CRM 2011 Update rollup 7 and Read-optimised Forms
March 23, 2012 1 Comment
The latest hotfixes and updates to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 are now available as update rollup 7. Knowledgebase article is here:
and downloads for all the software components are here:
The KB article above refers to a feature update in UR7 to provide “Read Optimized Forms”, which sounds very much like one of the minor features which was announced for the Q2 2012 service update, or release R8. This got a little bit buried in all the excitement about multi-browser and mobile capabilities, but essentially means you can deliver a faster experience to your users by providing them with a rapid-loading, reduced functionality, read-only form for entities which are often read and rarely updated. The Release Preview Guide published in February said this:
RAPID VIEW FORMS
In many organizations there are groups of users who typically use a CRM system to look up key information about their contacts, accounts, opportunities and cases but have no immediate need to modify that information.
For example, many contact center employees or managers primarily use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to review business information before deciding whether any action is required. For these users the optimal experience is to load this information very quickly so they can immediately assess a situation and determine the correct course of action.
In order to provide this type of user experience, we’re introducing rapid view forms. The rapid view form is a read-only form that can be configured like any other form in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to display any record in the system.
When viewing information in these forms, users can switch to an editing experience with the click of a button. Administrators of Microsoft Dynamics CRM will have the option to set all forms to load in rapid view mode; if appropriate for business needs. Individual users will have the personal option to choose the form mode they prefer (Rapid View or Standard Edit).
At the moment (just after midnight UTC 22nd March) the links in the UR7 article which should point to more information about this new feature seem to redirect only to a generic page in the Resource Center and an MSDN SDK article about editing forms. From the latter article there is a link to another subsection “Design Considerations for Read-Only forms” which provides more details.
Key features of Read-Optimised Forms
The first thing to note is that read-optimised forms don’t have a Ribbon and won’t run any scripts, so you need to re-consider any scripts you use for hiding or revealing fields, sections, or tabs. CRM 2011 allows you to set the default visibility of a field so you can have a field hidden normally and then use scripts on normal forms to reveal them when needed, rather than using scripts to hide things which are otherwise always visible. This approach may help in some situations but is no use to help with scripts used to do calculations or change field values for users to see.
Like scripts, web resources won’t be retrieved and displayed on read-optimised forms. Some situations can be circumvented using iFrames, but of course that may defeat the whole point of trying to reduce the amount of data retrieved to present a form and the time a user has to wait for the fully rendered result.
Administrators can enable read-optimised forms for the whole organisation (this is off by default) but can’t control this individually for different entities, unfortunately. Whether they turn them on or off globally, they can also control whether users can turn them on or off for themselves (so you can enable them but allow users to turn them off, or disable them and allow users to turn them on. Or not!)
(Update 23rd March: Actually, now that a bit more information is becoming available, it seems to be slightly more complicated than this. You can enable read-optimised form mode for selected users, you don’t have to turn it on or off for everyone. You can’t select specific entities though. However, it seems that if your forms do have scripts or web resources on, it will always display the editable form in order that these show up and work. So on the face of it if you want to publish efficient read-optimised forms you have to strip them bare yourself otherwise users will get your full-fat form anyway despite enabling the new feature. Presumably you would then publish an alternative form for users to be able to switch to which has all the rich stuff on. I’m going to do some work and testing on this and publish more detailed notes once I get it figured out.)
Why are they called “Read-Optimised”? Although they are read-only, the name is an attempt to draw a clear distinction between this new type of form and any “normal” form which is read-only because of the access rights a user has or because a record is inactive / completed / closed.
Forms will display inline grids (and charts if they are turned on) but since there is no Ribbon a user would have to click to switch into edit mode to do anything with these (eg add an existing Contact child record from the Contact grid on the Account form).
One disappointing thing for me is that the read-optimized versions of the forms also lose the very helpful navigation at the top right corner to go to the previous / next record. Hopefully they might reinstate this in the 2012 Q2 update.
Read more about read-optimised forms in this MSDN blog post.
Update rollup 7 pre-requisites
Most important to note is that UR6 is a pre-requisite so you have to go get that and install it first if you have not done so already. Also don’t forget that UR4, 5 and 6 cannot be removed once installed without uninstalling the whole application, so this is a really good time to check those backup plans and make sure you test before deploying to your live environment if possible.
If you are installing CRM for the first time you can download the installation with UR6 already slipstreamed in to save time and effort:
If you want to stay ahead of the curve, check out when update rollups are due on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 and 2011 Update Rollup Release Dates, Build Numbers, and Collateral page. This page seems to have been removed or renamed at the moment as it is unavailable, but hopefully it will be back soon as it is an invaluable resource.