Tip #270: Close Appointments from Outlook

We recently posted a tip about how non completed tasks are deleted from CRM if the owner deletes the task in Outlook. The same applies to non “closed” appointments. The problem is, for Outlook users, there is no “close appointment” button in Outlook. The user must open the Appointment in CRM to close the appointment (and therefore, many appointments never get closed).

One recipe for closing tasks, suggested by Gustaf Westerlund, the Swedish Chef of CRM, is to create a workflow that runs on update of the description field and closes the appointment when the description contains a unique phrase like “CLOSE ME” That way, users can close appointments directly from Outlook by simply writing “CLOSE ME” at the end of the description field.

Got any tips? Want to be as awesome as Gustaf? Send them to jar@crmtipoftheday.com.

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Tip #269: Server Sync and View in CRM

Users have reported that after moving to Server Sync, CRM for Outlook no longer enables the View in CRM and Convert buttons for tracked activities.

track

This is a known issue. The good news is Microsoft has recently published the KB article for Update Rollup 2 for CRM SP1, and this issue is slated to be resolved with the update.

“When using Server Side sync and setting the option to track all email within personal options, received emails do not change the Track button, this causes the View in CRM buttons to not get enabled within the command bar.”

Thanks to Adam “Sherlock” Vero for finding this tip.

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Tip # 268: Beware of the implications of “non searchable” fields

One of my favorite ways to improve usability of Dynamics CRM Advanced Find is to set the fields that are not being used to be “non searchable.” You can do this by either selecting the fields in customization and clicking “edit” or by using the excellent field property editor in the XRM Toolbox (thanks again Tanguy).

But before you do this, it is important to understand the wide-reaching effects of setting a field to be non searchable. It is not just about views and Advanced Find. If you make a field non searchable, you may:

  • Prevent users from selecting the field for goal metrics.
  • Prevent users from selecting the field from the chart designer
  • Preclude the use of the field for workflows.

NOTE–thanks to Adam Vero for pointing out that we were wrong on some of the above list. That’s good news if you want to hide a field but still use it as a background field for workflow or charting purposes. However, it underscores the inconsistency of the unsearchable setting–don’t assume that just because a field is “non searchable” that it is not available to users. Users can still add the field as a column to a view, they just can’t select it as part of the filter. As Adam mentioned in his comment, there are several suggestions on Microsoft Connect to make this feature work more consistently.

So go ahead, make the field non-searchable. Just be really really REALLY sure that you won’t ever need that field for anything anywhere.

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Tip #267: If form load is slow, take this pill

Gayan “Not Daddy” Perera is a man of few words when it comes to squeezing the last bit of performance out of on-premise installations. Succulent and straight to the point:

If you’re running CRM 2013 on-premise using IIS 8, make sure to go into the IIS Manager > Configuration Editor then select system.web\caching\outputCaching, set omitVaryStar to True and click Apply.
IIS 8 performance settings
This will ensure that the CRM web resources are cached correctly. When this setting is set to False you’ll notice slow form loads.

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Tip #266: Finding CRM for Tablets log files in iTunes 12

As we mentioned way back in tip #5, if you use CRM for tablets on an iPad, if you have a problem and need to capture an app trace log, you must connect your iPad to a computer running iTunes to view the log files. Apple has recently updated iTunes to version 12, and with that change, many users have reported that it is difficult to find the file sharing area to retrieve the files. The good news is, it is still there, just less obvious.

 

Screenshot 2014-11-13 09.42.19

When you connect your device to your computer and click the small icon on the left to see your device properties, when you go to the Apps section, this is all you will see. But that’s not all there is.

While it is not obvious because there is no scroll bar (thanks Apple), if you scroll down, you will see the file sharing area. You can click on “Dynamics CRM” on the left and download your flog files from the pane on the right.

Screenshot 2014-11-13 10.16.28

 

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Tip #265: Administrator updates of read-only fields

If you have fields on your CRM form that are read only, it can make administration difficult. For example, if you have read only fields, you cannot bulk update the fields, and you can’t edit the field from the workflow designer.

Sure you can customize the form, make the fields editable, and then bulk update the fields, then customize and re-hide, then republish, but who wants to do that?

If you want to make fields read-only but still be able to change these fields for administrative purposes:

  • Save a copy of your form and make all read only fields editable.
  • Set security so only System Administrators have access to the form.,
  • Make the form last in form order.
  • Publish

Now users will see the field as read-only on the form, but System Administrators will be able to bulk edit the fields or update them in the workflow manager.

Bulk edit and workflow editor will use the last form used so to “engage” the form, switch to it using any record prior to performing bulk editing or workflow design.

Thanks to Guy “Drop Bear” Riddle for this tip!

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Tip #264: Find CRM documentation for other versions

When you look at the online documentation for Dynamics CRM, such as the Implementation Guide on TechNet or the SDK on MSDN, sometimes you will find a helpful article or code sample, but it will be for a version of the software that is different than what you use. For example, you might want to know the system requirements for Dynamics CRM 2015, but get the page for 2013.

If this happens, all you need to do is click the link at the top of the page for other versions. This will allow you to choose between CRM 2011, 2013, and 2015.

other versions

Thanks to Blake “Windy City” Scarlavai for this tip!

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Tip #263: Avoid unnecessary plugin execution

Inspired by our rather radical approach to enforcing development discipline, Andre “I’ve got 88 in my handle” Margono decided to pick on another sinful habit in development, this time within plugin development.

Corporal punishment triggering behavior this time is to select all attributes as filtering attributes for Update message.
All attributes in Update plugin
Unfortunately, plugin registration tool that comes with CRM SDK encourages this behavior by automatically pre-selecting all attributes for new steps.

With the CRM 2013 auto-save functionality, imagine how many redundant plugin executions triggered if the list is not filtered (every 30 seconds or when navigates away from the current form).

To filter that list in Visual Studio Development Toolkit:
Filter the attributes in Visual Studio
or in the plugin registration tool:
Select filtering attributes in plugin registration tool
With the list restricted to the attributes your plugin cares about, the code will only be executed when any of these attributes are changed.

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Tip #262: Deeper Lync Integration

You probably know about the Dynamics CRM Lync integration that allows you to see presence notification for contacts and users and allows you to click on a phone number to initiate a Lync call. But there are also additional integration points that are possible if you also use CRM for Outlook:

  • Conversation tracking: Whenever you have a Lync conversation, your conversation history is stored in a folder in Outlook. These conversations can be tracked just like emails.
  • Voicemail tracking: If you have the voicemail/missed call notifications sent to your email, these can also be tracked. There was a bug affecting deployments using the email router to track incoming messages where the tracking of voice mails no longer worked after upgrading to Exchange 2013. This is fixed in CRM 2011 UR 16 and CRM 2013 UR 3.
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Tip #261: Deleted tasks

If you use CRM for Outlook and synchronize tasks with Outlook from CRM, what happens when a user deletes a task in Outlook?

  • If the user is the owner and the task is not completed, the task is deleted from CRM when the task is deleted in Outlook.
  • If the user is the owner and the task is completed, the task is not deleted from CRM when the task is deleted in Outlook.

This means that your users may actually be doing the task and deleting it from their Outlook task list, which will make the task get deleted in CRM. My experience is that many people delete the task from the Outlook task list rather than “completing” it, because the task list looks untidy with a bunch of crossed out tasks on it.

This becomes an issue if you are using activity completion to gauge user adoption or want to preserve the history of tasks in CRM. If you are incentivizing your employees based on task completion, and the tasks are being deleted in CRM by the user deleting the task from his Outlook task list, your reports may be incorrect.

Train users to always complete tasks, and if it remains a problem, consider removing “delete” privileges for activities.

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