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Dynamics 365 Editable Grids

As with any release, the recent release of Dynamics 365 has introduced a bunch of new features.  Head over to the CRM Roadmap site, or the CRM What’s New site to see first hand the features that have recently gone live.  In this blog we’ll talk about one of those new features we’re really excited to see get added to the project:  Editable Grids.

Editable Grids

One of the most sought after features since I’ve been working on Dynamics CRM is editable grids.  The mantra of Dynamics CRM for the past 15 years has been read only lists/views, and a single record form to modify the data.  In most of our implementations, we’re asked to create an editable grid to allow users to more quickly modify data.  We even took our client specific editable grid solution, made it generic, and provided a free version of it for Dynamics CRM 2011/2013/2015/2016 for the community to download from our tools site.

However, Microsoft has released the ability to turn any grid in Dynamics CRM into an editable grid with their latest release of Dynamics 365 for Sales.  Upon this announcement, I believe I heard all of the developers at Sonoma Partners let out a loud cheer as working with editable grids is a pretty challenging task.

Note that this new editable grids functionality is available for sub grids (that appear on forms) as well as home grids (the grid that shows when you select an entity from the Site Map, or when you expand a sub grid on a form to be full sized).  And as you can see below, editable grids are supported on the web, phone and tablet clients.

What’s supported on the editable grids?  Is everything you’re used to with a read only grid and record form supported?  The quick answer is that yes, everything you can do with a read only grid you can do with an editable grid (plus more):

  • In line editing
  • Sorting
  • Grouping (see below)
  • Filtering
  • Pagination
  • Calculated and Rollup Fields
  • Run time resize/move columns (see below)
  • Auto Save / Manual Save (see below)
  • Toggle between read only and editable grid (see below)
  • Filtered lookups
  • Chart panel interaction
  • Command bar interaction
  • Business Rules (e.g., show error messages, set field value, set business required, set default value, lock or unlock)
  • JavaScript

Enabling Editable Grids – Home Grid

To enable the editable grid for a home grid, first go to customizations for the entity at Settings –> Customizations –> Customize the System –> Entities, and then click on the Controls tab for an entity you want to configure.  In my example below, I’m working on the Account entity.

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By default, the Web/Phone/Tablet will all be using the legacy read only grid.  However if you click on the Add Control link, you can select the Editable Grid control in the dialog that pops up, and click on Add.

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You’ll then have the option to enable the editable grid for the Web, Phone, and/or Tablet experiences by selecting the appropriate radio buttons.  For now, we’ll just enable it for the Web.

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Enabling Editable Grids – Sub Grid

For a Sub Grid, navigate to the form that the sub grid is on and find the sub grid you want to make editable.  Select the sub grid on the form, and click on the Change Properties button in the ribbon.  In the dialog that appears, select the controls tab, and click on the Add Control link.  As with the main grid, you can add the Editable Grid control, and then configure in the sub grid properties dialog which form factor the editable grid applies to (web, phone, and/or tablet).  We’ll choose just Web once again for the Contact sub grid on the Account form.

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Configuring the Editable Grid

Whether you enabled a Main Grid or Sub Grid to use the Editable Grid control, the configuration is the same.  Once you add the Editable Grid control, you’ll see an Events tab appear.  This allows you to configure JavaScript code that will trigger on certain events that occur in the grid.

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This is very similar to the Form Properties dialog where form JavaScript libraries are configured at the form level.  The events currently exposed by the API for editable grid JavaScript libraries are:

  • OnChange (when a particular field is changed)
  • OnRecordSelect (when the user selects a record)
  • OnSave (when a record is saved)

In addition to adding JavaScript to your editable grid, when you have the Editable Grid row selected in the Controls tab, you’ll see some configurable options at the bottom of the dialog.

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The Add Lookup link allows you to configure how a lookup will work in the grid.  You don’t have to add a configuration option for a lookup.  However, with this option, this allows you to configure filtered lookups for a specific view, just like you’re able to do on the form.  Therefore if you have filtered lookups on the form, it’s strongly recommend you configure your lookups on the editable grids via the Add Lookup link.

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The Nested Grid View and Nested Grid Parent ID are used to display a grid within a grid.  Note that this functionality is only available on and Tablet.  Clicking on the pencil icon next to these settings will allow you to select the entity to be shown in the nested grid, along with the parent lookup field on which the related records should be fetched.

The Group by Column setting allows users to select the Group By option on the top of the grid when actually working within an editable grid.  Group By is different than sorting on a column in that it will put records into an expandable control based on the field that you have grouped by.  Only the fields in the current view will be options in the Group By dropdown.  Groups can be expanded or collapsed.

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Using the Editable Grid

After you have your grid configured, your users can simply click into a field to be able to edit the value in the field without opening the record form.  You can also quickly change fields via the keyboard (tab) or mouse.

To save the updates you made to the record, you can simply click off to another record, or click on the Save icon in the top right corner of the grid.

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Users can also change the grid between the new editable version shown above, and the classic read only version via the Show As button in the toolbar.

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Also note that the columns in the grid can be reordered per user per view.  The column order, group by setting and sort order is persisted throughout the application until the user clears their browser cache.

Considerations

With the new editable grid functionality, there are a handful of tips and considerations to think about as you’re configuring your CRM deployment.

  • The Editable Grid doesn’t respect read-only fields on the form since that isn’t a legitimate way to control security.  To prevent users from editing these fields, you’ll need to either add field level security to the field, not put that field in the view, or write JavaScript (this will be covered in a future developer related blog post).
  • The Editable Grid version of a sub grid takes up more space than the read only grid (especially if you enable the Group By feature).  Allow for a larger sub grid to make sure your users see the same amount of data they used to.
  • Enabling editable grids on a home grid is a global setting meaning that wherever you see that entities home grid it’ll show as an editable grid (e.g., tiles clicked from anywhere on the Site Map, sub grids that are expanded to the full grid).
  • Enabling editing on a sub grid is a per sub grid basis meaning that every sub grid on every form and dashboard must have their editable setting enabled individually.  You could have the situation where the sub grid doesn’t have the editable grid enabled, but the home grid for that sub grid does have the editable grid enabled.  In this scenario, if the user clicks to expand the sub grid to the full grid, they’ll go from a read only grid to an editable grid.
  • Some fields are not editable in the editable grid:
    • Fields from related entities
    • StateCode
    • Customer fields (e.g., on an Opportunity or Case)
    • Composite fields
    • Party List fields (e.g., the To field on an Email)
    • Field Level Secure fields (if your field security profile prevents you from editing the field)
Topics: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

CRM Online 2016: Exporting a Data Import Template Error

Today's blog post was written by Keith Mescha, Principal Architect at Sonoma Partners.

Recently, I was working with a client to setup some test users in a sandbox for integration testing around assigning users to records in CRM. They were struggling with how to get this subset of users into the sandbox without having to go through the provisioning and 0365 process of creating the users in CRM. 

My advice was to just use an import template for the user entity and import the users you want for testing. The users will get created in the org as "disabled" and not consume a CRM license. They would then be able to test the integration and ensure it was working as intended.

Not too long after providing this advice, my client replied that they could not download the template due to the error, “A duplicate column heading exists.” The error didn't say what was duplicated, and they couldn't even get to the downloaded template to see, so they were not sure what to do next.

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I had a hunch, so I started to look at the customizations for the particular entity. To my surprise, after a bit of digging I noticed that we had three fields on the user entity in CRM all with the display name “Manager.”

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I could only assume that this was the issue as it uses the display name for the column headers in the import template, so I changed two of them temporarily and republished the customizations.

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With that change, they were able to download the template just fine. The error was pretty descriptive, but they could not figure out what the issue was. Of course, a customization best practice is to not have three  fields with the same name. Additionally, after discussing with the customization team on this project, we quickly realized that we had created a custom field when there was a native field that did the same thing, so we removed our custom lookup back to user for the manager field.

If you have CRM customization or integration needs, reach out to us and let’s see how we can help.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Dynamics 365 Site Map Designer

Previously we posted about the new Dynamics 365 App Module that was recently released with Dynamics 365.  Part of that module that we skipped over in the initial post is the Site Map Designer.

The Site Map Designer is a visual way to update your sitemap for your app.  The Site Map Designer allows you to update the default site map (which was the site map we’ve known and loved over the years for past versions of CRM), as well as app specific site maps. 

This means that now you could have more than one site map in your deployment depending on how many apps you have.  If you don’t have any apps, then you’ll have the single “Site Map” under Site Map components.  However, if you have at least one app, when you go to add a Site Map to your solution, you’ll see the default/base site map, as well as your app specific site maps.

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Launching the Site Map Designer

To kick off the Site Map designer from your app, simply click the arrow pointing up to the right on the Site Map area of the app designer.  You can also kick it off by double clicking on the specific Site Map component in your solution, but depending on the XML in the Site Map, the designer may not be able to load it (see below).

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You’ll be presented with a blank canvas with a default Area and Subarea already placed on the canvas for you.  You simply need to rename these using the Titles and Descriptions area, as well as update the ID, Icon, Show Groups, and URL (more details below about each site map components properties that can be edited).

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In the Site Map designer, you can click the + icon in the top right corner to add a new component to your site map, or you can drag / drop the component from the right side over to the canvas to add it to your site map. 

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The table below shows the components that can be added onto the canvas, along with the properties per component that can be configured.

Component Properties
Area ID
Icon
Show Groups (flag)
URL
Titles
Descriptions
Group ID
Set as Profile
URL
Titles
Descriptions
Sub Area Type (Dashboard, Entity, Web Resource, URL)
ID
Icon
URL
Parameter Passing
Offline Availability
Entity
Default Dashboard
Titles
Descriptions
Privileges (Entity, then All/Create/Read/Write/Delete/Append/AppendTo/Share/Assign)
SKUs (All, OnPremise, SPLA, Live)
Client (All, Outlook, Web, Outlook Laptop Client, Outlook Workstation Client)

 

If you add an entity to the Site Map that’s not a part of your App artifacts yet, it’ll automatically get added to your App without any forms, views, or charts selected for filtering.

Note that some of the Sub Area options become read only based on the type you select.  For example, if you don’t select Entity as the type, then the Entity dropdown that allows you to select the entity is read only as it only applies to that type of component.

 

Troubleshooting

If you wanted to, you can still export the app specific site map, and mess with the XML directly (if you’re courageous).  However, if you do so, be careful because some of the preexisting site map XML is not supported in the site map designer.  For example, I stole the “Settings” and “Training” areas of the main site map for my custom app specific site map, and had to comment out the following in my app specific site map because the designer wouldn’t load with it included.

<!--SubArea Id="nav_plugintrace" ResourceId="Homepage_PluginTraceLog" Icon="/_imgs/area/Plugin_TraceLog_32.png" Entity="plugintracelog" Client="Web" IntroducedVersion="7.1.0.0">
  <Privilege Entity="plugintracelog" Privilege="Read" />
</SubArea-->
         
<!--SubArea Id="nav_systemjobs" ResourceId="Homepage_SystemJobs" DescriptionResourceId="SystemJobs_SubArea_Description" ToolTipResourseId="SystemJobs_SubArea_ToolTip" Entity="asyncoperation" Url="/tools/business/home_asyncoperation.aspx" AvailableOffline="false" IntroducedVersion="7.0.0.0" /-->
         
<!--Privilege Privilege="LearningPath" /—>

Until I commented those out, I would receive an error such as the following when I tried to go back into the Site Map designer.

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However, after I removed all the unsupported XML, I was then able to go into the Site Map designer and see all the Settings and Trainings components in my site map and I had the ability to tweak them using the new Site Map designer way, versus the old manual XML updates way.

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

Dynamics 365 App Module

As with any release, the release of Dynamics 365 yesterday has introduced a bunch of new features.  Head over to the CRM Roadmap site, or the CRM What’s New site to see first hand the features that have recently gone live.  You can also see what’s in preview, in development, previously released, or indefinitely postponed.

 

App Module

With this release, a new concept has been introduced to Dynamics 365 for Sales (formerly Dynamics CRM).  This concept is the ability to have multiple Apps within the product.  First off, note that this feature is in preview only mode for this release. 

What is an app? Well in its simplest form, this is a collection of related entities, dashboards, and business process flows that will allow you to streamline and tailor Dynamics 365 for Sales so that your end users in different business areas can see only the pieces of the product that matter to them.  It also allows you to filter sub components of what you add – for example, your users only see a specific view of an entity you’ve added.

You could perform portions of this functionality with the older versions of Dynamics CRM.  For example, you could have only specific forms or dashboards display for users in specific security roles.  However, everything in your solution was in a single site map and you had to manage it as such, which forced configurators to always remember that the application they’re designing and building is visible to all users, unless they update the specific dashboards and forms to be visible only to users in a specific security role (by default they’re visible to all).

However, with the introduction of Apps for Dynamics 365 for Sales, configurators can now more easily put components that they want specific users to have visibility to into a specific app for those users.  This means that when you have new users rolling onto CRM, you can easily create a new security role for them, and then start putting the components of the system into their own app that only they’ll have visibility to.  Also you can filter what sub components of those artifacts you want visible in your app – this functionality doesn’t exist in previous versions of the product.

Also of note is that your apps will have a unique URL should you want to provide that to users to navigate to directly.  The URL will be in the format of <crmurl>/apps/AppName.

 

App Creation and Basics

When you create a new App (done from the solution since apps are solution aware), you’ll need to provide a few pieces of information.  Note that the Application URL will be the name used at the end of the URL for the application specific URL mentioned above.  This (along with the Unique Name) cannot be changed once you click Done on this initial app creation page.  The Name, Description, and Use Default Image can be modified after creation.

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After providing the basic information above, you’ll be taken into the designer area of the app.  From here you’re able to add the following components to your app.

  • Site Map – this is required and will is discussed in more detail in this blog post
  • Dashboards – you can filter what dashboards display in your app
  • Business Process Flows – you can filter what business process flows appear on entities for your app
  • Entities – you can filter what forms, views and charts appear on the entities for your app

After you add each of these components, you’ll have different properties to set for each.   For entities, you’ll be able to select which Forms, Views, and Charts are available in your app.  After you start adding components, your app will start to accrue a list of other dependent components that.  For example if you select a form that has a view from another entity used in a sub grid, you’ll need to make sure that view is in the target environment you’re deploying your app to or the deployment will fail.  If it doesn’t exist, simply make sure to add that component to the solution prior to deployment.

Note:  If you do not select any forms, views, or charts for an entity in your app, that entity will still display in your app but all forms, views, and charts will be displayed for it.  Even though you’ll get a warning when validating your app (see validation details below), the app will still work and show you all components of that entity without filtering some of them out.

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With Dashboards and Business Process Flows, you simply have the option to select which of those you want to include in your app.  Note, when you do this, if there are entities that are required for the dashboard or business process flow that you add, they’ll automatically be added to your app.  However they’ll be added but no sub components of them will be added (forms, views, or charts) which will fail validation which we’ll discuss in the next section.  These entities will be added but are not needed in your app.  They’re only needed if you want to further filter out the forms, views and charts that are visible to end users.  If you don’t want to filter them out and want to keep your app clean, you can simply click on the entity name and then click on the trash can / remove icon on the top of the page to remove it from your app.  Doing so will provide you a confirmation dialog prior to removing the entity.

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In addition to removing an entity from the app, you can also click on the Edit button that will open up the entity in an entity specific solution window.  Finally, the Add button will let you quickly add another artifact or entity asset to the app.

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Validation

As stated above, once you start adding components to your solution, you’ll app will start to take on dependencies which means that if they’re not in the target environment you’re deploying your app to, your solution import will fail.

For example if you select a form that has a view from another entity used in a sub grid, you’ll need to make sure that view is in the target environment you’re deploying to.  If it doesn’t exist, simply make sure to add that component to the solution prior to deployment.

To validate your app, simply click on the “Validate” button at the top right of the app.  You’ll get a summary at the top that you’ll be able to expand and see more details of what errors and/or warnings the validation identified.  You’ll also see on the visual designer the components highlighted that are causing the dependencies.  Finally, if you click on the “Required” tab on the left pane, you’ll be able to see a list view of the dependencies for the components added to your app, and those components are already added to your app will be checked off.

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App Deployment

As stated before, an App is solution aware which means that you can put the app into a solution when you’re ready to promote it from Dev to QA to Production.  Remember that if you have new components you created for your app (such as an app specific site map), those components also need to be included in your solution or the deployment will fail.

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Also note that while you’re working on your apps, you don’t need to go through the Apps solution component to be able to resume development on the app.  You’re also able to see your published apps and apps being edited by going to Settings –> Application –> My Apps.  The default app that contains all your configuration and site map prior to the new app concept will be the only published app out of the box.  This app cannot be edited through the app designer and needs to be edited the old way through site map modifications.

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When the app is unpublished, you’ll be able to click on the ellipses and select Publish or Open in App Designer. 

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Once you have your custom app published, you’ll be able to Manage Roles to indicate what security roles should have access to view the app.  By default, only the System Administrator and System Customizer roles have access to view the app so don’t be worried that you’re only able to get to this screen after the app is published (which means if all roles had access to the app there would be a period of time between publishing and removing roles, that some users may have access to the app – that’s not the case).

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Using the App

After the application and site map have been completed and published, you access your new app via the app switcher which is the breadcrumb just to the right of the O365 tiles icon.  You can quickly jump between all the apps you’ve developed via this app switcher.   You also have the ability to “Pin This App” which will pin the app to the Home area.

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Clicking the top Home icon will take you to https://home.dynamics.com/ which is a new home for all of your Dynamics 365 business apps.  As mentioned above, your pinned apps will appear in a separate section on this page.

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Note that when testing out the new Apps functionality, I ran across what seemed like a couple defects with the Home area.

  • The Home area doesn’t seem to load when using IE11, but will load fine with Chrome
  • After clicking in the Home area, when I went back up to the App Switcher, only my pinned apps appeared for me to select.  In my example below, you’ll see that I no longer see the “Dynamics 365 – custom” app that I saw in my screenshot above.  Once I navigated to an app, it reappeared for me.

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If you click on “My Apps” in the App Switcher, you’re able to see all apps, and also search for apps should you have a lot in your list.  You’ll also see in this list any other CRM organization you have access in your O365 deployment allowing you to quickly jump to those orgs from your current org.  In the main menu under “Home” you’ll see just the current Dynamics 365 apps.  Additionally, you’ll see a light blue vertical bar to the left of the apps / orgs that are Dynamics 365 orgs.

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When in your app, you’ll only see the dashboards, entities, forms, views, charts, and business process flows that you included in the design of your app.

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Final Thoughts

Apps are another great feature for this continually evolving product.  We’re excited to see where this concept goes in the upcoming releases (what other components they allow you to configure to be app specific), and are as always excited for all the new features being released with Dynamics 365.

Stay tuned for more new Dynamics 365 feature reviews.

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

Amazon Alexa and Dynamics CRM

Here at Sonoma Partners we’re always looking for ways to use the latest and greatest technologies with CRM.  With voice dictation services becoming more and more prominent, we decided to put Amazon’s Alexa service to the test.  Using an Echo device, we were able to develop and test an Alexa Skill that can interact with Dynamics CRM using node.js.  The process was surprisingly easy as Amazon provides native OAuth configuration so we were able to connect to CRM’s Web API with little effort.

We recorded the whole process of building an Alexa Skill, check it out below!

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Offload Processing with Azure Functions

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced Azure Functions which provide the ability to run code that can be triggered by events from within Azure or from third party systems or even scheduled at certain intervals.  There are many ways Azure Functions can be used to benefit your CRM system.  In this article, I will walk through how an Azure Function can be built and triggered from a plugin in CRM for asynchronous processing outside of the native CRM async service.

Note: Azure Functions are still in preview state and therefore provided “as-is” and may not be covered by customer support.

First, head to your Azure org and add a new resource.  Search for “Function App” in the filter.

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Select Function App and click Create and then specify a unique name for your Function App and which resource group and plan to add it to.

In our scenario, we are going to trigger the function from a CRM plugin so we want to choose the “Webhook + API” scenario and I’ll be using C# for this example but JavaScript could be used as well if desired.

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Now the Function App is created and a sample function is already setup with a Url that can be used to trigger the Function.  The sample Function looks for a “name” property in the request and returns a message back to the client application using the “name” property that was passed in.

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With this basic sample, you could be good-to-go already, if you don’t need to interact back to CRM.  You could have your CRM plugin pass in the necessary data and let your Function do with what it needs, such as processing that data and then sending it off to a third-party system.

But what if you need to query CRM for more data or make some updates within CRM?  In order to do so, we need to do a little bit more work.

First, we’ll need to add some NuGet packages that our Function can reference to connect to the CRM API.  In order to do so, we need to add a project.json file to the Functions folder where it is hosted in Azure.

  • Click “Function app settings” at the bottom left of the Function app screen

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  • Click “Go to App Service Settings” in the Advanced Settings at the very bottom of the screen

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  • Under the “DEVELOPMENT TOOLS” section, click “App Service Editor”

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  • Click “Go” on the next screen and it will open a new browser window
  • Expand your Function app node under the WWWROOT node then right-click and select “New File”

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  • Type project.json for the file name
  • Update the project.json file with the following:

{
  "frameworks": {
    "net46":{
      "dependencies": {
        "Microsoft.CrmSdk.CoreAssemblies": "8.1.0.2",       
        "Microsoft.CrmSdk.XrmTooling.CoreAssembly": "8.1.0.2",
        "Microsoft.IdentityModel": "6.1.7600.16394",
        "Microsoft.IdentityModel.Clients.ActiveDirectory": "2.18.00"
      }
    }
   }
}

The necessary NuGet references for the CRM SDK are now added.  You can now either go back to the main Function app screen in Azure or just use the App Service Editor to edit the Function code in the run.csx file.  We will want to add the following namespaces to the top of the Function:

using System.Net;
using Microsoft.Crm.Sdk.Messages;
using Microsoft.Xrm.Tooling.Connector;

Now we can utilize the CRM SDK to connect to our CRM environment with a connection string like so:

var orgUrl = "https://org.crm.dynamics.com";
var username = user@domain.com;
var password = "password";
var authType = Microsoft.Xrm.Tooling.Connector.AuthenticationType.Office365;

var crmSvc = new CrmServiceClient($@"ServiceUri={orgUrl};AuthType={authType};UserName={username};Password={password}");

Now we can use the org service to do whatever we need within CRM.  For this basic sample, we’ll just do a simple WhoAmIRequest and log the result to the Function app console to make sure everything is working correctly.

var request = new WhoAmIRequest();
var response = (WhoAmIResponse)orgService.Execute(request);
log.Info(response.UserId.ToString());

The final Function should look like so:

using System.Net;
using Microsoft.Crm.Sdk.Messages;
using Microsoft.Xrm.Tooling.Connector;

public static void Run(HttpRequestMessage req, TraceWriter log)
{
    var orgUrl = "https://org.crm.dynamics.com";
    var username = "user@domain.com";
    var password = "password";
    var authType = Microsoft.Xrm.Tooling.Connector.AuthenticationType.Office365;

    var crmSvc = new CrmServiceClient($@"ServiceUri={orgUrl};AuthType={authType};UserName={username};Password={password}");

    var request = new WhoAmIRequest();
    var response = (WhoAmIResponse)crmSvc.Execute(request);
    log.Info(response.UserId.ToString());
}

 

Now click Run and in the Logs section you should see a Guid of your System User ID in between the Function started and Function completed statements.

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You can then use a simple app like Postman to test submitting a request to the unique Url that Azure gave you for your Function app.  Once you submit the request, check your Logs in the Function app and you should see your System User ID logged again.

The last step would then be to build a standard CRM Plugin on the desired event and have it submit a request to your Function app Url to kick off the process.  Microsoft Flow could also be used to trigger an event from CRM and call your Function app without building any custom code at all.

There you have it, we can now utilize Azure Functions to free up some CRM processing but of course there are some caveats.

  • If you are on the “Dynamic” service plan, Azure Functions will currently only run for 5 minutes before timing out.  This still gives us 3 more minutes than an asynchronous plugin in CRM but be cautious of long running processes.
  • If an error occurs, there won’t be any ability to reprocess like there is with an asynchronous plugin in CRM.  You will need to build that into your Azure Function.
  • Lastly, Azure Functions aren’t free (they are cheap however).  If you have long running, memory intensive processes that will trigger often then you should consider the pricing.  Pricing details can be found here.  Microsoft gives 400,000 GB-s for free each month so if you have 1GB of memory allocated to your Function, it can run for 400,000 seconds per month without having to pay a single dime!
Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

CRMUG Summit 2016 Recap

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that it’s Convergence conference would be replaced by Microsoft Envision.  Envision would be meant for business leaders looking for a more strategic vision, while  Microsoft Ignite would be intended to be the conference that provided more hands-on and deeper technical content.

CRMUG Summit, on the other hand, is a conference not run by Microsoft, and instead run by users for users.  However, what we’ve seen this year is that the Microsoft presence at the Summit was greatly increased from years past.  The Summit actually is meant for more than just Dynamics CRM as there are user groups for all of the Dynamics Products (AX, GP, NAV).

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All In for Summit!

After attending both Ignite (in Atlanta) and CRMUG Summit (in Tampa) this year, it’s clear that Summit is getting more and more focus as the years go on, and seems to be the conference to attend if you’re a Dynamics CRM customer or prospect.  There were 1550 CRM attendees this year - triple the amount from last year.  At Ignite there weren’t as many Dynamics sessions, whereas CRMUG Summit was chock full of sessions led by end users, MVP’s, and Microsoft employees.  You could feel more than ever this year Microsoft’s increased presence and Tampa Florida skyline stock image for Tampa Uber promo code postcommitment to the event.  Jujhar Singh, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, brought most of the product team along to the conference and was also a main presenter at the CRMUG Keynote.  Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President at Microsoft, was also in attendance and led the overall Summit Keynote.  Scott’s keynote showed Microsoft’s large push for PowerApps, Flow, and their Azure framework.  He also talked about Dynamics 365, and the tighter and enhanced integration coming between Dynamics 365 and Office 365 such as Outlook.  Jujhar went deeper into discussions around Dynamics 365, and he also announced the integration between Dynamics 365 for Sales, and Predict by Versium (discussed in more details below).

It definitely seems like Microsoft is increasing their presence at Summit (as they did this year), and our hope is that this continues.  If so, we definitely recommend users attend Summit 2017 in Nashville.

Dynamics 365

Of course the big topic at CRMUG Summit 2016 was all around Dynamics 365, Microsoft’s suite of Dynamics products.  No more are the days of Dynamics CRM, but instead users will need to get used to the new moniker Dynamics 365 for Sales.  The different products that will be available with the upcoming release (slated to be released to the cloud in the next month) include:

  • Dynamics 365 for Sales
  • Dynamics 365 for Customer Service
  • Dynamics 365 for Field Service
  • Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation
  • Dynamics 365 for Marketing
  • Dynamics 365 for Operations
  • Dynamics 365 for Financials
  • Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights

These products currently exist but are being entirely rebranded (e.g., “Dynamics CRM” becomes “Dynamics 365 for Sales” and “Dynamics AX” becomes “Dynamics 365 for Operations” and so on).  However, Dynamics 365 will allow users to quickly jump from one application to another within the same session, further unifying CRM and ERP capabilities.

Along with the new naming of the products and unification of Microsoft’s flagship CRM, ERP, and Office suites, the upcoming release also introduces other new features.  Stay tuned for future blog posts detailing more of these newly released features for Dynamics 365.  Until then, know that you can expect to see more around the user interface, configurability, built in intelligence, proactive insights, enhanced visualizations, enhanced Outlook integration, enhanced navigation, and much more.  Sounds pretty exciting, right?

Predict by Versium

During the conference, Microsoft announced a new integration with Versium Predict, an automated predictive analytics solution that brings lead scoring and lead matching directly to Dynamics 365 for Sales. 

With Predict, users can build a predictive model directly from CRM that will allow them to add insights to enrich current data in the system with thousands of new attributes (e.g., hobbies, SIC Code, revenue, social handles, number of employees, demographics, etc.) from Versium’s extensive data warehouse.  Versium has trillions of data points in their data set, and users will be able to build a customer-based model or a business-based model directly from Dynamics 365 for Sales.

After your predictive model is built, with Predict by Versium and Dynamics 365, users will also be able to build a new list of leads and add them to a new marketing list.  Note:  Microsoft strongly enforces the importance of having data already in Dynamics 365 (500 records for a business list model and 1000 for a customer list model) in order to build a successful predictive model.

Thanks Tampa – Hello Nashville!

Once again Tampa was a great host city for Summit (the 2013 Summit was also in Tampa).  The weather was great - even though the east coast had previously experienced some extreme weather the week before - and the conference content didn’t disappoint.  It would be an understatement to say all of us at Sonoma are excited about Dynamics 365 and the announcements from Summit, as well as new features that are coming with the latest release of the product.  We can’t wait.

Image result for nashville tennesseeIf you’ve never been to a CRMUG Summit, we definitely recommend you register for next year’s summit in Nashville.  If this year’s was any reflection of where the conference is headed, next year’s should be much bigger with more product announcements and roadmap discussions.  Each year, Summit has grown at exponential rates, and the involvement seen from Microsoft this year is certainly encouraging.  We’re hoping that they return in full force next year as well.

Stay tuned for more announcements about Dynamics 365 and the new features that will soon be released.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Dynamics CRM Performance Considerations

Today's blog post was written by Argyris Anargyros, Development Principal at Sonoma Partners.

While working on a 2016 org upgrade from 2015, I was tasked with looking into a few performance issues that affected specific parts of the system, such as Connections and Activities. For Connections, the lookup to select the Connect To field took a very long time to load and would sometimes return a SQL time out error. For Activities, we were seeing long waits for quick find search results. While looking into these issues, we used both CRM and SQL Tracing, and we were able to identify a few problems that were easily fixed through native changes. These changes produced a dramatic improvement to the specific issue and the system as a whole. Some of these might seem obvious, but these can be good things to look for when you first come to an existing implementation.

Connections and Quick Find Views

First thing we noticed was that there were a bunch of Quick Find Query requests to pull in each entity listed as available to Connections. Microsoft does not provide a way to uncheck this availability, but we were able to identify a few unneeded custom entities, delete those entities, recreate them, and avoid the unneeded call to request for that data. The next piece we tackled was some of these Quick Find queries were taking a long time. After reviewing the Quick Find views, we found a lot of fields included as a part of the Quick Find. Each field that is selected can poetically create an index which should help searching, but what we found was that there were many fields of the same type being search on, like Owner, Regarding, and Modified By. This combination of fields to search on created a SQL statement that union 3 select statements to consolidate the results from the entity we were searching on, the users entity to cover the Modified By, Contact, and Accounts for the Regarding field. This union was not needed since we really did not need to have Modify By and Owner set to searchable by the Quick Find view. Once we removed all the unnecessary Quick Find fields, we had to wait a day or two for the indexes to clean themselves up, but we saw these long running queries go away. 

To edit the quick find view >>  

Permissions and Business Units

Next we found SQL statements that were joining to the POA table and looking at Business Units to identify whether the user querying this data has permission to the individual records. Once I saw this I found it odd since the client I was working with has a single Business Unit. After reviewing there custom roles, we found that a lot of their permissions were set to BU instead of Org level, but with the single BU they are in essence giving folks Org level access. Once we changed all the permissions from Business Unit to Org access, the union to the POA and BU tables were eliminated and the response time of those queries became very small. 

View security roles and privileges>>

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Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Creating a PowerApps Mobile Application with Dynamics CRM in 1 Hour

Today's blog post was co-written by Brad Bosak, Vice President of Development at Sonoma Partners.

I recently presented at the CRMUG Summit on how to use the new PowerApps Studio to quickly create mobile applications using the Dynamics CRM Online connector. As I prepped for this session, my colleague, Brad, and I discovered that native CRM connector can quickly get you to a working functional application in minutes. However, since the connector is still in early preview, some adjustments need to be made to use these applications in practice.

We are going to provide the steps we went through to create an application that will show active contacts in a list, allow you to drill into the contact record for additional details, and finally update the contact records. All of this will begin by using the default template provided by PowerApps through the Dynamics CRM Online connector. The application you will create is shown below:

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You are also encouraged to download the completed application, but please review the install note after you extract the file.

Before you Begin

Before trying out this application, you will need to have some prerequisites completed.

  • A PowerApps account using your organization email address
  • A valid CRM Online instanced under the same organization
  • Download the Windows PowerApps Studio application & PowerApps mobile clients for the mobile devices you wish to distribute

Contact App Demo Setup

  • Open the PowerApps Studio and create a new connection to CRM Online
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  • Note that this will take you to the PowerApps web page where you can configure a connection
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  • Back in the PowerApps Studio, create a new Phone Application using that connection and by selecting the  contacts entity
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You will see the application is created and ready for use (in theory at least Smile). The newly created app has a live copy of your contact data and 3 screens (a list screen, contact detail screen, and an edit contact screen). Unfortunately, the default list, detail, and edit screens do not provide the fields or format we desire. To address this, we'll use the rest of this article to simply “clean up” our app. 

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Add Data Sources

Since we want to also display and edit company information in our application, we will also add the Accounts entity as a data source. This will be necessary as we demonstrate a work around for the lack of lookup support in the current Dynamics CRM Online connector.

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Important: The current Dynamics CRM Online connector does not support lookup or option set data types. This application will need to use a lookup field (Company), so we'll demonstrate how we worked around the lookup limitation.

  • Add Accounts so we can display names in our lists and lookup fields

Change Theme

For variety, let's change the overall app theme. Select the theme of your choice. We went with Light.
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Update Icon & App Name & Save Locally

We want to encourage you to save often as you work on your application. There are two save options, one saves to the cloud and the other locally. We prefer to save locally as we work on our application as it is a bit faster with how often we save. This approach also allows us to put our app file in source control. However, in order to distribute the application, you will eventually need to save to the cloud.

You can also change your application name, icon, icon background color, and screen orientation from the App Settings menu. Select File - App settings and then name your app, change the icon and icon background color. Finally click Save and save locally.

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Browse Screen

Now that we have saved our progress, we'll update the Browse screen first, using the default screen/list layout provided.

Our first step updates the list filter to only show active contacts and search on the last name field. You accomplish this by selecting the list of records and replacing the Items property with the following line of text:

SortByColumns(Search(Filter(Contacts,statuscode=1), TextSearchBox1.Text, "lastname"), "lastname", If(SortDescending1, Descending, Ascending))

The Filter function trims the dataset based on the criteria entered, in this case only showing active contacts.

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Next, we will remove the fields we don't wish to display.

Note: You need to select the first cell of the list to access the individual elements of the list.

  • Remove all fields by selecting each control and clicking delete, except the entity image. We'll add back the ones we want to display.
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  • Make the entity image smaller, so it takes up less room in the cell
  • Insert a Text box control to show contact full name
    Note: The CRM connector doesn't return full name in the field list, so we'll need to manually concatenate it
    • Text = ThisItem.firstname & " " & ThisItem.lastname
    • Vertical align to top of image
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  • Copy and paste the previous Text box control to to show the contact's job title
    • Text = ThisItem.jobtitle
  • Repeat this process for the Parent Customer (company) field.
    • Text = LookUp(Accounts,accountid = ThisItem._parentcustomerid_value).name
    • Note that lookup fields display the id (GUID), not the label. We'll fix that by using the LookUp function. The LookUp function takes our newly added Accounts collection and matches the parentcustomerid with the accountid. We then use the result to return the name field from the account.
  • Tighten up row height by selecting the bottom of the first cell and dragging to the desired height
  • Change font size as desired by updating the Size property to whatever value you wish

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  • SAVE!

Detail Screen

Next, select the DetailScreen1 page from the screen list. We'll also make this screen more presentable to the user. Similar to the Browse screen, we'll remove the fields we don't wish to display and add the ones we do. But for this screen, we'll also take advantage of PowerApps custom card option.

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  • Remove all fields but Company Name card
  • Add Custom card and move the card to top of screen by dragging the card to the top
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  • Make sure you keep the the custom card cell selected and insert Image
    • Set Image property to ThisItem.entityimage
    • Drag the size to something that fits in the left corner
  • Insert Text box
    • Set Text property to ThisItem.firstname & " " & ThisItem.lastname
  • Insert Text box
    • Set Text property to ThisItem.jobtitle
    • Change font size. Select Size in the dropdown and set it to 16
  • Select the custom card and change card fill to a different color
    • Set Fill to RGBA(227, 233, 241, 1)
    • Note you can use a web converter tool such as http://www.hexcolortool.com/ to help with the correct RGB color

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  • Select Company Name card and then select the Advanced Properties

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    • Unlock the card, so we can edit the individual properties

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    • Update Company Name to display name to LookUp(Accounts,accountid = ThisItem._parentcustomerid_value).name
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    • Close the Advanced Properties dialog
  • Add EmailAddress1 and Telephone1 fields by simply enabling eyeball indicator
  • Select the EmailAddress1 field and change the display to launch the native email client with the email address prepopulated.
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  • Similarly update the telephone1 field to display as a phone number. This will launch the native phone client when the application is used.
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  • SAVE!

Account Lookup View

In order to work around the lookup field limitation on the edit form, we will create our own lookup dialog for Accounts. We'll create a new screen (page) and populate it with the active account list. This will allow us to call this page from our custom lookup field on the edit page.

  • Click the New Screen button in the upper left of the designer
  • Name this new screen Account Lookup
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  • Click Layout in the right pane and select the 'Browse items, one line description' template
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  • Rename header textbox to "AccountLookupTitle"
  • Select the text label control and change the text to "Accounts"
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  • Update the Items property of the list by replacing the sample gallery text with the Accounts data source and change the search property
    • SortByColumns(Search(Filter(Accounts,statuscode=1), TextSearchBox2.Text, "name"), "name", If(SortDescending1, SortOrder.Descending, SortOrder.Ascending))
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  • Click the first cell in the list. Select the text box control and update the Text property to show the account name.
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  • Rename the list to "AccountList"
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  • Update the Arrow icon's OnSelect property to  ClearCollect( SelectedAccount, { Account: AccountList.Selected } ); Back()
    • This clears previous values and creates (if not already created) an in-memory collection that we can reference from the other views, I haven't found another good way to have a 'global variable' in PowerApps
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  • Let's hide the new accounts button, as we don't want to create new accounts. For simplicity, we'll just hide the field, by setting the Visible property to false.
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  • SAVE!

Edit Screen

Finally, select the EditScreen1 page from the screen list. Using the native CRM connector for PowerApps, automatically wires up the edit page. We don't want to interrupt this process, but we'll need to use a workaround for the lack of lookup support. For the other fields, it is as simple as adding the fields to the form.

  • Remove all fields except the Company fields and Last Name
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  • Add emailaddress1, firstname, jobtitle, telephone1 and order them as shown in the image below.
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We will now show you our workaround for managing lookup fields. We are going to relabel and hide the existing type and id fields. Then we'll create our own lookup field that will talk to the Account list we previously created.

    • Update the parent customer field to show our lookup control instead of the GUID
      • Click the ellipsis on _parentcustomerid_type field in the right pane and select Advanced Options
      • Unlock the card to change properties 
        • Click more options in the Data section and change Default field to "accounts"
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        • Click more options in the Design section and change Visibility field to false
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      • Click the _parentcustomerid_value field and should see the Advanced pane change
      • Unlock the field by clicking the lock at the top of the options pane
        • Select the Text box in the parent customer card on the form
          • Rename the Text box to AccountGuid
          • Set the Visible property to false
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        • Change Company Name card Default value
          • This is saying the if we have a selected account in our custom collection, use that value.  If nothing is in our custom collection, use whatever is currently set on the record from CRM
          • If( IsBlank( First( SelectedAccount ).Account.accountid ), ThisItem._parentcustomerid_value, First( SelectedAccount ).Account.accountid )

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    • So we have now setup the card and original field bindings for the form to use. What is left is for us to create a field to select the account.

      • Insert a TextBox control to the card
        • Rename the TextBox to "AccountName"
        • Update the BorderStyle property to Solid
        • Update the BorderThickness property to 2
        • Update the X property to 30
        • Update the Y property to AccountGuid.Y
        • Update the Width property to Parent.Width - 60  (to match the other input fields)
        • Update the Height property to 52
        • Update the Text property to LookUp( Accounts, accountid = Parent.Default ).name
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      • Insert a magnifying glass icon control to the card
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        • Update the X property to Parent.Width - 82  (Note: 82 is the right padding of 30 between the textbox and the edge of the screen plus the width of the icon)
        • Update the Y property to AccountName.Y
        • Update the Height and Width properties of the icon to 52 
        • Update the OnSelect property to Navigate('Account Lookup', ScreenTransition.None)
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    • Select the form and update the OnSuccess property to Clear( SelectedAccount );Back()
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    • Select the Cancel button and update its OnSelect property to Clear(SelectedAccount);ResetForm(EditForm1);Back()
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That's it! Click the Play icon in the top right menu and test your application. If everything is working as it should, save to the cloud to test on your mobile phone.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Learning Path - Dynamics CRM 2016 Guided Help

With the Spring 2016 release of Dynamics CRM came a guided user experience that provides context-sensitive and interactive tasks for end users to more easily become familiar with Dynamics CRM.  Remember, you can always review the features on the roadmap from this link.

What is it?

Learning Path, adds a new icon to the main navigation bar of CRM.  This conversation bubble with a question mark icon will appear in the top right corner of the CRM window if you have Learning Path enabled (see below for more information about turning this feature on or off).

Clicking on this Learning Path icon will slide out a pane on the right side of the CRM window that will allow users to do the following:

  • Learning Paths:  These are content areas where videos, text, guided tasks, and more.
  • Guided Tasks: These are step by step instructions that guide users through specific CRM tasks (see below)
  • Videos:  Learning path has full support for inline video within the pane that appears on the right
  • Navigation:  There’s the ability to navigate between pages of the Learning Path module using left / right arrows.  The user can also navigate to the home page by clicking the icon of the home.  And they can also “Send a Smile” or “Send a Frown” on any particular page of the Learning Path module

As users progress through Guided Tasks, their progression is saved and they’re able to see this in the learning path pane with a checkmark next to that specific task.

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Guided Tasks

Guided Tasks are a way for users to learn an aspect of the CRM system, by doing it as areas of CRM are pointed out along the way.  As a user completes a guided task, a checkmark appears next to the task.  However the user can complete the task as many times as they’d like in case they’d want a refresher on how to complete something in CRM.

For example, if you clicked on the “Let’s go! Sales basic tour” you’d see the following set of steps in your guided task as it takes you around the basic aspects of sales within Dynamics CRM.

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Enable or Disable Learning Path

Each user has the ability to disable Learning Path for themselves by clicking on the Options icon, and selecting Opt out of Learning Path or Opt in for Learning Path.

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Alternatively, your system administrator can turn Learning Path on or off at an organization level by going to Settings –> Administration –> System Settings.  On the General tab, Set custom Help URL section, you can toggle the setting for Enable Learning Path.

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Limitations

Since this is the first release of Learning Path, there are obviously some limitations.  First off, this is only available for CRM Online.  Like most features with Dynamics, features are released to the cloud first, and then as it makes sense, are released for CRM OnPremise.

Another limitation is that the usage metrics (who’s completed what guided task, when, and how many times) is currently not available.  This could be very useful for companies that are trying to gage user adoption, as well as training opportunities for loud users who complain they don’t know how to complete a specific task, but at the same time haven’t completed the guided task that shows them exactly how to do what they’re looking for.

Finally, Learning Path isn’t currently configurable.  This one probably hurts the most currently.  What you’ll get out of the box is predefined learning paths for onboarding, and for those who have spun up a CRM Trial instance, they’ll get learning paths around the trial and how to convert the trial into a purchase.  I see the first thing our clients will ask us as we show them this is how can we configure it, and unfortunately at the moment, the answer is you cannot.  Configuration and usage metrics are two areas that Microsoft will most likely be investing in as they build out this feature in the near future.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online