Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

D365 V9 - A Tale of Two Interfaces

Today's blog post was written by Mike Dearing, Development Principal at Sonoma Partners.

Since its release in early October, we’ve been busy digging into all that Dynamics 9.0 update has to offer. Aaand it’s a lot. Luckily there have been a lot of great posts in the Dynamics community about what to expect with some of the new functionality. Rather than rehash all of that, this post will be a bit different.

In this post, I'll share my experience with the two new interfaces available: Web Refresh and Unified Client Interface (UCI).

Let’s first start with the Web Refresh UI, since it is the most familiar and what you’ll see the moment you upgrade or create a new sandbox.

Web Refresh UI 

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The first thing you’ll probably notice is that IT’S HUGE, especially if you haven’t been lucky enough to procure a device with at least a 1080p resolution by now. You’ll also notice that theming has changed a bit, and, if you open the theme itself, you’ll see that there are new options at your disposal to adjust these stylistic changes.

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If you drill into a record’s form, you’ll also see field labels that wrap again (configurable in settings, if you liked the fade away better), dashed lines that fill a section’s width, and generally just less white space overall. The refreshed UI was built to take advantage of the white space to make your form look fuller and for sections to stand out a bit more. At first I wasn’t a huge fan, but it has grown on me when taking a not-so-nostalgic trip back to 8.2.

Aesthetics aside, there isn’t much difference behind the scenes with the Web Refresh UI. When upgrading an existing organization, I’d expect things to work as is, barring any of the usual upgrade kinks or unsupported code. If you have any custom UIs, you’ll want to spend a bit of time on them to update their fonts and such, but otherwise your supported Javascript, plugins, and other customizations should behave as expected. There are several deprecation notices that came along with the 9.0 release that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with, but that is a bit tangential for this post and not particular to either of the two new interfaces.

Unified Client Interface (UCI)

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UCI, on the other hand, is quite a bit different than the Web Refresh UI or prior UIs. If you thought the Web Refresh UI was huge, well UCI is EVEN HUGER. The sitemap is now on the left-hand side of the page, with the top simply behaving more as breadcrumbs to backtrack your navigation. You’ll also need to specify UCI icons for any of your custom entities or ribbon buttons to make sure they don’t get set to the dreaded default puzzle piece of UCI (Blake Scarlavai wrote a helpful post to show how to do this here.).

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The overall design objective of trying to make forms a bit fuller is seen here as well, but accomplished in a different manner. Forms segment sections by adding some of your theming to the top of each and an off-white background to contrast instead of using the long dashed line. You’ll also notice that we are now back to a tabbed form layout, after being subjected to years of vertical scrolling. Form headers are also quite a bit taller, to show off the latest in SUPER LARGE FONT TECHNOLOGY. All kidding aside though, UCI is beautiful. It also lends itself nicely to native mobile, which requires UCI now.

However, upgrading to UCI isn’t quite as simple as upgrading to the Web Refresh UI. The first thing to note, is that UCI is currently only supported for mobile and tablets, not your desktop browser experiences. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use browsers to access it, just that it is under a ‘user beware’ sort of situation at the moment. Fortunately, I’ve heard from Microsoft that browser support could come as soon as the first update rollup (9.0.1.x), possibly around the end of January, but as with all dates these are subject to change.

Despite not currently being supported yet, I have spent the majority of my time in browser mode (i.e., not via a tablet or mobile app). It is definitely buggy, as one may expect for something so new. There are also several big features, entities, and admin-level areas missing entirely (advanced find, campaigns, marketing lists, audit history, workflows, etc.). The good news is that Microsoft has been rolling out new minor builds each weekend to address these issues, already resolving 10 or so of the ones that we’ve reported, including all of the critical ones we’ve stumbled across.

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The remaining list of issues range from high priority to low aesthetic ones for what we’ve identified so far.

Another thing to note is that if your environment is heavily customized, especially in terms of custom javascript (or Silverlight, which is officially deprecated now by the way), be prepared for a bit of a rework. Xrm.Page deprecation notices aside, if you haven’t properly been referencing the correct Xrm.Page context from dialogs or iframes, you’ll start to receive errors. These are generally as simple as replacing an Xrm.Page with a parent.Xrm.Page reference, but still something that popped up on occasion for us.

With the tabbed UI redesign, you’ll need to defer any Javascript accessing web resources on those various tabs until those tabs have loaded. I’ve also run into a few issues with custom ribbon buttons no longer appearing, which forced me to revise my display rules to leverage selection rules more frequently. Also in regard to ribbons, for any native buttons that I had overridden from previous versions, I updated my snapshotted javascript actions to their counterpart in an uncustomized 9.0 ribbon where appropriate – pretty common for any upgrade, but I had missed a few buttons which still worked fine in the web refresh UI but weren’t so forgiving in UCI.

Although UCI is by far the winner when it comes to looks, and seems to be the way of the future for Dynamics, the Web Refresh UI is a nice safe stop gap for now. Your users won’t notice too large of a difference with the web refresh, and you won’t be tasked with as many immediate code overhauls. Unless you’ll be leveraging native mobile capabilities and therefore forced to jump straight to UCI, I’d suggest starting with the Web Refresh UI and slowly dipping your toes into the UCI waters, while Microsoft continues to fix bugs and roll out new entity and feature support.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics 365