Out of the box, Dynamics 365 has many great out-of-the-box entities such as accounts, contacts, leads, and opportunities. However, it is often the case, that the out of the box entities may not be the right fit or the only fit for every business. Businesses often have their own special requirements, and when these requirements do not fit the D365 mold, we look to custom entities to accomplish the desired result. Through the configuration of custom entities, D365 can be tailor fit to meet any business’ unique needs. That means custom forms, fields, business process flows, views, charts, and dashboards, all based on your specific requirements.
D365 out-of-the-box is like a good suit, you purchase it because you like the suit, but know that to get the “right fit,” your next stop will be your tailor. Custom entities are your D365 tailor. With custom entities you can construct entities based on your organizational needs. These custom entities can drastically elevate your D365 experience. By creating custom entities you’ll have a unique, one of a kind system, unlike anything on the market. This could be as simple as an entity to capture employee data in your organization, to a collection of custom entities working together to bring you a whole new experience.
The following is an example of some custom entities built to manage human resource activities. The below demonstrates a custom navigation tile built to clearly distinguish the custom entities which have been built to fall within the Human Resources component of the system, thereby easily distinguishing it from the out-of-the-box areas of the environment.
The Candidate entity in the collection had fields created and a custom business process flow built to manage the hiring process. This entity had relationships built which further tie it to the other custom entities which fall within the human resources collection. Being this is all custom built, the skies the limit. If you can imagine it, you can make it a reality.
One of the most common tasks for users in Dynamics 365 is entering data. Often users are required to enter data while on the call with a potential client or customer. Opening a new form and having to switch back and forth between screens can eat up valuable time for you and your client. It can also cause the user to lose focus and forget important information. Quick create forms give users a way to capture key information quicker and with less distractions.
To deploy quick create forms for your D365 environment, simply follow the steps below and you will be on your way to creating a more efficient data entry screen in no time.
Firstly, to use quick create forms you must enable it on the entity level. To do so, go to Settings > Customizations > Customize the System.
In the customization window navigate to the entity you wish to create the quick create form for and confirm that the ‘Allow quick create’ box is checked, otherwise select it to enable this feature.
Now that this has been enabled, go to the entity’s form section > click new > pick quick create form. This will open the quick create form editor.
From here simply drag the fields you wish to use from the field explorer list on the right onto the central panel. Keep in mind the quick create form is intended to be an abbreviated version of the main form, so only add the key fields you need to capture.
Once this is done hit Save, then Publish.
To test out your new form, simply go back to the main page and refresh your browser. Look for the new icon in the navigation bar and find your form in the list.
Below is a sample of how a quick create form looks like when implemented.
Creating views and charts are a meaningful way to analyze and visualize your data, but they often live in multiple entities in Dynamics 365, and truth be told, you probably overlook or do not use them to their fullest potential. Custom dashboards in D365 give you the ability to pull together a variety of views and charts into one place, providing you a single stopping point to easily view metrics which span multiple entities.
Dashboards can be made up of views, charts, web resources and iFrames, allowing you to build your own collection of business intelligence metrics.
There are two types of Dashboards which can be created, system dashboards and personal dashboards. System Dashboards are created by a System Administrator or System Customizer, and are available to everyone in the organization. Personal Dashboards are those that a User can create for themselves, and are only viewable by that User (or Users they “share” the Dashboard with), and what this blog will focus on.
Creating a Personal Dashboard
You can create a personal dashboard by going to the dashboard area of Dynamics 365, and selecting an existing Dashboard and performing a “Save As” or create a new one. You are presented with layout choices, select one and click Create.
Define a Name for your dashboard and then select any of the components to begin working within it. A blue outline will identify the current component that you are working within.
You can either click on one of the icons within the component to choose the type of data to display or you can use the navigation buttons at the top of the screen. When adding a chart, you will configure the view that you wish to have represent your chosen chart.
Once you have chosen the data you want represented, you can rearrange the components and resize them, allowing the display to be visually pleasing to you.
To rearrange the components, click the component header and drag it to an empty area on the dashboard or to the area of an existing component. When you drag a component over other components, a red line appears on top of the components to display where the component will be placed, moving the existing component down.
To change the height or width of a component, select the component, click the appropriate button in the navigation area or click on the ellipses for additional options. The height increases or decreases by three rows. The width increases or decreases by one column.
To remove a component, choose it and select Remove.
Once you are done configuring your dashboard, select Save and then Close. Your newly created dashboard will now appear in the drop-down of available dashboards.
Leave the spreadsheets to your data analysts, and appreciate the effectiveness that charts provide. Dynamics 365 comes with a handful of charts out-of-the-box which you can pair with corresponding views to surface data visually. Like most companies, you likely have unique measures which the standard charts do not account for. That is where the flexibility and ease of creating your own charts in D365 shines. Dynamics 365 provides a variety of chart types allowing you to create column, bar, pie, funnel, and many more chart types, to fulfill your business needs.
Charts interact with the view which is chosen, and the data reflected in the chart is refreshed when you toggle between views. So, if viewing My Opportunities, the chart will depict that information, if you switch the view to All Opportunities, the Chart will change to reflect the data of the newly selected View. Similarly, you can switch Charts to display the View data in another way.
There are two types of Charts which can be created, system charts and personal charts. System Charts are created by a System Administrator or System Customizer, and are available to everyone in the organization. Personal Charts are those that a User can create for themselves, and are only viewable by that User (or Users they “share” the chart with), and what this blog will focus on.
Creating a Personal Chart
To create a chart, navigate to the entity (Accounts, Contacts, Leads, Opportunities…) for which you want to create a chart and choose the view which best demonstrates the data you want to visualize. Click the charts pane to expand this section.
You can either create a chart based on an existing one by clicking on the disk and performing a “Save As” or you can create a new one by clicking the plus symbol.
Specify what you want to display in the chart. Indicate the field and aggregate option for which you want displayed for the Series axis. Then select a field for your Category axis. You can create a chart with either multiple series or multiple categories, but not multiples of both.
Click on the chart icon to select the type of chart you want to create.
If you want to apply any specific filters, you can utilize Top and Bottom Rules. This allows you to only show the top or bottom values for your query. For example, display the top 3 Accounts by Estimated Revenue.
The chart is automatically named based on the fields you chose for the series, category axes, and top/bottom filter, but you can re-name the chart to a value of your choosing. Save when done. Click the “x” to return to the chart selector.
Your personal chart(s) will be displayed at the bottom of the chart selector.
The records you store in Dynamics 365 typically share some association with other records of the same type. Whether it be leads owned by a specific user, accounts of the same relationship type, contacts located in a specific city, opportunities created in last “X” days. The list is endless and limitless. With a little planning, you can create Views which automatically filter records for you based on the criteria you set.
So, what are Views in D365?
Views display all the records of a specific entity type in your D365 environment. Out-of-the-box you are provided with a variety views, but you can add to these, creating custom views which are significant to you. Clicking the drop-down arrow next to a view name reveals all the views you have at your disposal.
There are two types of Views which can be created, system views and personal views. System Views are created by a System Administrator or System Customizer, and are available to everyone in the organization. Personal Views are those that a User can create for themselves, and are only viewable by that User (or Users they “share” the view with), and what this blog will focus on.
Creating a Personal View
The creation of a personal view affords you the ability to configure the following attributes:
- The filters which need to be applied, thereby restricting the records that appear
- The columns you want displayed and their width
- The sort order of the listed records
You can create personal views by saving a query that you define by using Advanced Find or by using the Save Filters as New Views and Save Filters to Current View options in the list of views. These options and saved Personal Views are included at the bottom of system views in the application.
To create a personal view, either choose Create Personal View at the bottom of the view list or select the Advanced Find icon in your navigation bar.
In either case the Advanced Find window will open, and you can begin a search on any record type. In the Look for dropdown, select the entity you want to perform the query on, and then you can either use an existing view and edit the conditions by performing a “Save As” or you can create a new view by selecting New.
Filter: In the select area, choose the fields you want to perform the search on, the query operator (equals, contains, begins with...), and the data value. Repeat these steps for each condition of your query.
All conditions are processed as an AND statement. In the graphic above based on how the data has been entered, the results will only display an Account that is in all three states and has open opportunities. This query will return zero results because an account cannot be located in 3 different states. To display results of Accounts that are in CA, TX, or NY you will need to process as an OR statement. Select the arrow next to each of the field names that you want to include as an OR statement, and choose Select Row. Then in the navigation bar, select Group OR.
Select Results in the ribbon to view the results.
Customizing Columns: From the query screen, select Edit Columns in the ribbon.
To add columns, select Add Columns, and make your selections. Then select OK.
To move the columns from left to right, select a column and use the arrows to move the column to the desired position.
To adjust the width of a column, you can either double click the column or select the column and choose Change Properties.
Configure Sorting: Select Configure Sorting to choose your sort column(s) and the sort direction, ascending or descending.
If you have added a column in error, or just decide you do not want the column in the view, select the column and choose Remove.
When you are done configuring the view, click OK. From the query screen, select Save or Save As in the ribbon and enter a Name/Description, then select Save.
After a quick refresh, when you navigate back to the entity you created the view for, you will find it at the bottom of the View list.
Quick View forms are a great way to view information from different entities while remaining on a single record. Quick view forms enable you to surface data from associated entities and display the data in read only mode on the form. This is done through linking the two different entitles together using a lookup field. Below you’ll learn how you can setup your own quick view form in just 3 easy steps.
1. Create a Lookup field
The first step in setting up a quick view form is to ensure you have a lookup field to the entity where the data is stored. If you do not already have a lookup field created, you will need to create one. To do so, go to Settings > Customizations on the navigation bar and select Customize the System.
Next navigate to the entity you wish to add the lookup field to, and thereby surface the Quick View form on. Click the Fields node, and create a new field.
Once you click new, the following pop up window will appear. Indicate a display name and change the data type to Lookup and select the entity you wish to associate to. Once that is done, click save and close.
2. Create a Quick View form
Next, we need to go to the entity the lookup was created for and create the quick view form. Navigate to the entity and go to the form section. Once there click the new button and pick Quick View Form.
This will open the quick form editor window. Here simply drag and drop the fields you wish to display to the form body on the left.
Once the desired fields have been added, click save and then publish.
3. Add the Lookup and Quick View form to a Form
Now that the lookup field and the quick view form have been created, it is now time to add them to a form where you want the associated data displayed. Go to the form you wish to display the quick view form on.
Open the form editor, drag the lookup field onto the form then switch to the insert tab. Here click Quick View form.
This will open the quick view control. From here, give your quick view form a name, select the lookup field you created earlier, pick the related entity, as well as the quick view form you created. Once done click OK.
This will create a field on the form. To apply these changes click Save and Publish on the Home tab.
Below is a preview of the result.
You can now brand your Dynamics 365 environment! Themes allow you to apply your distinct logo and color scheme to your Dynamics 365 environment. Three simple clicks and you are well on your way to a D365 environment with a look all your own.
1. From the Navigation Bar, select Settings
2. Select Customizations
3. Select Themes
Upon navigating to Themes, a few out of the box themes will be available to select and set as the default theme. The default themes cannot be modified, but can be cloned, should you want a head start on designing your theme. Otherwise, you can put your designing skills to the test and get theming.
Start by selecting an out of the box theme and cloning it, or create a new theme record.
Theme colors are defined using hexadecimal codes. You will need to either know the hexadecimal codes you want to use or find a good online resource, such as http://www.color-hex.com.
A fascinating feature is the ability to take a test drive of the User Interface with the newly defined color scheme before it gets released to your organization.
When you are ready to release the new theme, thereby making it the default, you can either select the theme from the Theme view and select Publish Theme, or do the same from within the theme record.
Wouldn’t it simplify things if you could go to one record and see everything you need to see? Ever find yourself heading into a meeting, and wish you could quickly “ramp up” on all interactions with the Customer? Getting the total picture in one place, enabling you to see every touchpoint, this is the benefit that sub-grids afford you.
One of the great things about Dynamics 365 is that it allows you to customize entity forms to display the information most relevant to your business. You will quickly find that providing your users with the ability to see, at a glance, a subset of related records when viewing a lead, contact or account record provides immeasurable value.
For example, your salespeople may benefit from seeing all tasks related to an account directly on the account record. Instead of having to navigate to a separate page or running an advanced find query, you can easily set this up by adding a task sub-grid to the account form.
To add a sub-grid to your account form, open the D365 form editor directly from the account record’s ribbon menu or by opening the general customizations menu, navigating to the account entity forms, and selecting the account main form.
Once you’re in the form editor, select the section that you want to add the sub-grid to, switch to the form editor’s Insert tab, and click the Sub-Grid button.
This will open the sub-grid properties window. The most important part of this window is the data source section, in which you select the records that are to be included in the sub-grid.
In the screenshot below I selected to populate the sub-grid with the account’s related task records, but you can choose any of the account’s related entities. In the data source section, you can also specify the default view that will be used to populate this sub-grid, while the additional options section lets you choose any additional views which will be available, as well as whether or a not a search bar will be included.
When you are satisfied with your settings, click the OK button to insert the sub-grid on your account form. Now, all you need to do is click the Save and Publish buttons in the form editor to confirm the changes to the form. Once this has been completed, you will see the sub-grid displayed on account records.
Ever have the problem of scrolling down a long list of options only to miss what you were looking for? What if there was a way to limit your option choices based on values previously selected? Well now there is!
Dependent options in Dynamics 356 gives users the ability to filter down a long list of option values to just a handful of choices based on previously selected parent fields. This feature dynamically updates the options users see based on pre-set business logic.
Take the following transpiration data model as an example.
Traditional Option Set
Traditional option sets simply display all the options for each field without any consideration for previously selected option values. This method is cumbersome when it comes to long lists and can feel very redundant when looking through lists where some of the options obviously shouldn’t be there based on previous values selected.
In the example below, you will notice that regardless of which Transport Class you pick, you will still be shown the entire list of Transport Type options.
Dependent Option Set
With dependent option sets, Dynamics 365 will automatically exclude options based on your previous selection. This makes selecting the right option much easier. As you can see below, once the user has selected the Transport Class as Public. The Transport Type option will automatically filter to only show options available based on the selected Transport Class.
As you can see, this feature is sure to provide many benefits to users working in Dynamics 365. Below are just some of the immediate benefits your users will experience.
- User Friendly: Less is more! Instead of bombarding users with tons of unusable choices, dependent option sets make finding the correct option easier.
- Time Saving: With less options to go though, users reduce time spent entering data, and get back to the things that really matter.
- Eliminate Errors: With logic built into the option set, prevent users from selecting the wrong option by accident. This over time will improve overall data quality and reporting efficacy.
Isn’t it maddening to fill out the same fields, with the same info, when creating a child record directly from its parent form? Well -- Stop Doing It! Let the system fill out those fields automatically for you, instead of eating up your own time on it!
One of the “quiet” features of Dynamics 365, that will significantly save you time and protect data integrity, is Field Mapping. The purpose of field mapping is to copy certain values (e.g. address fields) from a record to an associated record (e.g. a contact created from an account)
The following details how simple it is to create field mapping relationships.
In Customizations, locate the Account Entity, and go to the “1:N Relationships” node.
Locate the relationship which you want to carry values over (in this case, Account to Contact).
In the relationship editor window, click on Mappings.
Select the field to be mapped from the SOURCE entity, which is the entity you are starting from (Account). Then select the field for your TARGET entity, which is the destination entity (Contact), that you want auto completed. Click OK once you are satisfied with your mapping. Repeat this step for each field you want to create a mapped relationship for.
There are a couple things to be mindful of with field mapping: The Data Type must be the same for both the Source and Target fields (e.g. Option Set to Option Set, Whole Number to Whole Number) and the destination field length should not exceed the source field length. Also be aware that this is a mapping upon record creation, updating values in the source record will not update the target record and updating values in the target record will not update the source record. For example, updating an address in accounts will not update the address in contacts. There are other ways to achieve those requirements, but we will save that for another blog.