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CRM Resources R-us – Part VII: The Bits

Here it is, part number 7, the final part of the CRM Resources R-us posts. I hope these posts are/will be as useful to you as they are to me. I often grab back to this list to find some tool or other piece of information. Especially when I am teaching Dynamics CRM courses, students continually ask about these things. At least now, I can give them a beautifully organized list. ;)

All the links in today’s post are the official Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 bits. If needed, trial keys can be found on the download pages.

As usual, I mentioned the type of resource and the source after every link. The descriptions below the links are taken from the actual resource. They are not my personal opinion or comments. ;)

Coming up in the next part (part VII): CRM Bits

In these series:
Part I: Introducing Dynamics CRM
Part II: Demos, Show Cases and Case Studies
Part III: Using Dynamics CRM
Part IV: Admin, Management and Deployment (this part)
Part V: Extensibility & Development
Part VI: Tools & Add-ons
Part VII (final part): The Bits (this part)

CRM 4 on Windows Server 2008 with SQL Server 2008

I just finished installing Dynamics CRM 4.0 on a Windows Server 2008 based Hyper-V Virtual Machine with all the latest and all the greatest:

  • Office 2007
  • SharePoint 2007
  • Visual Studio 2008
  • SQL Server 2008 (including Reporting Services & Analysis Services)
  • Windows Server 2008

The total size of the Virtual Machine is slightly over 20Gb. But wooooOoww, this virtual machine is super fast on Hyper-V.

If you ever decide to do run on Windows Server 2008 and/or SQL 2008, make sure to read these two KB Articles:

  1. 950100 about Support for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 on Windows Server 2008-based computers and
  2. 957053 about Support for running Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 together with Microsoft SQL Server 2008. Actually, this should just work if you accept updating the installation files during the installation wizard.

Also, if you would like to use SQL Server 2008 Express for the “Dynamics CRM Client with Offline Access”, install it, as a named instanced called CRM, before installing the client. In all other cases the CRM client installation wizard would install the 2005 edition for you.
I expect you can use that same trick if you want to run the SharePoint Application Definition File Editor on SQL Server 2008 Express: install a SQL 2008 Express named instance (name:BDC) before the installation of the tool. 

Thank you Hannes, you did a great job setting up the Virtual Machine. I only had to install the CRM stuff myself!

Q&A: History tracking / Auditing Entities in Dynamics CRM

Everyone who has ever taught the same subject a few times can confirm that, after a while, you can predict the questions you might get. Sometimes those questions are also a good indicator of what is “hot” and what is “not”.

So, here is one of the questions that pops up regularly in our Dynamics CRM “Power Users” course.

Q: Does Dynamics CRM keep an history of the changes that a user has performed on a record? In other words: does Dynamics CRM have some kind of audit log?

A: Dynamics CRM does not have Out-Of-the-Box auditing support, but it is a feature you can easily implement using a combination of a workflow and a custom entity. The workflow would be responsible to store a copy of the data or the changes together with the user, the date and other relevant info into the custom entity. This technique has already been explored and documented by Guy Riddle on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Team Blog.

Tip: As pointed out by Bart Vierbergen (Helios-IT) during the Microsoft partner event about the CRM Accelerators: Combine the CRM Notifications Accelerator with the logging entity to stay informed about changes in Dynamics CRM. 

Instead of using a workflow, you could also develop a plugin that does the same thing. That would required development skills however. Or you could take a look at the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Audit Plugin Tool over at Ryandev.com.

Next to implementing it yourself, you can also buy a ready made solution, like the one from C360, GaleForce Solutions or Solomon Software. This last company also offers a freeware version which is limited to auditing lead and account entities (Download here).

Tip:  Find Dynamics CRM add-ons using the Microsoft Solution Finder or the solution directory at MsDynamicsWorld.com. Ofcourse, Googling might also help;)

CRM Resources R-us – Part VI: Tools & Add-ons

Here are some really handy tools & add-ons that might “save your life” while working with / developing for Dynamics CRM 4.0.

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Demonstration Tools (for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0) (Tool – Microsoft)
    The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Demonstration Tools provide a simple user interface that allows you to easily enter and edit data to populate or modify your instance of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It also allows you to load and store your data in XML format, so that you can reuse your data in the future.
    The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Demonstration Tools also include utilities to:
    • Generate Data
    • Change the Dates and/or Times for Data
    • Create Dependent Picklists
    • Generate E-Mail
    • Set Icons for Entities
    • Change the CRM Navigation Pane
    • Replace Strings in CRM

  • CRM Plugin Registration Tool (Tool – MSDN)
    PluginRegistration tool is enhanced version of the tool that is published with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 SDK. Complete feature set:
    1. Register a pluginassembly, step and image.
    2. Validates the data before sending to CRM
    3. Update pluginassembly, step and image
    4. Unregister a pluginassembly shall cascade unregister all the children
    5. Enable, Disable a step
    6. Auto retrieve all CustomEntities information from the organization when registering the step
    7. Allows setting more values on step (e.g.: configuration, secureconfiguration, filteringattributes, etc.)
    8. Auto retrieve CustomAttributes on entity when registering images
    9. Search the pluginassembly, type, steps, images by names
    10. Visualize the status of the CRM Organization multiple views
      1. View by Assembly : What steps are registered on what plug-in
      2. View by Entity : What steps are registered on an entity(e.g.: contact)
      3. View by Message : What steps are registered on a message (e.g.: create)
    11. Shows the list of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 callouts registered in the organization

    12. Work with multiple organizations at the same time
    13. Exports the Xml in the same format that can be accepted by PluginDeveloper tool
  • Stunnware Tools for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 (Tool – Stunnware)
    The Stunnware Tools for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 combines a set of tools created for CRM developers and consultants. Some of the tools:
    • The Metadata Viewer
    • The Excel Export
    • The FetchXml Wizard (enhanced features in the Professional Edition)
    • The Code Generator (Professional Edition)
    • The Help File Generator (Professional Edition)
    • The Customization Comparer (Professional Edition)
    • The Trace File Viewer.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Internet Facing Deployment Configuration Tool (Tool – Microsoft)
    The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Internet Facing Deployment Configuration Tool configures Internet Facing Deployment (IFD) for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 after you have already installed or upgraded to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Performance Toolkit (Tool – Codeplex)
    The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Performance Toolkit was created by the Microsoft CRM product team to formalize performance testing of Microsoft CRM 4.0. The performance toolkit can be used by the Microsoft CRM partners and customers to collect data to support their CRM deployment decisions.
    The toolkit facilitates load testing the performance of CRM deployments. By carefully planning the required dataset that the deployment needs to support and the workload requirements, the toolkit can be used to test if the scale requirements of a particular deployment can be met. This mechanism can be used in the deciding on a particular deployment solution and avoid costly downtimes at a later stage.
  • CrmDiagTool4 for Microsoft CRM 4.0 (Tool – Benjamin Lecoq @ Microsoft CRM Support Tools Info)
    So, what does the tool in v4?
    • Microsoft CRM Server
      • Enable/Disable Platform tracing, Zip the trace folder for you if needed.
      • Enable/Disable DevErrors
      • Generate Machine Report
    • Microsoft SRS Data Connector
      • Generate Machine Report
    • Microsoft CRM E-Mail Router
      • Generate Machine Report
  • CRM 4.0 E-Mail Connector Logger Tool (Tool – Benjamin Lecoq @ Microsoft CRM Support Tools Info)
    Tool to easily enable logging for the E-Mail Connector in CRM 4.0
    The logging for the connector can be enabled by modifying the configuration file for the service like explained in the article.
  • MSCRM 4.0 Bulk Data Export Tool (Tool – CodePlex)
    This sample tool allows users to connect to OnPremise or Online Microsoft CRM 4.0 organization and export records of CRM entities in form of CSV files.
  • CRM 4 ScaleGroup Job Editor
    This utility is used to change the DeletionService and Re-Indexing service jobs in CRM 4.0. You can set the next run date/time of a job as well as change the schedule at which the job will continue to run automatically.
  • CRM Form Reporter (Tool – MSDN)
    Form Reporter is an application that creates a Word 2007 document detailing the configuration of all customizable Microsoft CRM 4.0 forms, including tabs, sections and information about each field. This document can be used for planning form customizations or documenting the current state of form customizations. This solution requires Word 2007 and .NET Framework 3.5.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM JScript Export Tool (Visual Studio Project– Joris Kalz)
    Joris Kalz wrote a few lines of code to export all jscript code without annoying interaction.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Vista Sidebar Gadget (Vista Gadget – CodeProject)
    A gadget that can display the accounts and contacts from Microsoft Dynamics CRM on the user desktop.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Virtual Machine (Virtual Machine – Microsoft)
    This demo is a one computer setup with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 and associated Microsoft Dynamics CRM clients for Microsoft Office Outlook and Microsoft Internet Explorer.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Virtual Machine Sample Data (Sample Data Differentiation File - Microsoft)
    This VPC differentiation disk adds demonstration data and other demo-related content to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Virtual Machine. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Virtual Machine is required and is separately downloadable.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Sample Data (On-Premise Edition) (Sample Data – Microsoft)
    Sample data can be used for marketing and sales presentations or for training people to use Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0.
  • Vertical Templates for Microsoft Dynamics CRM (Customizations/Extensions – CodePlex)
    The templates are designed to work with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0.
    Microsoft Dynamics CRM industry-specific sales enablement and demo tools are provided as a baseline for partners/customers for further development. These industry-specific tools and templates, built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM, showcase how Microsoft Dynamics CRM is relevant to commercial and public sector markets.
  • Accelerators for Microsoft Dynamics CRM (Customizations/Extensions – CodePlex)
    CRM Accelerators are a range of add-on solutions developed for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 customers and partners. Each accelerator is available at no cost and will showcase how the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 platform can be configured and extended to broaden marketing, sales and service capabilities. Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers and partners are encouraged to further extend these accelerators to meet their specific business needs.

    Each accelerator may consist of the following: Customizations (entities, forms, views), Workflow defintions, Business Intelligence elements such as custom reports (.RDL’s), Functional code samples (strictly adhering to SDK guidelines), Documentation for installing, operating, localizing and extending the solution, An automated installer.

    The list of accelerators is as follows:
    • Analytics
    • eService
    • Event Management
    • Enterprise Search
    • Sales Methodologies
    • Extended Sales Forecasting
    • CRM Notifications
    • Business Productivity
  • Citizen Service Platform
    Welcome to the CodePlex site for CSP. This project is designed to hold solutions built upon the Microsoft platform using SharePoint, Dynamics CRM and the Windows Live platform that can be used to help Local and Regional Governments meet the needs of their Citizens. For more information on the CSP project please have a look at http://www.microsoft.com/csp and http://www.citizenserviceplatform.com.

As usual, I mentioned the type of resource and the source after every link. The descriptions below the links are taken from the actual resource. They are not my personal opinion or comments. ;)

Coming up in the next part (part VII): CRM Bits

In these series:
Part I: Introducing Dynamics CRM
Part II: Demos, Show Cases and Case Studies
Part III: Using Dynamics CRM
Part IV: Admin, Management and Deployment (this part)
Part V: Extensibility & Development
Part VI: Tools & Add-ons (this part)
Part VII: The Bits

CRM Resources-R-Us – Part V: Extensibility & Development

A bunch of you guys have been waiting for this one: Extensibility and development resources!

As usual, I mentioned the type of resource and the source after every link. The descriptions below the links are taken from the actual resource. They are not my personal opinion or comments. ;)

Coming up in the next part (part VI): Tools

In these series:
Part I: Introducing Dynamics CRM
Part II: Demos, Show Cases and Case Studies
Part III: Using Dynamics CRM
Part IV: Admin, Management and Deployment
Part V: Extensibility & Development (this part)
Part VI: Tools & Add-ons
Part VII: The Bits