This is my second blog relating to new features with the Spring Release of Dynamics 365 (July 2017).
Please note any pictures are taken from the Dynamics 365 Preview Executive Briefing which can be found at the following link (by CRM Innovation). All information contained in this blog is a summary of two presentations across the three days of the briefing – there is still a lot of unknowns at this point so please bear with me!
Accessing Dynamics 365 – the current Interfaces
Dynamics 365 as we currently know it – Microsoft allows us to access our Dynamics 365 data via the following (out of the box) methods:
- Web Client (Browser based – via Edge, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox)
- Outlook Client (Client based addin installed to Outlook – soon to be deprecated!)
- Mobile Client (Tablet and Phone)
- Interactive Service Hub (ISH)
- App for Outlook – New Cloud based addin for Email Tracking
Extending your implementation within the Microsoft Stack, Microsoft provides the following options:
- PowerBI – for powerful Reporting capabilities and new ways to visualise your Dynamics 365 Data
- PowerApps – Easily build and deploy, small cost – large scale no-code approach based Apps
- Dynamics 365 Portals – Formally ADX Portals
- Unified Service Desk – .Net windows application which can integrate a wide array of Applications for Customer Service Users in a Unified Interface.
When designing and building Dynamics 365 solutions for a customer, system customisers need to consider impact each customisation change will have on the various methods of interfacing with Dynamics 365. For example, one of the main considerations is designing forms where Mobile Form limitations exist.
When adding a new Field to a Tab on the Contact entity (for example) – whilst we do not need to worry about how many Fields or Tabs there are on the Form or where they are located when Users access D365 through the Web Client, we are however constrained to the number of Fields and Tabs that can be displayed on the Phone or Tablet apps:
- 5 Tabs OR
- 75 Fields and 10 Lists
Layouts are another issue – with the Web Client, you are allowed to define a Tab with 1-3 Sections with no clear Headings existing; whereas the Tabs on the Mobile device will only have a single Tab layout which stacks all sections (inside a Tab) on top of each other.
Web Client issues
Microsoft highlighted the top customer feedback from the CRM community regarding the current design and state of the Web Client as it exists today. This is a mismatch of the old style V5 (CRM 2011 forms) and the 2013+ forms. The feedback is as follows:
- Too much White space on the forms
- No text wrapping – so it was often hard to read the full label or field value
- Header Text is cut in both directions
- Non-intuitive input controls/tabs – the social pane tabs where hard to identify
- Missing a Tab/Visual Hierarchy (unlike the 2011 Tab tree hierarchy)
- Inconsistent spacing between Columns and Column Spacing – Tabs or sections where all different spacing which created an ugly look to them.
The Accessibility vision
The Spring Release Briefing contained a quote from Satya Nadella (from the Microsoft Shareholders Meeting 2017) stating:
We will focus on designing and building products that our customers love and that are accessible to everyone and built for each of us
The Microsoft Dynamics 365 product team has taken this vision and created the Unified Interface which essentially is a Common UI across platforms and devices.
Accessible Unified interface
Microsoft have developed the Unified Interface which essentially will be the same architecture under the hood for the following interface and will provide the same experience, with Mobile Offline and faster synchronization when initially connecting to Dynamics 365:
- Tablet/Phone Client
- Mobile Web Client
- App for Outlook
The Unified Interface provides a Responsive UI – which can re-scale/resize automatically adapting to device screens across the different form factors.
It will deliver common functionality between platforms – for example Controls, styles themes. System designers will only need to customise once, and deploy on all devices.
Web Client Refresh
The Web Client has also had an overhaul which provides a cleaner look and feel to the current layout.
Microsoft have provided the following changes with this refresh:
- Uniformity – with font standardization across all areas of the form (no more Times New Roman popping up everywhere!) for consistency
- Reduction in white space across the form – in-conjunction with Borders
- Allowed for text wrapping – especially with long Field/Section labels or values (can be turned off at system level.
- Implemented the ability for themes (i.e.Headers or Section Headers) and theme the Sub-grid Headers with different colour based on the record type.
- Empty States in empty containers (like in the Social Pane below)
To truly appreciate the new look and feel of the forms – I highly recommend you register and watch the Preview videos (link at top of page); they say “a picture speaks a thousand words” – a video showing a responsive UI is a completely different story.
There is still a lot of information we are missing and do not yet know about the new Unified Interface, this blog was written using only the preview demo and slides we have seen. So please, watch this space over the next few months as more details arise regarding this new UI/functionality.
Thanks for reading!