Who is CRM Chart Guy?

Having worked as a business analyst and CRM consultant for over 15 years, I have grown fond of MS Dynamics CRM. Especially the charts feature used for visualizing data in the system.

The focus of this blog is MS Dynamics CRM charts and how to improve them via XML modifications or tricks in the interface. Although this blog contain numerous customizations to the charts xml files, I do not consider myself a developer.

I don’t like charts just for the fancy colors and shapes.

I believe that charts should:

  • Emphasize business targets and business processes
  • Visualize items that need immediate attention. Be actionable.
  • Easy for the user to decode. A good chart shouldn’t need much, if any, explanation
  • Be useful as an everyday tool
  • Help show us where we are and where we are going

While I am not trying to be a comprehensive resource on charts. This blog is more of a way to share my cheat sheets and overviews with everyone. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful for improving your MS Dynamics CRM charts.

Please sign up for the newsletter so that posts come directly to you. I try to do a new post once a month.

I live in San Francisco, CA and for my day job I work as a Senior Solution Architect and Readiness Expert for Elev8 Solutions.

If you by chance look to work with someone who has an unusually high interest in KPIs and charts, please contact me via this form, or via Twitter.

Ulrik B. Carlsson

 

  1. #1 by Adam Vero on January 17, 2013 - 10:01 pm

    Your blog seems to have failed in its objectives 😉 You claim that “I am not trying to be a comprehensive resource on charts” but the posts you have written are by far the clearest and most detailed information about configuring chart properties in CRM that I have found ( and believe me I have looked!).
    You also avoid the trap of many blogs of showing the “Hey look it’s a shiny 3D pyramid” options and all that non-useful crud that seems to attract a certain type of dashboard designer, and focus on useful methods to actually enhance visualisation and improve the ability of users to understand their data and use it to make informed decisions. Well done – please write more!

    • #2 by crmchartguy on January 22, 2013 - 10:43 pm

      Thanks Adam. I appreciate it. I hope to add some new posts soon.

  2. #3 by Doug Allinger on March 27, 2013 - 12:59 pm

    This is AWESOME! Very generous. Thank you….

  3. #4 by damienducourty on April 23, 2013 - 4:50 am

    Briliant! Thanks for the good work and sharing.

  4. #5 by Andrew Belliveau on May 30, 2013 - 1:20 pm

    Great blog, thanks for sharing! Do you have any insight into making charts using data from custom fields? I don’t want to be restricted to the out-of-the box options for charts, but I’d also rather not go through a Microsoft Partner.

    • #6 by CRM Chart Guy on May 30, 2013 - 2:09 pm

      Hi Andrew
      Thanks for reading.
      CRM Charts pretty much supports all the custom entities and fields you can throw at it.
      They’ll show up in the chart editor once you’ve added them to your system.
      You’ll rarely see them used on my blog, and others probably, as examples are easier to understand for everyone if you only use system fields.
      I do work for a Microsoft Partner though 🙂 http://www.alfapeople.com

  5. #7 by rhanoudi on June 3, 2013 - 7:23 am

    Amazing blog site. I truly enjoyed your web site. I do have a simple question. I have a bar chart with labels. Sometime the labels show inside the bar chart and sometimes outside the bar chart. Is there a property that controls that option?

  6. #9 by wendell simmons on September 24, 2013 - 10:02 pm

    Fantastic blog, Chart Guy! You’re at the top of my reader now. Do you know of any tool for quickly rendering the chart XML during development so I don’t have to import into CRM to check my work? I’m happy editing the XML directly but just want to see how it’s turning out along the way. I’d consider Visual Studio, but that seems to be a lot of work and expense, and I don’t know what version gives me the charting tools.

    How do you develop charts?

    • #10 by ukcrmguru on September 25, 2013 - 7:28 am

      Hey Wendell – you mean you can’t just read the XML? I think Ulrik reads it like Neo sees the Matrix…
      More seriously, I just edit XML in Notepad++ then import, publish and test, round and again. A tip for speeding this up is to open one of the entity’s forms for editing and leave that window open. Import chart in your Solution window, switch to the form – Publish (this published the whole entity, not just the form). Switch to main window and refresh to see how horrible it looks this time!
      Wash, rinse, repeat.
      I find this much faster than keep going to the entity in the solution explorer to publish, then back to charts (especially on slow remote customer systems). And “Publish All” is always slow, and a bad plan if anyone else is on the system at the time.
      Depending on how custom the entities are that are involved in the chart, you could do this in any system really. I build lots of customer charts in my own systems without needing their solutions. Sometimes I cheat and use a different field of the same type to replace a custom one until I am happy with the overall effect, then switch it for the final go-live (especially for categories, I might use a custom date field instead of created / modified so I can quickly create fake data).

      • #11 by CRM Chart Guy on September 25, 2013 - 6:45 pm

        LOL – that comment made my day – thanks

    • #12 by CRM Chart Guy on September 25, 2013 - 6:44 pm

      Thanks Wendell. Like Adam (ukcrmguru) , my go to editor is Notepad++.
      It’ll keep track of all your tags and make sure they are all closed, proper syntax etc. Plus it’s free.
      When it comes to adding properties you are kind of on your own. If you spell IsVisibleInLegend with a lower case “i” in “in” IsVisibleinLegend, it won’t work. That can be really difficult to spot if you’ve looked at the same code for a long time.
      I actually prefer making all my charts as user charts first. All the same tools are available and you can export and import like crazy without having to wait for something publish. Once the xml is finished, it can be imported as a system chart with no changes.

      • #13 by wendell simmons on September 27, 2013 - 3:15 pm

        So where do I find the charting XML definitions (with valid arguments)? I’ve looked around MSDN and the web but haven’t stumbled onto the “Secret book of Codes” 😉

  7. #14 by Wendell simmons on September 25, 2013 - 8:30 pm

    I’m using Notepad++ too. Good idea about user vs system chart development.

  8. #15 by akismet-5c6b2a3c069a67b24070ca6c9cce912d on October 16, 2013 - 12:50 pm

    This is a bit on the fringe of your blog but I was wondering if you knew how to limit the list of drill-able fields. Your blog has helped me create some nice charts but when a user clicks on a bar/segment there are hundreds of fields to chose from – especially on built-in entities.

    Do you know of a way to limit this list without breaking out into code (I’m guessing I can limit the list by filtering the results of a RetrieveMultiple pre-synch plugin but that seems like overkill)?

    Thanks so much and keep up the good work!

    • #16 by CRM Chart Guy on November 11, 2013 - 1:22 pm

      To my knowledge you can’t limit the list. The best you can do is to include the important fields as columns in the view that you are using. Then they will be at the top of the list of drill-able fields. However, that trick only works when the View can be changed by the User. If the View selector is not available, all fields will be listed alphabetically as options.

  9. #17 by wendell simmons on November 6, 2013 - 9:22 am

    What’s up with Gantt charts? .NET doesn’t support it OOB, and I can’t find any XML driven implementations (even from you, oh great CRM Chart Guy!). That’s the number one request I ever get. Please share with us the secret…

  10. #19 by wendell simmons on November 11, 2013 - 2:45 pm

    I never noticed the Range Bar before. I think I can make that work. I poked around MSDN and the net and can’t find any XML examples. Can you point me to any XLM example? I’ll let you know how it works out.

  11. #20 by Donna Edwards on February 6, 2014 - 2:50 am

    Was poking around today for the RSS feed on your blog. Can you point me to it if I missed it. If not, please consider adding the widget. You’ve definitely filled a gap in the community with your great working knowledge of charts. Thanks and keep up the great work!

    • #21 by CRM Chart Guy on February 6, 2014 - 7:06 pm

      Thank you very much Donna. I didn’t have a link to my RSS feed. Shame on me. But I have one now and it’s next to the twitter link on the top right side.

      • #22 by ukcrmguru on February 7, 2014 - 5:00 am

        I added your feed to my Outlook RSS collection a while ago – noticing it was a WordPress.com site I just added /feed after the home URL. Similar tricks work for other platforms, either /feed or /feed.xml is usually enough.

  12. #23 by Donna Edwards on February 7, 2014 - 4:55 am

    Perfect, thanks!

  13. #24 by Jeroen on April 3, 2014 - 11:07 pm

    Hey man, your blog has proven to be such a valuable resource for us to get our dashboarding on CRM to the right level. Thanks a million!!

    Do you happen to know any way to display the grand totals on a pipeline/funnel chart? LegendTooltip does the trick when hovering the legend, but I really want it to be permanently displayed. Any ideas?

  14. #25 by wendell on May 5, 2014 - 8:56 am

    Can I format the URL argument to link to the record represented by a chart segment (assuming it represents one record) within the XML?

  15. #26 by Megan I. on May 22, 2014 - 2:02 pm

    Very informative blog! Do you have any insights on displaying data month over month or year over year, for example to compare sales volume or marketing campaign response?

  16. #27 by Jeff Waters on June 2, 2014 - 5:24 pm

    Wow, great blog!

    I didn’t realize you could go so far beyond the chart wizard functionality with XML (which I guess I’ll have to learn).

    I posted a question on the MS community forum that you might be perfect to advise on:
    https://community.dynamics.com/crm/f/117/t/128392.aspx

    Basically, is it possible to create a forecast report that is filtered by products from specific suppliers? We have multiple suppliers we resell for, and often will have products from multiple suppliers on an Opportunity/Quote/Order/Invoice going to our end customer.

    Each product has a supplier set on the Product definition page.

    Really need a way to show a forecast of all deals by supplier. However, I want to show the sum of all products from that supplier in the Opportunity (and not include the contribution to the opportunity ammount from other suppliers whose product are also in the order).

    Clear as mud? 😉

  17. #31 by John Cisek on September 5, 2014 - 7:20 am

    While I love the charts and they are very powerful, some of my users do not even want the chart pane strip to take up any part of their screen real estate. I know you can turn the chart pane off, but that is by entity and only temporary — they come back the next time you sign in. Is there some master control to turn off all charts persistently for a given user?

  18. #32 by wendell on September 6, 2014 - 11:12 am

    Hey Chart Guy, I was asked about leader-boards yesterday and suggested using Goals to track top sale staff performance. Is there a way to replace “bars” with a row of “gold star” icons in a chart? I’m thinking there might be away to display a jpg of a row of stars in the bar instead of a color. Stacking individual star images might also be doable.

    What do you recommend?

  19. #33 by Caroline Padgett on October 8, 2014 - 9:29 am

    Hi Andrew. I want to display a bar chart on a CRM 2013 account form that references revenue fields found on the account. I can build the bar chart to show the appropriate revenue data, but cannot figure out how to edit the xml code to look for the account’s name. Am I crazy or is this possible?

  20. #34 by Marianne Lilholt Christensen on November 9, 2015 - 2:42 am

    Hi Andrew. I have 10 two-option fields on my account form. It’s for segmentation. “This customer is in interested in this type of product…” An account can have 0 to 10 options ticked off. It is possible to make a chart that shows: Segmentation 1-10 on the X Axis and then a count of accounts on the Y axis?
    So the chart would show: This many accounts are in segment 5 – and this many accounts are in segment 7…
    I can not show the segments as an option list with 10 options – because one account can be in more than one segment.
    And I can not make a custom entity with the segments. (because of other limitations further along in the process.)

  21. #35 by Deb Silbert on February 28, 2016 - 1:39 pm

    Beautiful work, here! I have four “Two Option” attributes on an entity. I need a chart to show me the total count — for each — where the value = Yes. So, like this:

    Assessment Entity record
    Field 1
    Field 2
    Field 3
    Field 4

    I want one chart to show me the total number of Field 1 where it = Yes, and so on.

    Is this possible with a chart?

  22. #36 by ysf715 on September 30, 2016 - 5:48 am

    hello,i want know if it is possible to show fields in chart.
    Thank you for your help

  23. #37 by Anna on January 24, 2017 - 6:41 pm

    Hello Sir,
    I would like to know if it is possible to hide a chart depending on the view that is being displayed? I have a lot of views and a lot of charts (thanks to your good self) but not all charts are relevant for the views I have created so I would like to hide some. Is this functionality available?

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