Screen-Shot Documentation Ends Here! Today!
With SnapShot!, the ultimate documentation tool for Dynamics CRM/365/Microsoft DataVerse
Documentation does not have to be this hard...
If you have worked with Dynamic CRM or Dynamics 365 for any length of time, you know that producing documentation covering more than just the metadata (entities, fields, etc.), can be a challenge.
In fact, much of the system requires you to take screen shots with applications like SnagIt because there is really no other way to accomplish the task.
While this may work for smaller projects, producing a comprehensive end-of-project, end-of-cycle documentation can become a nightmare - and one that repeats itself over, and over, and over again.
A Serious Problem In Search of a Serious Solution...
Let's face it: You have real work to do. Spending hours looking at developer notes (if they exist) and taking screen shots just to satisfy a procedural requirement is probably not the best use of your time.
While there are solutions available to document some parts of your system, there is just no way to easily extract much of the information without resorting to a custom application or a PowerShell script. I know this because this is exactly what I did for years: Created one silly application after another that extracted just the data that I needed for whatever project I was working on. It became very tiresome and in the end, very difficult to manage. This got me to thinking...
What if you had access to a tool that could connect to a Dynamics CRM/365 system and extract all of the relevant settings, configuration, and data?
What if that tool was easy to use and supported versions 2011 through Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft DataVerse?
What if that tool dug into the depths of Dynamics CRM/365 and retrieved settings and insights that you did not know existed?
What if you could have that tool installed and producing documentation in less than 30 minutes?
What about that?
With those things in mind, on November 27th, 2012, I released SnapShot! for Dynamics CRM. And it's only gotten better since.
Now every Dynamics CRM/365 Administrator, Consultant, and Business Analyst can create picture-perfect documentation and save many hours of manual labor.
Give SnapShot! 30 Minutes and It Will Give You Amazing Documentation
Disclaimer Alert: Ok, sometimes it 5 minutes, sometimes it's 30, and sometimes it depends. It's all relevant to the number and depth of your customizations, but the majority of the time SnapShot! will run in less than 30 minutes.
Here are the major categories for which SnapShot! creates reports. You may see the layout and structure of the entire output folder system by visiting this page. You may also find some tips and tricks here.
To see a full SnapShot! of an fairly well-loaded Dynamics organization, click this link to download a sample report.
( Be advised: It's almost 70MB of files so it may take a while. )
Click this link to download the V5 release notes.
Can you say Kitchen Sink? We don't just stop with metadata. The Customizations reports really digs deep into Dynamics CRM/365 to help you understand your Dynamics CRM system from the inside out.
ADMINISTRATION AND BUSINESS MANAGEMENT
The most useful Administration and Business Management settings are also reported on.
I am quite proud of the level of detail found in the Security Reports. Not only does it document everything related to security, but it also creates reports that resemble the Dynamics CRM/365 interface so they are easily consumable by others with Dynamics CRM/365 knowledge. Check out a sample Security Role report here.
EMAIL CONFIGURATION AND OTHER ANALYTICS
The Email Configuration reports detail the various email entities with Dynamics CRM/365. The Email Settings report consolidates both system and user email settings within a single report. This is most helpful since many of the settings that cause issues are actually User Personal Options, which are maintained at the user, not system-level.
The Auditing Summary gives you a comprehensive review of the auditing settings across all of your entities and fields.
OK, to be honest, some of these are a bit esoteric but they solved a problem I was having on a project at one time or the other so I have included them in hopes that they would be useful to others.
However, the Automation Testing Matrix report is fairly useful. It identifies all of the events that can happen to an entity or field. This list can be used to assist the Quality Assurance department when testing changes.
Running SnapShot! - Start to Finish
This is all it takes to create a SnapShot! report:
CONNECT TO DYNAMICS CRM/365
Using any of the supported connection methods: Online, On-Premises, IFD (Federation)
As you can see from the images above, selecting the reports you wish to export is simply a matter of checking a box.
SELECT AN OUTPUT FOLDER
After all, the reports have be written somewhere.
CLICK THE CREATE BUTTON
Instructs SnapShot! to start the data extraction and reporting process.
And there you have it. It really is that easy.
What People are Saying...
KPMG Australia uses SnapShot! on all our Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement projects using our global partner license. SnapShot! enables us to quickly and automatically document our clients’ system configuration customisations in a couple of minutes as a regular step in our agile release process. Having accurate and up-to-date system documentation easily available builds confidence in every client that KPMG is a trustworthy partner able to support and enhance their most complex business solutions..
Director of Customer Engagement, KPMG Australia
I have been a SnapShot! Customer since version 2.3, and it has saved me countless hours I would have spent digging through various sections of Dynamics CRM as well as adding a complete-ness to my monthly backups. I have complete documentation for custom security roles, workflows, duplicate detection rules and more. You get the peace of mind knowing that you have all of your organization’s specific settings in one easy-to-access location, and the comfort of having that information in a user-friendly format for analysis. If you are going to administer Dynamics CRM, you have to use SnapShot! – period!
CRM Administrator, BizNetSoftware
Socius uses SnapShot! as we acquire new Dynamics CRM/365 clients and in upgrade situations. It helps us understand the complexities and customizations before we upgrade or redesign a system. Over the past year it has saved us, and our clients, significant time and effort to analyze new systems.
CRM Consultant, Socius
Senior Consultant, xRM Edge LLC
Is SnapShot! Right for You?
SnapShot! for Dynamics CRM/365 is not for everyone, so please review the sections below to see if you are one of the people who will get the most results.
WHO THIS IS FOR
- The Dynamics CRM/365 Administrator who needs a current and accurate "snapshot" of their existing configuration
- The Business Analyst nearing the end of an Agile Sprint who needs to show a comparison on what was done in this sprint vs. the last
- The Consultant who is walking into a new project or who is just finishing up a current project and wants to add one more cool deliverable to Wow! their customer.
- The new CIO who just inherited a nightmare and wants to get a handle on exactly how many cooks it takes to screw up a Dynamics CRM installation
WHO THIS IS NOT FOR
- People who value money more than time
- College interns who are just checking a box on their resume
- That guy in the corner with the red stapler
- People who are just resting and vesting
- The rest of you know who you are - don't make it awkward
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
I need a compete export of all Entity and Field schema information
There are several reports that will help in this case: Entities, Fields, and Relationships. All of the relevant Dynamics CRM/365 metadata will be extracted and added to various Excel worksheets.
We have three reports for web resources:
- The Web Resources report lists all web resources within the organization.
- The JScript Library report lists the Entities and Forms where each JScript Library is used.
- The JScript Function Reference report documents each Form Event within the organization and what function is being called for that event.
I have no clue why certain users can access entities and features that I think they should not have access to
The User Privileges reports show what security has been applied to the user after their personal and team security roles have been taken into consideration.
SnapShot! uses an Dynamics CRM/365 SDK call to actually perform this query, then creates a report that resembles that of the Security Role report so that you can easily understand what is what.
Finally, the raw User Privilege data can be extracted should you need to perform a programmatic or other type of analysis of the data.
I need to a complete list of supporting data: Business Units, Users, Teams, and Queues
There are reports for each that contain the most relevant information about each entity type.
I need a complete list of all custom security roles
Custom security roles and their privileges are documented and look exactly like the forms with Dynamics CRM – right down to the colored circles. Here is a sample.
In addition, all of the raw privilege data can also be captured for comparison from one version to the next and from one security role to another. Here is a sample.
Can SnapShot! document Workflows, Business Process Flows, and Business Rules?
Unfortunately, just the basic configuration information. The information that makes up the actual steps, stages, etc., is encoded and is not documented by Microsoft. Over the years I have made several attempts at producing documentation but so far, all of my results have failed to be reliable, given the variety of environments and versions currently available.
licensing and usage
What level of Dynamics CRM/365 security do I need to run SnapShot!
While you do not have to have the System Administrator Role, it really does help because some parts of Dynamics CRM/365 are only accessible by Administrators.
Will SnapShot! work with Online and On-Premises versions?
Yes. There is no technical difference between the two environments besides the initial authentication, which will vary depending on the connection method.
How many users may use SnapShot!?
SnapShot! is licensed by Dynamics CRM/365 organization so an unlimited number of users may use the software.
This is great if you have different teams or business analysts who are working within the same Dynamics 365 system but are on different projects.
How can I get a refund?
Just email us any time within the first 30-days of using SnapShot!, explain why you are unhappy, and we'll refund your full purchase price.
"But will that not open you up for fraud and misuse?" Actually yes, it does. There are always people who try and take advantage. But there are many more who will not. We will take the side of the latter.
Can SnapShot! connect to more than one instance of Dynamics CRM/365?
SnapShot! can connect to an unlimited number of Dynamics CRM/365 organizations. You just have to have a valid license file for each organization to which you connect.
What type of application is SnapShot!
SnapShot! is a Windows application that is installed on a user's workstation. You do not need to install SnapShot! on the Dynamics CRM/365 server.
Once installed, it can access any Dynamics CRM/365 installation with which the user has access.
Note: Depending on your individual user security, on your workstation, you may need to right-click on the SnapShot.exe and select Run As Administrator, to allow SnapShot! to write configuration and other data back to your hard drive.
What are SnapShot!'s software requirements?
You will need a minimum of Windows 7 and .NET framework 4.6.2.
The .NET framework will be installed automatically when you first run SnapShot! if it is not already installed.
If I had to take a screen shot, what tool would I use?
As far as I am concerned, there is only one tool for taking screen captures and that is Snagit, from TechSmith.
I have it open on my computer all of the time and take hundreds of screen captures and videos every month.
Does the software have any OpenSource software in it?
Not exactly. Most of Snapshot! was written by hand. That is not to say that other code was not collected and used from various sources on the Internet, but for the most part, the answer is no OpenSource.
The Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel documents that make up the reports are generated using commercial libraries from Aspose.