Friday, February 2, 2018

Blackbaud CRM SDK Compatibility with Visual Studio 2017

Earlier this week there was some renewed interest in a conversations started here back in April 2017.

As of writing this Blackbaud Support is telling me that there are no current plans on their road map to update the Blackbaud CRM SDK to support Visual Studio 2017. 

I have done some work this week trying to convert things over so the SDK will work with Visual Studio 2017. 

Full disclaimer, I'm a BBIS guy mostly. I don't work with CRM customizations very much. If anyone finds any bugs please let me know and I'll try to correct them and update the steps below. 

If you want to try it out, please follow the steps below. 


  • Visual Studio 2015 & 2017 installed
  • Blackbaud CRM SDK installed & configured.

Project and Item Templates

When you go to File > New > Project in Visual Studio you can select from a number of pre-installed templates when you install the SDK. Those need to be moved over from 2015 to 2017. 

Step 1: Identify where you have your project and item templates currently installed.

The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to open Visual Studio (2015 and 2017) Tools > Options. Search for “Projects & Solutions”. In 2015 the “General” sub item has the pathing for Project Templates & Item Templates. In 2017 it’s under the “Locations”. Open up two explorer windows and navigate to those two locations.

Step 2: Copy the Project and Item Templates to the new 2017 locations

From the 2015 Project Template folder, copy the “Blackbaud Appfx” folder to the Project Template folder for 2017

From the 2015 Item Template folder, copy the following folders to the 2017 Item Template folder.

Blackbaud Appfx Catalog

Blackbaud Appfx Client

Blackbaud Appfx CMS

Blackbaud Appfx Mobile

Blackbaud Appfx OLAP

Private Assemblies

These files are dependencies that the SDK templates need to open. You'll need to copy the Private Assembly files to the new 2017 location.

Step 1: Navigate to C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\Common7\IDE\PrivateAssemblies in an explorer window.

Step2: Select the following files and copy them.

Step 3: Navigate to the 2017 location here C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio\2017\Professional\Common7\IDE\PrivateAssemblies
Note: If you use Enterprise or Community the pathing might change accordingly. 

Step 4: Add LoadSpec to "External Tools". The instructions for that are provided by Blackbaud and are located here.

Finished!. You should now be able to open up Visual Studio 2017 and find the templates and load them up. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

...and I'm back, almost 6 years later.

Back in May, 2016 I returned to the US Naval Academy Alumni Association & Foundation. After taking a few months to get settled I've decided to start up this blog again.

So what's changed?

Well, a lot. For one, Blackbaud is a different company. It's larger for sure and for us I think that's a good thing. It means we're part of a bigger, stronger development community. The resources provided by Blackbaud are a far cry from the "SDK" I started with in 2005 that consisted of a zip file w/ some user controls and a word document. We have more APIs to chose from as well as we move into the BBIS/CRM world.

Since Blackbaud has changed I think this blog will need to as well. For one I have changed the name from "customizing NetCommunity" to custom:baud. It's a bit more modern and isn't BBNC specific. The content here will cover many of their APIs and not be limited to a single product. For those that picked up on it, it's also a throwback to the .net web forms roots where this community started.

We're developers and it's always about the code. Whenever possible, I'll provide working code samples on GitHub for anyone to use, freely. But it's also about more than the code. In the world of non-profits where resources are so important, we all wear many hats. You can expect posts on topics like devOps, architecture, testing, CI/CD, automation and more.

I have a few post ideas in the works and you should see more of those in the coming months as Navy finishes up it's CRM conversion.

For now, I'm happy to be back and looking forward to contributing again to this great community.

Friday, May 6, 2011

customizing NetCommunity, last post from me.

Well this is going to be my last post on customizing NetCommunity. I have taken a new job outside the non-profit space so I won't be working with Blackbaud or NetCommunity after next week.

I hope others have found this blog as useful to read as it's been for me to write. I'm going to continue to keep it online for the foreseeable future so others can continue to use it as a resource.

I know I have enjoyed working with many of you, both in and outside of Blackbaud, over the last 5 years. It's been a rewarding experience and one I'm not going to forget. I hope all of you will keep in touch.

If anyone wants to be a contributor just drop me a line and I'll set you up with access.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

iPhone Support in Blackbaud Enterprise CRM

Below is a short screen cast from Shaun showing off some of the new iPhone support that'll be in the Q1 release of the Blackbaud Enterprise CRM.

I have to say that this, and the prospect of using BBEC & RE in the Cloud, is a great direction for Blackbaud to be moving in and I think it really outlines just how agile the Infinity platform really is.

Anyway, have a look!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Social Networking in NetCommunity

I know it's been a while since my last post. Things have just been very busy all around and I haven't been able to make time to blog.

Today I wanted to showcase one of our latest (and biggest) projects, the new Social Networking app, USNAConnect. We're making use of NetCommunity's User Networking Manager part here but we have customized many aspects of it. I need to give credit where credit is due, this was a massive project in development since December 08 and we have a lots of sharp folks here that have been part of it. Props to Kate, Nick & Larry for all their help.

For those not familiar, the User Networking Manager part is a Social Networking app that leverages your NetCommunity database. It was released in v5.5. This part is a little different from many older NetCommunity parts because it was designed to allow developer's to integrate their custom parts very tightly with it. It's actually pretty hard to tell what is custom and what is out of the box unless you are familiar with the User Networking Manager part. Props to Blackbaud on this one, I really hope this ends up being the design model moving forward for other NetCommunity parts.

Just a quick note about "private" or closed social networks. We're not trying to compete with Facebook. We want to leverage our database in a way Facebook just can't and offer functionality that is unique to our constituents. We're still on Facebook and at some point even envision a layer of integration between our two networks. So don't think we're expecting to grow to 300 million users in 4 years, but that would be nice. :D

So before I try to explain what exactly we're talking about here lets just have a look at the application.

This is the page you see when you first enter USNAConnect right after logging into our website. One of the main requirements for this project was to design a page with the constituent in mind. It needed to be Web 2.0 and user centric.

  • Greeting - If you look at the top we have customized how we address each person based on their chosen preferences. We are a military organization so you can imagine that can add a layer of complexity to the whole bit about greeting. We give people the option to choose if they prefer to be greeted with their military or civilian titles and if they have chosen a nick name we also honor that. That greeting is completely custom to each user that logs in and they can change it at any time.
  • Information Box - At the top we display various messages that are targeted to the logged in user. These can range from information about a chapter event in your area to a link to your class reunion page. We allow you to hide that box for up to 30 days. This saves some real estate on the screen for your gadgets if you have already read all the messages. At any time you can show the box again if you want to. Each messages can be targeted using NetCommunity roles. We also pre-populate a few messages if your profile or other information is out of date and ask that you update it.
  • Gadgets - This custom part is modeled after iGoogle functionality. A gadget is actually it's own little custom part. This page is basically designed to consume both custom and non custom parts and display them to the user. Each of those gadgets can be dragged and dropped where you want them and the order is saved so when you return your gadgets are where you put them. As we make more gadgets available they can be added from the bottom section. If you are not interested in a gadget you can simply remove it. The goal here was really to allow users create their own landing page with the content they care about. Check out the video below to see that in action.
    • Suggested Friends - This gadget uses some back-end SQL to determine other USNAConnect users that you might know. You can choose to "view/add" them or if you wish, "hide" them.
    • Your Membership Info - Displays your current membership information from The Raiser's Edge and it will prompt you to upgrade or renew if you are close to expiring.
    • Top pages - Shows the top pages on our website in the past 30 days.
    • Top New Articles - Displays the top news articles from our site in the last 30 days.
    • Interactive Tools - This is actaully a menu 2.0 part in NetCommunity and we're using some of the new API stuff in v5.5 that lets you pull the XML out and parse it up. Coolest part? It honors NetCommunity roles so it won't show you a link if you aren't in a role that can access it. That saved us a lot of development time. There is an open source example of this on Labs if you want more information. This one just displays some links to a few apps that we really couldn't work into this page.
    • Your Friend Map - Shows a map of all your friends that can be geo-coded in our database. It honor's their privacy settings so if their address is private we don't display their location.
    • Your Events - Displays all of the upcoming events you have registered for with us and the most recent 5 other registrants that have also signed up for that event. Best part? You can subscribe to the feed of registrants with RSS so you can easily monitor the event as other people sign up. This is great for reunions.
    • Volunteer Leadership - This is another menu 2.0 part that shows a lot of the apps specific to our volunteer leadership folks.
    • My Top Pages - Shows a list of the most recent pages that you have visited. This is great for folks that use one feature of our site a lot and if you recently found a page and need to locate it again.
    • Alumni Lookup Lite (Not Shown) - This feature is only open to Alumni. It allows you to do a quick search for any alum in our database by name and class year. This is one of the most popular activities on our site so we wanted to provide an easy way for our alumni to search from their USNAConnect landing page.
    • My Class News (Not Show) - Here is another feature only open to our Alumni. Similar to Top News Articles but it's filtered on only news specific to the class year of the logged in user.

USNAConnect Drag and Drop Demo (Full Video)

One final point about these gadgets. The development time is low because most of the framework is built into USNAConnect the only thing I need to do is write a web service that returns an object with the information to display. This has made development cycles for the gadgets very agile.

If you look across the top of the page above there are a few other tabs. These are all out of the box features in the User Networking Manager part with the exception of the last one, View/Edit My Profile. Another great feature of the User Networking Manager is that you can add tabs. So if there is something that it doesn't have you can build it and then integrate it right into the menu structure.

Messages - This allows you to handle in networking messaging amongst users.

Friends - Displays a list of all of your friends and allows you to search by name for any one else in the system.

Photos - Shows your photo gallery and lets you choose a profile picture from it.

Preferences - Just a few options that each user can change for their account.

Administration - A list of administration options that all site administrators have access to.

View/Edit My Profile - Links off to my profile page where I can make any changes. Something not shown is that if you are viewing someone else's profile, it'll display any mutual friends that you have. That is out of the box NetCommunity functionality, not custom.

It's worth pointing out one final bit about the User Networking Manager part. It's 100% customizable from a style and verbiage perspective. If you don't like the word "friends" you can change it everywhere in the application to whatever you want to call them instead. You'll also notice that "groups" aren't displayed in the examples that I showed you. That's because for the time being we have decided to not include them. It's a very flexible application and I gotta hand it to Blackbaud for going this route again.

USNAConnect is technically still in public beta but we're planning on going live with it in early October.

So that's pretty much it. I'm going to try to get back on a regular posting schedule but I can't make any promises.

As always be sure to check out the Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blackbaud releases an iPhone emulator

Today Shaun Sullivan posted an article in Labs discussing his latest project, an iPhone emulator. 
I've been playing with it and it's really pretty cool! You can use it to develop a mobile version of your website right from your desktop. That makes things much easier. 
If you want to check it out have a look here

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Open Source REAPI Project

Earlier this week AJParise made me aware of an Open Source project that he started for the REAPI on CodePlex. There is some pretty slick stuff there for those of us that have purchased The Raiser's Edge API. 
AJParise wrote: In January 2008, I started working extensivley with the REAPI.After a year of headaches and mindnumbing research I've developed some very handy classes for .NET developers using the 3.5 framework looking to integrate with the REAPI. 
This represents a pretty significant mile stone in the growth of Blackbaud's developer's community. There are many open source components on Labs but this is the first that has sprung up outside of Blackbaud. I can only hope that others begin to contrbute to the work that AJParise has started. 

Be sure to check out the project on codeplex when you get a chance and if you can, please contribute.