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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 Integration Unleashed: Silverlight

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Microsoft has released Silverlight 2.0 as a web browser plug-in similar to Flash, but adds interaction with server side technologies, while having control of the client multimedia resources (images, movies, sound). This chapter covers Silverlight, including tools and resources, developing a basic Silverlight application, deploying Silverlight using IFames, notes entity, and dashboards.
This chapter is from the book

In This Chapter

Tools and Resources

Developing a basic Silverlight application

Deploying Silverlight using IFames

Notes entity

Dashboards

Introduction

Microsoft released a “rich application platform” to allow end users to “Light Up the web” called Silverlight in 2007. So what does that really mean?

Adobe Flash was the first application to allow web developers to have an interactive platform for the web. But the technology was restricted to client side data interaction.

Microsoft has released Silverlight 2.0 as a web browser plug-in similar to Flash, but adds interaction with server side technologies, while having control of the client multimedia resources (images, movies, sound).

Traditionally it was a significant amount of work allow the client applications (JavaScript and HTML pages) to be able to get data, at that time the developers had to do post backs to the server, to obtain new information. With this limitation the JavaScript community had introduced (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) AJAX which allows developers to obtain data asynchronously. But AJAX cannot interact with the multimedia resources easily. Microsoft Silverlight bridges that gap, and allows a bi-directional communication foundation between the interactive multimedia user interface and the server side data.

The new version brings enhanced interactivity features and support for additional .NET languages. This technology delivers cross platform experience, this capability allows the developers and the business units, to provide a single interactive .net application. Currently this technology is supported on Windows 2000 and up, Mac OS X, Windows mobile 6 devices and Symbian (Series 60) phones. Table 5.1 shows the compatibility matrix of using Silverlight with different operating systems and browsers. Table 5.2 shows the compatibility matrix for mobile devices.

Desktop operating systems and browsers supporting different versions of Silverlight

 

Chrome

IE6

IE7

IE8

Firefox

Safari

Windows 2000

NA

2.0

NA

NA

2.0

2.0

Windows XP

2.0

1.0, 2.0

1.0, 2.0

2.0

1.0, 2.0

1.0, 2.0

Windows Vista

2.0

NA

1.0, 2.0

2.0

1.0, 2.0

1.0, 2.0

Windows Home Server

2.0

NA

1.0, 2.0

2.0

1.0, 2.0

1.0, 2.0

Windows Server 2003

2.0

1.0, 2.0

1.0, 2.0

2.0

1.0, 2.0

1.0, 2.0

Windows Server 2008

2.0

NA

1.0, 2.0

2.0

1.0, 2.0

1.0, 2.0

Mac OS X PowerPC

NA

NA

NA

NA

1.0

1.0

Mac OS X Intel

NA

NA

NA

NA

1.0, 2.0

1.0, 2.0

Mobile Device operating systems and browsers supporting different versions of Silverlight

 

Built in browser

Firefox mobile

Opera mini

Windows Mobile 6

2.0

NA

NA

Symbian (Series 60)Nokia S60

1.0

NA

NA

iPhone

NA

NA

NA

This is definitely the way the ‘people ready’ technology is moving towards. Silverlight provides a web interface that can interact with the backend database through a service layer. A great initial example of this technology was a search engine called Tafiti (http://www.tafiti.com/Original/default.aspx). This is definitely the technology that would be used for Microsoft Surface. A sample search application built with Silverlight is shown in Figure 5.1. Since then a number of sites of starting to adapt this technology, and you can view the showcase at http://silverlight.net/Showcase/.

The main question that will rise in most peoples’ minds is why is this mentioned in the CRM book. So what does this have to do with Microsoft Dynamics CRM?

Well what we are showing here is that Microsoft Dynamics CRM Data can be extracted from any location, and can be displayed in any format within the Silverlight application with the enhanced features of the multimedia extensions.

Some of the best uses of CRM and Silverlight include:

  • Custom Dashboards
  • Custom CRM GUI
  • Accessing data from Several other data sources
  • Can be used as an add-on for External facing systems (Examples shown in Chapter 6)

Recently Microsoft has announced Silverlight 3.0 available for beta testing. Currently Silverlight 3.0 contains the following additions on top of the existing platform:

  • Support for spell checking
  • Support to access PDF files
  • Direct HTML rendering
  • Print capabilities
  • Offline storage (similar to Google Gears)
  • Local database storage (similar to Google Gears)
  • Database synchronization (similar to Google Gears)
  • Access to local hard drive limited to My Documents
  • Administrative access to all of hard drive
  • Support for device access such as USB
  • Can drag & drop from desktop to Silverlight
  • Ability to create new Silverlight windows
  • Inverse kinematics / bones
  • Some 3D capabilities
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