Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 makes extensive use of reporting, which we will be covering through this entire book. Reporting is a very important piece of any system that is heavily used by managers or upper management roles, such as the CEO and COO, of any enterprise. In this chapter we will cover:
CRM report types
CRM report settings
SQL Reporting Services versions
Installation and configuration of Reporting Services Extension
Installation and configuration of Report Authoring Extension (used for Visual Studio development)
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 allows different types of reports; not only can the SQL Reporting Services reports be used, but other custom reports, such as Crystal Reports, ASP.NET, or Silverlight reports can also be integrated.
Dynamics CRM can manage the following types of reports:
RDL files, which are SQL Reporting Services reports
External links to external applications such as Crystal Reports, ASP.NET, or Silverlight reports
Native CRM dashboards with charts
The RDL files can be created in either of the following two ways:
Dynamics CRM 2011 comes with 54 predefined reports out of the box; 25 of them are main reports and 29 are subreports. If for some reason you don't see any report as shown in the following screenshot, it means Dynamics CRM 2011 Reporting Extensions were not installed. This is something that can only happen for on-premise environments; if you are working with CRM Online, you don't need to be worried about any report-extension-deployment tasks.
In the General tab, you will see the name of the report and the description. If it is a subreport, we will see the parent report displayed. Lastly, in the Categorization section, you can see the following settings:
Related Record Types
We will study each of these settings in detail.
You can change, add, or remove these categories by navigating to Settings | Administration | System Settings | Reporting as shown in the following screenshot:
Notice that if you add a new category, you will also have to create the view as it won't be created automatically.
The home page grid is where you see all the records of an entity (depending on the view you selected) as shown in the following screenshot:
Almost every entity in Dynamics CRM has a Run Report button. As you can see, there are some reports that can run on the selected records and there are others that only run on all records. We will see how to configure this in detail when we go deeper into report development with Visual Studio in Chapter 5, Creating Contextual Reports.
Forms for related record types
Lists for related record types
The Reports area
The first option will make the report available on the Run Report button, which is on the form ribbon of an entity record as we have seen earlier.
The lists for the Related Record Types option appears on the home page grid ribbon button.
The Reports area refers to the main reporting interface that is in the Workplace.
This last option of the Categorization section allows us to specify the language of the report. We have the option of selecting all the languages on the list if you want your single report to be displayed in any of these languages. This is helpful if we have the different language packs installed on the CRM Server and the organization has people from different countries who understand different languages. By default all the reports are based on the local language.
The first version of reporting services was released as a separate download for SQL 2000. It was in the SQL 2005 version that it was integrated in the SQL Server installation media and became an optional feature of the SQL Server setup.
I remember that when I first installed SQL Reporting Services 2000, the setup was very complicated and required touching some XML files manually. It was in the 2005 version that it included a very nice application called Reporting Services Configuration Manager to help set up and deploy, which has been improving with every version to make this task much easier.
The 2000 and 2005 versions required Internet Information Services (IIS) to be installed on the server to be used by the report manager and report web services. However, the 2008 and 2012 versions come with their own HTTP server and don't make use of the IIS.
There is an important difference between the versions of SQL Server and Visual Studio. Basically, the last version of SQL 2012 is one version behind Visual Studio as currently there is no support for the Report Server Project Templates in Visual Studio 2012. The following table shows this discrepancy:
Visual Studio 2005
Visual Studio 2005
4.0 and 2011
Visual Studio 2008
4.0 and 2011
Visual Studio 2010
4.0 and 2011
Dynamics CRM 2011 was originally designed to work with Windows Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 R2. Installing Dynamics CRM 2011 on Windows Server 2012 with SQL Server 2012 is very challenging; Daniel Cai, a fellow Microsoft MVP in Dynamics CRM, has written the necessary steps and workarounds in his article at http://danielcai.blogspot.com.ar/2012/05/install-crm-2011-on-windows-server-8.html.
As we can see in the http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?kbid=2791312 link, there is upcoming support for Windows 2012 with the Update Rollup 13, which will be available on the Windows Update.
In this book, I have decided to use the latest Microsoft versions, Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012, to take the benefits of the latest features and improvements. I will mention in this book whenever a specific feature is different from the previous versions, as some implementations might still use the 2008 R2 versions.
At the time of writing this book, CRM Online is using SQL Server 2012.
Support for the mobile client with the SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1
Alerts directly from the reporting-service control
There is also another version of SQL Reporting Services that uses the same concept but is hosted in the cloud of Windows Azure; however, this version can't be used with Dynamics CRM directly.
SQL Server databases
Report Manager website
Report Server Web service
There are two databases that are used by the SQL Reporting Services—ReportServer and ReportServerTempDB. All the reports and configurations are stored in the first database, and the second one is used to store temporary data and improve the service performance by caching the user sessions. Notice that these databases' names are set by default and a Database administrator (DBA) might change the names using the Reporting Services Configuration Manager.
The Windows Service is used to automatically generate scheduled reports that can be scheduled with the Report Manager website or the CRM interface, as we will see in Chapter 8, Advance Custom Reporting and Automation. You can see this Windows Service in the Windows Services tool with the name of SQL Server Reporting Services (MSSQLSERVER), where MSSQLSERVER will be the name of the SQL Server instance you are running.
The Report Manager is the web-user interface in which a user can see, create, and run reports by usually going to a URL such as
http://<servername>/Reports. From this interface, the administrator can also give and assign permissions to the reports as well as configure and run the reports directly.
The Report Server Web service is the web service end point where a developer can integrate with other custom applications. Usually, by going to a URL such as
http://servername/ReportServer, a developer can create another user interface to do everything the Report Manager website can do, but with a custom interface or application such as a Windows or WPF app. This is the URL that Visual Studio and the Report Builder use to connect and interact with the reporting services to run and deploy reports. This web service is very useful if you want to automate some of the export report features, such as to automate the generation of a PDF document by executing a report. An example of one of the end points exposed can be found at
http://<servername>/ReportServer/ReportService2010.asmx; there are other ASMX files for compatibility with previous versions, such as
If the Dynamics CRM 2011 Reporting Extensions were not installed during the initial setup of Dynamics CRM, you can install them manually later by executing the
SetupSrsDataConnector.exe file that is located in the
Server\amd64\SrsDataConnector folder of the Dynamics CRM 2011 installation media. It is important to know that this needs to be installed on the server where the SQL Reporting Services is installed.
Execute the file
Click on Next to continue.
Click on Install when the Download and Install required components window pop ups and then click on Next to continue.
Choose the suggested instance and click on Next to continue.
Select the installation directory or leave the default suggested location and click on Next to continue.
In this case, the error shown refers to a typical SQL 2012 SRS installation, where the local account
ReportServeris used by default. We will need to change the reporting service account by using the Reporting Services Configuration Manager tool and either use a domain account specifically created for this purpose or use the Network Service local account.
Click on Next to continue.
As we can see in the warning page, the SQL Server Reporting Service will need to be restarted; therefore we need to be sure that nobody would need it while installing this component. Click on Next to continue.
Click on Finish to close the installer. To validate that we have deployed the reports successfully, we can go to the CRM Web interface and click on Reports. We should now see all the reports installed as shown in the following screenshot:
It is very important that we also validate this page from another computer that is neither the CRM Server nor the SQL Server, to be sure that the reports work properly for the users. Issues in the configurations would make the reports work well only on the server but not on the user machines. In Chapter 9, Failure Recovery and Best Practices, we review some of the common issues and solutions related to the reporting services' authentication issues.
After installing the Reporting Services Extensions, it is also recommended to install the latest rollup updates (service packs) to match the same rollup update as the CRM Server. At the time of writing, the latest rollup update for Dynamics CRM 2011 was number 13 and it can be downloaded using either the Windows Update option or by going to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=37133 and downloading the
To check what rollup update version you have installed and/or see all the different rollup updates that are available, you can refer to this blog article:
The Report Authoring Extension component is essential if you are planning to develop SQL Reporting Service reports with Visual Studio 2008; it will add the necessary FetchXML data connector. As we will see in detail in Chapter 3, Creating Your First Report in CRM, the reports that are generated with the Report Wizard use this connector. So if you want to update any of the reports generated by the Report Wizard, you will need to have these extensions installed on your development machine.
The extensions require SQL Server 2008 developer tools to be installed; after the Update Rollup 13, you can now install it on the SQL Server 2010 developer tools. Before Update Rollup 13, the extensions were not compatible with the tools installed by SQL Server 2012; this is because SQL 2012 uses Visual Studio 2010 instead of Visual Studio 2008, which is the version that is required by default. After the Update Rollup 13, support for the Visual Studio 2010 that comes with SQL 2012 has been added.
At the time of writing, there is no known version of the developer tools that is compatible with Visual Studio 2012.
To install this extension, you will need to download the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Report Authoring Extension from the Microsoft downloads website or by going to the following URL:
The following are the steps to install and configure Report Authoring Extension:
Download the file with the name
After downloading and executing this file, you will be prompted to select a folder where the files will be extracted to and the following first dialog will appear:
Click on Next to continue.
Now click on Install.
You can validate whether the Report Authoring Extensions are well installed by looking at the data source types in Visual Studio 2008, where Microsoft Dynamics CRM Fetch should be listed as an option.
In this chapter we have explained the different types of reports we can use in Dynamics CRM. Further, we have learned about SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) and how to install the Dynamics CRM 2011 connector. We have also covered how to install the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Report Authoring Extension, which we are going to use and explain later in this book.
The next chapter will show the entity relationship model of dynamics CRM and review the basic and advanced commands of the SQL language as well as the FetchXML language.