One of the most exciting updates to the latest version of Dynamics 365 has been the ability to define Custom Apps for your solutions. But what are they and what can they do for you?
For those who have been involved in the implementation of Dynamics solutions for a while, a bug bear of many an end user is the quality of the user experience and functions exposed to the web user interface. Previously we could tinker with the site map and add custom web resources to try and present a pretty face, but the advent of Dynamics 365 Apps gives the functionality available a much needed shot in the arm.
What is a Dynamics 365 App?
In Dynamics 365 we can add custom business apps that involve solution components such as entities, dashboards, forms, views, charts and business process flows. The use of these components are defined within the App Designer as is the sitemap for the App itself with “artifacts” such as; entities, dashboards and business process flows defined with their related “assets” – forms, views etc.
An App can be accessed using the traditional web client or using a unified interface (or hub).
What is a Hub?
Some of the key functionality available in Dynamics 365 have been packaged up in some pre-defined apps called “Hubs”, the hubs available depend on your subscriptions however the following are available at the time of writing;
- Customer Service Hub
- Sales Hub
- Field Resource Hub
- Project Resource Hub
A Hub can be accessed for the web – directly from the Dynamics 365 homepage of Office 365 and the content can also be accessed as part of the new mobile and tablet experience for Dynamics 365 v9.
Utilizing the unified interface hubs give a fresh and focused experience to your Dynamics solution.
What can I do with them?
It is possible to both configure the existing apps/hubs out of the box and also create your own to suit your organizational needs. Apps can be added to a solutions and also created from components included in a solution.
The main thing from a Dynamics 365 users’ perspective is that the use of unified interface in your app makes your average CRM/xRM more sexy – visually at least, and as a system administrator/customizer you can reduce the amount of ‘noise’ encountered by your users in the solution and instead focus on what is important for their role. Assets such as; forms and views can be configured specifically for the unified interface from your D365 solution and can be filtered using the App Designer. If they don’t use an entity, view or process, don’t add it!
When a business process flow is available it is displayed with stages at top of the record form with the fields displayed as ‘fly-out’ panel on click. The image below is a comparison side by side, with the unified interface on the left and Dynamics 365 v9 web interface on the right.
You can use the “My Apps” area to find both your Apps as well as launch the App Designer and manage security roles that can be used to access the App. Simply toggle the roles you need to be associated or removed from the app.
Here you can also apply a URL suffix for your app, for example – https://yourcrm.crm.dyanmics.com/apps/servicehub allowing users to easily bookmark the app in their browser.
As briefly mentioned earlier the recent updates to the mobile and tablet app for Dynamics 365 means we can select our app/hub as a mobile user, this can bring continuity where required to the user experience. In our example, the same business process flow is displayed when mobile as it is in the unified interface (see below).
Custom controls can be added to form fields, and used both in the mobile device and unified interfaces to give you even more bang for your buck.
For new implementations the use of custom apps can be a great selling point, for existing users it could be a value add to their user experience, elevating the often bland perception of the standard interface – this will differ depending on the level of comfort for change within user groups. For many, with the smart look and feel and the use of timeline and custom controls, this is a welcome step into a whole new world of UX with Dynamics 365.
There is more information on creating a custom app here (via the CRM Software Blog).
Give it a try! 🙂