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Thursday, January 31, 2008

AdvantageWorks Beta for Microsoft CRM 4.0

AdvantageWorks is pleased to announce the start of the beta period for our suite of products for Microsoft CRM 4.0.  The initial release includes the following components:


Being a beta tester means you get to test prerelease versions of AdvantageWorks software currently in development, not available to anyone else outside AdvantageWorks.  In return, we ask that you take the time to fill out bug reports and give us feedback; your job as a beta tester is an important one: to help us build a better, more stable product.

If you are interested in being considered as a potential AdvantageWorks beta tester, please send an email to support@advantageworks.com.  Please include information about your company, development environment, type of deployment (on premise, hosted, or live), and a primary contact.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

AdvantageWorks Update

An update of the AdvantageWorks Components for Microsoft CRM 3.0 is now available for download.  This update includes a number of small bug fixes and enhancements:

  • Fix- Editable grid is allowing closed / inactive records to be edited in the grid
  • New - Added ability to alias (sub-class) entities for purposes of configuration / query differences
  • Fix - Activities in split view is only showing records when the parent is the "regarding" object
  • Fix - Primary key columns are displayed as GUID's instead of links
  • Fix - Navigator generates an error when an activity with an invalid activity party is selected (one that MS CRM cannot resolve)
  • Fix - Clicking on row in contact tab causes exception
  • Fix  - Contact tab - system error
  • Fix - Quick Search is generating a JavaScript error when used
  • Fix - Quick Search is displaying a search field for non-displayed grid columns
  • New - Added nurture marketing fulfillment

Partners can download the update via the Partner Portal.  For a trial of the AdvantageWorks Components for Microsoft CRM 3.0 please click here.

We are currently hard at work on the AdvantageWorks Components for Microsoft CRM 4.0, so please check back here for more information and an expected release date.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Extending duplicate detection with Soundex

The duplicate detection included in Microsoft CRM 4.0 is great.  It provides a foundation for creating a variety of rules to detect duplicate records using "like" matches across multiple entity types.  However, "like" matches can start to breakdown when the spelling of names differs, which often occurs with proper names.  This article describes how to extend the duplication detection in Microsoft CRM 4.0 to include "fuzzy" matching based on the Soundex algorithm.

The Soundex algorithm converts a name into a four-character string, originally used for indexing, that can also be used for comparisons.  In Microsoft CRM 4.0 to implement Soundex duplicate detection we created a new field on the entities to be compared for storing the Soundex value and added JavaScript to the "onChange" event of the name field to store the value.  The steps involved are:

  1. Add "Soundex" attribute to your entity
  2. Add "Soundex" attribute to your form (set as read-only).  This step helps illustrate the example, validates the logic is working correctly, and makes the field available to the JavaScript in step # 3.  However, it is probably best not to display this value to the user and it could be hidden as described here on Ronald Lemmen's blog.

  3. In the "onLoad" event set the ForceSubmit flag to true for the Soundex field

  4. Apply "onChange" event to the primary name attribute using JavaScript such as the code found here to set the value of the Soundex field.
  5. Create a new duplicate detection rule comparing the Soundex values


Once everything is in place, if you create an account named John's Bait Shop and try and create a new account named Jon's Bait Shop the duplication rules will detect a potential duplicate and alert the user accordingly.

What we found is not only is this rule effective in finding potential duplicates, but if Soundex rules are in place there is not really a need to use "like" matches based on the the primary field.  Once the Soundex values are in place they can be used across entities like other duplication rules.

It is worth noting the "onChange" event only fires when the data is input via the standard UI.  It is probably better to apply the Soundex logic via a server-side callout, but for the simplicity of this example we are just demonstrating a client-side approach.

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