Keeping Track of Public Queues with a Vista Gadget

Way back when CRM 1.0 came out, we embraced email enabled queues as a key responding to our clients support requests. By replacing an email distribution list with a queue we eliminated the problems we often had where two or more people would start responding to an issue at the same time. Now the first person that can work on the issue takes it off of the queue.

However queues introduced a new problem for us. When we used a distribution group everyone knew about the problem immediately. With queues we had to remember to go check the queue regularly to see if anything was in it. To get around the problem we created a small Windows application that installed on each workstation and then popped up a message indicating how many items there were in each monitored queue. This worked pretty well for us until we started upgrading to Vista. We had purchased a specific VB control to pop up the message and that control would not work with Vista.

We decided to start over and embrace the new world of Vista Gadgets. In keeping with our original design, we opted for a two tiered solution with a dedicated webservice on the CRM server and code in the gadget that consumed data from the webservice. The gadget let someone see how many items are in a particular queue without having to open CRM or jump to the Queue area under workspace.

The VS 2005 solution for the webservice and all of the files to recreate the gadget are attached to this post. We consciously hard coded URLs in the javascript for the gadget because it is easier to edit the file and distribute the gadget with the URL set than it is to have each user set the URL when they install the gadget. Therefore you will have to follow the provided instructions to recreate the gadget file.

Richard Riddle, our lead CRM developer did all of the coding on this one. We hope you find it useful.

Outlook Hanging with CRM

One of the reasons I have not been posting in a while is that we have been very busy trying to resolve some lingering issues at one of our CRM installations. We have been working with Microsoft over the past 6 months trying to clear up some Outlook performance issues as well as some related email issues when using the CRM Address Book provider.

It has taken a long time to isolate the issues and frankly my commitment to the Dynamics CRM platform was shaken for quite some time. I think Microsoft if is paying attention and being dillegent is addressing the problems and we are starting to see some hotfixes that address the specific issues we have been trying to resolve.

MS KB 938547 should be public within the next few days at This KB provides a hotfix that you will have to call in for. Don’t bother calling for the hotfix until the KB link above is working. This hotfix requires that CRM Update Rollup 2 be installed on the system.

I’ll let you know how our testing of this hotfix goes.

I hope to have news of other hotfixes soon. One of our major issues is sending email when using the CRM Address Book Provider. We have received some preliminary hotfixes but they have not fixed the underlying problem. As best as we can determine, the problem seems to only occur when using Outlook 2003. We cannot reproduce the problem with Outlook 2007. When the final fix comes out I will let you know.