Friday, February 11, 2011

Whole Lotta Love for CRM 2011 Online Plug-ins

This blog post is a Valentine's Day card to the Dynamics CRM 2011 team members who worked on adding plug-in support for Dynamics CRM 2011 Online.

On a recent project, I've been able to add functionality for a client's online instance that would not have been possible in 4.0. Here's just a few of the CRM 2011 Online plug-ins I've been able to roll-out recently:
  • Formula Field Evaluation: When records of certain types are saved, the plug-in calculates dozens of values. It's coded to evaluate the formulas in the correct order in case of dependent values in "downstream" formulas.
  • Auto-Number: Another plug-in we were able to deploy online is one that automatically generates a unique number for various entities. The plug-in uses a custom entity to keep track of the last number used and formatting requirements such as padding the auto-number with zeros. The new transaction support for plug-ins in CRM 2011 help to avoid generating duplicate numbers under heavy system use.
  • Last Activity Date: It was also possible to create a plug-in for CRM 2011 Online that updates a custom "Last Activity Date" field with the date/time when an activity (letter, e-mail, phonecall, etc.) is completed. The plug-in is registered on the various CRM activity types to update Last Activity Date if the "regarding" object is a certain type.
  • Record "Touches": Another plug-in that we've deployed recently is one that tracks when any user opens a record in the UI. The sales manager wanted to know whether any leads and opportunities were sitting too long without being viewed.
Developing these plug-ins without being able to step through the code was not fun (you have to trace-out statements to the UI... can you say "old school"?), but there's enough code samples and decent documentation in the SDK that it wasn't a severe limitation.

So, thanks Microsoft! This is a huge improvement to your online offering.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Capture CRM 2011 forms with Snagit

Snagit has a feature that can auto-scroll a web page horizontally and/or vertically to capture all content from the page. In order to use this feature with CRM 2011 forms, though, you have to take some extra steps. I've listed the entire process below.
  1. Open the form to capture. For example, to capture the account form, open an existing account record or click New to create a new account.
  2. Right-click in one of the enabled text fields and select the Display Toolbar and Menubar option. Click OK when the prompt appears. This opens the form in a window that exclude the top menubar. Continue the next steps in this new window.
  3. Expand all tabs that are currently closed/hidden.
  4. Press the Snagit hotkey. Click the button at the bottom of the screen (the one with the up/down arrow on it). Snagit will auto-scroll the form down to capture the entire form.