What is an Entity?

One of the features that makes Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online so popular is its flexibility, and it is Entities that allow CRM Online to be so adaptable. All the components of CRM Online are represented by individual Entities. Entities are similar to marked containers; they hold information of a specific type, and there are different containers to suit different needs.

There are three main types of Entities in CRM Online: System, Business, and Custom (there’s also a unique “Activity” Entity, which we’ll cover in more detail in another post). System Entities define basic functions of CRM and cannot be customized (similar to the foundation and utility services of a building). Business Entities are categories of data that are helpful to nearly any business model (such as the Contact, Account, and Vendor entities), but they can be customized to better fit your organization’s industry and workflow. Custom Entities, the key component to CRM Online’s flexibility, are Entities that you create from a blank template and modify to fit your individual needs.

We can use a car dealer to illustrate how custom Entities work within CRM Online. The dealership needs to track cars, employees, reports, contacts, vendors, mechanics, etc. In CRM Online, Business Entities, such as Employees, Reports, Contacts, and Vendors, already represent several of these categories. However, to suit the particulars of the retail car business, the dealer needs to create Custom Entities to represent the cars and mechanics, categories that aren’t standard in CRM Online.

Creating a customized Entity for a car is like creating an inventory list specifically tailored to that product. Once you create a customized Entity for “Cars”, you can create Records to store information relating to those cars. Records are like entries in the list; every entry has the same blank fields available, and you fill out the specific information for that specific entry. In CRM Online these blank fields are referred to as Attributes.

Every Entity in CRM Online can have a different corresponding set of Attributes. All Entities have similar mandatory Attributes such as “Name” and “Owner”, but different, more specific Entities such as “Car” might have Attributes such as “Color” or “Model”.

What is an Entity?

A blank Car Record with custom VIN#, Year, Manufacturer, Model, and Color Attributes.

You can customize the Attributes on each Entity. Furthermore, you can customize what types of values can be entered as a response to the attribute. Traditional response types such as checkboxes, drop-down menus, textboxes, and more are included.

As you’re probably realizing, Entity customization starts simple but can quickly get complicated as you start configuring multiple Entities and Attributes. If you’re looking for guidance you might consider CRM training from xRM or hire a Microsoft CRM Partner to create or customize Entities for you.

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CWR Mobility announces hosted subscription-based offering of CWR Mobile CRM

If you’re looking for a mobile solution for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, you’ll probably find CWR Mobile CRM. Here’s the basic rundown on CWR Mobile CRM: You purchase it as a customization from a Microsoft Partner, install a corresponding application on your mobile device, input a few settings, and bam! Suddenly, you have full native mobile access to CRM Online.

That’s great for CRM Online subscribers, but what about partner-hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM subscribers? As of October 2012, CWR Mobility now offers a hosted subscription-based version of CWR Mobile CRM. You’ll need to find a Microsoft Partner to host CWR Mobile CRM for you, but that should be easy, since we, xRM.com, are a Microsoft Partner with a Gold competency and more than a decade of hosting experience. We have extensive experience with CWR Mobile CRM as well, so much so that CWR Mobility chose us as their sole hosting partner for CWR Mobile CRM.

CWR Mobile CRM costs $30 per month per user, although it’s available for $5 less per month if you commit to a one-year subscription.

If you have more questions about CWR Mobile CRM, we covered the product in more detail in our post “Going mobile with CWR Mobility and CWR Mobile CRM 2011”.

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Quick tip: Enable Windows Identity Foundation (Windows 8)

Our regular readers are probably aware that we’ve been experimenting with Windows 8 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (read our post from last week where we test the Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Microsoft Office Outlook plugin with Windows 8). Occasionally when using the plugin on Windows 8, we’re greeted with a familiar error, “Cannot connect to Microsoft Dynamics CRM server because we cannot authenticate your credentials…” (see below).

 Quick tip: Enable Windows Identity Foundation (Windows 8)

We’ve seen this error before on Windows XP and Windows 7, and we know that it can be tricky to resolve. We immediately started to tinker around under the hood of Windows 8. Luckily, we were able to fix the error with a few quick steps. We’ve detailed them for you below.

You will need to have an Administrator account in Windows 8 to turn Windows Features on or off.

From Metro (see below), right-click anywhere in the background and a tab appears in the bottom. Click the icon labeled All apps in the bottom-right corner.

 Quick tip: Enable Windows Identity Foundation (Windows 8)

The Apps menu opens (see below). Scroll to the right and click Control Panel.

 Quick tip: Enable Windows Identity Foundation (Windows 8)

The Control Panel opens (see below). Click Uninstall a Program.

 Quick tip: Enable Windows Identity Foundation (Windows 8)

The Programs and Features window opens (see below). Click Turn Windows features on or off.

Quick tip: Enable Windows Identity Foundation (Windows 8)

The Windows Features window opens (see below). Check the box labeled Windows Identity Foundation 3.5 and then click Ok.

Quick tip: Enable Windows Identity Foundation (Windows 8)

You are notified that Windows completed the requested changes (see below). Click Close, and then restart your computer.

 Quick tip: Enable Windows Identity Foundation (Windows 8)

 Congratulations, you’ve enabled Windows Identity Foundation, which should resolve any CRM Online authentication! If you run into any other errors or bugs with CRM Online and Windows 8, we recommend installing Update Rollup 11 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. UR11 contains several critical fixes and improvements intended for users of Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013.

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Update Rollups 10 version 2 and 11 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Update Rollup 10 (UR10) for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 was re-rereleased with an incremented build number and the name suffix, “version 2”, on October 4, 2012 (the re-release was immediately added to the Microsoft Download Center). Microsoft also intends to release Update Rollup 11 (UR11) for Microsoft Dynamics 2011 on October 10, 2012. The UR10 re-release contains several bug fixes and critical improvements to Dynamics CRM 2011, and should be applied immediately by all users. UR11 contains bug fixes and critical improvements for users of Windows 8 and Microsoft Office 2013.  Both of these updates are available for all languages supported by Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. The following components are affected by this update.

Components:
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Server
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 E-mail Router
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Language Pack
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Reporting Extensions
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Report Authoring Extension
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office Outlook

Supported Operating Systems: Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Prerequisites: You must have Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 6 installed (build 5.0.9690.1992) to apply this update rollup. This update requires Microsoft .NET Framework 4.

Links:

Update Rollup 10 re-release
Microsoft Support: Update Rollup 10 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is available
Microsoft Download Center: Update Rollup 10 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Update Rollup 11
Microsoft Support: Update Rollup 11 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is available
Microsoft Download Center: Download available October 10, 2012

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xRM Tests the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office Outlook Plugin with Windows 8

Microsoft will officially release its flagship product, Microsoft Windows 8, to the public on October 26, 2012. As is always the case with a new major operating system update, many applications and drivers require updates to function properly. We wanted to know if the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online for Microsoft Office Outlook plugin would function properly on Windows 8, so we grabbed a pre-release version of Windows 8 and tested it out. We’re happy to say that it worked exactly as we expected it too, without requiring any updates. We documented our steps below so you could follow along and get a peek at the new Metro interface!

First, we download the Windows 8 Release Preview and install it just as we would have any other operating system (pictured below); using all of the default settings to ensure everything works “out-of-the-box”. The installation is mostly automated and pain free.

 xRM Tests the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office Outlook Plugin with Windows 8

After the Windows Setup finishes, the computer restarts and we are greeted with the new user interface, “Metro” (pictured below). Metro is mostly an overhaul of what was previously known as the “Start Menu”, and it functions as a hub for frequently used applications on your computer. There are shortcuts to familiar applications such as Mail, Calendar, and the Desktop. There are also shortcuts to new applications such as SkyDrive, Store, and Messaging. Metro comes preloaded with a few widgets, such as Stocks and Weather, and more are available for download at the Store.

 xRM Tests the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office Outlook Plugin with Windows 8

At the bottom of Metro is a scrollbar. Scrolling this bar to the right reveals more applications. We scroll it all the way to the right until the list of Microsoft Office 2013 applications populate and then we click Outlook 2013.

 xRM Tests the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office Outlook Plugin with Windows 8

The Microsoft Outlook Preview opens, and the interface improvements look slick (see below). We close the window by clicking X in the top right corner.

 xRM Tests the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office Outlook Plugin with Windows 8

After closing the Microsoft Outlook Preview, we’re left at the familiar Microsoft Windows Desktop (see below). We open Internet Explorer, and download the latest version of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office Outlook plugin. We install it using the default settings, and then download and install Microsoft Dynamics CRM Update Rollup 10. These steps aren’t pictured because they are no different on Windows 8 than any other operating system.

 xRM Tests the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office Outlook Plugin with Windows 8

After we finish installing the Dynamics CRM for Microsoft Office Outlook plugin and Update Rollup 10, we open the Outlook 2013 preview by navigating to Metro > Outlook 2013. The Microsoft Outlook Preview opens. We look at the bottom of the screen at the navigation menu, and click on the name of our CRM organization, “xRM Demo 1”.

 xRM Tests the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office Outlook Plugin with Windows 8

Now we’re feeling right at home, with the normal CRM options available and the ribbon loaded (see below).

 xRM Tests the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office Outlook Plugin with Windows 8

It’s not too late to download the Windows 8 Preview Release and test it out. For the latest news and more on Windows 8 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, keep following the xRM.com Microsoft Dynamics CRM Blog.

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