Tag Archives: SalesForce

Lightning Series for Salesforce CRM released

Microsoft LightSwitch data source extension for Salesforce

Xpert360 Lightning Series for Salesforce released!

This week saw the release of the next Lightning Series product aimed at bringing together Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch with Salesforce. We are expecting to see a surge in uptake of LightSwitch as VS11 beta approaches release. Add to that Office365, the rollout of Windows 8 and the next version of Visual Studio. The Lightning Series products will be addressing the integration and productivity needs of this market space bringing together disparate data from Microsoft Dynamics CRM online/on-premise, Salesforce, Zendesk, HubSpot, Nimble, Office365 and more…

The products are professionally developed commercial software with support contracts available. The difference is the commitment of Xpert360 to deliver FREE product licenses for everyone. This policy will continue provided that there is enough interest from the communities and enough revenue is raised from add-on work and custom versions for Enterprise use. The more people use the Lightning Series products, the better they will get and everyone will benefit.

We develop and use code generation technology rather than purely develop the actual products themselves. This helps us to drive down development costs and is allowing us to transition these activites to the cloud and SaaS over the next year.

The next release of the Salesforce adapter is expected by the end of June 2012 and there is still time for user feedback into the release program.

The next Lightning Series LightSwitch Data Source to be released will support zendesk. We decided that because we are using it ourselves. After that we will be looking for feedback to gauge the demand to prioritize the release other data adapters for the likes of HubSpotnimble and Office365. The series will soon include other custom controls and very importantly, Enterprise-class productivity tools aimed at LightSwitch to make the platform irresistible.

For more information visit the Xpert360 Support and Forums and follow this blog to see how the story unfolds.

Xpert360 Lightning Series for Salesforce

Visual Studio Gallery – Xpert360 Lightning Series for Salesforce

Visual Studio Gallery entry

Visual Studio Gallery entry

Working with SalesForce and Dynamics CRM data in Visual Studio 11 Beta

Microsoft Visual Studio 11 beta and Windows 8 Consumer Previews were made available on Feb 29th 2012. They will be valid through to June 2012.

The Xpert360 development team took the beta for a spin with the latest versions of the Xpert360 Lightning Series product builds: WCF Ria Service data source extensions for LightSwitch and .NET 4 that connect to salesforce and Dynamics CRM Online instances.

VS11 Beta Premium Applying: LightSwitch Beta Core

VS11 Beta Premium Applying: LightSwitch Beta Core

After the VS11 install a quick rebuild of the data extensions VSIX in VS2010 pulled in the latest software versioning as shown below:

Clip for LightSwitch Data Extension vsixmanifest

Clip for LightSwitch Data Extension vsixmanifest

The new VSIX files now prompt for the version of Visual Studio if not already installed and within ten minutes of the VS11 install we are building our first Visual Studio LightSwitch 11 application to interact with our CRM test systems.

LightSwitch project templates in VS11 Beta

LightSwitch project templates in VS11 Beta

Then we create new data connections with the Xpert360 Lightning Data Extensions.

LightSwitch designer - Choose a WCF Ria Service

LightSwitch designer - Choose a WCF Ria Service!

… and we move on and choose some of the CRM entities exposed by the service.

LightSwitch designer - Select Data Source Objects

LightSwitch designer - Select Data Source Objects from Dynamics CRM Online

The chosen entities appear against the data source in the LightSwitch designer and can be explored and manipulated as usual. Notice the automatically available entity relationships between the salesforce entities.

LightSwitch designer - SalesForce Opportunity Entity

LightSwitch designer - SalesForce Opportunity Entity with chosen subset fo relationships

A few more clicks to build a list detail screen…

LightSwitch designer - Xpert360 Lightning Data Extensions

LightSwitch designer - Xpert360 Lightning Data Extensions

Ten minutes later we have our first CRM data from salesforce and Dynamics CRM Online.

LightSwitch - SalesForce Opportunities List Details

LightSwitch - SalesForce Opportunities List Details at your disposal

Looking around in the VS11 IDE the default theme has faded to grey, perhaps its vying for an Oscar with “The Artist”. Here are the two LightSwitch project views available in solution explorer:

LightSwitch designer - Logical viewLightSwitch designer - Logical view

LightSwitch designer - Logical and File views

If you are embarking on custom UI controls with Silverlight 5 then here are the available project templates in VS11:

VS11 Beta Silverlight project templates

VS11 Beta Silverlight project templates

We are also eagerly awaiting the VS11 LightSwitch Extensibility Toolkit which has been indicated to be ready in a few weeks by Beth Massi:

The Xpert360 Lightning Series data extensions will unleash the true power of LightSwitch onto your salesforce CRM and Dynamics CRM Online data very soon. They are currently undergoing private beta testing which will now be extended to include the VS11 Beta as this platfrom has a go-live license.

If you somehow missed all the anouncements here are the links:

Any feedback or enquiries welcome at mailto:info@xpert360.com

Using SalesForce and Dynamics CRM with Visual Studio LightSwitch

“Integrate the local/on-premise/cloud islands of data into low-cost, agile modern data mashup applications and can they be ready tomorrow, please!”

We received a request to see if salesforce CRM data could be made available for application integration soon followed by a similar request for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online data.

LightSwitch Mashup Application

LightSwitch Mashup Application with added Bing, custom visualisations, OpenXML document generation, PivotViewer etc.

Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch was released in 2011 and provides a code-free application building experience designed to appeal to business power users. Since then we have been using it mostly as a RAD prototyping tool.

A characteristic of LightSwitch is its focus on business utility. It presents business-savvy native data types like e-mail and money, including automated validation, input masks and formatting. Although it is a really good platform, it needs extending to reach beyond being a niche product for small developments. Fortunately, it is customizable and extensible and the real power is unleashed when put in the hands of skilled .NET developers.

SalesForce Data Source in LightSwitch Dynamics CRM Data Source in LightSwitch
SalesForce and Dynamics CRM Data Sources in LightSwitch provided by Xpert360 custom adapters

Most samples and articles concentrate on extending LightSwitch using custom controls, few cover custom data extensions. We will be doing the same in some upcoming posts about data visualisation, Bing maps amd PivotViewer in LightSwitch. Going beyond this and enabling the myriad sources of business data to be consumed by LightSwitch brings new possibilities.

Rather than ‘reinventing the wheel’ we attempted to use other third-party tools but they proved to be inadequate, slow and not designed to fully unlock the potential of LightSwitch. Any commercial custom data adapter needs to be designed to support LightSwitch and other .NET technologies such as MVC3. A LightSwitch data extension that does not natively support data contract metadata, relationships and foreign keys is not really much of a LightSwitch data extension.

CRM Entities in LightSwitch designer with defaults, validation and relationships 'out-of-the-box'

CRM Entities in LightSwitch designer with defaults, validation and relationships 'out-of-the-box'

XML underpins the integration of all these application layers and services from XAML screen definitions, LightSwitch metadata, configuration settings, SOAP WDSL’s through to data serialisation and storage.

Full support for SalesForce extended metadata in LightSwitch

Full support for SalesForce extended metadata in LightSwitch

So, we designed and built our own and having to use our own software is a good driver for quality. We are currently running a private beta program for the Xpert360 Lightning Series data adapters for salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and are in the final stages of preparing them for general release.

The adapters support most CRUD operations subject to the security context of the connected user. They include efficient caching to speed your applications along and reduce the Web API calls.

Field-level validation inherited automatically from CRM

Field-level validation inherited automatically from CRM

Using the Web API’s requires a salesforce Enterprise Edition subscription or a developerforce account. To access the Dynamics CRM Online services requires Windows Identity Foundation for the security.

Windows Azure Demonstration accessing SalesForce data

Windows Azure Demonstration accessing SalesForce data

We also have versions of the adapters in testing for Windows Azure, other Dynamics CRM versions (security models and on-premise) and proof of concept projects for HTML5, Windows 8 WinRT and Windows Phone. The availability of support for these variations will be subject to customer demand and platform releases, not least our own application development and custom development service projects.

SalesForce Opportunity in LightSwitch Screen Designer

SalesForce Opportunity in LightSwitch Screen Designer is just a few clicks away

We have already trialled an offline support model that can provide a partial or total mirror of the CRM data. Our initial thoughts are that this will be provided as a part of an ‘Enterprise’ version and custom solutions. This feature has turned out to be an essential aid to internal product testing against a developerforce account. We will be seeking early adopters in this area later in 2012.

SalesForce data replication for offline support in MSMS

We have custom tools to enable rapid building of custom data adapters. This is useful for customers that have installed third-party extensions or modified the CRM schema. You may wish to have a custom adapter that only implements access to a small subset of CRM entities. We may offer lightweight adapters if that is an option that looks viable based upon feedback.

Data update collision detection and resolution features are scheduled for a subsequent release. There are also more features surrounding caching, paging, metadata and custom queries to come as well as non-English versions.

Any feedback or enquiries welcome at mailto:info@xpert360.com

Other useful links: