Easy Microsoft CRM 3.0 Data Access Using RSS


Microsoft Corporation

May 2006

Applies to:
   Microsoft® CRM 3.0

   Microsoft CRM 3.0, Microsoft Visual Studio® .NET 2003
   Microsoft Windows® 2000 or Windows Server 2003.

Summary: Learn how you can combine Microsoft CRM and RSS technologies to set up dynamic business data feeds. Receive dynamic updates to critical company business data that directly affects how you do business. This article accompanies a working sample Web application for accessing business data feeds from Microsoft CRM using RSS technology. You'll find information here about how to install and use the sample software, and you'll learn how to dynamically retrieve and display Microsoft CRM data in commonly available RSS reader applications.

Download the sample code for this article: CrmRssFeed.exe.

The download contains a Microsoft Visual C#® version of the sample Web application.


Why use Microsoft CRM and RSS?
Installing the Software
Accessing the Data Feeds
Additional Information

Why use Microsoft CRM and RSS?

In a nutshell, you get delivery of the right business data when you need it. Microsoft CRM 3.0 provides a central data collection, storage, and modification tool for business data, while RSS, a protocol for delivery of information over the Internet, provides the transport and delivery mechanism. Data security is provided by Microsoft CRM, so your business data remains secure.

While RSS was originally crafted for the syndication of news stories, it can be used for delivering other types of information as well. After information is provided in RSS format, an RSS reader application, which is also known as an aggregator, is used to dynamically retrieve and view the information. The RSS reader periodically checks for new information and notifies you when something new and of interest to you has arrived.

Exposing business data using RSS can provide huge benefits to decision-making processes.

Click here for larger image

Figure 1. Microsoft CRM Active Accounts feed shown in RSS Bandit (Click here for larger image.)

Installing the Software

In order to set up data feeds from Microsoft CRM, you need to install the sample RSS Connector Web application on the server that is running Microsoft CRM. You also need an RSS reader application, which can be installed on any computer with network access to the server. The following sections describe how to install the required software.

Installing the RSS Connector Web Application

To install the RSS Connector sample software, follow these steps:

  1. On the server running Microsoft CRM, create a file system folder named rss in the Microsoft CRM installation root folder. For a default Web site installation, the root folder is c:\inetpub\wwwroot\.
    Note This step assumes that your Microsoft CRM installation is hosted in the default Web site on your server. If that is not the case, create the rss folder in the root folder of your Microsoft CRM installation.
  2. Download and extract the contents of the sample referred to in the summary section of this article.
  3. Copy the sample's files, including any subfolders, into the rss folder that you created in step 1.
  4. In Windows Explorer, right-click the rss folder, and then click Sharing and Security.
  5. In the Properties dialog box, click the Security tab, and then click Advanced.
  6. Make sure that Allow inheritable permissions is checked and click OK twice to close the dialog boxes.
  7. On the Start menu, navigate to All Programs, point to Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003, point to Visual Studio .NET Tools, and then click Visual Studio .NET 2003 Command Prompt.
  8. In the Command Prompt window, change to the rss folder described in step 1 by typing the following command:
    cd c:\inetpub\wwwroot\rss
  9. Run the batch file named make.bat, by typing the following command. Leave the Command Prompt window open for now.
  10. Edit the Microsoft CRM web.config file to enable customizations. If you have existing customizations, this change should have already been made. This file can be found at c:\inetpub\wwwroot\ for a default installation. Change the ISVIntegration settings near the end of the file to permit ISV integration for the Web client:
    <add key="ISVIntegration" value="Web"/>
  11. Save the web.config file.
  12. Make a backup copy of the existing _Resources\isv.config.xml file. The _Resources folder is located in the root installation folder for Microsoft CRM.
  13. Copy the isv.config.xml file from the rss folder to the Resources folder, overwriting the existing copy. If you have existing customizations, you must merge the contents of both isv.config.xml files in order to preserve your customizations.
  14. In the Command Prompt window, type iisreset to restart IIS, and then close the Command Prompt window.
  15. Test the RSS Connector Web page by opening Internet Explorer and typing in the address, http://<crm-server:port>/rss/rss.aspx, using your server name and port number. You should see a Web page with a list of available Microsoft CRM RSS data feeds.

Installing an RSS Reader Application

The RSS reader application can be installed on any computer with network access to your server running Microsoft CRM. If you do not already have an RSS reader application installed, you can install RSS Bandit by following these steps:

  1. Download the latest version of RSS Bandit.
  2. Unzip (extract) the contents of the downloaded file. You should now have an RssBandit Installer.msi file, which is the installation wizard.
  3. Double-click the .msi file in Windows Explorer to open it and run the installation wizard.
  4. Follow the wizard instructions.

Accessing the Data Feeds

So how does this all work? In short, you call up the sample RSS Connector Web page in a Web browser or RSS reader application, subscribe to one or more of the RSS data feeds shown on the page, and view the Microsoft CRM data in the RSS reader at your leisure. Your RSS reader application periodically requests updates for subscribed-to data feeds from Microsoft CRM and lets you know when new information is available.

Subscribing to a Data Feed

When RSS Bandit is installed and configured as your default RSS reader, you can subscribe to a Microsoft CRM data feed by following these steps:

  1. In Internet Explorer 6.0 or RSS Bandit, browse to the RSS Connector Web page at http://<crm-server:port>/rss/rss.aspx.
  2. Right-click the orange XML icon for the feed that you want, and click Subscribe in default RSS reader from the menu.

The available data feeds listed in the RSS Connector Web page obtain their data from Microsoft CRM saved query and system query results. Create your own saved queries using the Advanced Find feature in Microsoft CRM, and then use the RSS Connector feature to set up an RSS feed to the query results!

Viewing a Data Feed

Viewing RSS feeds in RSS Bandit is similar to viewing e-mail in Microsoft Office Outlook. Select a subscribed feed in the left Feed Subscriptions pane, and then click a Feed Details headline. In the Reading Pane, click the Microsoft CRM entity name link to open the details form for that entity in Microsoft CRM. Refer to Figure 1.

Changing the Frequency of Data Updates

In RSS Bandit, you can change the frequency of feed updates by following these steps:

  1. In the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. In the dialog box, click the Feeds tab.
  3. In the Update feeds every field, select a frequency from the drop-down menu.

Additional Information

This section lists sources of additional information about topics discussed in this article.