2015 Update 1: OneNote Integration

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Update 1 (code named Carina) brings a lot of new great functionalities, in this post the new integration capabilities with OneNote are presented.

Traditional CRM Notes vs OneNote Integration

The new integration with OneNote brings interesting new capabilities to further use the full stack of Microsoft solutions. Below is a comparison on features and on how integration with CRM works on the “traditional” CRM notes functionality (which will continue to be available) VS the new OneNote integration.

Feature Comparison

Some are worth detailing a little bit more:

  • Record Voice Notes: Why implement from scratch when OneNote already does this, and a lot more.
  • OCR capabilities, through OneNote’s built-in OCR capabilities and leveraging additional applications
    that already integrate with OneNote (e.g.: Office Lens).
  • The ability to use existing online solutions that
    integrate with OneNote, e.g.: IFTTT to automate note taking, ads another level to the automation possibilities on data related to CRM records.

Interaction Comparison

On another level, the table below shows how the existing CRM notes compares with the new OneNote Integration, on how it interacts with CRM.

Requirements and How to Setup

On this first release, OneNote Integration will be only possible in a…Online…SharePoint enabled… configuration scenario only.

In detail:

  • Only works in CRM Online
  • SharePoint integration must be configured/enabled in CRM: Only after this will the “OneNote Integration” option be available in CRM’s Documents Management area, to be used to further setup/configure the OneNote integration.

  • SharePoint Document Integration needs to be setup for the entity
    to have OneNote notebooks to be presented as related to the record.
  • OneNote Integration configuration needs to be setup for the entity
    to have OneNote available this must be specifically set on each entities configuration.

  • OneNote Integration must be enabled on the entity configuration itself.

Jesper Osgaard has a great post with step by step on how to setup this. After be above is done the user will start seeing a new tab on the Activity Wall section of the record.

How Notes are Stored and linked?

They will be stored in SharePoint.

In detail:

  • By default each record will have a new notebook

  • The notebook is only created when the user clicks on the “ONENOTE” option inside the record for the first time (this is identical to how the SharePoint Documents integration works for creating a document folder per record on first access):

  • Naming Convention:
    • Notebook name: Will have the same name has the record “name” field at the time of creation.
    • First Section: A new first section is created when the notebook is created, it will be called “Untitled” by default.
  • While in CRM Web interface, clicking on the first “untitled” link will be direct to OneNote’s web interface to the specific section:

  • Adding more sections will add more links to be presented in the record’s Activity Wall:

  • The user can manually change the location of the notebook, and even point the same notebook to several records (identical on how its currently being done for SharePoint document locations)

OneNote in CRM for Tablets

OneNote integration is also available in CRM for Tablets:

  • Clicking on links will open the OneNote app, if installed.

OneNote in CRM for Phones

OneNote Integration is also available in CRM for Phones:

  • Clicking on links will open the OneNote app, if installed.
  • Sections are sorted by “modified time”.

OneNote is everywhere

And the idea behind this new feature is to leverage that. OneNote is already a well-established solution with a vast ecosystem of:

  • Functionalises that complement other Office / Microsoft solutions.
  • Applications on all major OS’s.
  • Third party add-ons, integrations that further enhance OneNote’s capabilities.

CRM user licences still cost some €€, this will further help customers managing their licensing costs by allowing users, that only require the OneNote notes, to interact with CRM and its user’s without additional CRM licencing costs. For all this, the addition of the OneNote integration capability is very welcome.

Best Practices

Microsoft has advised on some tips and best practices on how to setup and use this new feature, a summary is below:

  1. Pin your notes in OneNote app on your device: Pin recent notes, pin to Start (Windows only).
  2. Use side-by-side experience on Surface Pro and Pen: e.g.: Surface Pen to one-click open the notes.
  3. Take notes in Quite Notes and move page later: If you are in a hurry.
  4. Close notebooks when you longer need them: Better for OneNote performance and search results.
  5. Notebook is auto created when user first clicks, very important
    Only in OneNote tab in Web Client.
  6. Navigate to OneNote to add a new note.
  7. Only enable the entities that needs a full notebook per record.

I believe this is my longest post yet, hope its useful and not a TLDR, ;). I believe the topic required it, will try to keep them as short and sweet as possible.

Stay tuned, more posts to come on 2015’s Update 1.

2015 Update 1: Form Navigation

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Update 1 (code named Carina) brings a lot of new great functionalities, in this post the changes to the Form Navigation are presented.

Navigation to Related records

As with the Navigation Bar, the navigation to related records from within a form has also been changed, this allows for a more compact / easier way to access the records, avoiding the horizontal scroll, typically presented up until now.

Navigation Drop-down

Navigation drop-down has also been slightly changed, as per example below.

The dropdown is not on the current form name itself and has its own symbol and place right beside it.

Stay tuned, more posts to come on 2015’s Update 1 and its new functionalities.

2015 Update 1: Navigation Bar and Global MRU

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Update 1 (code named Carina) brings a lot of new great functionalities, in this post the changes to the Navigation Bar and MRU are presented.

Navigation Bar

As per image below, some things change in the Navigation bar

In detail:

  1. The name of the product, previously used as “Area/Module Switch”, is now the Home button: Users can click on it to go to the default view/location that have chosen to see when they login.
  2. “Home” is now “Area/Module Switch”: Now the user can not only see all modules and, when clicking in the module, also the see the options inside each module and quickly navigate to them (image below on it).
  3. New button for “Global MRU”: This is a new feature that we are going to detail in the section below.

Global Most Recently Used (MRU)

Previously users could see MRU lists when navigating in a specific entity view (e.g.: Opportunity, etc.), this would show up to the last 10 records the user has navigated to, and would be in relation with the browser the user was in (as it was stored in a cookie, where the same user, logging into other browsers and/or machines, would not see the same list). Now there’s a new functionality called Global MRU, which allows users to see all the most recent records they navigated to and now also the most recent views accessed. Additionally the user can now pin MRU records and views on the Global MRU so that they stay in this list even if not accessed recently anymore.

There’s not much detail into whether this is still linked to each browser or if this is now stored in CRM globally, in order for the same user to have the same lists everywhere they login, but judging by the pin functionality, and considering this already exists for views globally, this would almost certainly be cookie less now. A nice cherry on top of the cake, :D.

Stay tuned, more posts to come on 2015’s Update 1 and its new functionalities.

Merger Ahead

Can Merging Tables in CRM 2013 Wait?

This topic came up no long ago in a customer, the upgrade to 2013 automatically merges the tables, which would be fine if it did not take so long.

You might not notice the issue when upgrading DEV or UAT environments, but it’s when you try the PRD database where the fun really starts.

In our case it was taking +24h for the upgrade alone. And some times one cannot afford to wait that long.

Consider that on top of those +24h you have to do configuration changes in CRM (specially if it’s a side-by-side upgrade), and smoke test core functionalities (e.g.: integration points) before considering the deployment complete and “we’re live” can be announced.

If its an in-place upgrade, CRM wont be operational or running very slow, and lets face it, users should not use a system during a deployment.

If its a side-by-side upgrade, usage of the old system while you upgrade will for sure be requested, and that means to migrate deltas after go live, and migrating deltas has to be carefully planned, topics such as the following should be considered:

  • How can you identify the deltas? Is createdon and modifiedon enough?
  • What will users do while the deltas are not migrated? (they probably will manually re-create some data, and we can see where this is headed…)
  • How will you migrate the data? Will the lovely MSCRM Toolkit do the job?

The above are not really good options, but there is a third one.

Can I leave merging for later?

You sure can. This registry change does the trick, but it has to be done before running the migration in CRM Deployment Manager:

  • Location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSCRM\ MergeBaseAndExtensionTables
  • Type: DWORD (32-bit)
  • Value: 0

as per Microsoft’s article Run the base and extension table merge as a separate operation

This can allow a go-live during a weekend, and leave the merger for another time.

Why run it at all?

The reason for Microsoft to merge the tables is to “reduce SQL deadlocks and performance related issues”.

So…it will run better, but will it run worse than the previous versions if not merged? So far there have been no indications that it does, and so far new Update Rollups can be deployed without having the tables merged as a requirement.

Despite the above, merging is the default action, and the recommended one. Not doing it will only postpone the issue.

Consider, time and budget availability, if it is not considered as critical as other initiatives, you could pull it off for a while…

How long can I get away with it?

Andy Zhang has a good post that helps address this topic, in short you cannot disable merging for a 2015 upgrade, so that’s how far you can go, or until Microsoft releases a UR with merging as a requirement, ;).

Check out Andy Zhang’s post CRM 2015 Upgrade: A Few Things You Can Prepare Ahead of Time, very useful.

Top 10 CodePlex Tools for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

CodePlex is probably the best source of free and open source Microsoft projects.

Amongst other uses, it is used extensively by the Microsoft Communities to share free tools and add ons to existing CRM technologies (MSCRM; SharePoint; etc.)

Currently hosts around ~794 on CRM.

So… a lot…to trim it down a little bit, below is a top 10 of what I consider currently to be the best, most helpful, tools in CodePlex for MSCRM. These are tools I use consistently in a daily basis and that in generally an IT professional working in the Microsoft CRM arena, would, or should, know.


And you? What is your top 10? Got any favorites? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Chers.

MSCRM ToolKit updated to work with CRM 2015

MSCRM ToolKit was updated this weekend to work with CRM 2015.

MSCRM ToolKit  is now compatible with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011,2013 and 2015 projects.

MSCRM ToolKit allows for core records to be migrated between environments (DEV; UAT; PRD) and keep the same guids, this is extremely valuable as it prevents several issues when using lookups to these records on workflows, views etc.

This tool is available at http://mscrmtoolkit.codeplex.com/

Custom Code Validation Tool for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

To help prepare for upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015, Microsoft has just released the Code Validation Tool for CRM 2015.

This tool will help identify potential issues with custom JavaScript in JavaScript libraries and HTML web resources.

The most common issues that this tool targets are:

  • Common DOM manipulations
  • CRM 2013 Deprecated APIs