Microsoft Dynamics 2016 has recently been released, and with it comes a slew of new features. Microsoft once again continued its investment in the mobile space and has made their free mobile client which is available from the app stores now have an extra level of configurability to give them an even better mobile touch.
Microsoft has constantly preached their “configure once, deploy everywhere” motto, and recent dynamics updates have continued that line of thinking by allowing users to configure the CRM record form once, and have it deploy to the Web client, Tablet client, and Phone client all at once without having to configure them separately.
Now with 2016 Microsoft has added the ability to add a little bit of mobility flavor to the form configuration. They’ve realized that there needs to be more creativity in an application versus just a form and a list of fields, especially with mobile devices. And with such thinking they are allowing users to configure the form once, but for the Phone and Tablet client, allowing users to specify a mobile friendly control to wrap around that field.
What does this mean? It means that instead of having an integer field show up as a text box that allows numbers only, it can show up as a slider control that can be easily dragged and dropped when on a mobile device. It means that instead of having a field that opens up a dropdown list of values, that the options show up as tabs that are clickable in which clicking selects that value for the field.
Sounds pretty neat right? Well it is and below we go into more details about how to set this up.
Configuring the Mobile Friendly Controls
As mentioned above, this is all configured from the single Form definition, and administrators don’t need to go to a different location in order to enable the mobile friendly controls for the Phone client or Tablet client. By double clicking on a field and going to the “Controls” tab, you’re able to add a control, of which you can then apply it to the Phone client, Tablet client, or both.
As you can see above, you can also populate some parameters per the control. For example, on the Linear Slider on a currency field, you’re able to specify the minimum amount, maximum amount, and what the step amount is each time you move the slider left and right. This configurable value can be hardcoded to a static value, or you can actually bind it to another value on the form which makes your controls much more dynamic based on the data you have in your environment.
Now that you’ve seen how to configure the controls, lets dive deeper and see a preview of what each of the controls looks like. For each of the controls below I’ve first provided a screenshot of configuring the control that shows what types of fields it can be used with, and then I provide a screenshot of the actual control as it appears on the Tablet App.
The Calendar Control replaces any list on a dashboard, view, sub grid on form. This isn’t available for only Activity related records, but will work for any entity that has a date (e.g., displaying Opportunities by Created On or Estimated Close Date on the Account form)
The Arc Knob control binds to numeric controls and allows you to visualize the value of your field in an arc that has configurable min/max/step values.
The Auto complete control provides your users a way to enter data to a Single Line Text field, using a predetermined list of values. The values can be bound to an Option Set, or to an Entity with a specific View. A great use case for this control would be a list of States and Countries, where you can have an entity for the State and Country values, but provide users a quick way of entering that data versus the expensive route of using lookup controls.
The Bullet Graph control allows you to to see the value of your field in relation to a target. You’re required to set a min value, max value, and a target value. Then you can also provide a “Good” and “Bad” value which will further assist end users with visualizing how they’re doing compared to the company standards. A great use case of this would be binding to the Actual Revenue and Estimated Revenue fields on an Opportunity to visualize actual versus estimated revenue.
In my example below, my min is 1, max is 100, and target is 75. Then I have a good marker of 90, and bad marker of 50. Given the value of the field which is 60, you can see how the other values are represented on the control.
The Flip Switch control is another way of visualizing a bit field with only two options. Instead of a checkbox, or radio buttons, the control displays the selected value in an “on/off” electrical switch type of manner.
Input Mask controls are a great way to get data in a Single Line of Text field formatted a specific way. For example, if you want to have all of your phone numbers formatted with parenthesis and dashes, then you’d have your Mast value set to the following:
Doing so provides the end user an experience as displayed in the screenshots below. The user will not be able to save the value entered in the field until the entire input mask is honored.
However, note that the data IS NOT stored in the database field with the mask. That means for my example below, if I entered (312) 627-0700, the data would appear on the CRM web form (and in the database) as 3126270700.
The Linear Gauge control is another visual representation of a number / currency field. It gives you the ability to configure a min, max, and step values. This is very similar to the other numeric controls but simply another variation to provide you with multiple options.
Similar to Linear Gauge, Linear Slider is another variant on displaying a number / currency field in a more visual aspect. The same min, max, and step values are configurable on this control.
The Multimedia control is a great way to take a URL field (Single Line of Text formatted as such) and have it play audio or video directly within the application without having to leave and visit a web browser.
Another way to quickly update number and currency fields is the Number Input control. This provides users the ability to type a number directly in the middle white area, or use the plus and minus buttons to quickly increment or decrement the value based on the step that’s configured within the control on the form.
The Option Set control is used with, well you probably already guessed it, Option Set fields. The control provides tabs in a horizontal line with the available options for the user to quickly tap and select a value.
Note that this control is best used with a small number of options (2 or 3) and also ideal for option sets where the length of the text in the values is short. You want to make sure that the options horizontally visually fit in a single line otherwise your users won’t see the benefit of this control.
The Pen Control is a way to use the touch feature of mobile devices such as a Surface or iPad, in order to capture free form drawings or written text. The control is only available for Multi Line Text fields
The Radial Knob control is yet another flavor of how to display a number or currency field on a mobile device. With this control, clicking and dragging clockwise around the knob increments the value of the field based on the step configured.
The Star Rating control allows you to set a numeric value via the use of up to 5 stars. Since the field in CRM could have a max larger than 5, what happens is that the tablet would represent any value of 5 or higher as 5 stars. Similarly, any value of 0 or less will be represented as 0 stars.
Website Preview (CRM Online Only)
This control allows any Single Line of Text URL field to preview the beginning of a website entered into it. Microsoft provides a disclaimer with using this control indicating that you consent to allow users to share certain identifiable device information with an external system as this makes use of an external service. Note that this control is only available for CRM Online orgs.
As you can see the focus on mobility by the Dynamics CRM team has led to great improvements in the mobile clients and we’re excited to see where the product goes next.
If you have any questions about the mobile clients, CRM 2016, or anything else please don’t hesitate to reach out and Contact Us.