Soon the R8 update of Microsoft Dynamics CRM will be upon us and the application will officially open up to browsers other than Internet Explorer. What this means is CRM will also be accessible through different devices than just Windows PC’s: Macs, Linux machines, iPads and other tablets. Exciting times for all CRM geeks around the world, myself included, which is why I already wrote some of my thoughts on the topic after the Q2 2012 Service Update contents was revealed (see the post “To the eXtreme, part 2: The future of the web caught up with IE and Dynamics CRM”).
More supported browsers & devices will inevitably mean more work for CRM developers, as testing your application on IE alone will no longer be enough. As we get closer to R8 go-live before the end of Q2, the need for more detailed information on the practical implications is surely growing. Luckily XRM Virtual had managed to get Karun Krishna from Microsoft to give a webinar on the topic of cross-browser development on May 1st. The Live Meeting recording is now available for viewing at the XRM Virtual site. Apparently also Karun’s slides were shared during the live session, but since the recording didn’t contain them, I decided to write down a few notes of mine from the contents of the presentation.
First up is the detailed browser support matrix seen below, which expands the list previously provided in the R8 release preview guide. Included are new yellow boxes for Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 7 and Windows 8, which indicate a “supported but not full fidelity” user experience for Dynamics CRM. Also the Firefox support on Mac OS X appears to have fallen onto this level where some display/functionality bugs will exist.
In his presentation, Karun explained that while the CRM team tried to use HTML5 compliant techniques wherever possible, there were still some areas where an alternative approach had to be used in order to replicate the existing Dynamics CRM functionality across non-IE browsers. Any IE specific APIs have been removed, but as the w3C standards are still evolving, there isn’t necessarily always one single right way to implement a specific functionality in the cross-browser world. Therefore a feature detection approach for checking for browser capability differences is recommended over developing for any specific browser version. The webinar included examples and best practices on API’s and XML processing, so be sure to view the recording for details.
It was announced already earlier that using browsers other than Internet Explorer for the administration and customization menus of Dynamics CRM would not be supported. Sorry guys, you’ll still need to boot into Windows on your MacBook if you intend to do any customization work. Some additional information was now provided on features that will not be supported on other browsers than IE. These include:
- Workplace calendar
- Services (scheduling) and service calendar
- Editors for workflows and dialogs
- Lync based presence information
One thing to note is that the old crmForm object API from CRM 4.0 days will continue to work only for Internet Explorer. Therefore if you have any scripts in place that have not been updated to use the Xrm.Page methods, these won’t work for users on Chrome, Safari or Firefox.
Finally, while iPad 2 support with iOS 5 is provided, it’s important to note that this is simply the support for usage through Safari browser, not a dedicated application optimized for the tablet environment. For the premium UX you’ll need to acquire/subscribe to an add-on app like the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile for iPad, of which you can view screenshots in this post. The browser experience on an iPad 2 will have the following known limitations/issues:
- No popus. Since Dynamics CRM by default opens a wealth of windows and dialogs, this doesn’t match well with the “flat” UI’s of tablet apps.
- Touch events compared to mouse events will cause some lack of functionality (no right click, double click)
- iFrame scroll bars may be missing.
- Window closing has issues due to a focus related bug in the .close API
- No Silverlight. Well, no surprise there…
Edit 9.5.2012: The long awaited R8 release for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is now available as a beta version! PartnerSource login is required for the beta program sign-up and download (CustomerSource might also work) at http://bit.ly/crmr8beta. If you want to test your Dynamics CRM solutions in a cross-browser environment (Safari, Chrome, Firefox) before the official release of Update Rollup 9, then this is the program for you. Please note that the beta version of R8 will not support an upgrade to the final version of R8, so you should apply it to a dedicated test environment only.