TechNet Community Additions

Today I noticed a section at the bottom of some TechNet Article pages.  The section is labeled Community Additions.  I hadn’t noticed this in the past but I can’t say that it wasn’t available.  In any event, I noticed it today and wanted to share my discovery with the community.



I thought I would test this out to understand and share the experience.  Here is what I discovered.

When you select the Add button it takes you to a page where you can enter a title and content for you contribution.


Even though this is a test, I selected the submit button.  Please note, I did this so you can learn from me experience.  I do not encourage you to test the process.

After selecting Submit, I was taken back to the page where I started.  When I refreshed the page, my post appeared under Community Additions with an edit link.


I selected the Edit link and discovered that I could edit content and submit but I was not able to find a delete button.  I plan to use the “Is this Page Helpful” option at the bottom of the page to submit a request to have this post deleted and provide an option for authors to delete their community contributions in the future.

I’ll look forward to seeing your community contributions to these great TechNet articles going forward.


CRM Online Portal Trial – Step by Step Installation

Recently I obtained a trial portal to add to my CRM Online trial organization.  I thought I would share the process with you in the event you would like to try it out.  Note, this is the process at the time of this writing.  This process could change at any time.

The first step is to create a CRM Online trial, complete the setup and sign in.  Next, make a request for a Portal trial.  You can do that by selecting this link and completing the information on the page.  You’ll receive a follow-up email after you complete the sign-up request.


If your trial request is accepted, you’ll receive an email with an activate link.  Select the Activate button, and you’ll be taken to a page where you can choose to add the Portal to your existing trial [CRM Online] or create a new one.  Select Add Existing, if you have a trial or New if not.  If you accidently select New, not to worry as you’ll have the option on the page to sign into an existing CRM Online trial or create a new one.

Note:  At the time of this writing, you must select Add Existing for the Portal Trial to work as expected. 


I signed in with my existing trial.  You’ll be asked to confirm your order by selecting the Add button and on the order receipt page the Continue button. 

Tip:  If the order receipt includes a message to assign the users a license you can ignore that as it is not required  (see below)  


After selecting Continue, you’ll be taken to your Office 365 Home page.  If not, log into Office 365 and select CRM from the Admin Centers on the left navigation menu and you’ll be taken to your CRM Instance. 


Highlight the instance you want to work with and select applications from the top navigation menu.  In this example I have only one instance so it was automatically selected for me.


On the Applications tab you will see the Portal Add-on.  If you don’t see the Portal Add-on then something didn’t go as expected during the setup process.  You’ll need to go back and check your request for a Portal or open a support ticket for assistance. 

Select the Manage button to begin the initial Portal setup.

Tip: Note the status of the Portal is NotConfigured


On the next page you will enter information regarding the portal configuration. 


Here is where you will give your portal a Name, Portal URL (enter the value you want for the URL and the portal will confirm if it is available or not), select your Portal Audience and the type of portal to be deployed.  In this example, the Portal Audience is customer and Portal to be deployed is Community.  Select the Submit button, at the bottom of the page, and select accept for the Terms of Service window dialog


The configuration will begin and might take a few minutes to complete.  Stay on the screen until completion. 

After completion you will be asked to log back into Office 365.  At this point, you will be asked to give the Portal Add-on permissions that are required for the application to run.  Select Accept


The Portal Add-on is now working through the final stages of configuration and setup.  Give it the necessary time to complete.


Tip: If you select Portal Details, it will take you back to the screen where you entered your initial portal configuration information.  If you select Submit again, it will display a message that the URL is already in use.


You can check on the status by returning to Office 365, Admin Center, CRM, select the CRM instance then select the Applications button, select Manage and you should see a link to your Portal URL.  If you don’t see it, give it some additional time to complete the configuration and check back. 

Note:  Your Portal URL should be in the following format: https:<nameYouProvided>

That’s it; you’re now ready to begin configuring your Portal for others to access.  Below are a couple of resources to help you get started with the Microsoft Dynamics Portal solution.

Configure a CRM Portal

Administrator’s Guide to portal capabilities for Microsoft Dynamics CRM


Have you tried these Solutions?

There is so much available in Dynamics CRM that it can be challenging to keep up.  Since features are coming at us so quickly and we are all incredibly busy, it is easy to miss things or not be aware of what is available.  Given that and in an effort to bring you quick read articles, I thought it might be helpful to post shorter but informative information.   Today’s post is one of those.

For those that are not aware, there is a significant list of solutions that you can install when creating a Dynamics CRM Online trial.  It is important to note that some of the solutions are only available in the US data center.  To view the list,  you can fire up a CRM online trial.  I generally select the Self-Start Trial option but you can select either option depending on your familiarization with the product.

After setting up your trial, log into the online Office 365 using your new user name and password and select Admin from the top left hand corner.


Select CRM from the left navigation menu.


Select the instance you want to update and select the Manage Solutions icon.


Here is the list of solutions currently available in my CRM Online trial instance.


Installing each one is a simple click of the button.  Select the solution you want to install and select the Install icon.


Once all selected options are installed you can begin configuring it and learning about the solutions.  You should be able to find all the information you need on the Customer Center, Technet and MSDN.  Here are a few but very useful tips for navigating Technet.


Microsoft MVP Virtual Conference

I was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the first ever Microsoft MVP Virtual Conference.  For those of you not able to attend, we had a panel of four Microsoft MVP’s to include Alex Fagundes, Chris Cognetta, Shan McArthur and me.  Of course, the topic was the latest release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

The panel provided a strong mix of both functional and technical areas of expertise.  We discussed and provided clarity regarding things like the new CRM naming convention, update navigation menus, ability to update themes, email tracking flexibility, mobile, transactions at the SDK level, upsert capability, plug-in logging, Microsoft update rollup strategy and how to leverage it to your advantage, and more.

For those of you that missed the session but want to hear what the MVP’s have to share about the new CRM 2015 features, take some time to view the video on Channel 9 and hear what the MVP’s have to say about the 2015 Spring release.

Dynamics CRM MVP’s – Ask the Experts

Check it out and leave comments to let us know what you would like to learn more about in the coming months.  We love your feedback and will take it into consideration for future plans.


Technorati Tags: ,,,,,

Power BI Free Preview for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

In the event you are not aware, you can obtain a preview instance of Power BI for free.  When you go to the Power BI sign-up page it will ask for a work or school email address.  The sign-up process will complain if you try to use a personal email address.  In the event you don’t want to use your work address, you can spin up a CRM trial instance and use that email address to sign up.  That is the approach I took and it worked well.  The nice thing about that approach is that you can connect Power BI to your trial CRM instance with just a few clicks.  Let’s take a look.

After signing in to Power BI you’ll see Microsoft Dynamics CRM in the left navigation window.  When you select it a Connect button will appear.


Select the Connect button and you will be asked to enter your Dynamics CRM OData Service URL which can be found in CRM under Settings, Customizations, Developer Resources.


Copy and paste the OData URL into the Power BI field and select Next.


You’ll be presented with sign-in options.  Select oAuth2 from the list and Power BI will connect to CRM.  The initial data load will take several minutes but once complete you will see a Dashboard, Reports and Datasets section.


You are now ready to begin exploring Power BI.  Check out this Power BI getting started article for a host of information to include working with Datasets to create charts (drag and drop), creating reports and dashboards, sharing dashboards and a whole lot more.

You can also download and try out the Power BI for Mobile App, Power BI Designer Preview and Analysis Services Connector Preview.


Keep an eye out for future articles as I begin exploring all that Power BI has to offer for Microsoft Dynamics CRM analytics.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Ribbon Workbench

Scott Durrow’s Ribbon Workbench has been out for a few years now.  I recently had a project where I had an opportunity to use it.  I was quite impressed so thought I would share my experience and provide an example of its capability.

I obtained the tool from Scott’s site.  For those of you that have not visited the site, he has done a really great job of providing everything needed to get started including, getting started videos, a forum to post issues and lots of documentation.

The first step is to read and carefully follow the installation and setup instructions.   Spending a little extra time on this step will save you some potential pain and frustration later.  The first thing I did after installation was to create a solution file with the entities I planned to modify and exported the file for backup and recovery.  It is important to ensure you keep the backup file in a safe place so that you can restore it in the event something unexpected occurs.

In this example I am modifying the Opportunity entity so I created a solution with the Opportunity to open in the Ribbon Workbench.

To open the Ribbon Workbench you need to go to Settings Customization and select the Ribbon Workbench icon then select your solution file from the list of available options.


After loading the solution you can view the three areas of the entity available to work on; Home, Subgrid and Form. For this example I am working on the Form. I plan to move some custom buttons forward and remove some out-of-the-box buttons from the form.


Find the button you want to move, right click it and select the Customize Button option


This will result in placing a red checkmark on the button. Now you can select the button and drag it to the desired position.

Dragging button


Button’s new position on the form


Since you’ve already created a backup solution in the event you need to rollback changes, you can now publish your changes and when completed, open an entity record in CRM to check your work.  It is important to know that your changes are not saved until you publish them. 

Here’s a tip; if you’re having trouble getting the drag and drop feature to work as expected in Internet Explorer, try the Chrome browser to see if that works better. If not, you can file a support issue in the Workbench Ribbon forum.

Thank you Scott for a great toolset! It makes modifying the Microsoft Dynamics CRM command bar incredibly easier.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Personal Options

Today I created a new CRM Online trial organization to enhance some training that I am taking.  Generally, the first step I take after setting up a trial organization is to configure my personal options.  I’ve done this more than a hundred times over the last few years and realized today that I’ve never shared it in a blog post.  So today I thought I would share with you the options I select.

The first thing we need to do is select the small gear icon in the upper right corner and select Options from the drop down display:


I’ll begin with the general tab and walk through each tab.

General Tab

The first setting is the Default Pane and Tab you would like to navigate to when you log in.  As you will notice, the Default Tab options change based on the Default pane selected.  I select Settings and Solutions for my default login option.

In addition to the login, I change the number of records to display to 250 (maximum allowed), Change Advanced Find mode from Simple to Detailed (saves me a click or two when initiating a search), ensure the time zone is correct, set default currency to US and select the option to Enable high contrast.



For CRM Online trials, I generally deactivate all of the Outlook synchronization filters.  I take that action because I want to control the synchronization of data rather than have it automated.




A different option that I sometimes use it to setup a different Outlook profile and select that profile when installing the CRM Outlook Client.  When using that approach, I leave the default synchronization settings activated and allow the CRM Outlook Client to synchronize records.

The important thing to keep in mind when setting personal options is to ensure you’ve selected the options that support the work you perform most frequently.  You want to automate as much as possible and reduce work when completing your task.  The careful selection of your options will help you meet that objective.


The activities tab is fairly straightforward.  I generally set my default calendar view to weekly and leave the default work hours start and end times.  You can make whatever changes you choose to this area to reflect your needs.



The formats tab allows you to determine how you want to see the format of things like numbers, dates, times, and currency.  When I setup a trial, my options are always set to English and I’m generally satisfied with the default formats provided.  However, you can choose from a long list of formats and you can further refine the display by selecting the customize button.

Default settings for the trials I create


Select the Current Format drop down for a list of available options


Select the customize button to further customize the display


Select the Reset button to return to the default settings


Email Templates

Personal email templates display on the Email Templates tab.  You can also create personal email templates from this area by selecting the New button.



From my perspective, this is one of the more important tabs and you should spend a little time here thinking through your needs. 

By default, the option to allow other users to send email on your behalf is not checked.  This option needs to be check if you have workflows that send emails.  Since almost all organizations have those email notification type workflows that can be triggered by other users, you will most likely need to select the option to allow.

I always select the option to track emails in response to CRM mail.  I choose that option because I’ve found that it gives me greater flexibility.  I sometimes receive email from CRM contacts that I do not want tracked in CRM.  If for some reason I receive an untracked email that I would like tracked, I can always use the Set Regarding option.  Having said that, I’ve found that sometimes organizations prefer to have users set the option to automatically track emails from either email enabled records or from Contacts, Leads and Accounts to ensure important communication is not missed.

I also uncheck the option to automatically create records.  I don’t want CRM to automatically create Contact or Lead records based on the email sender and I generally don’t recommend it for others.  The reason is because CRM is only as good as the data.  When records are automatically created, only a small amount of data is added and users must remember to open the record to add key data points.  I prefer to have users purposely create records when needed to ensure that important data in not missed.



I always set the option to automatically send error reports to Microsoft.  I do that because I don’t want to be annoyed by those pesky Script error messages.  Some people, like developers, choose the Never Send or Ask for Permission to send because they want to see the error message in the event it is something they can fix. I encourage you to select the Automatic send option if you do not planning on fixing Script errors.  My thought is that the more error information that Microsoft receives the better because



You can use the language option to set the desired language display for the User Interface and Help files.  The base language is set at installation and can no be changed.

Now you have all the information you need to set personal options in CRM.  Take a few minutes to review your settings and ensure they are optimized to support you while you work.


Please note that these are my personal preferences and do not necessarily represent “best practice”.  You should configure your user settings in a way that supports the work you perform.