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Dynamics 365 App Module

 

 

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

 

App Module

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

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

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

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

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

 

App Creation and Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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With Dashboards and Business Process Flows, you simply have the option to select which of those you want to include in your app.  Note, when you do this, if there are entities that are required for the dashboard or business process flow that you add, they’ll automatically be added to your app.  However they’ll be added but no sub components of them will be added (forms, views, or charts) which will 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.

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

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Validation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Using the App

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

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

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

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

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If you click on “My Apps” in the App Switcher, you’re able to see all apps, and also search for apps should you have a lot in your list.  You’ll also see in this list any other CRM organization you have access in your O365 deployment allowing you to quickly jump to those orgs from your current org.

In the main menu under “Home” you’ll see just the current Dynamics 365 organization apps.  Additionally, you’ll see a light blue vertical bar to the left of the apps for the current org you're in.

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

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Final Thoughts

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

Stay tuned for more new Dynamics 365 feature reviews.

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

Amazon Alexa and Dynamics CRM

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

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

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

Offload Processing with Azure Functions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The final Function should look like so:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

CRMUG Summit 2016 Recap

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

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

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All In for Summit!

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

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

Dynamics 365

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

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

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

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

Predict by Versium

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

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

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

Thanks Tampa – Hello Nashville!

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

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

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

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

Dynamics CRM Performance Considerations

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

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

Connections and Quick Find Views

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

To edit the quick find view >>  

Permissions and Business Units

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

View security roles and privileges>>

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Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Creating a PowerApps Mobile Application with Dynamics 365 in 1 Hour

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

Note: This article was updated on January 23, 2017 to reflect the latest update to the Dynamics 365 connector. Specifically with the lookup approach.

Note: This article was updated on December 14, 2016 to reflect the latest updates to Dynamics 365 and PowerApps.

I recently presented at the CRMUG Summit on how to use the new PowerApps Studio to quickly create mobile applications using the Dynamics 365 connector. As I prepped for this session, my colleague, Brad, and I discovered that native Dynamics 365 connector can quickly get you to a working functional application in minutes. However, since the connector is still in preview, some adjustments need to be made to use these applications in practice.

We are going to provide the steps we went through to create an application that will show active contacts in a list, allow you to drill into the contact record for additional details, and finally update the contact records. All of this will begin by using the default template provided by PowerApps through the Dynamics 365 connector. The application you will create is shown below:

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

Before You Begin

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

  • A PowerApps account using your organization email address
  • A valid Dynamics 365 (Online) instance which must reside in the same organization
  • Download the latest Windows PowerApps Studio application & PowerApps mobile clients for the mobile devices you wish to distribute

Contact App Demo Setup

  • Open the PowerApps Studio and create a new connection to Dynamics 365 
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  • Note that this will take you to the PowerApps web page where you can configure a connection 
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  • Back in the PowerApps Studio, create a new Phone Application using that connection and by selecting the contacts entity. Note, you can search to filter the table list.

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You will see the application is created and ready for use (in theory at least Smile). The newly created app has a live copy of your contact data and 3 screens (a list screen, contact detail screen, and an edit contact screen). Unfortunately, the default list, detail, and edit screens do not provide the fields or format we desire. To address this, we'll use the rest of this article to simply “clean up” our app. 

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Add Data Sources

Since we want to also display and edit company information in our application, we will also add the Accounts entity as a data source. This will be necessary as we demonstrate a work around for the lack of lookup support in the current Dynamics 365 connector.

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Important: The current Dynamics 365 connector does not support lookup or option set data types. This application will need to use a lookup field (Company), so we'll demonstrate how we worked around the lookup limitation.

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

Change Theme

For variety, let's change the overall app theme. You find the theme selection in the main Home tab. It will be the down arrow if your screen size of the application is small. Otherwise, it will be listed as "Theme" in the ribbon. Select the theme of your choice. We went with Light.

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Update Icon & App Name & Save Locally

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

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

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Browse Screen

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Remove all fields by selecting each control and clicking delete, except the entity image. We'll add back the ones we want to display. 
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  • Make the entity image smaller, so it takes up less room in the cell
  • Insert a Text box control to show contact full name
    Note: The Dynamics 365 connector doesn't return full name in the field list, so we'll need to manually concatenate it.
    • Text = ThisItem.firstname & " " & ThisItem.lastname
    • Vertical align to top of image 
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  • Copy and paste the previous Text box control to to show the contact's job title
    • Text = ThisItem.jobtitle
    • Change font Size to 16
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  • Repeat this process for the Parent Customer (company) field.
    • Text = LookUp(Accounts, Text(accountid)= ThisItem._parentcustomerid_value).name

Note that lookup fields display the id (GUID), not the label. We'll fix that by using the LookUp function. The LookUp function takes our newly added Accounts collection and matches the parentcustomerid with the accountid. We then use the result to return the name field from the account.

  • Tighten up row height by selecting the bottom of the first cell and dragging to the desired height
  • Change font size as desired by updating the Size property to whatever value you wish

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  • SAVE!

Detail Screen

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

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

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  • Select Company Name card and then select the Advanced Properties
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    • Unlock the card, so we can edit the individual properties image
    • Update Company Name to display name to LookUp(Accounts, Text(accountid) = ThisItem._parentcustomerid_value).name 
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    • Close the Advanced Properties dialog
  • Add EmailAddress1 and Telephone1 fields by simply enabling eyeball indicator from the Options tab.
  • Select the EmailAddress1 field and change the display to launch the native email client with the email address prepopulated. 
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  • Similarly update the telephone1 field to display as a phone number. This will launch the native phone client when the application is used. 
  • SAVE!

Account Lookup View

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

  • Click the New Screen button in the upper left of the designer
  • Name this new screen Account Lookup
    image
  • Click Layout in the right pane and select the 'Browse items, one line description' template
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  • Rename header textbox to "AccountLookupTitle"
  • Select the text label control and change the text to "Accounts"
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  • Update the Items property of the list by replacing the sample gallery text with the Accounts data source and change the search property
    • SortByColumns(Search(Filter(Accounts,statuscode=1), TextSearchBox2.Text, "name"), "name", If(SortDescending1, SortOrder.Descending, SortOrder.Ascending))
      image
  • Click the first cell in the list. Select the text box control and update the Text property to show the account name and change the font Size to 20.
    image
  • Rename the list to "AccountList"
  • Update the Arrow icon's OnSelect property to: 
    ClearCollect( SelectedAccount, { Account: AccountList.Selected } ); Back()

    • This clears previous values and creates (if not already created) an in-memory collection that we can reference from the other views, I haven't found another good way to have a 'global variable' in PowerApps
      image
  • Let's hide the new accounts button, as we don't want to create new accounts. For simplicity, we'll just hide the field, by setting the Visible property to false. You can do this from the Icon tab and unselecting the Visible button.
    image
  • SAVE!

Edit Screen

Finally, select the EditScreen1 page from the screen list. Using the native Dynamics 365 connector for PowerApps, automatically wires up the edit page. We don't want to interrupt this process, but we'll need to use a workaround for the lack of lookup support. For the other fields, it is as simple as adding the fields to the form.

  • Remove all fields except the Company fields and Last Name
    image
  • Add emailaddress1, firstname, jobtitle, telephone1 and order them as shown in the image below. 
    image

We will now show you our workaround for managing lookup fields. First, we relabel and hide the existing type and id fields. Then we'll create our own lookup field that will talk to the Account list we previously created and populate the fields we just hid, which will allow the native wiring to work as expected.

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

      • Insert a TextBox control to the card - Make sure you are focused in the Company Name card 
        • Rename the TextBox to "AccountName"
        • Update the BorderStyle property to Solid
        • Update the BorderThickness property to 2
        • Update the X property to 30
        • Update the Y property to AccountGuid.Y
        • Update the Width property to Parent.Width - 60  (to match the other input fields)
        • Update the Height property to 52
        • Update the Text property to LookUp( Accounts, Text(accountid) = Parent.Default ).name
          image
      • Insert a magnifying glass icon control to the card to have the input better resemble a lookup control
         image
        • Update the X property to Parent.Width - 82  (Note: 82 is the right padding of 30 between the textbox and the edge of the screen plus the width of the icon)
        • Update the Y property to AccountName.Y
        • Update the Height and Width properties of the icon to 52 
        • Update the four Padding properties to 5. This will shrink the icon a little and make it look better
        • Update the OnSelect property to Navigate('Account Lookup', ScreenTransition.None)
          image
    • Select the form and update the OnSuccess property to Clear( SelectedAccount );Back() 
      image
    • Select the Cancel button and update its OnSelect property to:
      Clear(SelectedAccount);ResetForm(EditForm1);Back() 

      image

That's it! Click the Play icon in the top right menu and test your application. If everything is working as it should, save to the cloud to test on your mobile phone and then share with your team.

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

Learning Path - Dynamics CRM 2016 Guided Help

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

What is it?

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

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

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

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

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Guided Tasks

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

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

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Enable or Disable Learning Path

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

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

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Limitations

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

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

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

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

If You’re Not Using Partial Solutions, You’re Part of the Problem

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

Although I’ve yet to fiddle around with patch solutions, I’ve been leveraging Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016’s solution segmentation for recent client work as more of our on-prem clients have been adopting the 2016 upgrade. There are definitely a plethora of solid blog posts out there describing solution segmentation at length, but I figured I’d add my experiences to the pool in case they differ from your own.

Ribbon Customizations

No matter if you're using Ribbon Workbench or kicking it old school with some direct ribbondiff xml edits, you can take advantage of solution segmentation. Prior to CRM 2016, you had to be extra careful to ensure that your future ribbon upload didn't end up wiping out someone's customization work, since there was no way to segment out just the ribbon from other entity metadata such as fields, views, forms, etc. With CRM 2016, you have the option to whittle down the entity metadata to essentially just the ribbondiff (there is a bit extra in there, but not much of significance). The key is to make sure that you uncheck both the ‘Add All Assets’ and ‘Include Entity Metadata’ checkboxes on the new ‘Add Subcomponents’ dialog that appears before the traditional ‘Add Required Components’ dialog.

Mdearing 1

If you inspect the resulting customization.xml within the solution zip, you’ll notice a much leaner version of the entity metadata.

Mdearing 2

Less Intrusive Deployments

As a side note, I very rarely deal with productized or ISV solution, so all of this information pertains to unmanaged solutions. It has always been good practice to stick with partial solutions for patches and updates to existing environments, while maintaining a core solution for new deployments. Now you can strip those partial solutions even further down to the individual customizations that you have made. How much you wish to refine your solutions is up to you, as there is always a balance between accidentally missing a customized component, especially in a situation where you have multiple system customizers working on the same solution, versus including all of an entity’s metadata. One thing to note though, is that while the new subcomponents dialog does add a lot more flexibility to which components to include, there is no way (as of the writing of this post) to remove the ribbondiff for an included entity. This is a pretty large oversight that I hope is addressed in a future release, but as of now you’ll need to ensure that you export the target environments ribbondiff first, and reimport applying the segmented solution, otherwise it will be overwritten.

Unfortunately every new feature is not without its quirks. There have been times when hand selecting customizations has timed out for more heavily customized entities, and the required components dialog seems to not always correctly add my dependencies. But all in all, this has been a great help in speeding up customization and deployments, in an area that has otherwise been neglected for quite some time.

Three Steps to CRM Success

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Updating Your Quote from Your Project Plan in PSA

Today's blog post was written by Trent Bell, Principal Consultant at Sonoma Partners.

In our previous blog post related to Microsoft's Project Service Automation, we touched on how the standard Opportunity, Quote and overall sales process capabilities have been extended by PSA to accommodate “service” organizations. In this post, we want to showcase a very useful function professional service organizations and the like might want to take advantage of if they use project plans to help estimate projects for prospects.

As eluded to above, the sales process may require some detailed estimating take place that may naturally come by way of a project plan. PSA has a very nice feature that allows for taking the detailed tasks from a Project (within PSA) and importing them back into an associated Quote Line as “Quote Line Details.” This can be a great time saver for those involved in the sales process.

From the Quote record, double-click on the Quote Line that is associated with the Project you have used to do your estimates. 

Trent psa 1

If you have not already associated your Project to your Quote, the “Project” field will be blank in your Quote Line. Double-clicking on this Quote Line will open the record and allow you to associate the Project as seen here.

Trent psa 2

Once you have your Project entered, click on the “Import from Project Estimation” button in the top menu.

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A dialog box will pop up providing you with some options for how you want the tasks from your project plan to map to your Quote Line Details.

Trent psa 4

These summarization options can be super helpful because they allow you to decouple the granular details of the project plan from what you want on your quote detail. In other words, you can take a very detailed project plan and roll up that detail to an appropriate summary level for your prospect.

Once your summarization options have been chosen, clicking “Next” will take the content of the project plan and produce Quote Line Detail records as appropriate (see screenshots below). Also, the “Quote Amount” automatically gets updated with the sum of these quote line details.

Project record:

Trent psa 5

Quote Line record:

Trent psa 6

As you might imagine, this can be a great time saver for those involved in the sales process. Just remember, in order for this to provide any value, a Project with a built-out work breakdown structure must exist…which we will cover in more detail in an upcoming PSA post. Stay tuned!

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Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Ins and Outs of App Deployment Using Microsoft Intune

Today’s blog post was written by Marty Diamond, Senior System Administrator at Sonoma Partners.

Here at Sonoma, we promote a highly mobile workforce. Like other businesses, this means distributing internal apps to phones and tablets not owned by the company. Many mobile device management solutions have risen to assist with this challenge. We’ve used a handful of these with varying degrees of success. Recently, we have been piloting Microsoft’s Intune system, a part of Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite. Intune is interesting as a significant portion of it is dedicated not just to device management and compliance but application management, which offers many benefits to us.

Before delving too far into it, I should say that while Intune is a very flexible platform for managing a fleet of mobile devices, Sonoma’s use case is almost entirely dedicated to application distribution and updating. We have few company-owned mobile devices that are used by our QA team, and thee have very few requirements placed on them. This makes Intune very appealing: we can use it to simplify management of our mobile applications and scale up if needed.

We began testing with a simple task: log into the management portal and add a device. Getting there is simple enough. Once you’ve started the trial and assigned a license, Intune becomes another administrative portal launched from your Office365 portal. You are greeted with a set of startup prompts to help you navigate the portal from creating a policy to setting up your “Company Portal” to get devices into management. Once this is complete, the dashboard begins to fill with data about any devices it is managing.

Marty post 1 v2

The first real step within Intune is to define a policy. This is where we ran into our first “gotcha.” While the wizard takes you through defining a policy and creating other policies, it does not mention anything about deploying those policies. Nor does it mention that, by default, the existing Default Security Policy is not deployed. Missing this deployment step freezes the whole process: no device can be added unless a default policy is deployed.

Marty post 2 v2

Once we got past that, we continued testing with device onboarding. This process is critical as the easier we can make it for our staff to access apps they need, the less IT overhead we need. This where Intune scores some more victories—as a part of Office365, it works with our existing SSO. We simply needed to grant users licenses. From there, they are free to download the Company Portal app and sign in. The device add process is similar to other MDM solutions. It will ask the user for permissions to perform the functions it needs (management certificates for iOS, device administrator for Android, etc).

Notice that the Company portal app allows for easy app discovery and management. As long as they meet deployment criteria, users can find easily find apps by category. They can also see what other devices they have enrolled and if those devices are compliant. Each licensed Intune user is entitled to up to 5 devices (admins can limit this further).

For us, the star of the show was in app deployment. The Apps section does exactly what we need it to: deploy apps and keep them updated on our schedule.  The first step is to add an app. Much like policies, the process here is to add it and then deploy it. 

Marty post 4 v2

The Add App function launches a ClickOnce application that allows you to upload an app directly to Intune, hosted an external link, or—for iOS only—managed from the App Store. This same application is used to manage existing deployments. From this ClickOnce application you can change what types of devices can run the app (in the case of iOS universal apps), rename the apps, and keep apps updated. This was critical for us. Once a user has downloaded an app from Intune, they will then always have the latest version of that app on their device. The same is true for any apps we require the install for. One note here is that apps deployed to device groups that are required installs can take several hours after being upload to be deployed. The same is true with app updates. This delay does not appear to exist for apps deployed to users that are requested through the company portal.

In a lot of respects, Intune has more in common with System Center than other established MDM products. For example, when you want to deploy an app to groups of devices, you only have the options to Install or Uninstall. You can only make an app available to people via the portal by deploying to a group of users. While not immediately clear, this methodology makes a lot of sense: you might have groups for tablets and phones but deploying a universal app to a user allows someone with an iPhone and an iPad to get the app as needed without the need for two separate deployments.

Some other notes to keep in mind when considering Intune:

  • Intune supports direct connections to Exchange and SCCM. While we don’t employ these at Sonoma, leveraging them can give you more centralized control over devices.
  • Intune is smart about app deployments. For example, f you deploy an APK file to the “All Mobile Devices” group and mark it a required install, it won’t try and deploy to iOS devices or Windows machines. Keep this in mind when deciding how best to deploy your various mobile applications.
  • In our testing, sign-ins timed out very frequently, even in the Company Portal app (though the login itself is cached). This is a nice security measure but may cause confusion and you will want to communicate that to your users. 

Learn how to use Voice of the Customer in this guide

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