Working with Dialogs in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Working with Dialogs in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Today we will take a quick look at Dialogs in CRM2011. Dialogs are a special type of Workflows (process) in CRM that allows for interactive sessions with the user. A typical use would be automating call center scripts. But rather than just being a simple Question / Answer tool, Dialogs also have the ability to query and present CRM data and also carry out workflow execution. So let’s get started and have a quick overview of Dialogs in CRM 2011.

Let’s go ahead and create a simple dialog:

To access Dialogs, you will have to go to Settings > Process Center

Click on New and enter the details. We will create a dialog on Customer Entity and name our process as Customer Info – to gather customer information. Make sure you choose the type as Dialog.

This will get you this page. Let’s keep it as an “On Demand Process” for now.

A few things to note on this page:

Input arguments – this is used when the dialog is called from another process and can be used to pass input parameters to the Dialog. Notice that we have created this dialog as an “On Demand” process. Input arguments can only be passed to dialogs which are created as a “Child Process”.

Variables – this is used to declare and add variables to the dialog. These are helpful for storing temporary values or calculations and will exist only for the duration of the dialog and will not be saved to the CRM Database.

Click on “Add Step” and select Page. At least one page needs to be added before you can go ahead and add “Prompt and Response”. So let’s add a page and call it “Ask for Customer Details”.

If you notice, Dialogs also gives you similar options as a standard workflow, but for now let’s explore the prompt and response to build a CSR script. So, let’s add a few.

After you have entered the Prompt, “May I have your First Name please?” click on the “Set Properties” button.

This gives you a Prompt – Response properties (which looks a lot like the attribute creation form) along with a Dynamic Value builder Form Assistant. This works similar to the Dynamic Values in Workflows and Processes. Let’s go ahead and explore these.

Label – Label for the Prompt

Prompt Text – The Prompt that will be provided to the CSR. Let go ahead and enter “May I have your First Name please?”. You can of course use the dynamic value to create a dynamic prompt.

Tip Text – This can be used as a hint / tip for the CSR. You can use plain text or the dynamic values for the Tip Text.

Response Details – This section is used to specify how the response is to be recorded. The options are:

  1. None – No response to be recorded
  2. Single Line – This also enables the Data Type Field under. Data that can be captured is a single line of text, Integer or Float
  3. Options Set (radio buttons) – For entering a pair of inputs, option values can be either entered or queried from CRM
  4. Option Set (picklist) – For entering multiple values for picklist – values can be either entered or queried from CRM
  5. Multiple Lines (Text Only) – For entering larger amount of text – such as descriptions, etc, similar to nText in CRM

Log Response – Where the response will be logged in the Dialog or not

Data Type – To be used in conjunction with Response Type (only for Single Line)

Default Value – If any default value is required to be entered

Options set values – Values can be either entered or queried from CRM

So let’s go ahead and add a few steps.

We have added four steps, three of which are simple prompts and response is a single line of text. The last one is also a simple text prompt, but the response is a picklist, the values for which we have entered in the dialog. After you have saved the Dialog, we need to activate it, before the dialog can be made available for execution.

Now for executing the dialog, let’s go to the contact form. Since we have created this dialog as an on demand process, we will have to manually execute it. Open any contact record and click on Start Dialog Button in the Ribbon.

This will pop up this screen.

Select the Dialog that you have created and click OK. This will bring up the Dialog, which will take you step by step through the Prompt and Responses.

Once you have run through the script click on the “Next” Button. This will take you to the next page of the Dialog. But since we have only one page, this will take you to the end.

Click on Finish to end the dialog.

To access the dialog and the saved response (since we have opted to log the response), go to the “Dialog Sessions” on the Customer record under the “Processes Section” in the left hand navigation pane.

This gets you the following Dialog Summary:

The summary contains the prompts and the completed responses for a history of the dialog. There can be multiple versions of the dialog, for the number of times that you have interacted with the contact. And there can be several different dialogs based on the incident or nature of interaction. In a later post, we will explore the various advanced options of Dialogs.


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Editing MS CRM 2011 Organizations in Deployment Manager

Editing MS CRM 2011 Organizations in Deployment Manager

While installing CRM2011 or while creating a new organization, the wizard walks us through all the steps for the required information for setting up an organization. What if, we need to make some changes to the organization that we have created? In this article we will look at some the options that we have for editing existing organizations in CRM using the Deployment Manager.

Open Deployment Manager. This is usually present in Start Menu > All Programs > Microsoft Dynamics CRM > Deployment Manager

Select the Organization that you need to edit.

Right Click on the Organization or from the Actions menu select “Disable”

Click on Yes. This will disable the Organization.

Right Click on the Organization or from the Actions menu select “Edit Organization”. This will open Edit Organization wizard.

Make the required changes and click on Next

Make sure you do not get any errors. If you do, you need to correct the errors before you can continue. Click on Next.

Click on Apply

Click on Finish

Right Click on the Organization or from the Actions menu select “Enable”

Click Yes

Once it is enabled, verify it is working properly. Right Click on the Organization or from the Actions menu select “Browse”. This should bring up the CRM App in IE.


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CRM 2011 – Discovery Service & Developer Resources

In this post we will look at obtaining the discovery service for a CRM 2011 on premise installation. Often the service is required for the plug-in registration tool or for custom code. Instead of searching through IIS to look for and decipher the service links, as in the earlier versions, CRM2011 has a very handy developer reference section.

To access the developer resources, go to Settings > Customizations > Developer Resources

This will launch the following page:

CRM2011 – Developer Resources

This screen contains information regarding the following:

  • Organization Unique Name
  • Discovery Service
  • Organization Service
  • Organization Data Service

Of these the often used is the Discovery service. Click on the link for Discovery service. You will get the following definition:

CRM2011 – Discovery Service

The organization service link returns the following page:

CRM2011 – Organization Service

One of the first instances you will need to supply the Discovery service url is for plugin registration.


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SharePoint 2010 Foundation installation on Windows Server 2008 for Document Management

SharePoint 2010 Foundation installation on Windows Server 2008 for Document Management on Dynamics CRM 2011

This post looks at SharePoint Foundation on the Microsoft CRM APP server (or any 64bit Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2). Only SharePoint Foundation installation is covered here. Another post will cover the actual integration between SharePoint and Microsoft CRM 2011.

Software components required:

SharePoint Foundation 64bit: SharePointFoundation.exe

SharePoint Foundation can be downloaded from and the license is free for installing on Windows Server 2008/R2. So, go ahead and download and try SharePoint Foundation if you already have windows server 2008/R2.

Launch the SharePointFoundation.exe, and it will extract the files and launch the installation:

Please go through the links in the Prepare section.

Click on the “Install Software Pre-requisites” in the install section. This will launch the next window:

Click on Next.

Note: you need to have internet connection on the Server.

Accept the license agreement and click on Next:

Wait for the software pre-requisite components to install.

Click on Finish. This will close the pre-requisite installation. Go back to the SharePoint foundation splash screen.

Click on “Install SharePoint Foundation” in the Install section.

Accept the license agreement and click on Continue.

Choose the “Standalone” option. This is the easiest and most straightforward way for installing SharePoint on a single Windows Server 2009/R2 server.

The installation progress screen!

You need to configure the installation. Launch the Configuration wizard and close the installation screen.

Click on Next.

Click on Yes.

SharePoint Configuration wizard will automatically configure your installation. Wait for it to complete.

Congratulations, the SharePoint configuration is complete. Click on Finish.

Since we have used the default settings, the SharePoint site is available under the default website on the server it was installed. So simply open up IE and type in http://localhost and launch SharePoint.

In the next post we will look at integrating SharePoint 2010 Foundation with CRM 2011.


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Microsoft CRM 2011 Report Authoring Extension Installation

Microsoft CRM 2011 Report Authoring Extension Installation for Fetch-based Reports

In this post we will look at step by step installation of the Report Authoring Extension for Microsoft CRM 2011. As per Microsoft, “Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Report Authoring Extension is required to author custom Fetch-based reports for Microsoft Dynamics CRM by using Business Intelligence Development Studio.” Meaning, you need to install this if you want to create custom reports in Business Intelligence Studio. The Report Authoring Extension plug-in enables obtaining the meta-data and data from Microsoft CRM for custom reports.

Note: Report Authoring Extension is available only in 32bits, but can be installed on 64bit machines and OS.

Software components required:

Supporting Reporting Authoring Extension install: CRM2011-Bids-ENU-i386.exe

Launch the CRM2011-Bids-ENU-i386.exe, this will ask for an extraction directory and post extraction launch the SetupBidsExtensions.exe program which then installs the Report Authoring Extension plug-in for CRM2011.

Click Next

Accept the license agreement and click on “I Accept”.

Click on “Install”. This will install the pre-requisite software. You need to have an internet connection to download these files. If the server you are installing does not have an internet connection, then you can download on a different machine, install then on the server and then retry installing the Report Authoring Extensions.

Click on Next.

Click on Next.

Select the destination directory for installing the Report Authoring Extension and Click on Next.

Make sure there are no errors. If there are any errors, you need to fix them before you can proceed with the installation. Click Next.

Click on Install

Congratulations, Report Authoring Extension for Microsoft CRM 2011 is successfully installed!


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CRM 2011 Reporting Extension Installation with pre-created AD groups

Microsoft CRM 2011 Reporting Extensions Installation with pre-created AD Groups

Software components required:

Microsoft CRM Server installation: CRM2011-Server-ENU-amd64.exe

As seen in the last post, we have successfully installed Microsoft Dynamics CRM2011. Then you have browsed to the Dynamics CRM URL and everything seems to work just fine – until you click on Reports in the My Workplace area. There are no reports! No out of box reports! If you try, you may be able to use the report wizard to create new report or even import a few in, but you will be unable to execute them. To get around the issue of complex SPN setups to work around Kerberos and double hops for making SSRS work, Microsoft has simplified (in a way) by requiring to install the CRM2011 Reporting Extensions on the Reporting Server. This post deals with the installation of the Reporting Extensions for CRM2011.

Continuing with the theme of our last post, we will install Reporting Extensions for CRM2011 in a corporate environment with pre-created active directory groups. To start the installation, extract the installation files from the Microsoft Server Installation package (CRM2011-Server-ENU-amd64.exe). Locate the folder where the files are extracted and look for the folder “SrsDataConnector”. Open this folder and locate the file “SetupSrsDataConnector.exe”. But we need to execute this file from the command prompt and give the Reporting Extension XML file as an input.

The XML file:



<configdbserver />




The key word here is autogroupmanagementoff set to true. Without this, Reporting Extension installation will give an error regarding active directory permissions.

Before we begin with the actual installation, keep the following points in mind:

  • The Reporting Extensions for CRM2011 must be installed on the SSRS server
  • The Reporting Server must be added to the PrivReportingGroup Active Directory
  • The installing user must be a local Admin on the Reporting Server


Enter the following command in the command prompt:

D:\install\CRM2011Setup\ SrsDataConnector >SetupSrsDataConnector.exe /config d:\install\ssrsinstall.xml

This assumes that I have extracted my files in the ‘CRM2011Setup’ folder under the ‘install’ folder on the ‘D:’ drive of my App server – replace as appropriate. The setup file for Reporitng extension will be in the folder “SrsDataConnector ” in the extracted folder. This also assumes that I am passing a config.xml file stored in the ‘install’ folder on the ‘D:’ drive of the app server. The contents of the xml file is already mentioned above.

SSRS Data Connector Installation step by step:

Check for updates and click Next:

Accept the License Agreement and click “I Accept”:

Enter the SQL server for the Microsoft CRM 2011 Database and click Next:

Enter the SSRS instance name and click Next. Important: You cannot type in the SSRS instance name. This is fetched automatically and hence has to be installed on the SSRS server.

Click Next:

Choose an installation location and click Next:

The system checks all need to be green. Warning are OK, but red errors must be fixed before proceesing. Click Next:

Click Next:

Click Next:

Reporting Extensions getting installed.

Congratulations, Reporting Extensions for CRM2011 installed.

Browse to the Reports section in the My Workplace and all the out of box reports will be there and now you should also be able to execute them.

There is however one shortcoming of the Reporting Extension. Only one copy of the Reporting Extension can be installed on the Reporting server, which limits the Reporting Server to serve only one Microsoft CRM instance. You can however have as many organizations as you want in that instance and reports will work in all of them.


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Microsoft CRM 2011 Application Install with pre-created AD Groups

We are going to look at installing Microsoft CRM 2011 in a corporate environment with the Active Directory groups pre-created.

Software components required:

Microsoft CRM Server installation: CRM2011-Server-ENU-amd64.exe

Report Authoring Extension install: CRM2011-Bids-ENU-i386.exe

SharePoint 2010 integration: CRM2011-SharePointList-ENU-amd64.exe

90 day trial license for Microsoft CRM 2011: MQM2H-JYYRB-RRD6J-8WBBC-CVBD3

These can be downloaded from Microsoft Site

Start with the CRM2011-Server-ENU-amd64.exe file. This will prompt for a folder to extract the compressed files to. Once the files have been extracted, navigate to the folder and locate the setupserver.exe file. This is the actual Microsoft CRM installation file. Navigate to the appropriate folder in command prompt and type the following command:

D:\install\CRM2011Setup>setupserver /config d:\install\crminstall.xml

This assumes that I have extracted my files in the ‘CRM2011Setup’ folder under the ‘install’ folder on the ‘D:’ drive of my App server – replace as appropriate. This also assumes that I am passing a config.xml file stored in the ‘install’ folder on the ‘D:’ drive of the app server. The contents of the xml file is as follows:

The XML file:



<Groups AutoGroupManagementOff=”true”>

<PrivUserGroup>CN=PrivUserGroupDev,OU=Corporate Groups,OU=Users &amp; Groups,DC=ad,DC=AniMandal,DC=com </PrivUserGroup>

<SQLAccessGroup>CN=SQLAccessGroupDev,OU=Corporate Groups,OU=Users &amp; Groups,DC=ad,DC=AniMandal,DC=com</SQLAccessGroup>

<ReportingGroup>CN=ReportingGroupDev,OU=Corporate Groups,OU=Users &amp; Groups,DC=ad,DC=AniMandal,DC=com</ReportingGroup>

<PrivReportingGroup>CN=PrivReportingGroupDev,OU=Corporate Groups,OU=Users &amp; Groups,DC=ad,DC=AniMandal,DC=com</PrivReportingGroup>




The key thing to note regarding this config file are the following:

  • AutoGroupManagementOff is set to true, so all users have to manually added to the security groups and the groups themselves have to be manual pre-created. If this is set to False or this line is missing from the config.xml file then Microsoft CRM 2011 will try to create the groups and assign users on its own. This is an issue if you, the installing user do not have domain admin rights.
  • The groups themselves need to be pre-created. So once the four groups – PrivUserGroup, SQLAccessGroup, ReportingGroup and PrivReportingGroup have been created, the location of the groups in AD needs to be specified and that what the tags in the <Groups> specify. The generic format is

    <PrivUserGroup>CN=PrivUserGroup, OU=Company Name, OU=Company Name, DC=<domain>, DC=<domain_extension></PrivUserGroup>

    The example above resolves to\Users & Groups \ Corporate groups – notice the escape amp; character for the & in the xml file. Using & in xml without an escape character will break the xml file.

Of couse there are many more tags you can include in the XML file in order to do a completely silent install, but right now we are interested in only passing the pre-created groups and we will enter all other details as and when we get prompted for it.

So, if the XMl file parses correctly, we get the following screen:

Enter an option and click next.

The Product Key page comes up next:

Enter your Microsoft Dynamics License Key and press next. The product key above is the trial license key and has been called out accordingly. Press next to get the License agreement page:

Read the license agreement and check the license agreement acceptance checkbox and press “I Accept” to get the next screen.

This is the pre-requisite component validation page where CRM checks if the pre-requisite software is installed or not. If you r server has an internet connection is can download from the internet, then you are in luck, simply click ‘Install’ and CRM 2011 will download the components from the Microsoft site and install them. If your server has no or severely limited internet access, then you will have to search for, download and install the components yourself on the App server before you can proceed with the install. Click next once you have all green.

Enter the location where CRM2011 will be installed. Click Next.

Enter the SQL Server that you will be using for the Database. Use SQLserver\instance if you are using SQL instances. Click Next:

Specify the service account on this page. Though you can get away with entering “Network” service as the service account for each of the services, it really is a good idea to have your IT admin group create separate service accounts. Remember you will need not only the service accounts, but also the passwords.

Enter the Service Account Ids and Passwords. The accounts must be entered as domain\accountname. Click Next:

Select the website for CRM2011. You can either go with the default website or select a Port Number. You can input a DNS hostname on the IIS server once the installation is complete. Click Next:

This is for specifying the Email Router Server – this step can be left blank for now. But you should decide whether you want to manage email through Outlook or by using the Email Router. Click Next:

Enter the Organization Name, for eg, AniMandal. The Database name will default to the organization (after stripping out the spaces). You can however choose a completely different name for the Database. Whatever database name you choose, the actual database will be created as DBName_MSCRM (if you have entered the database name as DBName). Enter the base currency – this cannot be changed later. Click Next:

Specify the reporting server name. As pointed out give the path to the Report server URL and not the Report Manager URL. Click Next:

Click Next:

Choose an option and click Next:

If there are any errors they will show up here. You cannot proceed till all errors have been resolved – you can however proceed with warnings. Click Next:

Click Next:

You will get a summary page. Click Next:

The installation progress page. Wait for the process to complete:

Congratulations – CRM2011 Application has been successfully installed. The next step will be to go to the website url and launch CRM 2011!


This just installs the CRM App Server. There are few other components to be installed:

  • Reporting Extensions – without this extension reports will not execute
  • Report Authoring Extension – to support fetch based reports
  • SharePoint – if you want to integrate CRM2011 and SharePoint


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