Initially announced in July 2017, v9 of Microsoft Dynamics 365 has been described as the biggest update in the product's history. Last month Dynamics 365 (online) Version 9.0 was released to trial or purchase and it featured a whole raft of updates.
These changes include user experience improvements to enhance web app usability, app platform enhancements, improvements to security and updates to in-app Designer tools. There is also a new Unified Interface for phones, tablets,
Take a deep breath as we plunge in and guide you through all the significant updates…
UX enhancements and interface refresh
One of the first things you’ll notice in this release is that it looks and feels different, thanks to a user interface refresh applicable to all Enterprise edition web apps (Customer Service, Field Service, Sales and Project Service Automation).
Some notable tweaks include:
Removal of white space on dashboards and forms. This means defined borders around content containers, messages and icons inside empty containers and more consistent spacing between sections.
A new clipboard-style structure for content on all pages, with customisable page and panel headers.
Standardised fonts for a more uniform look.
More intuitive responses on buttons, tabs, input fields etc.
Customer feature requests
Some updates and improvements have been introduced in direct response to user requests.
- The ability to build a NOT IN query into Advanced Find. This allows users to find record types that do not contain specified data or cases without a related task, for example.
- Long text labels and values can be wrapped in forms.
- The colour of sub-grid headers can be customised at form level.
- Three new standard themes have been added: CRM Default Theme, CRM Orange Theme and CRM Blue Theme. Themes can be easily customised using an auto-populate feature.
Unified Interface framework
Version 9 introduces a Unified Interface framework for all new apps. This is designed to provide a consistent experience for all new apps and includes responsive web design to resize and reshape apps for use on a variety of devices, from desktop to smartphones.
It also allows screen readers to skip directly to content and sections.Those using browser plug-ins can also jump to page sections and keyboard users can designate and use shortcuts.
New LinkedIn Connector solution
This new connector solution, with the less than snappy full title of Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) Connector for LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms, lets you leverage LinkedIn lead generation ad campaigns by syncing the leads you generate with Dynamics 365 for Sales.
It features support for multiple accounts, allowing you to bring in leads from different employees’ LinkedIn campaigns, customise lead-matching strategies and analyse lead performance from LinkedIn against those from other sources.
To use this solution you will need the LinkedIn Campaign Manager (from your LinkedIn subscription) and to run native ads using LinkedIn’s Lead Gen Forms.
Dynamics 365 Mobile app
The new Dynamics 365 mobile app uses the new Unified Interface (see above), which already incorporates responsive design. It has a new navigation system that allows you to quickly access pinned favourites and recently viewed items, as well as quickly jumping to different areas such as Sales or Marketing.
You can use it to execute an action on a record, or multiple records, without opening them. You can also enable iFrames and web resources that are available in a Dynamics 365 (online) web app for use in the phone app.
Extensibility and app platform
There are numerous updates and additions in the areas of extensibility – implementation that takes future growth into consideration - and app design. The My Apps landing page features an updated user interface that now has filter and app search functionality. Other updates include:
- App Designer features
There are a number of new App Designer features. Designers can choose to use existing solutions and sitemaps for their apps and decide whether to use the web client type or Unified Interface. The Unified Interface framework can provide support for interactive dashboards and you can easily find components using ‘Search Canvas’.
You can enable your app for offline mobile support and add a custom welcome page from a web resource if required. This will then be the first page to load when the app starts.
- Site Map Designer and View Designer
- Site Map Designer has the following new features:
- Cut, copy and paste components
- Set an interactive dashboard as default in the site map for apps
- Security privilege support in app sub-areas
- Inline editing of site map components
View Designer brings the following new features:
- Drag and drop to arrange and add fields
- Search fields capability
- Side-by-side column and filter configuration
- Inline editing of site map component
- Sample grid data for close to runtime snapshot of the view
- Virtual entities for external data
You can use custom virtual entities to interact with data sourced from external systems. This can provide a number of benefits, including:
- Developers can access external data with the Dynamics 365 SDK and Dynamics 365 (online) Plug-in Registration tool
- System customisers can create their own virtual entities and configure data source records without the need for coding
- End users can use the virtual entity’s records to fetch dashboards and reports and to view data in grids and fields
Microsoft Flow and Power BI
From v9, Microsoft Flows can now be run from Dynamics 365 (online), accessing all that cloud-based service’s workflows and automation features.
Power BI dashboards and tiles can also now be embedded in Dynamics 365 (online) from group-based Power BI App Workspaces. Previously, these could only be embedded from My Workspace.
Business process flow
There have been a number of updates to business process flows, including:
You can use Process Actions as steps in a process. You can create Process Actions such as creating a task or sending an email, and define the criteria needed to trigger it.
Business process entities can be viewed on the site map. These entities can now be included in views, charts, and dashboards, allowing users to work with process rather than data first.
The Interactive Experience Dashboard can now be used to display processes as streams and queues.
Charts can be viewed from multiple angles, including process funnel, process count by time, process county by status and process velocity – how many processes are closed each month.
Multi-select options can now be added to forms (including quick view and quick create forms), editable and read-only grids. The end user will be able to select one, multiple or all selections.
Web resource localisation
The localisation of resource strings has also been simplified, to allow apps and solutions to be made available in multiple languages more easily. Support has been newly added for an XML-based resource type called RESX. This is supported in Visual Studio and is used with key + value translation pairs.
Unified Service Desk
JAWS (Job Access With Speech) version 18 can now be used for speech output in the Windows screen reader app. Reporting settings for the error diagnostics have also been relocated to the Audit & Diagnostics Settings section. These were previously located under Options in the Unified Service Desk.
Customer Service Hub
Previously known as the Interactive Service Hub, the new Customer Service Hub has been remade as a standalone app in the Unified Interface. This allows you to view all your customer service data in one place and the hub incorporates:
Improved business process flows that can be displayed in either floating or docked mode.
Timeline enhancements allowing service reps to easily view customer interactions and manage notes and posts directly on the timeline. The timeline contains various filters and an activity feed
Quick Create forms brought in with customisation capabilities for Task, Phone Call, and Appointment
Knowledge Management is also now based in the new Unified Interface and included in the Customer Service Hub. Some updates to Knowledge Management include new options for content creation in the rich-text editor, improved support for HTML source editing and improved search functionality for knowledge articles.
Updated Outlook app
A new version of the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook is available for preview in v9. Again, this app is built on the Unified Interface framework and brings in some new and improved capabilities.
Users can now view list items for any grid or view accessible via the app, use the Dynamics 365 (online) sitemap to quickly access recently viewed records and favourites. You can use the detailed record view to navigate to and edit records in-app and you can also use the global search UI to search and access Dynamics 365 (online) records.