xRM is back! – PowerApp, CDS, Dynamics 365

Yesterday Microsoft released information about the “PowerApps Spring Update” and gave us also the “Dynamics 365 Spring release notes”. In there you can read, that they merged features of Dynamics 365 with the Common Data Service. This “new product” is called Common Data Service for Apps.

BAP Overview

Attending the extreme365 I was lucky to have a little chat with Matt Barbour (Principle Program Manager) about this topic. Here are my key takeaways:

Common Data Service for Apps
One big thing is that Microsoft moved the hole Dynamics 365 CE 9.0 platform to azure, took the CRM platform, removed a lot of entities and more. This is what they call now “Common Data Service for Apps”. So if you buy now for instance the “Sales App” you are getting a managed solution on top of this Core called CDS.

The following picture shows these changes from v8 to v9:

21_03_2018 17_19 Office Lens 

It is already here!
Another takeaway from Matt: If you have a v9 CRM instance you already working on the new platform! Having a look at the solutions of my newly created v9 instance we can see two solutions called something like “CDS” or “Common Data Service”:

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And if you are opening the solution eplorer you will recognize the PowerApp icon on the top left side:

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Customizing is moving to PowerApps and CDS
One other thing is, that the solution explorer we know today will completely move from CRM to PowerApps and CDS. Today you can create on both sides new entities. So if you create an entity in CRM your getting the entity in CDS an vice versa.

Old New
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Is the CRM-database and the CDS-database the same?
Yes it is. There are no connectors or similar stuff doing synchronization.

Can I have only the Core-System so I can build my xRM-App?
No, not yet. But they are planning licenses to get only the Core-App without any apps like Sales on top.

Should I already use PowerApps and CDS for customizing?
My opinion today is No. Microsoft is working step by step. So the first step so far, was to merge CDS and the CRM platform. Next steps now will be for instance adding solutions to PowerApps. But have a look at it and become familiar with this new features. So you will be ready for the feature,


Cust.-rule #2: Use entity-icons!

Did you ever see navigation entries like this in the following picture on the left side? Doesn’t it look like “unfinished”? The entry on the right picture looks more professional, right?

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Because of that: Always use icons, if you are creating a new entity – always! Doing this is really easy. This is the way I do this:

1. What icons do I need?
An entity needs two icons:
- 16×16 pixels
- 32×32 pixels (This is the one you can see then in the navigation.)

2. Get a tool!
There are several ways to create icons. I use very often the “Metro Studio” from Syncfusion. You can download this free tool from here.

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3. Create the icons

# Description
1 Start the “Metro Studio”
2 Search your favorite icon in the top right corner or choose from the categories on the left side hand.
3 Once you found your icon, just click on it.

I use the following options for the 32×32 icon:
- Width: 32px
- Padding: 4px
- Icon color: #FFFFFFFF

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Important: Use white color, because Microsoft does it too. So your icon will look like more “integrated” in the whole CRM app.4Click “Export” to save your icon in the png-format.5Repeat the same to create the 16×16 picel icon.

4. Add the icon the the entity

# Description
1 In Dynamics CRM navigate to your entity, open its properties and click “Update Icons” in the ribbon of the entity window:
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2 Add the icons to the entity by adding a webresource. This is one way to do this:
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5. Save and publish your entity – That’s it!


Cust.-rule #1: New entity – Think about its properties first!

Always think about the two following things BEFORE you create a new entity!

1. Entity properties you can set ONLY BEFORE creating the entity
There are 2 options, which you can not change or activate after creating an entity. (Marked in purple color) The first one is the ownership, the second one is “Define as an activity entity” which means, the new entity should inherite from the actitiy entity and then can be used per example in the social pane area.

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2. Entity options you can set but NOT remove after creating an entity
If you are creating a new entity from scratch, there are a few options (mostly marked with “†”) which you cannot undo after the entity is saved. (Marked in blue color) But you can still enable them once the entity is saved.

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Remember: Less is more!
So, if you are not sure, weather you need one of this options (per example “Activities”) on your entity, just leave the checkbox blank! You still can enable this options after creating the entity!


Customizations rules – A new blog series

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This is the start of my new blog-series about CRM-customizations rules which are making your CRM-system more attractive and “cleaner”.

This series is perfect for CRM-newbies but also should give input to experienced CRM-system customizers.

Stay tuned, the first blog entry will be public very soon!