I’ve been looking at multiple ways to create dashboards for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Live.
There are a couple of options to consider:
1. Build a web site
2. Use a tool like Microsoft Excel
3. Build a smart client
I've tried all 3 and think that a smart client provides the most flexibility when it comes to the user experience. Smart Clients really make the most out of software+services. Every since the explosion of web applications, desktop clients have gotten a bit of a brush off. Mostly due to updates and deployments. With .NET, deployment is pretty simple with xcopy, meaning just copy and run. In the old days, getting your application distributed was a challenge but the web and downloads makes that easy. I won't spend the whole blog debating the models. Choose what works for you. My goal was to demonstrate that it doesn't take a huge effort and you can build something that provides value.
The biggest things to think about are charting tools, authentication, and the CRM Live web services.
Over the weekend, I built a simple smart client application in VS using some charting tools to create a sample dashboard from CRM Live.
Based on the amount of features you need, you could build a simple static dashboard pretty quick. My sample uses fixed queries, fixed number of charts, very dedicated. Something more flexible could get more involved. Keep checking back for more on this.
Hopefully folks will see that CRM Live Dashboards are not out of reach and actually not too hard to build