Thursday, July 30, 2009

MS CRM 4.0, xRM and building blocks

I have spent a number of years working with MS CRM as the end solution while integrating it with many other systems to make it the center of an organization’s business processes, data tracking and communication.

Change is good.

My emphasis has changed over the last year from business analysis, configuration, integration and customization of MS CRM to xRM systems that use MS CRM as a framework to build non-CRM solutions, and now leveraging MS CRM and xRM systems as a part of larger solutions.

My change in direction has also made me seriously think about what can be data driven and abstracted away to allow much more powerful solutions. I’m looking at MS CRM’s metadata in a completely new way these days as I integrate MS CRM with EF, RIA services and Silverlight 3. Taking a page from MS CRM’s form designer I’m now building Silverlight XAML based on metadata.

I’m also working on creating a developer level product out of my MS CRM import framework. (Think Scribe but for developers with complete control over everything for one time data migrations and for scheduled synchronizations.)

Enamored with MS

A real credit to the MS CRM framework is that I’m always looking at the holes in other technologies compared to what MS CRM allows as a development framework. It seems like they are all playing a game of catch up.

As a person who loves finding interesting ways to bend and mold MS CRM to do amazing things for businesses, I think the latest developments in EF, RIA and SL3 are really exciting. MS is really giving us great building blocks to create better and more powerful solutions that really improve the user experience. MS should be blushing right now and waiting for me to pucker up and give them a kiss.

Didn’t always feel this way

Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t drink the MS Kool-Aid early in my career. I was focused around UNIX technologies for over a decade, QNX (digital Mastering console with proprietary parallel processing backplane), SCO UNIX (tracking nuclear waste shipments by satellite) and (Continuous Emissions Monitoring systems), Interactive, AIX ( Medical Systems ). I also touched HP/UX, IRIX, Coherent and Linux to a lesser extent. 

At one point all serious work was done in UNIX, period. Now that am creating business solutions, I really can’t see any competitors to the business infrastructure and products that MS has and is developing. MS has so many technologies that really deliver and connect together easily that I rarely feel like I can’t create a solution to any problem.  Maybe I’m just having some really good development days lately, but it just seems like a lot of new technologies are really evolving well.

So how does this impact my blog?

I’m still working with all of the MS CRM API’s, but have noticed that a lot of things are so second nature that I don’t even think about them any more. The result is that I have less urges to write a blog articles.  I continue to read and answer questions in the newsgroup microsoft.public.crm.developer which is sometimes a source of inspiration for blog articles, and I expect to add some content soon on using the MS CRM metadata web service, so time will tell.

I’m also considering creating a secondary blog dealing with the fun of global development, virtual dev teams, finding talent, maximizing personal productivity, tools and lessons learned.

Of course the trick is keeping balance in my life while doing this. I’ve been very fortunate that I continue to be found by some great customers who have been fun to work with and have very interesting and challenging work. I am even more fortunate to have a great wife who pulls me away from the computer to play ( cycling, mountain biking, hiking, etc.. ).

Looking forward to the road ahead!

1 comment:

John Grace said...

Good Stuff, keep it up, xRM is a good long term bet.