The idea of web resources has always been a little overwhelming to me. In the past I associated them with something a programmer uses for the wonderful, amazing magic they do in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. As it turns out, even those of us who don't consider ourselves to be hard-core programmers have the ability to take advantage of web resources.
Put Your Instructions Where Your Data Is
A few months ago, while working on a client's Dynamics CRM 2011 implementation, I found myself in a predicament. Basically, one of the client's requests was to create a user dashboard template so I had to build a dashboard with charts and views that required each individual user to save the views as personal views and update them. Then the user needed to save the dashboard template as a personal dashboard and update all the views to use the personal views the user had just updated. Since this task was somewhat involved, it seemed like an ideal topic for the client's training class. Unfortunately, dashboard customizations were not going to be covered in the training classes. I decided if I couldn’t train their employees on the topic, the least I could do is provide them with an instruction sheet they could refer to while working on their own dashboards. Now I just needed to find a straight forward way to deliver, share and store this information...
After a little research, I found out there are 10 file formats you can use when creating web resources and one of those is web pages. I decided putting the instructions in a web page would be a good idea but I was not sure how I would refer to that web page. Then I remembered there is a web resource button available when working with dashboards. Turns out, it worked beautifully. Once I figured out the process I could quickly and easily get instructions where I needed them and more importantly, where the users needed them, right on the dashboard that required customization!
Create Your Web Resources for Dashboards
Here is the step-by-step process I used to create my solution and save the training instructions mentioned above.
First, go to Settings –> Customization -> Web Resource and click on the New button.
Fill in the required Name, and choose the correct type.
Click the Text Editor button to write the instructions or click the browse button to upload the file you previously created with the instructions.
In the Text Editor you have a WYSIWYG editor that allows you to type, format, number and even add pictures (they have to be created as their own web resources first) to the instructions.
Notice there is also a Source tab that will show the html of what you are creating. Click OK to save this and get back to the web resource page. Don't worry, you can come back here to make tweaks.
Click the Save button then the Publish button. If you would like to see how the instructions are going to look you can also click the Preview button and the instructions will be opened in a web page.
Here is the saved Web Resource.
Save and Close this window. Then navigate to the component called Dashboards.
Open the dashboard you want to add the instructions web resource to or create a new one. Use the web resource button at the top of the dashboard window or the web resource icon within one of the component areas.
Choose the web resource we created, fill in the required fields, save and click OK.
Now that the instructions are in the dashboard save, publish and go to the Dashboards in Workplace to see the results.
Sweet! Looks good to me. Now if I decide I need to update the directions, all I have to do is open the Instructions web resource back up, make the changes, save it, publish it and refresh this dashboard and I will see the changes here as well. No need to re-publish the dashboard.
Make Your Own Magic
So there you go, looks like us non-programmers can do a little magic too! And for those technical architects out there, don't worry, your job is safe from me.
If you would like to find out more about web resources, check out the Web Resources for Microsoft Dynamics CRM section in the MSDN Library for Customizing Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
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