Summary of xRM and CRM 5 at PDC09

This week the Microsoft Professional Developer Conference (PDC) was held in Los Angeles. Among tons of announces and cool things around Windows Azure and Silverlight 4 beta, there was three sessions dedicated to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. These 3 sessions were dedicated to highlight the xRM capabilities and to introduce new features coming on CRM version 5. Fortunately, for all of us that couldn’t make it to this great conference all the sessions and videos are available at the Microsoft PDC web site.

I strongly recommend you to watch the sessions to get first hand knowledge on some of the cool new features that will be coming with CRM 5. Here is a summary of some of the things mentioned during the sessions for CRM 5:

  • The Solution Packaging: CRM 5 will provide the new concept of solutions. This will enable a VAR or ISV to create a pack of CRM Customizations and distribute them on a nice organised way. Moreover, the platform will be able of handling versioning and calculate dependencies and customisations. This basically means that you could install a custom vertical solution from an ISV and then customise on top of it, while the ISV will still be able of deliver new versions of the vertical without messing with your customizations. The platform takes care of calculating the actual customizations based on the solutions you have deployed. Some other solution benefits:
    • Custom code will be included within the solutions packaging. No more messing around with customisations and plug-ins separately.
    • Managed Solutions. Solutions that are managed by Partners (ISVs, VARs) and which the customer cannot modify to allow versioning and upgradability. The customer can still customize on top of them, and its customizations will be kept even when applying updates to a managed solution.
    • Solution Layering: The platform will handle the different solution layers installed on the system to calculate the final customizations applied.
    • Dependency Tracking. The system will calculate and track dependencies across solutions to ensure integrity.
  • .Net 4.0 Support out of the box: CRM 5 will be built using .Net 4.0. This will allow us to take advantage of all the cool new features that will come on the latest version of the .Net framework. Personally, I love this because it means that finally the last release of Dynamics CRM will be on sync with the latest version of .Net.
  • Flexible Web Services: The web services will be revamped to support WCF, REST and AJAX. That would make much easier to interact with the Web Services using different technologies.
  • Using System Types: CRM 5 will enable working with .Net Framework types instead of using CRM specific types. No more CrmNumber and things like that.
  • Linq for CRM: I love this one. I love Linq and this is going to make our life much more easier when querying Dynamics CRM.
  • ADO.Net Data Services and .Net RIA services support: Enables an easier data access for web applications, AJAX and Silverlight.
  • Code Sandboxing: This means that we will be able of having custom .Net code on hosted environments. That is Plug-ins and Custom Workflow Activities for Partner Hosted and CRM Online.
  • Claims based Authentication and Federation: CRM 5 will enable us to integrate transparently authentication with other applications either On-Premise or on the Cloud.
  • Shared Picklists: CRM 5 will allow us to define picklist on the system and use them in several entities.

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