Tip #465: Learn how Outlook and Exchange synchronization works

In Tip 435 we mentioned the old CRM 4.0 synchronization whitepaper as an “oldie” but still valuable whitepaper. Great news! This whitepaper has been updated. the all new “how it works” whitepaper. The CRM team has done a great job of documenting the way that synchronization works, including clarification on how deletes are handled, and documentation of new features, such as synchronization field mapping. This is a must have for CRM administrators and people supporting users who synchronize with CRM.

Download the whitepaper here

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Tip #464: Connecting PowerBI to CRM Online

Don’t be a literal as me and make this same mistake when setting up a connection to CRM Online for PowerBI. Read the fine print!

See how in the example there is no trailing space to include in the oData service endpoint!

oData Service Endpoint

oData Service Endpoint

You will get an error when you copy and paste the URL from the developer resources window from CRM. PowerBI doesn’t like the trailing space at all. It will say it can’t find the endpoint. Remove the slash before or after pasting it in and clicking on OK.

CRM Developer Resources

CRM Developer Resources

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Tip #463: Tipster guide to Immersive Excel

It’s Friday and it feels like Excel week so far. Firstly, watch Derik walking you though Dynamics CRM’s immersive Excel feature that was released as part of the Spring 2015 update.

Then listen to the Dynamics CRM Podcast where Matthew Anderson joins us to tell us some things we didn’t know about the 2015 update 1 immersive Excel functionality.

Give us your feedback, all of it: good, bad, and ugly, I’m sure we can take it. Suggest new topics either in comments or by sending your ideas to jar@crmtipoftheday.com.

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Tip #462: Waiting for developer toolkit

CRM developers have been patiently waiting for Godo CRM Developer Toolkit that works with something better than Visual Studio 2012. Now being two version behind, it does not look like it’s coming any time soon.

The good news is that, acknowledging both the demand and the delay, the team has been releasing the most important part of the toolkit, the templates, as a separate download from Visual Studio Extension Gallery for quite some time. The even gooder news is that the templates are being regularly updated, with the latest drop less than a fortnight ago including support for Visual Studio 2015 and freshly minted Plugin Class template.

Spießrutenlaufen was not forgotten either – all templates are now using Nuget to manage the references.

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Tip #461: Getting started with that mysterious USD development

Kamaji - the perfect call center employeeNot United States Dollars, I’m afraid. Unified Service Desk, the quite achiever in the Dynamics family, and the secret sauce to any successful call center implementation.

In addition to having CRM (any version from 2013 SP1 up to CRM Online 2015 Update 1 will do), USD initial setup even for the development is very trivial:

Still feeling uneasy and would like to have some guidance? If you’re a Microsoft partner with access to the Dynamics Learning Portal, register and attend virtual USD course, this one or that one, depending on your location and sleeping patterns. It won’t turn you into a USD ninja but it will surely get you started.

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Tip #459: Don’t touch that file. Or that one. Or this one.

From time to time people complain that, after applying the update rollup X, their CRM deployment suddenly starts spitting out errors. One of the most popular ones is “Parser Error Message: Could not load type ‘Microsoft.Crm.MapOrgEngine’”.

They complain here. And here. And here, here, here, and there. And then they give bad advice here.

Why the advice is bad? Because it just follows the path that led that deployment into this situation in the first place. That’s right, modifications of the web.config file.

Do not touch the thermostatFrom time to time CRM team needs to update some of the installation files that may seem innocuous enough to modify, web.config in particular. However, during the update rollup installation the files are updated only if they have not been modified since the last installation. If you opened web.config in notepad, added a single space and then saved it, installer will NOT touch that file no matter how much it wants to overwrite it. People report that full reinstallation of CRM followed by update rollups helps. Of course it does, it restores web.config file. Simpler solution is to get the file from the original CRM installation and then reapply update rollup allowing it to overwrite that file.

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Tip #458: Tipster guide to Dynamics CRM App for Outlook

It’s Friday and CRM for Outlook is making its way into OWA. OWA, Karl!

This video walks you through the new CRM App for Outlook that was released as a preview feature as part of the Dynamics CRM 2015 Spring Update 1. Derik shows you how to configure Exchange online to use the feature, how to enable the feature in your CRM organization, and then how to use the functionality both in OWA and Outlook.

Give us your feedback, all of it: good, bad, and ugly, I’m sure we can take it. Suggest new topics either in comments or by sending your ideas to jar@crmtipoftheday.com.

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Tip #457: Get your icons here

When adding custom entities to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, adding icons for you entities is an important fit and finish detail. However, finding the right icon in the right size can sometimes be a challenge.

Here are two of my favorite resources for finding flat icons that generally look good in CRM 2015.

www.flaticons.net Includes 2,500 free flat icons available in the size and color of your choice, as well as an icon maker.

https://icons8.com 15,400 free flat icons in any format, size, and color

Between these two sites, you can find just about any icon you want. Got any others to recommend? Post them in the comments.

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Tip #456: Smart contact filtering

One of the challenges of using Dynamics CRM in small businesses is that business owner tends to own everything. What did it mean for one of our customers who had Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook installed? The default filter, as you know, is “My Contacts”, i.e. contacts “owned by me”, and she owned all CRM contacts, all 15,000 of them. Long story short, we had to kill the initial sync and clean up her contact list by hand.

It is possible to select the records to synchronize, of course. But what would be the filter for the owner of thousands of contacts?

On this occasion, it was the business owner who came to the rescue.

In my Outlook I want to see only the contacts I’m dealing with right now.

Solution? Add a new field “Last contact date” to the contact entity, populate this field using the workflow, when relevant activity in CRM is created (e.g. email, task, appointment, etc) and then use that field in the synchronization filter to only synchronize contacts that had any activity, in the past, say, 90 days.

Since Outlook never deletes the contacts “on behalf” of CRM, the challenge still remains, of course, is how to “clean up” the contact list in Outlook to get rid of stale contacts that no longer satisfy the filter condition. Luckily, in this case, “drop out” rate was negligible enough for the business owner not to worry about it.

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