Examine the steps included in that stage and compare the corresponding form attribute values to determine whether they are completed.
Complete a step
Steps are completed when the corresponding data in the form is entered. You can determine the attribute using the step getAttribute method. This will return the logical name of the attribute. Then use Xrm.Page.getAttribute to retrieve attribute from the Xrm.Page.data.entity.attributes collection and then use the attribute setValue method to set the value.
Detect whether a step is required
Use the step isRequired method to determine if a step is required by the business process flow.
Expand or collapse the business process flow control
Hide the process control
Use Xrm.Page.ui.process.setVisible, you can control whether to display the business process flow control.
Skip to a valid completed stage.
Use Xrm.Page.data.process.setActiveStage to set one of the valid completed stages for the current entity.
Query the process definition including stages not currently visible
Use Xrm.Page.data.process.getActiveProcess to query the definition of the business process flow, including stages that might not be visible because of branching logic in the process.
Events for business process flows
You can interact any event provided by the form with business process flows, but two new events allow you to execute code based on events just for the business process flow control. You can execute code when the active stage of a business process flow changes (OnStageChange event) or when a stage is selected (OnStageSelected event).
The SDK team also provided a couple great samples for the new scripting methods. Check out this sample on how to retrieve information about the enabled processes for an entity and this sample on retrieving information about the stages and steps in the active business process flow path.
Microsoft recently announced new features that have come 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 came with 2015.
Next up for our review are the enhancements being made to Outlook and the Sync Process. One thing to note is that all the enhancements outlined in this blog apply to both the legacy Outlook Sync and new Server Side Sync process introduced with CRM 2013.
Below are the enhancements that are included with CRM 2015. We’ll go into a few of these enhancements in more detail later in this blog.
- Contact Phone Number and Address Sync Improvements
- Sync Outlook Assigned Task (Outlook task assigned to another user that is also in CRM). This is not enabled out of the box and a System Setting needs to be enabled to turn this on
- Sync Appointment Attachments. This is also controlled via a System Setting.
- Configurable Field Level Sync
- Outlook Client
Navigating to Settings –> Administration –> System Settings –> Synchronization will display the dialog of all the organization level settings regarding the Outlook sync process. See below.
In this dialog you have a mix of legacy pre-2015 settings, and a handful of new 2015 settings. The new configuration settings you have at your disposal are:
- Synchronized Fields: This is where an admin can modify what direction fields are synced. This is explained more below.
- Synchronize Appointment Attachments: With 2015, you can enable attachments on appointments to synchronize between Outlook and Dynamics CRM.
- Address Sync: This is explained more in the section below.
- Synchronize Assigned Tasks: An admin can enable if Outlook Tasks that are assigned to another user are tracked in CRM or not.
Contact Phone Number and Address Sync
With CRM 2015, Microsoft has changed the sync process for Contacts. 4 more phone numbers were added to the sync process for a total of 11:
- Assistant’s Phone
- Business Fax
- Business Phone
- Business Phone 2
- Callback Number
- Company Phone
- Home Phone
- Home Phone 2
- Mobile Phone
- Telephone 3
There’s also an organization level System Setting that allows you to indicate if you want to sync either A) just the Outlook Mailing Address, or B) all 3 Outlook Addresses (Business, Home, Other). This setting is available by going to Settings –> Administration –> System Settings (shown above).
Configurable Field Level Sync
One of the biggest questions we’re asked over and over with our clients is what fields are synchronized between Outlook and Dynamics CRM. There are a few sites out there that go into detail on what fields are synchronized, but nothing within the application provided by Microsoft. They also don’t easily indicate which Outlook fields synchronize to which CRM fields, the direction of the sync, and the ability to turn off that sync (in other words, all fields synchronized all the time).
Now with Dynamics CRM 2015, you can navigate to Settings –> Administration –> System Settings –> Synchronization –> Synchronized Fields. From this location, you can see the mapping between Outlook fields and CRM fields and the direction that the sync is currently configured for.
For each field you can modify the sync direction so that it syncs both ways, sync one way, or don’t sync at all. This is currently an Organization level setting that’s setup in the Settings area of CRM and one improvement that I can see here is making this a user setting so that each user can have individual unique sync experiences if for some reason they don’t want to share information about Contacts that are in their Outlook and also tracked within CRM. However, for the current release of 2015, individual users can at least view the sync directions that their administrator setup by navigating to their Personal Options –> Synchronization –> Synchronized Fields
There are a couple quick use cases that come to mind that I know most customers would be ecstatic to get their hands on:
- Private Notes: Turn off the sync process on the Outlook Notes field. Therefore users can add Notes within Outlook and they won’t flow to CRM for everyone to see. They can keep their own personal notes locally in Outlook.
- Read Only CRM Data: Set the sync direction on the desired read only fields to go from CRM to Outlook only, meaning updates in Outlook will not update CRM, and CRM will overwrite Outlook changes.
Another resource on this subject is an article that Microsoft recently published. While having this in the application is useful, this link also provides more details for administrators.
Outlook Client Enhancements
There have been changes to the Outlook Client itself in addition to the sync changes.
First off Microsoft has now added OAuth support to the Outlook Client. This enables multi-factor authorization to the Outlook client and brings consistency across CRM clients (web and Outlook).
Microsoft has also cut the clutter out of configuring the Outlook client. Users simply need to provide the Organization URL to get up and running as fast as possible. See below for what the configuration process looks in Dynamics 2013, and how much easier it is in 2015.
Also, in order to help troubleshooting issues between Client and Server, Dynamics CRM 2015 now automatically detects compatibility issues between the Client and Server. A notification is sent to the user if a compatibility issue is detected.
Finally, another troubleshooting addition made by Microsoft is when errors are detected, a “Resolve This Issue” dynamic help link will appear. This link will be dynamic and will search a server side database of articles that will route customers to the right resolution for their issue.
Upgrade Experience and Supportability
This topic isn’t really an enhancement, but goes into details on moving to the Dynamics CRM 2015 Outlook client, and what versions are supported.
In order to upgrade to the 2015 Outlook client, you must be on Outlook 2010 or higher (support for Office 2007 is being dropped). Microsoft is also dropping support for:
- IE 8, IE 9
- Windows Vista
- Windows Server 2008 Remote Desktop Services
- Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services
The Outlook Client must be in “Online Mode” for the upgrade to succeed, and Microsoft is allowing all 2013 Outlook Client versions to upgrade to the 2015 Outlook Client. Also, users will be able to continue to use the 2013 Outlook Client if they deploy the 2015 server. However, they’ll only be able to use it in “Online Mode” (i.e., no offline capabilities will be supported).
The recommended process for upgrading your Outlook Client is the following. This process will ensure users are able to continue to use their Outlook Clients during your server upgrade to Dynamics 2015.
- Upgrade all Outlook Clients to 2013
- Upgrade your server to 2015
- Upgrade all Outlook Clients to 2015
We hope you’ll find that these improvements will add more configurability and robust functionality to the Outlook Client. I can see some future improvements Microsoft may want to add in with the sync process (allowing administrators to add/remove/edit what Outlook fields sync to what CRM fields including the ability to sync to custom fields), but it’s good to see Microsoft is continuing to go down the path of putting more configurability options in the hands of administrators, and removing any hard coded logic.
Good luck with your 2015 upgrade, and with all upgrades, plan…test…plan…and test some more!!
Microsoft has been rolling out CRM 2015 for Online organizations (On-prem download can be found here) but before you perform the update you will want to review the new list of unsupported customizations in 2015 to see if you are currently using any of them.
Earlier in the year, in the 2013 SDK, Microsoft provided a list of things that will be changing in the next release which can also be found here in the MSDN. Only 3 functions are being removed, getServerUrl (use getClientUrl), isOutlookClient (use client.getClient) and isOutlookClientOnline (use client.getClientState). The Xrm.Page.ui.getFormType call will no longer return 5 for Quick Create and 11 for Read Optimized as those types of forms were removed/deprecated in earlier releases. Also be sure that your customizations are no longer using the old 2007 endpoint as it is removed in CRM 2015. To help detect if you are using the 2007 endpoint, you can run the Legacy Feature Check tool against your organizations.
Lastly, there have been some changes to the web application requirements for CRM 2015. Support for IE8 and IE9 has been removed with the new version. See below for a list of all the supported browsers:
- Internet Explorer 10
- Internet Explorer 11
- Mozilla Firefox (latest publicly released version) running on Windows 8.1 or Windows 8, or Windows 7
- Google Chrome (latest publicly released version) running on Windows 8.1 or Windows 8, or Windows 7, or Google Nexus 10 tablet
- Apple Safari (latest publicly released version) running on Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion), 10.9 (Mavericks), or Apple iPad
And the supported versions of Microsoft Office:
- Microsoft Office 365
- Microsoft Office 2010
- Microsoft Office 2013
As always be sure to perform the upgrade first in a development or sandbox org to verify that your customizations are still functioning post-upgrade before upgrading your production environment.
Today I am co-blogging with Blake Scarlavai, Development Principal and Microsoft Dynamics blogger at Sonoma Partners.
Recently a vulnerability in SSL 3.0 known as “Poodle” gained some significant attention, with many companies responding in various ways to ensure their customers’ data is protected. It can be confusing to keep track of what companies are doing what, and what is expected of you as a customer to ensure you are not vulnerable. Below are the summaries of the responses that Salesforce and Microsoft have taken.
Salesforce is in the process of disabling SSL 3.0 on their platform. By the end of December, you will no longer be able to use SSL 3.0 visit Salesforce’s platform. For the most part, we don’t expect this to affect our clients as the browsers which needed SSL 3.0 still enabled (IE 6 mainly) are already not supported by Salesforce. You can get the full list of the disable schedule and more information about the changes on Salesforce’s help page.
Microsoft is in the process of remediating their online services for the SSL 3.0 vulnerability. Below is a time table for each of the CRM services:
SSL v3.0 Mitigation Status
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online
Microsoft Dynamics Marketing
Microsoft Social Listening
Parature for Microsoft Dynamics
Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services
Online Services for Microsoft Dynamics
Microsoft also recommends disabling SSL 3.0 in your browser. The following resources can be used for your respective browser:
- Internet Explorer: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/security/3009008.aspx
- Firefox: https://blog.mozilla.org/security/2014/10/14/the-poodle-attack-and-the-end-of-ssl-3-0/
- Chrome: http://dottech.org/166990/how-to-disable-ssl-3-0-support-in-chrome-tip/
For more information on Microsoft’s response, click here.