Dynamics CRM – What Options for Editable Grids?

I have yet to be on a Dynamics CRM project where no one mentions or asks about the possibility to edit information directly from a grid or a sub-grid. In the interest of saving time when I’m recommending solutions to my clients, I thought I’d build a grid to gather the options and additional information when available.

Product Name & URL Supported CRM Versions Cost Comment(s) and Links
Sparkle XRM Framework CRM 2011 CRM 2013

CRM 2015

CRM Online

Open Source Library OK. It’s not fair to call this an Editable Grid per say. Sparkle XRM is an Open Source development library to help build complex visual components for Dynamics CRM. It is initiative from MVP Scott Durow. With strong developer, you can leverage Sparkle to build your own editable grid. See how it can be done here.
AbleBridge EditAble Grid CRM Online CRM 2015

CRM 2013

Not public Out of the few products that I have tested and seen in action, it is easily the best one out there. It is also the most expensive. I guess it’s true when they say you get what you pay for. You can read my product review from last year. Editable Grid official overview
PowerObject Power Grid CRM Online CRM 2015

CRM 2013

1$ per CRM user per month MSDynamicsWorld article on PowerGrid.
Sonoma Partners Editable Grid for CRM 2013 CRM 2013 Free Anything that’s free, I happy about! That being said, it is a bit tricky to configure when you are not a bit technical. See configuration here.
MTC’s Super Grid CRM 2011 CRM 2013

CRM 2015

CRM Online

Org License : $1000 + User License : $15 per user Last I used this (about a 1.5 year ago). MTC was transitioning away from its Silverlight controls and implementing an HTML/JavaScript based editable Grid. It wasn’t perfect, but it did the job. It works by adding an HTML5 graphical UI “overlay”, to CRM standard or custom Views. What bothers me is that there is not an advanced view configurator. It does come with an API to perform these advance operations such as color coding rows/cells, hide columns, make fields required etc., so that is a good consolation prize.
BusiPlanIT’s free customizable editable Grid CRM 2013 CRM 2015

CRM Online

One grid for free – Pay for more than one. This is a great free add-on. I would pay for it. If your needs are simple and you just need to edit records inline for one record time, go for it. You need to contact BusiPlanIT for pricing information if you need more than one grid.

Obviously, there is always the possibility to build an editable grid yourself using JavaScript libraries of your choice. It’s just a matter of how much time you need and want to invest versus creating a dependency to an add-on. Eternal debate.

I thought I should also mention the availability of the Immersive Excel experience with CRM Online (2015 Update 1). Though it can be used to perform inline editing on list views, it is really meant to to do quick analysis right from CRM Online. There is plenty of articles on the subject out there. Check out Inogic’s article here.

Hope this helps!

 

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EditAble CRM Grid by AbleBridge

I recently spent some time trying out the AbleBridge EditAble CRM Grid for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. In this article, I’m providing an overview of the product that can help you make an informed decision if you are looking for a rich data grid experience for your Dynamics CRM implementation.

Installation

AbleBridge EditAble CRM Grid can be installed in CRM Online and On Premise. There are two main steps to install the add-on.

  1. CRM Solutions

    There are 2 CRM solution files to import (Core & Data Grid) to your organization.

  2. License Configuration

    Once the solution files have been imported, a license XML file must be generated by AbleBridge. It contains a key that’s tied to your organization and customer, it also brings in information such as user count and expiration date.

Solutions Components

The solutions files (Core & Data Grid) are very small (less than 1.5 MB combined) and they import very quickly, showing how lightweight the add-on is.

The Data Grid solution contains around 150 components, mostly web resources (images, javascript and HTML), some plugin steps and a few CRM entities. As you can see in the screenshot in the previous section, the configuration screen is HTML/JavaScript based, not Silverlight as we’re accustomed to see with CRM add-ons. The entire solution is actually HTML/JavaScript based, there is not a single trace of Silverlight in the solution which personally makes me very happy J.

EditAble CRM Grid Configuration

After the solutions have been imported, you can navigate to the Settings àAbleBridge Data Grid list view to take a look at the existing EditAble CRM Grids or create new ones.

To create a new EditAble CRM grid, create a new Data Grid Configuration record. Doing so will take you to a wizard that will guide you through the configuration steps of your view. The basic steps are

  • Grid basic configuration information
    • Grid name
    • Entity to show in the grid
    • Grid “mode” (Editable or Read Only)
  • Columns Selection & Configuration

  • Record Selection setup: select whether you want records to be shown based on a specific filter (entity list view) or related to a parent record (child entity sub-grids)

Notice that at step 2 above (add and configure columns), we do not get the option to add columns from related entities. When using the AbleBridge EditAble CRM Grid, you can get the same behaviour by configuring a custom field in the grid (not described in this article). I am told it will have more native support in a future release.

Once you have gone through the basic grid configuration wizard, you are presented with the Grid configuration record itself. It presents many more options to configure the grid. Let’s review some of the options. We’ll go through most sections of the configuration record so you can see all available config options.

Ribbon Buttons

As you can see in the image above, a few buttons have been defined and provide with the ability to

  • Refresh Grid Definition: this will take you back to the configuration wizard I talked about earlier to redefine your grid’s basic configuration
  • Publish Grid Configuration: same concept as CRM customization, a Grid Configuration needs to be published for users to see its latest configuration
  • Preview: you can preview a grid layout and functionality. This is a nice feature to allow you to make sure that your configuration is correct before publishing it.
  • Copy: used to copy a grid configuration

General Section

The available options for the general section are the row functionalities and the display options.

Grouping Section

I particularly like this feature. It can be viewed as an alternative to the out of the box dashboards that are not available with the grid. Plus if users are used to the “Group By” functionality in Excel, this gives them a very similar type of experience.

Columns Detailed Configuration

For each column, you can set additional details such as their visibility, read only, alignment and enable grouping. You can also change the column order.

Additional Options

There are more options available. I wanted to point out two options in particular

  1. Filters: like a regular CRM view, you can select filter criteria that will be applied to the EditAble CRM Grid
  2. Custom Events: you can write code using AbleBridge EditAble CRM Grid custom API. Your code can fire at different type of events (grid events, column events or toolbar button – yes you can create your own toolbar button for a grid)

Viewing the Grid

The views are web resources. They can be configured to be visible in the sitemap or as sub-grids. Below are a few examples of grid configuration.

Quick Recap

The AbleBridge EditAble CRM Grid is a very good add-on for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Being able to edit grids inline is a feature that’s been missing in CRM for a long time and as consultant, we very often get ask to inline editing feature. AbleBridge brings that, and more.

User Interface

The user interface is good looking and light weight, all JavaScript and HTML based. The grid themselves look like OOB CRM grids and the configuration is straight forward.

Feature Set

The feature set is very rich, enabling for deep customization of the grid. A few examples are columns sizing, ordering and visibility, grouping, export to Excel. The grid respects the CRM security (security roles, teams, FLS). AbleBridge also provide the ability to write code that can be executed on various events such as grid load, refresh, column change, toolbar button clicked.

The grid currently supports four languages (English, Danish, French and German) and more can be added upon need/request.

Unfortunately, with the grid we lose the ability to have the charts displayed with the view and everything that comes with it. But grouping and calculated fields (sums, counts) are a good alternative for summarizing and filtering data. The other thing that bothered me is not having the possibility to easily add columns from related entities which is a set back from the OOB views. Finally, we faced some issues with users running IE8, we didn’t spend time fixing it and moved them to a different version. It would be interesting to know if there is an easy fix or if IE8 is not really supported.

Licensing
AbleBridge EditAble CRM Grid offers the classic two license models:

  • Monthly Subscription option (pay a monthly price per CRM org based on the number of users)
  • License Purchase option (one-time fee based on the number of users)

In addition to that, you can pay for annual maintenance which covers compatibility with supported version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM (only applies to license purchase option, included in monthly subscription model).

AbleBridge’s grid is one of the most expensive editable grid add-on for CRM in the market. I think a lot of it has to do with that fact that they came out with a zero-Silverlight based product from the beginning, understanding HTML5/JavaScript is the future (or present and future). They also offer a very rich set of features that I haven’t see in competitors’ products.

Hope this helps!