Friday, September 10, 2010

Dynamics CRM 2011 Beta SDK Greatest Hits

Here are some articles, notes, and tidbits I've found so far in the Dynamics CRM 2011 SDK that are particularly cool, as compared to the now "old school" version 4.0 of the product.
  • Azure Integration: In simple terms, the CRM async service can send messages to a queue in Azure to process. That will make this 4.0 application better because I can now perform integration tasks from CRM changes rather than using a polling service.
  • Multiple Forms for an Entity: You can define more than one main form for each entity. Use multiple forms to create forms that are customized to specific roles or tasks in the organization.
  • REST Endpoint: In 4.0, writing client-side code in SOAP is not exactly fun or easy. In 2011, you can replace a lot of that code with REST-based calls using JQuery or other jscript libraries.
  • Goals!: Goal Management enables you to set the sales, marketing or other business goals for your organization and measure the results against the targets.
  • Silverlight Samples: It's great to see sample code in the SDK for interacting with Silverlight applications. Of course, David Yack was way ahead on this but this adds to the cool factor in the SDK.
  • Data Auditing: Audigint is built in and can be enabled at the organization, entity, and attribute levels.
  • Custom Activity Types: You can create your own activity types to track customer interactions that go beyond the built-in phone, letter, e-mail, task, etc. For example, if you business has a customer portal for service incidents, you might want to track interactions in the portal as a custom activity type.
  • Web Resources: Web Resources are 'virtual files' that are stored in the CRM database and may be retrieved using a unique URL address. Web Resources can be used in Form customizations, Sitemap or the application ribbon.
  • Sandbox for plug-ins: CRM Online will benefit from the ability to run plug-ins in an isolated environment. In this environment, also known as a sandbox, a plug-in can make use of the full power of the CRM SDK to access the Web services.
  • Entity Connections: A person I worked with at a large Northwest company has a brother who I run into often while hiking in the Cascades. He works for a subsidiary of the larger company. Now, in CRM 2011, I can connect those contacts in ways that helps me and others at Altriva know how they're related (or conneted) to each other.
  • PowerShell Cmdlets: The Beta SDK has placeholders in the documentation for instructions on how to use PowerShell to help with deployment-related tasks.
  • Solutions: Solutions are how customizers and developers author, package and maintain a single unit of software that extends Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
  • Recurring Appointments: Create recurring appointments with flexible intervals/patterns.
One feature that I'm hoping Microsoft will hurry and add is one that can generated a unique number. This is a common customization that we add for our clients but it really should be built in to the product.