Importing Articles Into Dynamics CRM

Standard

I am working on a project at the moment involving case management. The client already has a case management system but we are showing what the Dynamics CRM version looks like. Part of this is showing Dynamics CRM’s knowledge base. These days we have two flavors of knowledge base articles in CRM; the original (entity name ‘article’) and the more recent version modelled off of the knowledge base articles of Parature (entity name ‘knowledge article’).

The customer has provided a csv file of all the existing knowledge base articles so I had to figure out how to get them into CRM. Here are my discoveries to date.

Importing Them as Original Articles

In short, forget it. The field in the Article entity which holds the formatted content is the ArticleXML field. No matter what I tried, I could not find the format of this field as it was not available via the Article or Article Template entity Advanced Find views.

Without knowing how to format this field I had no hope of importing the records.

Importing Them as Knowledge Articles

Fortunately, in the latest version of Dynamics CRM, you can access the new Knowledge Articles from the Case record. To do this, you go to the ‘KB Records’ tab in the Social Pane.

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Not only does this provide a search tool for the Knowledge Articles, it auto-pastes the Case Topic into the search to try and automatically find hits.

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Further down the Case record you will see the subgrid for the original Articles, which you simply remove or hide.

Quirks of Knowledge Articles

There are a few quirks with Knowledge Articles though. While you can import them via the Import Wizard (which I will walk through in a moment) you cannot administer them in the standard web client. To do this, you need to go to the Interactive Service Hub. For more details on the Interactive Service Hub, you can read my article here.

While Knowledge Articles do not appear in the default ribbon for the web client, you can find them in the web client via Advanced Find. Also, you can create new ones through Advanced Find but you can only edit certain fields and you cannot edit Knowledge Articles already in the system. In short, to get full access to Knowledge Articles, including running them through Draft-Approved-Publish (or go straight from Draft to Publish), you need to use the Interactive Service Hub.

Format of the Import File

To import the articles I used the following columns in my csv:

  • Article Public Number: This is an ID for the article e.g. “KB-1001”
  • Major Version: Set this to 1 for all rows
  • Minor Version: Set this to 0 for all rows
  • Root Article: Set this to ‘No’ for all rows
  • Title: Title of the article.
  • Answer: Tell the Import Wizard to ignore this field
  • Content: This is the content of the Knowledge Article in html format. To get an idea of the format, I created a test Knowledge Article in CRM and exported it. If you use a string like this you should be fine:

<p><<INSERT TITLE HERE>></p><p> </p><p><<INSERT ANSWER HERE>></p>

Not necessarily the prettiest Knowledge Article but it will do the job. The more astute will see why we include the Answer column in our file because we can generate the Content cells via a Concatenate formula in Excel before saving it as a CSV.

  • Description: A description of the article. If in doubt, copy the Title into this field.
  • Keywords: Keywords, if you have them.

With a CSV formatted as above, you should be good to go. There are some other fields which the Import Wizard wants e.g. Knowledge Article ID and, for these, you just set it to use the default value. It will also warn you that doing this may result in some records not getting imported but this was not my experience. Even with non-printable characters in my Content and Answer cells, everything imported without a hitch.

Conclusions

While it has only been a couple of days since the import, everything seems to be working and the client is road-testing the Knowledge Articles within Dynamics CRM. With the automated lookup, Knowledge Articles really are a nice touch to the classic Case record.

If you have not yet made the transition from Articles to Knowledge Articles, I definitely recommend it and, with the tips above, hopefully, the import will not be too arduous.

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