Dynamics 101
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Create Three Dimensional (3D) Charts in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 introduces the charting capability based on Microsoft Chart Controls. Two dimensional custom charts can be created using the CRM web interface based on the data from a single entity; these charts are stored as xml files in the database. As charts are based on a fetch XML query, the query can be extended to render a chart based on the data extracted from multiple related entities; however, a developer’s help will be required for that.

By default, all CRM users have the permission to create personal charts which they can then assign or share with other CRM users or teams. “Assign”, “Share” and other options are available in the “Charts” tab on the ribbon, as shown in the image below.

Charts offer a drilldown capability which enables a business user to segment the data and analyse it from multiple perspectives, for example, by state, by region, by salesperson and so on.

Charts are based on the data represented in the grid view of an entity, and can be modified based on the filters of that particular view. On switching the views of an entity, the chart will be refreshed to represent the grid view. Similarly, performing a drilldown also refreshes the data rows in the grid view.

Charts can then be converted into three dimensional (3D) charts by doing simple xml modification.

The high-level steps to accomplish this are as follows:

  • Export an existing two dimensional chart (xml file) from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.
  • Open the exported xml file in Visual Studio or in a text editor.
  • Find the tag <Area3DStyle> and set the property “Enable3D” to “True”.
    • <Area3DStyle Enable3D=”True”>
  • Save the changes.
  • Import the chart into the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.

Here is a step by step guide to accomplish this task.

Step by Step Guide

  1. Click on the right side to expand the chart area.
  2. Browse to the chart you want to convert into a 3D chart.

  3.  
    For this tutorial a pre-configured chart, “Revenue Generated by Campaign” of Opportunity entity has been used.
     

  4. Click on the “Charts” tab from the ribbon.
  5.  

  6. Click “Export Chart”.

  7.  

  8. Save the chart (xml file) on your local computer.
  9.  

  10. Open the xml file with Visual Studio or any other text editor.
  11.  

  12. Find the tag <Area3DStyle>. If you cannot find it then create it within the <ChartArea> tag and set its property “Enable3D” to “True”, as shown below.

  13.  

  14. Save the xml file.
  15.  

  16. Click “Import Chart” from the Charts tab (Opportunity entity).

  17.  

    Importing the custom chart (xml file) back into the CRM will overwrite the existing chart, however if pre-configured charts (system charts) are modified and imported back into the CRM then a 3D copy of the chart will be created alongside the original 2D chart.

     

  18. Once the chart has been imported into the CRM, just refresh your browser window and browse to the 3D chart.


 
As mentioned earlier, charts are based on Microsoft Chart Controls so that the chart properties can be set to control the visualisation of the chart, for example PointDepth or WallWidth.
 
And voila! You’ve now created a 3D chart. For a list of available properties, refer to this page on Microsoft MSDN. Any questions, list them in the comments.