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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

Dynamics 365 - Learning Path Authoring Guided Tasks

In a previous blog (Learning Path Authoring Basics), we introduced Learning Path Authoring and the Content Library.  As stated previously, Guided Tasks are a step-by-step guide driving users through common or new tasks.  They’re also a great way to ensure users follow a consistent process to completing tasks throughout your organization, and work well as supplemental training after an official training session in which you run new users through your CRM deployment.

Guided tasks can include links, videos, and other content in your steps (or bubbles) to help your users become familiar with your CRM deployment.

There are two main steps for creating a Guided Task:

  1. Define how the Guided Task should be triggered and assigning roles to which the task applies
  2. Use the visual Flow Editor to drag and drop steps/bubbles that the users will see as they work their way through the task.

Define How the Guided Task is Triggered

You first need to go to the page in Dynamics 365 where you want your Guided Task to appear.  This is a small but very important step you must take BEFORE going to the content library to create your Guided Task.

For example, I wanted to create a Guided Task about how to create a new Contact.  Therefore, I had to navigate in Dynamics 365 to the Contacts main grid, and then went to Settings –> Training –> Content Library (or display the Sidebar and click on the Content Library icon from the Sidebar that pops out).

After the Content Library loads, click on image_thumb1 to open the dialog to start entering in your Guided Task details

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The following pieces of information should be collected as you start creating your Guided Task:

  • Disable this guided task:  If checked, this Guided Task will not appear to users.
  • Make this an error guided task:   If checked, this Guided Task will only appear to users if there is an error with other Guided Tasks associated with the page from being loaded (e.g., lack of security permissions for the logged in user).
  • Name:  This is the name for the Guided Task.
  • ClientWeb client, Mobile apps, or Interactive Service Hub are options you’ll see based on whether you’re connected to the mobile app interface or Interactive Service Hub when you’re creating the Guided Task.  Remember, it mattered where you came from before you clicked Content Library before you clicked image_thumb10 as that’s where the task will appear.
  • Form factor:  This depends on the Client you selected.  Web will allow you to select Desktop or Tablet.  Mobile apps will let you select Tablet.  And Interactive Service Hub will let you select Desktop.
  • Guided task opens when:  Select whether you want the Guided Task to appear when a Link is Clicked on a Sidebar, or when the Page Loads.
  • Lifecycle stage:  This is an internal use only setting and can be ignored.
  • Dynamics 365 security role:  Select the security role(s) that you want the Guided Task to be displayed for.  If a user is assigned to more than one security role, the Guided Task will appear only for the role with the highest precedence (as described in our previous blog Learning Path Authoring Basics).
  • Status:  The status which remains at Draft until you publish the Guided Task.
  • Advanced Options:  Note: These only appear after you save the Guided Task:
    • Make this error guided task:  This was described above.
    • Supported Languages:  Languages that this Guided Task supports, as well as used for import and export.
    • Author:  The creator/author of the Guided Task.
    • Tags:  Tags can be added to assist with searching for content in the Content Library as well as categorizing your content.
    • App Version:  The Dynamics 365 application version associated with the content.
    • Control Version:  Sets the version of the content.
    • Authoring Repository:  The Authoring Group (organization) for the content.
    • Publishing Environments:  The publishing group(s) (organizations) for the content.

When you’ve completed defining the how the Guided Task is triggered and details of the Guided Task, click on Save to move onto the flow editor.

Flow Editor

After you click on Save on your Guided Task, you’ll automatically be taken to the Flow Editor. 

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You can add a Title to your Guided Task which will be displayed to the end users as they navigate through the Guided Task.

You can also select whether to show fixed ID controls only.  Controls with a fixed ID are outlined in green, and those without are outlined in blue when you drag the tile to pin it to the UI.  Pinning a step to a control without a fixed ID could mean that your Guided Task could break in future Dynamics 365 updates.  However, that will not be the case if you pin to fixed ID controls.

Click on Add New Step to add a new step, and select from one of the following options:

  • Step with Next button:  A step with a Next button allowing navigation to the next step.  The Next button will not display if this is the last step.
  • Step with User action:  Instead of a Next button to move to the next step, the user must click a UI element to continue to the next step.
  • User action with Next button:  This step has a Next button, but clicking the Next button simulates the effect as clicking the UI element to which the step is pinned.  This step can be a little confusing to users, and therefore I’d caution against using this often.
  • Learning Step:  This step can only be used at the end of a Guided Task flow.  It can be used to link to a Learning Path sidebar at the completion of a Guided Task.

Now to create a Guided Task that walks users through a series of steps to create a new Contact.  The first step is going to be getting the user to click on the New button.  I add a new “Step with User action” step, and drag it to the New button.

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I’ll pause here for a second to discuss the 5 buttons that appear on the right of the bubble/step.  From top to bottom those buttons are:

  • Move:  Clicking this will allow you to drag your step to a new UI element.  Not, however, that when I did this, the step name and step description I had typed were cleared out and I had to start over.
  • Content Type:  This allows you to change this from a Text step, to a Video step.
  • Placement:  You can specify where your bubble appears on the UI element control that you pinned your step to.
  • Copy:  Creates a copy of the current step pinned to the same UI element control with the same content, and adds it as a step directly below the current step in the Guided Task flow.
  • Save:  Saves your step.

After adding a few more steps, my Guided Task now looks like the following which walks a user through creation of a contact.

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At any point when you’re editing your Guided Task, you can click the Preview button which is at the bottom left of the Guided Task side bar that pops open from the left.

When in Preview mode, you can click on Check In to make your Guided Task visible to all Learning Path Authors, and then click on Publish so that the Guided Task changes can be visible to end users.

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In addition to checking in and publishing from a single Guided Task, you can navigate to the Content Library and select one or many pieces of content and then select Manage –> Check In, and then Publish –> Publish.

After checking in and publishing the New Contact Creation Guided Task, it looks like the following when a user navigates to the Contact page.

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Considerations

With this great feature allowing users to add customized help throughout the application, there are still some limitations / considerations to be aware of.

  • Learning Path is not supported in the native Dynamics 365 mobile app for phones.
  • When designing a Guided Task for the Web Client, The Tablet form factor refers to running the Guided Task in a web browser on the tablet (not the native tablet mobile app).
  • Creation of Guided Tasks is still finicky with where you are in it, where you click when you click certain buttons.
  • When I was using Internet Explorer 11, the Learning Path Authoring experience wasn’t ideal.  It seemed to work better with Chrome.  For example, when I clicked on a Guided Task bubble/step to edit it, the main Guided Task pane disappeared, and the bubble didn’t appear for me to edit. 
  • When entering in your steps (after dragging onto the UI) for Guided Tasks, remember to click the bottom Save icon to save the title / description / video you enter into the step.  You won’t get a warning if you don’t and your edits will be lost.
  • Before you Preview your Guided Task, make sure you navigate to the page that the task should fire from (e.g., the main Contact List view in my example above).
  • Moving the steps around within a Guided Task did not seem to work (to reorder the steps) so make sure you get your step order mapped out first before creating your Guided Task in CRM.

Final Thoughts

Learning Path has great potential, and the addition of the ability to create your own content makes this feature much more valuable.  I can see the need to create custom content for most of our customer deploys.

For more information on this topic, please see the other posts we’ve made about Learning Path:

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

Dynamics 365 - Learning Path Authoring Sidebars

In a previous blog (Learning Path Authoring Basics), we introduced Learning Path Authoring and the Content Library.  As stated previously, Sidebars slide out from the right side of the application, and provide more information for users to quickly and easily get access to additional content.

Sidebars can include links, videos and other content to help users become familiar with a specific page or form that’s displayed.

There are two main steps for creating a Sidebar:

  1. Set the sidebar properties and assign security roles (that the sidebar should be displayed for).
  2. Add content to the sidebar.

Set the Sidebar Properties

You first need to go to the page in Dynamics 365 where you want your Sidebar to appear.  This is a small but very important step you must take BEFORE going to the content library to create your Sidebar.

For example, I wanted to create a Sidebar for Contacts.  To do this, I navigated in Dynamics 365 to the Contacts main grid and went to Settings –> Training –> Content Library (or display the Sidebar and click on the Content Library icon from the Sidebar that pops out).

After the Content Library loads, click on image_thumb80 to open the dialog to start entering in your Sidebar details

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The following pieces of information should be collected as you start creating your Sidebar:

  • Disable:  If checked, this Sidebar will not appear to users.
  • Make this an error sidebar:   If checked, this Sidebar will only appear to users if there is an error with other Sidebars associated with the page from being loaded (e.g., lack of security permissions for the logged in user).
  • Make this home sidebar:  Home Sidebars are shown when a user clicks the home button, or if the page the user is on does not have a Sidebar associated to it and the user clicks the Help question mark icon.  Each page can only have a single Home Sidebar.
  • Name:  This is the name for the Sidebar.
  • ClientWeb client, Mobile apps, or Interactive Service Hub are options you’ll see based on whether you’re connected to the mobile app interface or Interactive Service Hub when you’re creating the Sidebar.  Remember, it mattered where you came from before you clicked Content Library and image_thumb97 as that’s where the task will appear.
  • Form factor:  This depends on the Client you selected.  Web will allow you to select Desktop or Tablet.  Mobile apps will let you select Tablet.  And Interactive Service Hub will let you select Desktop.
  • Sidebar opens when:  Select whether you want the Sidebar to appear when a Link is Clicked on a page (including buttons), when the Page Loads, or Help Button is Clicked.
  • Lifecycle stage:  This is an internal use only setting and can be ignored.
  • Dynamics 365 security role:  Select the security role(s) that you want the Sidebar to be displayed for.  If a user is assigned more than one security role, the Sidebar will appear only for the role with the highest precedence (as described in our previous blog Learning Path Authoring Basics).
  • Template:  Sidebars can be in a Single Column or Two Column format.
  • Status:  The status which remains at Draft until you publish the Sidebar.
  • Advanced Options:  Note: These only appear after you save the Sidebar:
    • Disable Sidebar Header:  Disables the sidebar header.
    • Disable Sidebar Title:  Disables the sidebar title.
    • Disable Sidebar Footer:  Disables the sidebar footer.
    • Supported Languages:  Languages that this Sidebar supports, as well as used for import and export.
    • Author:  The creator/author of the Sidebar.
    • Tags:  Tags can be added to assist with searching for content in the Content Library as well as categorizing your content.
    • App Version:  The Dynamics 365 application version associated with the content.
    • Control Version:  Sets the version of the content.
    • Authoring Repository:  The Authoring Group (organization) for the content.
    • Publishing Environments:  The publishing group(s) (organizations) for the content.

When you’ve completed defining the how the Sidebar is triggered and details of the Sidebar, click on Save to move onto the content editor.

Add Sidebar Content

After clicking Save on the initial Sidebar properties page, you’re presented with a blank slate to start adding content to your Sidebar.

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In the top box, you can enter a title for your Sidebar that will appear for all users.  By default, you can see 4 sections added automatically, but you can add additional sections via the Add Section button, or you can remove sections by clicking the section header, and then clicking the trash can icon that flies out to the left.

You can have at most 12 sections in a Sidebar, and each section can have different content types (videos, text, external links, buttons, links to Guided Tasks, links to Sidebars, or links to pages in CRM) to help your users become familiar with the specific page or form that’s displayed.   Note that the Button content types give you the same 4 options as the List of Links content type, but by using buttons instead of hyperlinks (Guided Task, Sidebar, Page in the app, or External Webpage).

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Just like with Guided Tasks, you can click on Preview to preview what your Sidebar will look like before checking it in and publishing it.

Here’s a Sidebar that I created around Contacts and how it looks in the designer.

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When you’re done creating your Sidebar, click on the Save icon at the very top left of the Sidebar in the designer.  Then navigate back to the Content Library, and select Manage –> Check in to make your Sidebar visible to all Learning Path Authors, and then click on Publish –> Publish so that the Sidebar changes can be visible to end users.  You can check in and publish multiple pieces of content at once from the Content Library.

After checking in and publishing the Contact Sidebar, it looks like the following when a user navigates to the page you set it up for (remember when I mentioned the page you navigated to the content library is important).  In this case, that’s the Contact main list view. 

Note that the Sidebar comes with a search bar that allows users to search for additional help and training.  This searches across Learning Path Content you’ve created, as well as external content outside of your organization that is publicly available.

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Considerations

With this great feature allowing users to add customized help throughout the application, there are still some limitations / considerations to be aware of.

  • Learning Path is not supported in the native Dynamics 365 mobile app for phones.
  • When designing a Sidebar for the Web Client, the Tablet form factor refers to running the Sidebar in a web browser on the tablet (not the native tablet mobile app).
  • Sidebars can have at most 12 sections.

Final Thoughts

Learning Path has great potential, and the addition of the ability to create your own content makes this feature much more valuable.  I can see the need to create custom content for most of our customer deploys.

For more information on this topic, please see the other posts we’ve made about Learning Path:

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

Dynamics 365 - Learning Path Authoring Basics

With the release of Dynamics 365, Microsoft has added new authoring capabilities to the previously released Learning Path feature.  Additionally, head over to the CRM Roadmap site, or the CRM What’s New site to see more of the features that have recently gone live.

Learning Path, initially released in the Dynamics CRM 2016 Spring release, was a tool to provide rich contextual based training (walkthroughs, videos, and articles) directly inside of the application.  This was intended to allow new users of CRM (or users of a trial org) to get used to the application quickly.

One thing that was missing from that release, was the ability for organizations to author their own custom content.  That gap has now been filled with the December 2016 release of Dynamics 365, and we’ll discuss the authoring process in more detail below.  Please note, that with the initial release of Dynamics 365, this functionality is in it’s initial release, and you may run across some small hiccups along the way.  I anticipate this functionality to only improve with future releases.

Note, that Learning Path (including Authoring) is currently only available for Dynamics 365 Online.

 

Enable Learning Path Authoring

First off, you need to enable Learning Path Authoring in your organization.  To do this, navigate to Settings –> Administration –> System Settings.  Under the General tab, there’s a Set custom Help URL section where you can Enable Learning Path and Enable Learning Path Authoring.

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You can enable Learning Path or customizable Help, but you’re can’t enable both at the same time.  Therefore, Use custom Help for customizable entities and Append parameters to URL must be set to No.

If you navigate to the Learning Path Content Library (Training –> Learning Path –> Content Library), you may get a message about not being in the O365 Learning Patch Authors security group.  If so, you must open the O365 Admin Center, click on Groups on the left, and select the Learning Path Authors group.  Click Edit in the Members area, and add the user that you’d want to be a Learning Path Author.

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In addition to being in the Learning Path Authors O365 group, users will need to have a permission enabled on their Dynamics 365 Security Role.  They’ll need to have the Learning Path Authoring permission at the bottom of the Customizations tab.

You can navigate to the Content Library via the Site Map as instructed above (under the Training area), or you can get to it via any sidebar by clicking the Content Library Button.  You can open the sidebar by clicking the ? in the top right corner to the right of the Settings gear icon.

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Content Library

Once learning path is enabled, you can navigate to Training –> Learning Path –> Content Library to see all the Guided Tasks and Sidebars created for your organization.  There are two types of Learning Path Content:  Guided Tasks and Sidebars.

  • Guided Task:  These bubbles walk users through elements of the application in a step by step fashion. They can be kicked off from a sidebar, navigating to a page, or clicking a link on a page.
  • Sidebar:  These are help instructions that fly in from the right side of the application.  These are displayed when the user clicks the Sidebar button or if there’s an error displaying the intended Sidebar.

From the Content Library, you can create a new Guided Task or a new Sidebar (we’ll go into more detailed explanation of creating a Guided Task and a Sidebar in a subsequent blog), but we’ll give a high-level introduction to the content library, and managing content in this post.

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Clicking on the content name opens the content to be edited.  You can also take specific actions on content from here via the Manage menu, specifically:

  • Check in:  New content appears with a red lock next the name which indicates it’s checked out and not visible to anyone else.  You must check in content before publishing.
  • Delete:  Deletes the selected content.
  • Export:  Exports the selected content to a ZIP file so that it can be imported in another environment.
  • Import:  Imports previously exported content into this environment.

Content can be localized into the language the users have selected in their Dynamics 365 personal options.  This can be done by clicking the Localize button, and then either Export or Import.

Publishing

Before you can publish new content, you must first check it in.  After you check in your content, you use publishing environments to publish the content for the end user to use.

Publishing Environments are a collection of Dynamics 365 Organizations that you want to group together for use when publishing Learning Path content.  The organizations that are visible are those that are all visible in your O365 account.

To view and configure your Publishing Environments, navigate to the Content Library, then Configuration, and finally on Publishing Configuration.  From here you can view, edit, create, and delete Publishing Environments.  By default, a single Publishing Environment is created with the Unique Name of your organization.

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After setting up your Publishing Environments, when you’re in the Content Library, you can click on Publish to publish content which makes the modifications made to content visible to end users.  When publishing, you can select one or many Publishing Environments to publish to.

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A good best practice for publishing would be to create your content in a Sandbox first, and then you can publish to Dev/Test/UAT to test the content, and when it looks good, finally publish it to Production.

Security Roles

Learning Path Content is associated with Security Roles.  If users are associated to multiple security roles, they’ll see the Learning Path Content associated with all security roles.  If different content is created for different roles on the same Dynamics 365 page or screen, users will see the content associated with the role with the higher precedence. 

Navigate to the Content Library, click on Configuration, and you’ll see the roles and their precedence order.  From here you can click on Sync Roles to synchronize the Dynamics 365 Roles with Learning Path.  You can also click on the arrows to move the roles up or down in precedence, as well as click the trash can icon to remove the role from Learning Path (note that this doesn’t delete the role from Dynamics 365, but simply from the Learning Path designer to define how content is displayed to users).

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Additional Resources

The following additional resources are available to learn more about Learning Path Authoring.

Final Thoughts

Learning Path has great potential, and the addition of the ability to create your own content makes this feature much more valuable.  I can see the need to create custom content for most of our customer deploys.

For more information on this topic, please see the other posts we’ve made about Learning Path:

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

Dynamics 365 – Email Engagement

Continuing with our posts regarding the release of Dynamics 365, next up is the new Email Engagement functionality Microsoft has added to the core product.  Additionally, head over to the CRM Roadmap site, or the CRM What’s New site to see more of the features that have recently gone live. 

Email Engagement is the ability to see tracking statistics about emails that are created in, and sent out of Dynamics 365.   Or in other words, Email Engagement enables monitoring of activity taken by the recipient of the email.  Specifically you can monitor when the recipient:

  • Opened the message
  • Clicked on a link
  • Opened an attachment
  • Replied to the email

You also have the ability to schedule when the email should be sent based on when you think the most effective delivery time is for your message.  You can also set alerts to remind you when you should follow up on the email.  You can view additional information on Email Engagement from Microsoft via this link.

We’ll go into more detail in using Email Engagement below, but first lets discuss how to get it enabled.

Enable Email Engagement

In order to enable Email Engagement for Dynamics 365, you need to accept the Preview Terms and Conditions.  To do this, navigate to Settings –> Administration –> System Settings.  Then click on the Previews tab, and make sure you’ve checked off that you agree to the license terms, and enable Email Engagement.

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On top of enabling the preview feature, you’ll also need to enable Server Side Sync for SharePoint and Exchange in Dynamics 365, and enable OneDrive for Business in Dynamics 365.

You’ll also have to enable document management for the Email entity, which can by done by going to Settings –> Document Management –> Document Management Settings.  Check the Email checkbox and you should be good to go here.

Finally,  you need to accept the Email Engagement terms and conditions in Dynamics 365 and set some other options (cards etc.).  This can be completed by going to Settings –> Relationship Insights.  With the initial screen, you’ll have to click on the “I have read and accept these terms and conditions” checkbox and click on Continue.  Then click on the Email Engagement tab, and click on the checkbox by “By enabling this feature, you consent to share your data…” and click on “Begin Setup.”

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The setup process will then begin and could take some time, but once it completes, you’ll have to click on another checkbox next to “Turn on email engagement for your organization” and click on Save.  You should now be good to go to use Email Engagement!

 

Using Email Engagement

Note that Email Engagement only works for emails that are sent out of Dynamics 365 (versus emails sent from Outlook / Exchange that are tracked in CRM).

The first thing you’ll need to do is simply create a CRM email as you would normally.  However, now when you do so, you’ll see additional content on the email message in an Email Engagement section.

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When new emails are created, they’re automatically followed.  You can click on the DON’T FOLLOW link to not follow this particular email.  However, there is a “Follow Email” field on the Contact that you can update to “Do Not Allow” and when doing so, the next time you create an email in Dynamics 365, by default the email will be set to not be followed.

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You can click on View Preferences to see which recipients on the email have their setting set to Do Not Allow, and you can also attempt to retry following the email should the recipients’ preferences be updated.

Note:  That there seems to be a bug with this functionality currently at the time of this blog post.  When the email is initially created, it still shows that the “Recipient Activity will be followed” when the email form opens, regardless of the “Follow Email” preference on the contact record.  If you click on DON’T FOLLOW and then click on FOLLOW, that’s when you’ll see the indication above that one or more of the recipients prefer to not have their email activity followed.  A Microsoft Connect feedback item has been logged here.

From this area, you can also specify a time to actually send the email if you don’t want it to be sent immediately (based on research that you may have done that indicates best time to send specific communication).  Clicking the SEND LATER button will pop up a dialog that will allow you to pick a date and time for the email to be sent.

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If you click on SET REMINDER you’re able to set one of the following reminders:

  • If a reply isn’t sent
  • If the email isn’t opened
  • Remind you regardless of lack of recipient activity

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Both reminders and email scheduling must be done in the future, and the system will prevent you from setting them up for the past.  Once they’re setup, you’ll see the Email Engagement section change slightly which will allow you to modify the settings you setup, as well as remove them should you desire.

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When you’re in CRM and looking at the relationship assistant, you’ll see a card for the reminders you setup that executed.  In this example, since the email wasn’t opened by the date specified, a card shows up for me indicating as such.  I can open the recipient, open the email, snooze the reminder card for 12 hours, or dismiss the reminder card.   Out of the box, these appear to only display on the Dashboards, and not on the actual Contact record.

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Attachments

You have the ability to not only follow activity on a particular email (opens, clicks, replies), but you can also follow activity on attachment views.  Each time an attachment is opened is counted as an attachment view.

In order to follow attachment activity, you must first save your email (don’t send it).  Then click on the + sign in the Attachments sub grid.

Once you Browse to the file and click on Attach, you’ll see a new Follow button.  After you click on the Follow button (which will upload the attachment to OneDrive for Business which you configured earlier), you’ll have the option to stop following, or simply close out of the attachments dialog.  You can always get back to the dialog to follow, stop following, and remove the attachment by clicking the attachment hyperlink in the attachment sub grid on the email form should you decide to do so later.

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Recipient Activity

When you’re on an email that’s being followed, you’ll notice a new area Recipient Activity that shows a summary view of the number of opens, attachment views, link clicks, and replies.  Directly below the summary you can see each individual detailed activity which is rolling up to that summary.  Note:  I had to track the reply from the recipient for it to be counted as a reply (Dynamics didn’t automatically notice that there was a reply in Exchange and instead needed the reply in Dynamics to count).

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You’ll notice that the location of where the email was opened is also tracked.  In this case I just opened it from my laptop, but it would also show if I opened it from my phone as well.

Recipient activity is also visible on dashboards in the new Relationship Assistant area as a separate card.  This is also displayed on the new Dynamics 365 tablet and phone apps, you can see the same card displayed in the new Landing Page

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The Email Engagement functionality extends a little bit beyond the actual email that was sent.  If you used an Email Template, Dynamics 365 will track the opens and replies that were made to emails that used that template.  Dynamics 365 will also let you know if a particular template is recommended due to past performance.  Below you can see that Dynamics 365 is recommending the Contact Reconnect email template due to past recipient activity. 

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When a user goes to create a new email in the future, the recommended templates will be easily visible to select from via the green star indicator.

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

Dynamics 365 & Flow – 3 Simple Steps to Email Sentiment Tracking

If you’re not familiar with Microsoft Flow yet, it is definitely worth checking out.  It allows you to easily connect many different applications, one of which is Dynamics 365, to each other.  Earlier this year, the ability to connect to Microsoft’s Text Analysis API was added which takes in a string of text and returns a sentiment score from 0 to 1 with 0 being negative and 1 being positive.  This means we can painlessly connect Dynamics 365 to the Text Analysis API which I will walk through in this post in the form of Email sentiment tracking.

The first thing we need to do is create a custom decimal attribute on the Email entity to track sentiment.

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Once that attribute is created, navigate to Microsoft Flow and create a new blank Flow.  In the “search for more triggers” box, type “create a record” and choose the Dynamics 365 option.  You will need to authenticate to your Dynamics 365 environment and then select your Organization Name from the list.  Once that is done, select Email Messages from the Entity list as well.

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Next, click “+ New step” and select “Add an action” and in the “Search for more actions” box, type “sentiment” and select the “Cognitive Services Text Analytics” option.  You will then need to sign up for Cognitive Services and provide your API Key to Flow.  It is free to try for up to 5,000 API calls per month.

Once you provided your Cognitive Services details, put your mouse cursor in the “Text to analyze” box and a sidebar should show up with a list of options like so:

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Find “Description” in the list and select it.

Next, click “+ New step” and “Add an action” again.  Search for “update a record” and choose the Dynamics 365 option.  Again select your Organization and Email Messages.  Highlight the “Record identifier” box and choose Email Message from the sidebar list of options.

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Then click the “Show advanced options” at the bottom of the Update a record section.  This will expand the section with a big list of Email attributes.  You should be able to find the custom Sentiment attribute that we created in the beginning of this post. 

Highlight the Sentiment text box and select Score from the sidebar list of options.

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That’s it!  The Flow is complete so you can give it a name at the top of the page and then click “Create flow”.

In the list of Flows, make sure the toggle control is set to On.

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Now in your Dynamics 365 environment, create a new Email record and save it.

Back in Flow, click the circle icon with an ‘i’ in the middle.

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This will show a history of runs for the Flow.

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Once you see that your Flow was successfully ran, go back to your Email record in Dynamics 365 and you should see the Sentiment field populated.

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Now all emails created in Dynamics 365 will have a sentiment value populated.  You could even extend it further and add a native Rollup field to Contact to store the average Sentiment across all emails that were sent by the Contact.

There is a caveat that the Text Analysis API is only free for 5,000 calls per month.  Below is the pricing chart taken from the Cognitive Services pricing page:

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Topics: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Enabling Configurable Plugin Trace Levels

As we mentioned last spring, Dynamics 365 now supports tracing messages from plugins without requiring an error to be thrown.  However as plugins become more complex, we often find ourselves wishing for more granular control over the level of detail traced without requiring code recompilation.  With these requirements in mind, we will build an elegant solution that has minimal impact on performance.

First, we'll define an enum that introduces the different levels of tracing we want to support.

This should start to look familiar if you use log4net or similar logging frameworks.  The different levels (Debug, Info, Warn, Error, and Fatal) provide the granularity we are looking for when configuring how much detail we want in our Plugin Trace Logs.  The other two values (All and Off) provide a more explicit way of completely enabling or disabling tracing.

Next we’ll add an internal class to our plugin assembly to wrap all of our trace calls.

The main constructor starts by getting the ITracingService from the passed in IServiceProvider and storing it in a field for later use.  It then goes on to look for a shared variable on the IPluginExecutionContext which will define the minimum tracing level to trace.  If that shared variable doesn’t exist, it defaults to the minimum level passed in to the constructor.

Now we’ll add a method that will actually perform the tracing.

The Trace method takes a level, a format, and an array of arguments.  If the level is at or above the minimum, the format and arguments are combined and then passed to the previously saved _tracingService.  We prefix the message with the trace level, to provide extra detail.  This could be further enhanced to provide timestamps if you are investigating performance concerns.

Finally, we’ll add a few convenience properties and methods to our Tracer class just to make it easier to use.

The properties provide a quick way to check and see which trace levels are enabled.  For simple messages there isn’t a need to check these properties, but some more detailed traces have to build up a complex messages.  In these cases, it is worth it to check and see if the targeted level is enabled before building the message.  The methods here are simple shortcuts for Trace with the level specified as the method name.

Now we’re ready to write a plugin that takes advantage of our new class.

While this plugin’s logic is very contrived, it demonstrates how to use the Tracer class.  There are examples of tracing at different levels and checking which levels are enabled before composing a more complex message. 

We can register this plugin to run during the Create of a contact using the following configuration:

BusinessLogicPluginStep

If the plugin is left registered by itself, it will always be configured to run at the “Info” trace level (The simpler Tracer constructor it uses defaults to TraceLevel.Info for the defaultMinimumLevel).  If we want to change the level without making code changes, we’ll need to introduce another plugin.

The TraceConfigurationPlugin uses the Unsecure Configuration value to set the TracingLevel shared variable on the execution context.  As long as we register this plugin to run before any of our other plugins, it can specify the level the plugins following it should use.  We could even register multiple steps for the same message with different Execution Order values if we wanted to have different trace levels for different plugins.

Here is an example of how we could register this plugin to run before the BusinessLogicPlugin and set the trace level to “Debug”:

TraceConfigurerPluginStep

Now we can use the Tracer in all of our plugins and feel comfortable adjusting the trace level as more details are needed during troubleshooting.  No additional API calls are made to read the tracing configuration values, so this will have a minimal impact on performance.

To see how to enable tracing and where to read the logs, please reference our earlier blog post.

Topics: CRM Best Practices Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Dynamics 365 – Updates to Business Rules and Actions

Continuing with our posts regarding the recent release of Dynamics 365, next up are the changes Microsoft has added to Business Rules  Workflow Actions.  Additionally, head over to the CRM Roadmap site, or the CRM What’s New site to see more of the features that have recently gone live. 

Business Rules

Like Business Process Flows, Business Rule were introduced in CRM 2013, and have received some updates in the Dynamics 365 release.  First and foremost is the fact that Business Rules will utilize the new Visual Process Designer that was introduced with Dynamics 365.

For each component, as you’re building out the rule and adding in additional conditions and actions, you’ll see a text definition representation of your logic.  As your Business Rule is being built out, you can see the logic grow over time.

Also added with Dynamics 365, is a new “Show Recommendation” Action.  With this action, an icon will be added next to a field that will provide some information and show a message that the user can take action upon.  During definition of the Show Recommendation action, you provide the message to display along with the action that will occur if the user clicks on “Accept” on the recommendation. 

For example, if you have an Opportunity where the customer indicated the purchase timeframe is immediate, and their budget amount is > $50,000, then you may want to recommend having the salesperson update the Rating to Hot.

See below for how the Business Rules look in the new Visual Process Designer with the Recommendation action, and the text based representation of the rules.

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When on an Opportunity that meets the criteria of the Business Rule conditions, the recommendation will be displayed and if the user clicks on Apply, then the Action defined in the Show Recommendation component will be executed.  In this case, we are setting Rating to Hot.

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Additional Actions

Microsoft also added some new out of the box Actions that can be used in Processes (Workflows, Dialogs, and Actions). 

  • Add (Case) to Queue
  • Add user to Record Team
  • Apply Routing Rule (to Case)
  • Calculate Actual Value (of Opportunity)
  • Close Opportunity
  • Get Quote Products from Opportunity
  • Get Sales Order Products from Opportunity
  • Lock Invoice Pricing
  • Lock Sales Order Pricing
  • Qualify Lead
  • Remove User from Record Team
  • Resolve Incident
  • Resolve Quote
  • Revise Quote
  • Unlock Invoice Pricing
  • Unlock Sales Order Pricing

The following two Workflow Actions were existed before the release of Dynamics 365:

  • Set Process
  • Set Word Template

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While Microsoft hasn’t included workflows in the new Visual Process Designer (yet), these new actions will go a long way to allowing business analysts to extend the system without code.  The stage is also set for Microsoft to extend the functionality of the Visual Process Designer in an upcoming release to include the ability to more visually create and edit workflows.

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

New Dynamics 365 Apps for iOS and Android Authentication Issues

Today's blog post was written by Neil Erickson, Development Principal at Sonoma Partners.

Our team at Sonoma Partners have been using Microsoft’s mobile applications for a few years, including the native phone and tablet clients. Over this past weekend we received reports from a few users that they were now unable to sign in properly. After investigating, we determined that Microsoft recently updated their apps to reflect the most recent version, Dynamics 365. After these updates made their way to user’s phones, the follow error was shown.

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Looking closer, when the new apps try to authenticate the following error is logged on the ADFS server.

Microsoft.IdentityServer.RequestFailedException: MSIS9236: The OAuth authorization request contains invalid client or redirect URI. Failed to process the request. ---> Microsoft.IdentityServer.Web.Protocols.OAuth.Exceptions.OAuthInvalidClientRedirectUriException: MSIS9224: Received invalid OAuth authorization request. The received 'redirect_uri' parameter is not a valid registered redirect URI for the client identifier: 'ce9f9f18-dd0c-473e-b9b2-47812435e20d'. Received redirect_uri: 'ms-auth-dynamicsxrm://com.microsoft.dynamics.iphone.moca'.

This error tells us that the new version includes some RedirectUri's that were not present in previous versions, and are now required for proper authentication.

So, you will need to add these RedirectUri's to the ADFS client even if your Dynamics CRM / Dynamics 365 server version has not changed. This can be accomplished by removing the existing ADFS Client and adding it back with the cmdlet currently on this TechNet article.

Topics: Enterprise Mobility Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Dynamics 365 – Updates to Business Process Flows

Continuing with our posts regarding the recent release of Dynamics 365, next up are the changes Microsoft has added to Business Process Flows.  Additionally, head over to the CRM Roadmap site, or the CRM What’s New site to see more of the features that have recently gone live. 

Business Process Flows

Business Process Flows were first introduced to Dynamics CRM back in the CRM 2013 release, and enhanced in 2015 and 2016.  Continuing the trend, there have been enhancements in the Dynamics 365 release.

Security Updates

First off, one major change is that for every Business Process flow you have, you’ll see these show up in native Security Roles in a Business Process Flow tab.  From this tab you’re able to provide Create/Read/Write/Delete/Append/Append To permissions to your BPF.    This is because going forward, every business process you create and activate becomes a table in the database just like any other entity. Every instance of that process (applied to a record) is a row in the table.

For example, you may want certain users to only see the Lead to Opportunity Sales Process, but other users you want to be able to not only see the process, but also move between stages of the process (Write permissions).  You’ll need to provide Append permissions if you want a user to be able switch processes and Append the process to the record they’re on.   The security on the BPF tab does not drive the ability to update the fields in the stage – that’s driven through normal field level security and security role permissions that have existed pre-Dynamics 365.

Note:  Your process will not show up in this tab until you Activate the process.  If you Deactivate it after updating security roles, the process will remain in the available in this tab so you will NOT need to go back and update your security roles again.  It’ll only be removed from the security role tab once you delete the process.

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Additional Status Reasons

Business Process Flows that are active on record can now be abandoned.  This can be done via the Process dropdown, and business processes can be queried using Advanced Find (an entity will appear for each BPF you have) with status reasons of Active, Finished, and Aborted. Users can also mark a process as Finished if it’s in the last stage of the process.  Abandoned processes change the process color to gray while Finished processes remain green.  You can reactivate Abandoned and Finished processes.

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Your abandoned processes will still be viewable via the Switch Process dialog, if you click on the Archived Processes link. You can then select the abandoned/archived process to view it.

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Concurrent Processes

With Dynamics 365, you’re no longer confined to having a single Business Process flow active at a time for a record.  You can now have concurrent processes that run in parallel without conflict.  Different users or departments may be working multiple processes on the same record at the same time, and the state of the process is maintained. 

When you switch a process, you’ll be able to see what date/time each process  was started on for the record you’re on.

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          Workflows

          Business Process flows now include additional actions that can be taken versus simply updating fields (steps) within as stage.  Stages can now execute workflows with a trigger of Stage Entry, or Stage Exit (you may want some workflows to send notifications when users enter a stage, and others to send notifications upon users existing a stage).

          Here’s a screenshot of the workflow component on the new Visual Process Designer (described in more detail here).  Note that for the workflow to show up to be selected in your Business Process, it has to be set to run On Demand, has to be the same entity as the Business Process stage, and has to be activated.

          A great use case of using workflow is to have it at the completion of a Business Process (therefore Stage Exit of the final stage), that will then use the Perform Action workflow step, to Set Process.  You can then automatically kick off the next Business Process as the current Business Process ends.  For example you can have the completion of a specific Business Process on an Opportunity kick off a workflow that creates a Case, and activates a Business Process on that newly created Case.

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