Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Reporting

I recently acted as a technical reviewer for a new book; Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Reporting by Damian Sinay. This book is now available from Packt Publishing so I thought I would publish a short review. (Note: I’m not paid by Packt for this role but I do get a free book).

This book is aimed at those new to reporting in CRM and I strongly believe it would be a great resource for those recent to the topic. From a personal view point as a developer who has created reports in the past – but not recently, I also found it useful as a reference guide to brush up on old skills. This book gives a fantastic tour of reporting functionality in CRM 2011, diving into detail on the most commonly used components, presenting relevant background information, it imparts real practical skills onto the reader. My only real gripe with the book is that it doesn’t present too many concrete examples, but that doesn’t detract to greatly from the general high quality of the book. Overall I would strongly recommend this book to others.

Chapter 1 is basic introduction to reporting, covering a range of basic concepts and installation of required components. Its not the most exciting content in the book, but it provides a good context for everything that follows.

Chapters 2, 3 and 4 are excellent, moving from basic SQL to the CRM Report Wizard to the SQL Server Report Builder. It provides many practical lessons, demonstrating a wide range of functionality, a good set of background information and a sensible level of detail. A particular highlight for me was map visualisation introduced in chapter 4.

Chapter 5 introduces contextual reports which is a chapter dedicated to the advanced features within Visual Studio, an important chapter that introduces the various controls, parameters and data sources that are used to create a report.

Chapter 6 introduces the novel reporting method of using HTML web resources, this approach to reporting opens a wide of features to the developer. The second half of the chapter then dives into the development toolkit which can be used to streamline development. This is a strong chapter with core lessons and related information which teach practical skills.

Chapter 7 is a short chapter dedicated to the reporting features embedded into CRM – charts and dashboards. After explaining the basics it introduces the XML editing to use advanced features.

Chapter 8 returns to advanced customisations topics again, demonstrating how ASP.NET and Silverlight can be used for bespoke and unique reporting requirements. The chapter closes with SSRS report automation.

Chapter 9 is dedicated to best practises and recovering from failure, whilst not the most exciting topic the information is relevant and interesting. Chapter 10 closes with considerations for reporting from a mobile platform.

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