Stunning Rich HTML e-mails with Dynamics CRM 2011 – Episode III

Finally here comes Episode III.

(Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead or the Star Wars saga, is purely coincidental.)

In case you missed previous episodes you can find them here and here.

Today we will see something pretty interesting and a common request: how can you make the e-mail template dynamic based on entity values or insert custom HTML code.

I’ll provide an example based on one of the requests I received in the comments, we will add a personal avatar to our users so we can insert it in our template.

Spoiler alert, the following screenshot is what we’re trying to achieve:

Dynamic email template with user avatar

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Stunning Rich HTML e-mails with Dynamics CRM 2011 – Episode II

Ok. Time for the next step.
At this point you would probably say: “Eh, you didn’t show anything new yet”.
That’s why here it comes the second part.
We will dig a bit into how our friend Dynamics translates its magic keywords, and how to use them in our e-mail template.

If you missed the first part you can read it here

Following the previous article you are now able to create a custom email template, but you are probably asking: “Every time I make a change in the template, I need to manually replace the text with dynammic properties, over and over again. Isn’t there a better way?”

Stunning Rich HTML e-mails with Dynamics CRM 2011 – Episode I

Today I’m gonna show you how to create rich html e-mails with MS Dynamics CRM 2011.

You could find many articles around, but I wanted to share my method which proves to be quite complete. This will be the first part of a series of articles which will cover also CRM slugs injected by form assistant and how to insert dynamically generated images/sections.

1. First step: brainstorming the e-mail template

I usually start by creating an html page to test my template until I’m satisfied with it.

Here’s a sample. (Ok I discovered one of the most popular searches on Google is about kitten so I hope to reach a wider audience with this kitten based newsletter!).

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sharpallegro 0.0.4 released!

I’m very pleased to announce a new release of sharpallegro.

Not much has changed, but there are some important improvements I wanted to make available to the public. Here follow a list of major changes (for a complete reference check the CHANGES file in the release package):

  • Updated allegro to 4.4.2
  • Forced x86 platform compilation on all projects to support 64 bit platforms
  • Ported RLE_SPRITE and COMPILED_SPRITE structs. (Actually COMPILED_SPRITE behaves as an RLE_SPRITE as if I386 was not defined)
  • Moved SVN repository away from Google Code

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sharprd 0.0.3 released!

Since  I had some feedback from sharprd users, I decided to release a new version, which doesn’t feature many updates, but some of them are critical for the usability.

Major changes include:

  • updates detection
  • option to enable tray icon minimization
  • import/export of connections set
  • isolated storage for saving connections
  • UI improvements
  • bugfixes

There’s also an attempt to enable remote program execution, but the lack of documentation about it, only resulted in preparing the required user interface.

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Google Chart Tools vs. Google Chart Image APIs

In another attempt of increasing my website page ranking and SEO, trying to understand the trends of my followers, I decided to improve my download statistics page.

The old one used to be a custom page where I needed to develop some easy charting tool (PHP lines graph tool).

Time passed and I decided to try a new approach, and one of the best examples I could find around was Google Analytics. Unfortunately the flash based chart inside analytics seems to remain a secret, but Google offers not one, but two free services to create your own charts (In my case line/area charts).

The first one I found was Google Chart Image APIs which works very similar to the php script I developed, of course it is a lot better and supports a gazilion of features.

I was quite satisfied, but suddenly, while looking for some more documentation, I stepped on Google Chart Tools. Actually that’s even more interesting.

Just to say some of the cool features it adds:

  • No width limit
  • Javascript based, allowing for async calls 
  • Automatic data mapping, take a look at the tooltip in the screenshot

Continue reading to uncover image and source examples of the two approaches compared

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