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An Analysis of Handling a Year Data Type in CRM 2011 - Date versus Text

Introduction

When dealing with the account entity you may decide to display the year founded as part of the company information. This information can come from various public sources of information. It feels natural to think of year as a date since it is part of a date. But of course it is really in fact a “date part”. It is part of what makes up a date but in and of itself is actually just a number. Handled alone it is best stored as a numeric value which makes it easier and faster for filtering and searching purposes. The problem is that if you try to store a date as a numeric value in CRM 2011 that value will be displayed with a comma on the form. If you can live with that fine, but if that bugs the heck out of you then you have to look at the pros and cons of other options.

Let me just preface this discussion with my option that when deciding between making it a date or a text field in order to fix formatting, text is the way to go. Maybe I’m preaching to the choir but I had this discussion on this topic recently. I’ll briefly go over some points on text versus the date data type.

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Lessons on the CRM 2011 Customer Address Entity

The Customer Address entity is one of those special entities in CRM. As you probably know it stores address and shipping information for accounts and contacts. I had worked on a project where we had hoped that we could attach a custom entity to the address entity like any other entity. We found out that customer address is special. It’s one of those entities where Microsoft slaps your hands and says only we can use it so keep out, but that’s another story. The interesting thing about the a ...

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Tip: How to Rename a SharePoint 2010 Server

Even if you’ve planned your SharePoint project properly, or it might be years later, you need to rename your SharePoint 2010 server. This quick tip covers this on SharePoint 2010 which is a much cleaner experience than it was in 2007. There is an STSADM switch that can handle it, but for 2010, there is a certain procedure to yield best results. I was able to do this on a single SharePoint server earlier and it worked great! This was a single SharePoint server with SQL on another server.

For 2010, there’s a new PowerShell cmdlet for this very thing, Rename-SPServer. This is this article on TechNet covering the procedure. It has you renaming the server itself first, then fixing up SharePoint. However I’ve heard of issues with that, and I had better results by doing it in reverse. That is, running the PowerShell to fix up SharePoint then renaming the server. Here is what I did:

  1. Tell SharePoint about the new server name via PowerShell. This is done via the Rename-Server cmdlet. Of course get-help is your friend to get details and examples, however the context help of the cmd (and the technet article for that matter) IS WRONG! It’s funny, because the example is right, but the explanation isn’t. Go figure, nobody’s perfect. Anyway, you give the command the old and new server names. TechNet says the old server name is in the form of a URL. That throws an error. It should just be . So the whole command would be like:
       1: Rename-SPServer –identity “old_server_name” –name “new_server_name”

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Plight of the CRM Trainer

Introduction Near the ending of any project where a new system is being implemented there comes a time when everyone looks around the meeting table and groans because at some point users have to be trained to use this great new system that has been developed for them. Hopefully in your project the various user classes that have a stake in the project believe their needs were heard and they feel that the new system will empower them to perform their job better. This is of course the best case sc ...

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Solution Management Strategy Review

I recently read the Microsoft Whitepaper that was released a few days ago titled “Deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and CRM Online Solutions from Development through Test and Production Environments”. From what I saw the authors are recommending the same thought process I had about solution management in the software development life cycle.

For development purposes you slice up the project into component layers. The layers are composed by functionality and also to allow for less contention by members of a development team. In a discussion with some Microsoft consultants they split up a project into 6 solutions as follows:

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Two Custom Entities that Are Useful in Every CRM Solution

I know you are probably waiting with anticipation as to what two entities I’m referring to in my title. Well without keeping you in such suspense I’ll go ahead and tell you. The two entities are very common things that we find in our everyday development lives which are the Event Log and Configuration entities. Yes I know this is amazingly obvious but I can’t say that every project I’ve worked on had these two entities. Maybe it’s not so obvious. If you aren’t a believer let me talk about my log ...

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Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011–Day 4

Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011Well, today’s the last day of the conference. I know, it’s very sad, but a great time was had by all. This was my first big conference, and I really enjoyed the experience. There were 3 breakout sessions today back to back with the day closing out with lunch in the early afternoon. It’s hard to believe they crammed 240 sessions in 3 and a half days! I got to rub elbows with some of the greats in the industry, bloggers, authors, MVPs and lots of folks from Microsoft. If there’s one tip I can give, it’s to stay in a hotel close to the conference! It was awesome to be able to be in 1 minute walking distance. You have to be able to drop off all the freebies in your room.

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Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011–Days 2 and 3

I'm attending the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011Whew what a wild couple of days! I didn’t get to blog last night so I figured I would combine yesterday and today. The sessions have been really good.

 

Tuesday – Day 2

Tuesday started with the Todd Carter’s session about Extending SharePoint Health & Monitoring. He put on a good show, giving details on web analytics and diagnostic logging, and how to extend them using custom providers to get detailed reports. Very cool stuff! Then I attended one of the more popular sessions of the day by Microsoft Certified Master Scott Jamison, Best Practices Around SharePoint 2010 User Profiles. Now this topic is very near and dear to my heart. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, but I’ve come to a place where I accept the UPA for what it is, even with its shortcomings. He got a volunteer from the crowd (a fellow MCM and MCA Spence Harbar) to configure the UPA live. This was really more of a part 1 of 2, where Spence would take it deeper under the covers and show how to implement it via the UI and PowerShell.

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Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011–Day 1

SPC-2011sThe first day started with the big keynote with all of the about 7500 attendees! That’s a lot of people lovin’ some SharePoint in one place! Well, let me back up. On my way into the convention center for breakfast before the keynote, I noticed there was all this noise outside. Turns out a software vendor and SharePoint competitor called Huddle had hired a marching band to play a few tunes right outside the conference and march through. In my opinion, quite childish. Anyway, on the good stuff …

Walked into the keynote speech, and was entertained by the sweet sounds of DJ Keenan Kameleon. He’s a Senior Product Manager with the SharePoint Team at Microsoft. I’m told you can listen to his music mix from the keynote online here. Jared Spataro, Senior Director of SharePoint Product Management was up first, and gave some updates on some numbers. Can you say 62 million licenses sold of SharePoint with 125 million users? The overall theme for the conference is Productivity Delivered, which celebrates all the excellent work and solutions that customers and partners have developed on the platform. I won’t bore you with all the details, but you can read more on the MS SharePoint Team blog.

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Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011–The Pre-Game Show

Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011Wow, the time is finally here for the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011! What an exciting time this is for SharePoint. The product celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary recently, and it has come a long way! The latest release SharePoint 2010 is really a game changer and is continuously expanding it’s presence and impact in the industry. This conference celebrates the product in a way that is just amazing. There are so many people from all over the world coming together for a single purpose – to share knowledge.

This year’s conference takes place in sunny Anaheim, California at the Anaheim Convention Center. Every hotel in a 15 mile area is SOLD OUT! Ok some of that is probably Disneyland. After checking in to my hotel and getting settled, I walked across the street to the convention center to check things out. I got registered and checked out the venue. This place is huge, three floors of SharePoint goodness! There are lots of great-looking sessions, and I narrowed down the ones I want to attend.

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Published Content Type Column Order Fixed in August 2011 CU

SharePoint 2010 has many new and very useful features, one of them being new functionality with content types via the Managed Metadata service application. It allows you to specify a content type hub, a central location for managing content types. You can then publish those content types to subscribing site collections. This opens up a lot of flexibility to manage content consistently.

Recently I ran into a scenario where I had configured content types in the hub site, and set the column order and published the content types. After awhile I had made changes to the root content type column order and re-published those changes. I found that the settings for the columns were updated (hidden, required, etc.) but the changed order did NOT update. This is fairly significant to users of a document management system as you don’t want your optional “Enterprise Keywords” field showing first with a required important required column at the bottom. Oh the humanity!

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Disable All Fields in a Section Based on the Value of Another Field (CRM 2011)

There are SDK and web examples of how to disable or hide an entire tab on a form in Microsoft CRM 2011, but I was unable to find an example of how to just disable all the fields in a given section on the form based on the selection of a boolean option ("Two Option" field). The scenario is useful if, for example, you want to disable data entry in the fields of a section under certain conditions, but you want to still display the disabled fields (rather than change their v ...

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What To Do When the SharePoint ‘What’s New’ Web Part Isn’t Available

Group Work Lists site featureIt’s well documented that the What’s New web part can be very helpful in showing recent information about content in a list or document library. It’s also well documented that to be able to add this web part in SharePoint 2010, you have to activate the site feature “Group Work Lists”. But what happens when you go to Site Actions –> Site Settings, click Manage Site Features and activate the feature, but the web part is still missing from the available web parts list?

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Creating a Weekly Team Status Report in SharePoint 2010 Using Wikis

SharePoint 2010 Weekly Team Status

Everyone has meetings they have to attend on a frequent basis, and we all want to get through them as quickly as possible (so we can get back to our game of angry birds). We need to have a quick and easy way for team members to provide an update on their assigned duties, as well as a streamlined method of reviewing them during the meeting. Since we’re lucky that our company has invested in SharePoint, let’s use it! This method I believe provides a very quick and easy way to accomplish your goals for capturing the information without using complicated add-ons or any other heavy lifting.

This is the final result. Cool huh? Nothing fancy, but it does the job (sometimes simpler is better). This is driven by a wiki page library, where every team member gets their own wiki page. You could just have one wiki page and sections where everyone just updates their text, but then you would have multiple people trying to edit that one page 15 minutes before the meeting, and get frustrated with all the merge conflict warnings. If everyone gets their own page, no conflict warnings. Let’s see how it’s done so everyone is happy.


 

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Using SQL Server Full-Text Search Services with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

imagesCANRN13KYou’ve probably seen the option to install Full-Text Search during a SQL Server installation without really understanding what it is and how it can be used. As with other database systems SQL Server has a full spectrum of features that typically reaches far beyond what is needed in any one software development project. I look at Full-Text Search Services as one of those step child type features I never felt was worth spending time on since it seemed so trivial at first glance. I couldn’t ever really recall a time when I had a problem searching text per say. If you are like me you probably thought about why would you need that feature for a second and then went on your merry way. Honestly I didn’t really know what the full-text search feature was in the scheme of things and never really had a situation where I felt like it was something I really needed.

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Improvements in SharePoint 2010 Service Pack 1

Some of you may have heard by now that service pack 1 for Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 products has been released. There have been some blog posts out there that talk about the improvements in SP1 and major reasons why SP1 is actually a good thing! What I wanted to do here is look at some improvements that perhaps have been overlooked. First let’s get the basics out of the way so you can see the big picture like everyone else. Here’s a list of recent blogs on the subject:

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How Management Undermines the Successful Implementation of a CRM Solution (Part 1)

We all know that successful implementation and adoption is a major challenge with CRM implementation.  We all know many implementations never deliver the value that was promised.  However, I think very few people realize that the main culprit in derailing adoption is often the same group that approved the budget for the system and were the biggest proponents of everyone using the system.  Great requirements, great implementations and great training can and do get undermined.  It happens far more often than you might think.

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A Not-So-Common Web Service Found in SharePoint (2007 and 2010)

In our day-to-day client work, we recently stumbled upon a web service that is installed with SharePoint, but honestly we had never implemented. In fact, the web service is not listed on either MSDN page for SharePoint 2007 or 2010. However, we have now tested this web service, so I wanted to share our findings with the community.

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All About SharePoint 2010 ULS Logging

I use SharePoint’s ULS logs almost daily when supporting and administering SharePoint (2007 and 2010 for that matter).  Let’s look at what it is, and how it can help you troubleshoot issues in SharePoint 2010.

What is this “ULS Logging”?

Like most (but not all) features in SharePoint 2010, logging did get an upgrade from 3.0 / 2007.  First of all, what is ULS?  It stands for Unified Logging Service (ULS).  It is the engine that handles creating a detailed trace output of all of the events that occur in SharePoint.  It is dependent on the Windows service “SharePoint 2010 Tracing”.  By default, SharePoint creates these log files in the file system in the “14 hive”:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\LOGS

These log files are written by SharePoint in real-time and contain information regarding event logging per its configuration in Central Administration. 

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Manipulating UI Elements in SharePoint 2010

As we mentioned in a previous post, SharePoint 2010 uses a client dialog framework for elegantly showing forms in a dialog box without having to leave the current page. In this same post, we also mentioned the IsDlg URL parameter, and how it can be added to nearly any page to prepare it for showing in a dialog (essentially a 'quick-n-dirty' way of removing the navigation, quick launch, etc.). Armed with this knowledge, we assumed that we could use the IsDlg feature for a recent project, which required a specific page on SharePoint to be shown without any 'standard' UI components (navigation, title bars, ribbon, quick launch, etc.).

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CRM 2011 Outlook Client Tracing 101

Have you run into a problem with the Outlook client and someone suggested, “Hey, turn on tracing and let me know what you find”? Gee, thanks. That’s helpful, right? Here’s what you need to know about tracing for the Outlook client: What is tracing? Tracing is a way to gather a list of the information passed back and forth between a program and a computer. For the CRM Outlook client, tracing will show a chronological, readable play-by-play of what the add-in is trying to do, inc ...

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Working with Views in Dynamics CRM 2011

Microsoft has continued its focus on improving the user experience in its new release of the software by incorporating a number of new features for users and administrators to make configuring, using and administering views easier and more powerful. Based on some recent demos we’ve done for clients, I’m putting together a few blog posts to examine some of these improvements. The first of these posts ...

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Resolve an TCP 10061 Error with the SharePoint 2010 User Profile Service

I went to go run a manual sync of the User Profile Service in SharePoint, and was unable to get to the Service Application.  After reviewing the ULS logs, I found this error:

UserProfileConfigManager.StartSynchronizationForOneManagementAgent: Unexpected exception: System.ServiceModel.EndpointNotFoundException: Could not connect to http:///ResourceManagementService/MEX. TCP error code 10061: No connection could be made because the target machine actively refused it IP address:port. ---> System.Net.WebException: Unable to connect to the remote server ---> System.Net.Sockets.SocketException: No connection could be made because the target machine actively refused it IP address:port.

Luckily this error has an easy fix.  This error occurred because one of the two ForeFront Identity Manager services that the User Profile Service depends on wasn’t started.  Go into Services.msc and check to ensure both services are started:

image

You should be able to start the service without an issue and this should allow you to connect to the User Profile Service again. 

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Collapse and Expand: Working with Tabs in CRM 2011

CRM 2011 forms include “tabs” to help organize information.  If you are a user of previous versions of CRM you know that tabs used to be presented across the top of a form.  In CRM 2011 tabs are now presented vertically.  Read on for the advantages of this change.

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Salesforce Tip: Map a Lead Field to Two Places

On a recent Salesforce implementation, we identified a need to map a single lead field to two different fields - one on the contact and one on the opportunity.

My initial thought was to create a trigger to fire on lead conversion that would populate the second field. However, I always try to look first for a non-coding solution. Which brought me to the fairly simple idea of creating a second field that would use a workflow field update to copy the value of the original field. The new field would be hidden from the users, but would be used for the sole purpose of mapping to the second destination field. I thought I'd found the perfect "clicks not code" solution ...

until I realized my field was a lookup field, a field type that can't be updated by workflow. Drat.

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CPR for CRM Study

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SharePoint Readiness Assessment

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SharePoint Upgrade Checklist

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