8 Ways Microsoft Can Improve the Next Release of Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 has been a huge success and in my opinion has made Microsoft the front runner in the CRM marketplace. Microsoft listened to the users’ complaints about CRM 4’s weaknesses and has included many of these improvements in CRM 2011 - both in terms of features like Solutions Management, SharePoint 2010 integration, Auditing, Dashboards, and improved reporting, as well as by bolstering the customer experience with its CRM Online uptime guarantee, competitive pricing, and the growing CRM marketplace.

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About Ben Hosking

Ben Hosking is CRM technical lead with Crimson Systems Ltd, a Gold Certified Microsoft Business Solutions CRM partner. He is a certified developer with over 9 years experience using Dynamics CRM, C#, Business Objects and Java.

Ben has worked over many Microsoft Dynamics CRM projects using CRM 4 and CRM 2011 and has focused on specialising with CRM 2011. He keeps a popular CRM 2011 blog and twitter feed.

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multiple inaccuracies

Point #2 makes a statement that LINQ cannot be used in plugins - this is not the case. You can use LINQ in plugins with no problems. Please update your article so as to not mislead the public.

HTML5 and Javascript is the way of the future - if you are following the recent news events you will see that IE 9 is embedded in the next phone update, and Windows 8 development is all about HTML 5. This article is about how Microsoft should make CRM better, but point 5 does not add any value to the topic of this article. There are thousands of Javascript and HTML 5 tutorials for you to use to learn the technologies. I don't see CRM as a technology that should teach you Javascript.

Point 6 makes a conclusion that CRM 5 and the marketplace will result in fewer plugins because of the costs of certifications. This could not be further from the truth. The requirement to publish something in the marketplace is to pass MPR testing, which is free, and very easy to do. Not all solutions have to be CfMD. Even on CfMD, Microsoft has reduced the price of the certification. I think you will see a lot more solutions in the marketplace because of Microsoft's investment in the solution feature and the marketplace.

On point #4, I consider the SDK documentation to be stellar. That said, yes, you can find details in the SDK easily by using search engines, but the amount of details and scenarios and code examples that are given in the SDK is just amazing. The documentation team responds very quickly to feedback, so I challenge you - if you can't find something, or find a topic not covered - send your feedback in.

I don't understand the point you are trying to make in point 9 about reporting services. I am very happy that we can now embed reports into solutions, and that custom reports now work in CRM Online. I am also very happy that custom reports now work with the FetchXml data source for reporting services instead of relying on us using the SQL filtered views. You have to consider that FetchXml is a serialized format for CRM searches. I am happy that I can build the FetchXml that I need for a custom report by simply doing a search in CRM and downling the XML when I am happy with the results.

Hosk's Response

Firstly I would like to say I welcome comments to this article and I don't mind admitting I could be incorrect with some of opinions but I would say they are based on my experience. I believe through comments and collaboration we can hopefully create a more in depth perspective. Shan Mcarthur is very experienced in the CRM world and I value his opinion so hopefully both comments will allow the reader to see two different view points.

Comment Point #2

this is written incorrectly in the article because you cannot use LINQ queries with CRM Online. You can use it with CRM plugins

Comment point - HTML5 and Javascript is the way of the future

I think commentator is correct HTML5 and Javascript will make a massive contribution in the next release of CRM and it will mean CRM is multi browser. The comment I am making is I did a lot of Javascript development with CRM 4 and when I came to start writing Javascript in CRM 2011 is was completely different. I will add that the improvements are for the better in the long term but it took me a while to get use to it. It also meant I couldn't bring any code examples I had previously written. I am basing this comment on my experience and the fact that the Javascript basics blog entry is the most popular blog post on my blog almost every day. The reason for this is I believe people find it tricky to learn writing the new Javacript for CRM 2011.

Comment Point 6 - makes a conclusion that CRM 5 and the marketplace will result in fewer plugins because of the costs of certifications. .

This is an opinion, we will have to wait and see how the CRM marketplace works out. At the moment I don't think it's being used a great deal because I don't see many blogs being written about great add ons or accelerators in the marketplace. Currently I haven't found anything I wanted to use in the Marketplace (excluding the Microsoft accelerators) but have used quite a few projects from codeplex. This could be because I haven't needed anything complex or which is offered on the marketplace. In my personal opinion I don't think the Marketplace has taken off yet, I could certainly be wrong but looking at the CRM blogs I read and in my own experience it's what I think. This could certainly change in the future, who knows.

Comment point #4, I consider the SDK documentation to be stellar.

I agree the SDK is for the most part an excellently written document and a lot of the code examples are great. The plugin and connection examples are really. good. There are some areas which I have found not to be very useful and Javascript is one of those areas. The metadata is another area where I found it confusing. The Ribbon is very difficult to explain and the walkthrough I found confusing. You will note that these are just my experiences, I'm sure other people have done a lot better with it but it's me who is writing this article. I appreciate writing a document so large is very difficult and I am just writing about the difficulties I experienced

Comment - SSRS and BIDS

Using SSRS is a painful experience in many ways. I was happy they brought in the ability to use FetchXML but my point is when I create the fetch XML in CRM, I then have to save this file to document, open the document, copy the contents, go to SSRS and paste the new select in. It's a bit of a time consuming experience. It could be made easier. I think BIDS is an improvement but I would like it to go one step futher and improve it even more. I have the same opinion with Dialogs, they are a great enhancement but I would like them to be improved to allow you to store dates and bits.

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