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Dynamics 365 Multi-Select Fields

One of the most asked for features from our customers is “does Microsoft Dynamics CRM have multi-select fields?”  Well, now we can safely answer “Yes” to that question, as the new version of D365 version 9.0 will have this in the product.

Note that I’m calling this D365 version 9.0, as this was originally the Spring release of D365, then July 2017 release of D365, and now since July has come and gone, it’s not clear when the release will drop.  However, we do know that it’ll be the next major version v9.0.

Multi Select Pre D365 v9.0

Before the release of D365 v9.0, there were many ways to get around the fact that Microsoft CRM did not have multi-select fields built in:

  • Custom 1:N entities where each child record represented a selected value
  • Custom N:N relationship where linking records in each entity together represented a selected value
  • Multiple custom fields on the entity where making selections in each field represented a selected value
  • Custom 3rd party solution such as Sonoma Partners multi select tool for D365

These solutions came with their own pros and cons, and neither was 100% the way our customers wanted the solution to work.  Some came with a heavier investment, some came with a less than ideal user experience for either adding values in CRM or importing data in bulk, etc.

However, all that changes with the v9.0 release of D365.

How Does It Work?

To use multi-select fields in D365, users will configure them just as you would configure any field.  Microsoft has introduced a new field type called “MultiSelect Option Set” that you can select when creating a new field.

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All properties of fields that exist for the current field types, also exist for this new multi-select field type (e.g., enabling auditing).

Note that you can also make a multi-select option leverage a global option set and therefore you can have multiple multi-select option sets using the same list of values.  There isn’t a difference between global option sets that can be used for single-select or multi-select option set fields – it’s the same list of available global option sets to use for both.

System Administrators and System Configurators can add the multi-select field to forms and views, just as you would any other field.

How Does It Look?

When you have a multi-select option set on a form, and click into the field, you’ll initially see a slim dropdown appear with no values with the text “enter text here” which will allow you to start typing and then will display values that match the text you entered.

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Alternatively, if you don’t want to start typing to see values that match your text, you can click on the dropdown arrow on the right side of the field to display all values.  This is someone of a pain as it requires two clicks to see all values in a multi-select option set, whereas for a single-select option set still requires a single click to see all values.

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As users start selecting values by a clicking the checkbox, the values appear above the drop down with a little “x” on each value where a user can click on it to remove that value (or just uncheck the checkbox).  The value you select first drives what value appears first in the list above (it’s not in alphabetical order).

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When done selecting values, simply click somewhere else on the form, and you’ll see your values selected semi-colon delimited.  The values, once select, now appear in alphabetical order in the field.

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When viewing the data in a view, you’ll see the values selected semi-colon delimited as well.  Also note that view filtering is supported.  Therefore, users can select values to filter the records with as you would with a traditional single-select option set.  However, with a multi-select option set, when filtering, records are returned if any value selected to filter with, matches at least one value selected for the multi-value option set.  In other words, if you select a value to filter records with that is contained in a record, and select a value that is not contained in that same record, the record will still return after filtering because it met the criteria that at least one value existed in its field.

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And what about editable grids (recently released in December 2016)?  Yup, multi-select option set supports those as well!

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A new “Contain Values” operator was also added to Advanced Find.  When this is selected, records are returned where ANY of the values selected are contained in the field for those records (think of this as an OR statement).  The “Equals” operator only returns records where there’s an exact match to the values selected in Advanced Find (think of this as an AND statement).

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Technical Details

There are a few additional details to note about the new multi-select field that will be released with v9.0 of D365.

  • You cannot convert a regular existing single-select option set field to a multi-select option set field at this time.
  • Multi-select option set fields cannot be a calculated or rollup field (single-select option set fields can be a calculated field).
  • Multi-select option sets support the web client, unified interface, advanced find, FetchXML, Platform SDK, and Client SDK
  • There is full platform support to use SDK messages for retrieve

Additional Resources

As mentioned earlier, this is one of the most sought-after features that is finally making its way to the product, and we’re excited for its release.  For additional information on this feature, along with what else is coming with v9.0, check out Microsoft’s documentation.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online