Blog

I have had a Microsoft Surface for almost two months and I can honestly say that I love the device. It has completely replaced my iPad 3 as my newsreader. The iPad is an excellent device, but I am simply more productive with the Surface tablet.I have always been a Microsoft zealot, so I will admit to being biased, but I don’t adopt everything Microsoft produces. I’ve disliked Vista, Me, Bob, Zune and several versions of DOS. My affection for Microsoft products has more to do with the development tools, and I think this is one of the aspects that Microsoft has succeeded on with the Surface. I purchased the Surface with a type keyboard, but one of the first things I did was plug in a USB wireless keyboard and mouse. I don’t use the wireless input devices all the time, but it is wonderful that they are available when I want to do some real work. The mouse comes in handy when using IE10 and opening several tabs or windows. Being able to choose between a new tab and a new window is another wonderful productivity...

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Over the years, we have had requests to synchronize SplendidCRM with QuickBooks. While we have done major research on the subject in the past, we put-off the project due to its complexity. But this year, things have changed. Our neighbors at RSSBus have created a library for QuickBooks that has replaced a painfully difficult QuickBooks SDK with a drop-dead simple ADO.NET provider. Progress has been excellent, as you may have already noticed by our pre-announcement on our What’s New page. In just a couple of weeks, we went from idea to full beta testing.

We encourage you to checkout the other ADO.NET data providers that RSSBus has to offer. Some of them duplicate features already included in SplendidCRM, such as Salesforce.com, Facebook and Twitter data providers, but others are unique, such as SAP, SharePoint and OData data providers.

For this latest release, we have focused on social media. We started by creating our own libraries for LinkedIn and Twitter before we stumbled upon some really great libraries from Spring.NET. Spring.NET is actually a port of the springsource Java libraries. We quickly adopted the Spring.NET libraries but as we started working on integrating with Facebook, we found that we needed to help the Spring folks out by doing the port of Spring.Social.Facebook to .NET. All editions of SplendidCRM now include complete libraries to work with the LinkedIn REST API, the Twitter REST API and the Facebook REST API.

Just as we were about to freeze the build, we could not get pass the glaring problem of our import of Salesforce.com only being CSV based. So we spent a couple of more days using our new Spring.NET skills to create a new library to connect to the Salesforce.com REST API. We are very excited to be able to import Salesforce.com...

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We have some major changes in store for 5.0.  We have integrated the Microsoft Rules Engine, that is included as part of the Windows Workflow Foundation, into our entire product line.  Our first thought was to only include the Rules Engine in our Enterprise Edition, as that is where all of our other workflow logic resides, but the features were just too compelling.

 

We have created a Rules Wizard that makes it very easy to apply rules to each row of a specific module.  The cool thing about the rules engine is that you can embed c# logic inside the database.  You can save the rules and re-run them at any time.

 

You can also create rules to run during form events, such as New, Load and Save events.  The rules engine allows you to modify both record values or form fields.  One thing you will notice is that we had to stop using the DataReader in the DetailViews and EditViews.  We had to use a DataTable and not a DataReader so that the rules engine could update the values in the DataTable.

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We have finally upgarded our main web site from DNN 3.3.2 to DNN 5.3.1.  We have wanted to do this for a very long time. 

We have noticed that some pages are slow, but we are hoping that performance will get better over time.

 

We finally found some spare time to create training videos for SplendidCRM.  We call them Two-Minute Training as our goal is to provide a quick introduction to each topic in approximately two minutes.  Some topics took longer than two minutes, with the Installing SplendidCRM topic taking almost ten minutes.  We considered trimming the videos, or even going slower for some of the more complex topics, but this did not seem necessary as our viewers can easily pause, rewind or fast-forward.

 

The videos were created using Camtasia from TechSmith.  The software was reasonably priced and very easy to use.  We recommend it highly if you need to create your own training videos.

 

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Every couple of years, we submit our application to Lionbridge for 3rd party verification.  The process is surprisingly time-consuming.  In the end, we agree with Microsoft that the process helps ensure a reliable experience.

Along with the transition to VS 2008, we are also deploying our Professional and Enterprise products with SQL Server 2008 Express.

 

Your first question may be, "why did it take so long?"  Well, the problem is not Visual Studio 2008, but with deploying a .NET 3.5 solution.  Even though we love the .NET development platform, we hate writing the deployment application.  It would seem that the new the technology, the harder it is to deploy.  So, we have been resisting the move to VS 2008 and SQL 2008.

 

We were motivated to move to .NET 3.5 to take advantage of the latest ReportViewer, currently under beta in Visual Studio 2010.  This new viewer will be a major step forward and we wanted to take advantage of it immediately.  There was no real need to move to SQL 2008, but since we were already installing .NET 3.5, it seemed like a good idea.

 

We are currently testing SplendidCRM 4.1 and will be publishing it very soon.

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A press release will follow shortly.

 

On the one hand, this should not be big news as it is very easy to create an Amazon EC2 Windows-based server and install SplendidCRM.  The news is big because we are running fully on Microsoft's new Azure cloud service.  The database is being run off of Azure SQL and the web application has been deployed to Azure Windows.

 

The effort was reasonable and would have been negligible had we not used SQL Server techniques that have been deprecated for years.  This is important because Azure SQL does not support any of the SQL Server deprecated features.  Still, the process was not that difficult, we simply replaced code that used dbo.sysobject to determine if an object already exists with code that uses the cross-platform view INFORMATION_SCHEMA.

 

If you would like to experiment for yourself, please visit:

http://splendidcrm7.cloudapp.net/

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