Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Scripting Cookbook

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The friendly folks over at Packt Publishing recently sent me a copy of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Scripting Cookbook by Nicolae Tarla. I have worked for them in the past as a technical reviewer (unpaid) and they asked me to review this book for them.

I really enjoyed Nicolae’s work, it’s a great book and I have no reservations about recommending this to others. It really is a fantastic piece of work.

This is book is heavily focused on the client side customisations of MSCRM 2011. So if you are interested in the following topics this book is definitely for you; form scripting, UI manipulation, workflows, dialogs, ribbons and ‘light’ social media integrations.

In particular the book has a strong focus on JavaScript and glosses over the more general entity, form, view, workflow, dialog customisations. This is understandable as JavaScript is the more interesting and complicated topic.

Generally speaking I found the book struck a good balance between detail you need to be explicitly told and the stuff which you can work out just by using the product, e.g. adding a field to a form or adding steps to a workflow.

I found this book easy to read, follow and understand; it has a recipe/tutorial based approach so you can easily jump between chapters and topics. This is the sort of book that once read you will keep around for reminders,  ideas and assistance.

In general it encourages good practice using supported approaches. It drops into some unsupported JavaScript occasionally (especially chapter 9), however it is clearly highlighted so you can take it or leave it, either way its useful information to know.

In terms of target audience, this would be suitable for novices and experts alike. Those who are already familiar with CRM can probably skip chapter 1 which covers some very basic topics such as form customisation and setting up an CRM Online development environment.

Chapters 2 – 4 cover JavaScript with broad range, good level of detail and specific useful examples.

Chapters 5, Error Handling and 6, Debugging; are excellent, these are topics that are all too often overlooked but they add real value to an implementation.

7, Extended UI Manipulation; is focused on adding visual elements to the page, e.g. images.

8, Working with Ribbon Elements; is particularly useful because it doesn’t just direct you to a tool, but bothers to go into detail on the XML customisation, again the showing the sort of detail that is all too often overlooked.

9, Extending CRM Using Community JavaScript Libraries, dives into jQuery and jQuery UI.

10, Light Social Media Integration; presents integrations with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Del.icio.us which is a really nice and unexpected way to round off the book.

My only real disappointment is that OData is not covered is a more holistic way, personally I would have liked to have seen a chapter dedicated to it, instead it is crops up a couple of times within the book.

Overall great book and I’m certain everyone will learn something from it.

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