Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 and Silverlight, a Match Made in Heaven!

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Silverlight is a Microsoft platform development that allows creation of interactive and user-friendly UI (user interface) easily. It manages graphical animations and videos and gives the developer a lot of rich controls to build advanced UI quickly.

This is a perfect fit for CRM users that want to customize or redesign forms and parts of CRM that don’t really fit their needs.  Well, here are a few examples of integrating Silverlight applications with Microsoft Dynamics CRM:

Creating your own Entity Form with Silverlight

Whether you want to integrate this form in CRM or use it as an “accelerator” outside of CRM, both are possible:
As you may know, you can customize an existing form in CRM and add IFrames to it. These IFrames allow you to launch external applications within a CRM window, like for example a Silverlight Application.

  • Are you tired of opening plenty of windows to create only one record? why don’t you create your own form in Silverlight and add tabs, fields, pictures, or any other visual element.
  • Another possibility is to create an independent application that can be executed externally of CRM. This kind of application can query CRM through the CRM Web Service. Of course the framework and the possibilities are more limited than if it was an application hosted within CRM. But it allows you to manipulate records.
  • If you have a salesperson, always on the road, that would like to add Quotes or Orders easily after visiting customers, what’s more convenient than doing it from his Smartphone?
    Your salesperson can create Orders in CRM through a Silverlight application on his mobile phone (Note that it exist as Silverlight framework for Mobile Applications).
    And a Silverlight application can be launched through any web-browser (Silverlight is a cross-platform technology) or directly installed for the client.
    And then you have a simple, basic application that can query/update your CRM remotely (assuming your CRM has been configured to be accessed/queried remotely).

Creating your own CRM report with Silverlight

Reports are what make data more attractive and understandable. Microsoft Dynamics CRM already has powerful reporting features, but there is another way to make your reports express exactly what you want.

The Silverlight framework contains a lot of different graph controls: Area Charts, Bar Charts, Pie Charts, Bubble Charts, etc.

You can find plenty commercial Silverlight components that offer customized Silverlight charts with advanced features like user-interactive charts or 3D charts.

 You can customize, by yourself, default Silverlight charts (as well as every other Silverlight control) by editing the default chart template. This gives you infinite  customization possibilities.

So even if you don’t find what you want in the large panel of existing Silverlight controls, you can still implement it yourself!

Now let’s go back to CRM:  All these controls can help you BUILD high-level CRM reports with the kind of chartS, data, and layout you want. You can create a report in CRM and link it to the Silverlight application; or you can embed your Silverlight report into an IFrame (Cf. previous paragraph) wherever you want in CRM.

Conclusion

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has many extension points where third-party applications can plug-in. With the latest versions of Silverlight and the development of rich commercial Silverlight components, you can turn your Microsoft Dynamics CRM into a high added value product.
So, this, combined with rich features of Silverlight, can participate in making your Microsoft Dynamics CRM experience better.

Here are links to interesting articles about Silverlight and CRM integration examples:
http://blog.davidyack.com/journal/2009/11/18/new-silverlight-4-book-content.html
http://blogs.inetium.com/blogs/azimmer/archive/2010/01/21/silverlight-applications-in-crm-4-0.aspx

Article written by Julie Brat, Technical Consultant – ERT Group

If you’re looking for specific CRM software information, check out the resources on the ERT Group website. You can also contact ERT Group for assistance in determining if a technology solution can help your organization better serve your business needs.

ERT Group is a Florida Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and a 2010 President’s Club member for Microsoft Dynamics – offering Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Microsoft CRM.

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