Tip #119: Help me – help you

When CRM users see the infamous Microsoft Dynamics CRM has encountered an error dialog, they often select the option to send error report and honestly believe that system administrators, support, developers, all of the above will be getting a copy of the report that contains exact steps how to solve the problem.

Dialog: Microsoft Dynamics CRM has encountered an error

Explain to your CRM users that, while it’s quite important to send this error report, it’ll be delivered directly to Microsoft bypassing all the local “authorities”. Ask them always to perform two extra steps that will assist problem troubleshooting:

  • Click View the data that will be sent to Microsoft link
  • Press Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C to copy the content of the window that will come up, then paste it into the email to support

The content is immensely useful – it contains script messages, stack trace, all javascript developer could wish for.

Error details that are sent to Microsoft

Ask your users for help and you shall receive.

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Tip #118: Prevent users from seeing script errors

You have completed your CRM configuration, you have tested your forms, everything is working great, and users are now “live” in the system. Even if everything is as perfect as possible, users may occasionally see some random script errors. Like any web application, a number of different factors can conspire to occasionally create an error condition and make the “an error has occurred” box pop up.

If you want to prevent users from seeing error messages, you can do so by changing a setting in the Dynamics CRM privacy settings. Go to Settings–>Administration–>Privacy Preferences.

privacy

Selecting either the “Automatically send” or “Never send” will prevent users from seeing most form error messages.

Note–I’m not recommending using this to cover up legitimate form script errors. But once you have tested your scripts and verified that they are working correctly, changing the privacy setting can be a good idea to prevent users being thrown off course by a random error message.

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Tip #117 CRM for Tablets – Form Features not available

CRM Organizations are starting to use the CRM Tablets application more and more. It is helpful to remind ourselves of some of the constraints that we are under in the existing release. Don’t despair though as I firmly believe we will see some of these solved directly or indirectly in upcoming releases. Additionally, you can use the tablet application when it works for you and then if you need a feature or function that isn’t available in the app you can seamlessly switch to the browser view.

These are some of the features that are available in the web application that are not in CRM for tablets:

  • Yammer and Activity Feeds
  • Bing Maps integration
  • SharePoint Document Libraries
  • iFrames – typically used for including web pages in a form.
  • Web Resources
  • The ability to switch to another form when there are multiple record types per form. The CRM for tablets app always uses the first form in the form order that you have privileges to use.
CRM 2013 Tablet App

CRM 2013 Tablet App

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Tip #116: Prevent CRM for Outlook from getting disabled

When you use CRM for Outlook, occasionally something will happen, like a slow response from the server, and Outlook will ask the user if they want to disable the add-in. If the CRM add-in is disabled, CRM functionality will no longer be available from Outlook.

To prevent the add-in from being permanently disabled, you can use a registry script or group policy to enable the add-in if it is disabled.

The add-in enable behavior is controlled by the registry key hklm/software/microsoft/office/outlook/addins/crmaddin.addin/LoadBehavior

Setting it to 3 sets the addin to enabled

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Tip #115: Careful about reusing contact fields

George, work location just keep disappearing for multiple contact records

“This is not happening”, I thought to myself, there are no workflows, no scripts, no – gasp! – triggers on contact entity in this particular implementation. But surely enough, enter a value into the custom work location field and it will disappear shortly afterwards. Then I noticed that it does not actually disappear, it just gets moved to the second line of the address.

Eureka!

Here is what happened: in my previous life as CRM rookie (yes, this implementation is that old), I decided to re-use 3rd line of the address (it’s a 3rd wheel, after all) to hold additional attribute Work Location as requested by the customer. It was all working fine until recently they decided to install and use Outlook client.

  • When Outlook synchronizes contacts with CRM, 3rd line of the address is added to the combined address held in Outlook
  • If there is no second line, the 3rd line gets pushed one up
  • Outlook detects the change in the data and marks the record as updated
  • Lo and behold, 15 minutes later another synchronization pushes the record back to CRM, except that the second line gets updated and work location gets deleted

Diagram: disappearing address field

Lesson learned

If you intend to re-use any of the contact fields, especially parts of the address, think twice about how these fields will be synchronized to Outlook and how clever Outlook UI may alter the content.

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Tip #114: Form Field Display Name Fade Out

One of the changes from CRM 2011 to CRM 2013 is that the display name on the form for a field no longer wraps to the next line. It just kinds of fades off into the sunset.

You can fix it by changing the width of the section that the fields is in.

Take a look at the before and after pictures.

Form Field Display Name with Fade

Form Field Display Name with Fade

Edit the Section Width

Edit the Section Width

Form Field without Fade

Form Field without Fade

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Tip #113: The token doesn’t have to be at the end

If you use Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook to automatically track incoming messages, you probably are familiar with the tracking token option. This puts a token code at the end of the email subject, such as “Important message CRM:00061188.” When someone replies to the message, CRM for Outlook will automatically track the response, so you can capture the entire conversation.

You may have wondered, what happens if someone edits the subject and adds additional text after the tracking token? The answer is, it doesn’t matter. CRM for Outlook is smart enough to still track the email. In the below example, I’ve sent an email and tracked it, and the recipient replied back. The first response, the recipient did not modify the subject. In the second response, the recipient added text after the token. In both cases, the email response was automatically tracked.

email

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Tip #112: Beware of the impact of server sync on importing organization backups

Consider this scenario: You have server synchronization enabled in your Microsoft Dynamics CRM production environment. You back up a copy of your _MSCRM database and import in to your development server to create a refreshed development environment.

After you import the organization and update the encryption key, the organization will immediately begin synchronizing with your production Exchange environment. This can cause big issues, such as duplicate contacts and appointments.

To avoid this, when you import your organization, before you update the encryption key, go to settings and disable server synchronization.

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Tip #111: CRM Responsiveness Insight

Want to test the performance of your CRM hosting environment – OnPremise or CRM Online from a specific location?

Just use one of these urls:

1. Onpremise – http:// or https://<yourExternalserverURL>tools/diagnostics/diag.aspx

2. Online – https://crmorgname.crm.dynamics.com/tools/diagnostics/diag.aspx where crmorgname is your unique org name – what you normally enter to get to CRM and then use CRM, CRM4, or CRM5 per your usual settings.

You will get presented with a screen like this and then just click on Run to get the report statistics.

CRM Diagnostics Tool

CRM Diagnostics Tool

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Tip #110: Don’t prematurely check the boxes

When creating new entity in CRM organisation, there is a temptation to click, click, click, create the entity and quickly proceed onto customizing form, adding fields and creating mighty relationships. Isn’t it what the power of Dynamics CRM is all about? Well, yes and no. Pause for a second, take a deep breath and think about things that you won’t be able to undo or reverse without great efforts:

  • Organization vs individual/team ownership
  • Activity entity (and whether to display it in Activity Menus)
  • Primary field properties sneakily tucked away on a separate and constantly overlooked tab. That includes name (you won’t have this choice when defining activity entity – it’s subject), maximum length and requirement level (yes, it can be optional)
  • All the checkboxes marked with a little cross (pointing to a grave danger, I presume) – they are all one-way features that consume at least some resources and create additional links and buttons: Notes, Activities, Connections, Sending E-mail and Queues
    Irreversible options for new entity

All these things are irreversible – think twice before pushing that Save button. As a rule of thumb, I decide on the first three before creating an entity, uncheck all the “one-way” boxes, save the entity and then bring in the features only when they are warranted or explicitly asked for.

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