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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

          Dynamics 365 – Visual Process Designer

          Continuing with our posts regarding the recent release of Dynamics 365, next up is discussing the new Visual Process Designer.  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. 

          Visual Process Designer

          With Dynamics 365 for Sales, a new drag and drop WYSIWYG designer has been created for creation and management of business process flows, task flows, and business rules.  When you open up the process, you’ll see a designer such as the following.  As you start adding in your stages and steps, you’ll be able to set the properties for the different pieces along the way for the component you select in the visual designer.

          image

          In the designer, there’s a toolbar at the top that gives you the ability to take the following actions:

          • Add
          • Cut
          • Copy
          • Paste
          • Delete
          • Snapshot – This will create a picture of the rule that you can send over via email for a review process
          • Connector

          In the bottom left corner you’ll see a collapsible mini map that will allow you to quickly navigate around the designer for those large business processes, task flows and business rules.

          At the top of the designer you’ll notice a Validate button.  You can click on this button to have any errors in the process flow, task flow, or business rule clearly displayed.  It’ll highlight the component and property of the component that has the error allowing you to quickly resolve any issues.  One interesting note about validation in the designer is that when you click it, it’s always on.  So if you fix the error you’ll see the error change to “Validation successful” immediately.  You can toggle validation off if you don’t want to see that message every time you add a new component.

          image

          As I was using the designer, one thing I noticed was that if I made changes in the designer, I had to get used to clicking the Apply button in the bottom right corner of each component versus clicking the Save button at the top of the process.  If you don’t click Apply first, your changes to that component will not be saved and you could get validation errors or unexpected results in your process.  Therefore my recommendation would be to get used to always clicking Apply even if you aren’t sure if you updated a component.

          Pre-Dynamics 365 processes are able to use the new designer and the new features introduced in Dynamics 365.  In other words, this functionality is backwards compatible.

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

          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.

          image

          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.

          image

          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.

          image

          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.

          Keith 1a

          Keith 2a

          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.”

          Keith 3a

          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.

          Keith 4

          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.

          image_thumb92

          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.

          image_thumb96

          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.

          image

          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.

          image

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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 throw warnings during validation (as discussed above).  We'll review validation in more detail 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.

          image

          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 right 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.

          image

          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 solutions.

          image

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

          image

          image

          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).

          image

           

          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.

          image

          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.

          image

          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.

            image

          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 organization apps.  Additionally, you’ll see a light blue vertical bar to the left of the apps for the current org you're in.

          image

          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.

          image

           

          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.

          image

          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.

          image

          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.

          image

          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

          image

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

          image

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

          image

          • 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”

          image

          • 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.

          image

          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