This fall, Microsoft will be releasing version 2013 of Dynamics CRM, code-named Orion. A new version means brand new features aimed at improving every aspect of the application. In this series of articles, we will take you from user experience and new functionality through technical improvements to the upgrade process to demonstrate that the wide range of transformations make this release notably compelling.In this article, we will show you what new technical capabilities provide you with the ability to further extend the automation available in CRM.Improved Outlook Client

The current CRM Outlook Client design lumped its processes within the Outlook memory stack. The effect has been lower stability and reliability because of high memory use, leaks and fragments.

Old Outlook client process design

The new CRM Outlook client isolates its processes into two separate memory stacks. This way if there are a lot of customizations, and if they happen to leak memory, they won’t affect the overall Outlook experience.

New CRM Outlook client

One difference between the Outlook Client and the Web Client is since Outlook has the left hand navigation, CRM will continue to use it allowing for more space at the top of the screen.

Outlook Client update pane in CRM

Mail Server Synchronization

Currently synchronizing emails between an email server and the CRM server worked through either Outlook or the CRM email router.

Existing CRM email sync options

Synchronizing though Outlook requires Outlook to be up and running. The Email Router needs to be installed on an on premise server and be administered separately from CRM.

CRM 2013 can now synchronize directly to a mail server without the need for Outlook or the Email Router. If the mail server is Microsoft Exchange, emails, tasks, appointments and contacts are synchronized. Other POP3/SMTP mail servers will only sync email. The sync configuration is handled all within CRM which enables it to be used in online deployments. Besides users, email processing can also be configured for CRM queues.

How to track an item using CRM and Outlook

Future enhancements will support hybrid configurations (i.e. CRM Online with Exchange On-Prem).

Server-side sync support matrix

Business Rules Designer

Conditional business rules (i.e. make a field read only when another field contains a certain value) up to now had to be implemented with JavaScript. These had to be maintained independently by device. Now a designer allow for quick creation of a wide variety of rules that will work on all devices.

Simplified Campaign Designer

Real Time Workflows

Another function that will reduce developer time is the ability to run workflows synchronously and post results back to the form within the same transaction.  This was previously accomplished with JavaScript.  This new capability allows you to run the workflows pre or post change and also either under the calling user security or the workflow owner security.

Real-time Workflows


Actions are a new function similar to workflows that can now perform a collection of record changes that depend on variable input or output parameters across steps in the process.  Previously this functionality had to be performed by multiple web service calls.

Perform a collection of record changes with Actions

Access Team Configuration

Access to entity records can be granted to users that become part of a team for that record.  This is separate from record ownership so that users can still own records, but have different teams of users that can collaborate on a process for the record.

Access team configuration

If the teams that exist can all be defined and are static, team ownership of the record is a preferable solution.  Access teams are useful when collaboration on entity records is dynamic.

Other Technical Improvements

  • CRM 2011 customizations will work in the new 2013 user experience.  Migrated form events will fire in the new UX. Web resources are supported in the web client.
  • New methods are available. For example with setFormNotification messages can be posted to the UI instead of writing JavaScript alerts.

New Client SDK

  • Entities have a new form type to be configured for quick create.

Create webforms quicker

  • A new simplified authentication mechanism is available for custom mobile apps.

New Authentication Mechanism

  • A new image field type now exists. You can have one image field per entity. A new phone field type now exists that will allow you enable your communications software (Skype, Lync) to call when the field value is clicked.
  • Windows 8 and iPad tablets do not require a separate form.
  • The auto save feature will batch any changes and post them. The OnSave plug-ins will fire during auto save. To prevent all plug-ins from always executing on this save event, the best practice is to make them fire on specific field updates, not general updates. The GetSaveMode() method can also be used to detect the auto save so that you can manipulate when changes are posted to the database.
  • FetchXML can now do a left outer join so you can, for example, retrieve all leads that have no activities.
  • Exporting and importing CRM Solutions will include all the new capabilities like business rules, actions and process flows. Activity Feed entities are now filtered from solution exports.  You now cannot import a solution from a newer CRM version to an environment with an older CRM version.

Technical Limitations

  • Tablets are restricted to 75 fields and 10 related entities or 5 tabs within forms. iFrames or Web Resources (except for JavaScript) are not available on tablets.
  • Unsupported CRM 2011 customizations may not work in 2013. HTML DOM manipulations will throw script errors. The CRM 4.0 client API is not supported any longer.

List of unsupported legacy features

Other articles in this series:

Adam Jenkins

Author Adam Jenkins

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