Add a Field – Personalization | D365 Platform

untitled, field, farm, green, grass, agriculture, tree, plant, nature, outdoor

When he went out to plough his fields…his heart would fill with joy.”

How Much Land Does a Man Need? | Leo Tolstoy


D365 contains thousands of related tables with an almost innumerable number of fields – some say D365 has almost as many fields as this blog has fans. But sometimes a user just needs one more field.

Users access this table data through forms. Frequently, a form’s standard view will not contain every single field of related table data. Did you know the customer table (CustTable) has 203 different fields? Add a field allows additional table information to be presented on a form.


Add a Field

Use Ctrl+Shift+P to bring up the Personalization Toolbar and click on Add a field. Once Add a field is selected, click on the part of the form where the new field should go.

A new “Add columns” area will pop up on the right allowing the user to select which field (or fields) to bring into the form. Did you know that 3 of the 203 fields on the Customer Table are notes fields?

The selected field(s) will now display on the form.

If the field isn’t positioned quite where intended, the Move button ca be used to fine-tune the location of the new field.

Add a Field, Again!

It is generally bad database design to represent the same field twice on the same table, but not necessarily bad form design. For example, it may make sense to have customer currency in the sales demographics FastTab, and terms of payment in the Payment defaults FastTab. It might also be helpful to have this information closer to the top of the form. Add a field could be used to bring those fields onto the general FastTab in addition to their standard locations.

Add a Custom Field

Observant readers will notice the “Add columns” area also includes a “Create new field” button. Links below are included to outline that functionality – I’ll add my own opinions on the pros and cons of adding custom fields through personalization in a later post.

Additional Reading
Personalize the user experience
Create and work with custom fields
No Developer Required – Adding Custom Fields in Dynamics 365

Personalize Lock Fields | D365 Platform

The ‘Loch Ness Monster’ is not that kind of ‘Lock’. Regardless, you want to lock monsters from ruining your system with bad data entry.


Lock Fields

In personalization, Lock allows users to view fields, but not change their values. To lock a field, right click, select personalize, and then check the lock button.

As with all personalization features, these locked fields can be distributed to other users as published saved views.


Can’t This Be Done Through Security?

Yes. Without personalization, controlling who can see or edit what fields is managed through security. If you click on security diagnostics for the Vendor form, you can see there are two security privileges: one to view vendors and one to maintain (edit) vendor data.

To lock down a subset of fields through security, a system administrator would need to create a new security privilege (or modified copy of the maintain vendors privilege) and assign it to the desired duties or roles.

An advantage of locking fields through personalization is that it is easier to see which fields are being locked through the UI. Also, users can have multiple views – It’s possible have a default view where the data is not editable, but allow the user to toggle to another view where the data can be edited. This would be a more difficult proposition to manage through security. Pro tip – if you care very much about tracking edits to a particular field, consider enabling database logging on that field.


Lock Many Fields

Personalizations can be applied to individual fields, as well as Field Groups or FastTabs. If you want to lock lots of fields on a form, the easiest way to do this is by opening the personalization toolbar, clicking Lock and then clicking on the desired Field Group or FastTab.

Clicking on the Payment group controls all fields in the Payment group

Clicking on the Payment FastTab controls all fields in the Payment FastTab


That’s pretty much the whole concept – Lock, Stock, and Barrel.

Additional Reading
Personalize the user experience
D365 security topics
Database logging

Personalize Labels | D365 Platform

Campbell’s Soup Can by Andy Warhol

You say ‘Tomato’, I say ‘Tomato’ ” …a phrase better sung than read. No matter what label you wrap around a can of tomato soup – it’s still a can of tomato soup. In D365, buttons and headers have labels. The flexibility of having labels allows D365 to be useable in 46 different languages (including 9 types of English!). All the buttons are the same, but each has a set of language-specific labels. Custom labels can also be created through personalizations, then distributed to individuals or groups of users through saved views.


Personalize Labels

Right click on the desired button or header and select Personalize.

The label name will appear in the white field of the personalize box.

This text is editable, edits will change the label presented to the user.

These personalizations can be saved as a view (note the asterisk after “Standard view” in the last image) and the view can then be used individually or published to other users as desired.


Is This a Good Idea?

Well, maybe.

Without personalizations, label changes are a development task. A developer has to update the label file. That code has to get promoted up to the production environment. These changes then affect all system users of that language Want a label for only some users of that language? – just create a 10th version of English…then have that subset of users change their language preference. Personalizations is clearly a lighter touch for changing the name of a button.

But what is the purpose of a language? Common language facilitates communication. When I point to a can and tell you “tomato soup”, it’s only helpful if you also know it as “tomato soup” (Gazpacho…What’s that?). If sub-groups start referring to something by a new name, it can be difficult to talk about it across the whole organization – or describe to support technicians.

If Bob wants to rename the “Adjust transactions” button to “Bob’s Oh-no Button,” and have that on his own view…good news! That functionality exists.

Bob will have trouble describing “his” button to other members of that organization that know it as “Adjust transactions” in the standard view.

Clicking Bob’s Oh-no Button will still take Bob to the same Adjustments form (remember, this is the same button for everyone, only being viewed with a different label).

However, if accommodating a special request like this can facilitate change management, or win Bob as a champion of D365 throughout his organization, the exercise might be worthwhile.

So, Maybe.

Additional Reading
Personalize the user experience
How to create a label in Dynamics 365 for finance and operations
How to create a new language in Dynamics 365 for Operations

Personalize Required Fields | D365 Platform Update

Photo: Charge of the Light Brigade by Richard Caton Woodville Jr.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost;
For want of a shoe the horse was lost;
For want of a horse the battle was lost;
For the failure of battle the kingdom was lost—
All for the want of a horse-shoe nail.


Little things matter. Sometimes little things matter a great deal. Adding required fields helps prevent little bits of data from being lost on the great battlefield of D365.


Personalize Required Fields

In Platform Update 10.0.12. Require has been added as an option to the personalization toolbar.

As long-time readers will remember, the personalization toolbar can be accessed through the option tab, or by pressing the Ctrl+Shift+P hotkey. Once open, the user clicks on Require, then clicks on the fields to be required, and then closes the personalization toolbar.


Saved Views

As Saved views, these personalizations can be published to the desired members of the organization through security roles (see Publish saved views link below in additional reading for more details).

In addition to being a no-development solution, an advantage to this approach is that different fields can be required from different users. Imagine a business process where a general projects team create new projects across the company, but project managers are expected to enter a projected start and end date for visibility once they are specifically assigned to and begin maintaining their project.

Requiring the field through a saved view makes it easy for the project team to create and update other elements of the project through a standard view, while the Project manager’s view requires these data points to be entered.

Project manager view requires project start / end dates

Error message for Project manager not entering required fields

With fields populated, happy projects are all the same.

Additional Reading
Platform updates for version 10.0.12 of Finance and Operations
Personalize the user experience
Publish saved views

Back to Work!

I’ve been on leave helping take care of my son for the last months, so I haven’t written anything for a while.

Time away from work has been refreshing, though I do feel like I’ve let down the fans.

Dear IamJoshKnox fanbase – Returning to work, your flood of messages in my inbox, your handwritten notes of gratitude, your trending of the #WhereIsIamJoshKnox hashtag on twitter were all incredible moving. To the thousands of fans out there (or is it millions? …are fans even something you can count?), I say thank you for your consistent support and encouragement.

Example of handwritten notes of gratitude

I feel like I owe you all an account of what I’ve done these past months and what I’m looking forward to.


What I’ve Done – Parental Leave

Parental leave was a joyful time bonding with my son and watching him grow. Every day consisted of multiple meal-times, nap-times, and diaper changes – though not always in that order. It taught me so much.

Meal-times taught me Persuasion.

Nap-times taught me Patience.

Diaper changes taught me Persistence.

Patience, Persistence, and Persuasion – the three P’s of parenting (at least the ones that don’t involve bodily functions). Fortunately, these skills are also exceedingly useful in the workplace.


What I’m Looking Forward To

Learning What’s New

During my leave, a whole new version and Platform updates were released for Finance and Operations. I’m looking forward to digging into these new features (and writing about them here…for the fans🙂

DynamicsCon

Mark your calendars for September 9-10: DynamicsCon is a first-of-its-kind, FREE virtual learning experience for Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) & Power Platform users and professionals. Having been away from the community for so long, I’m really excited about engaging with other Dynamics users during this virtual user group event.

Regular Work

Coming back from paternity leave is a return to normalcy. There’s tons of Dynamics implementation work to do, and we’re getting back into the swing of things. I’m glad I have a really good assistant.

Requirements Gathering: An Application – Part 2

In the previous post, we considered a 2-part framework for requirements gathering:

  1. Functional Requirement – Identifying the Who, What, and Why (As a [fill-in-the-blank], I need to [fill-in-the-blank], so that [fill-in-the-blank])
  2. Non-Functional Requirements – Evaluating the additional considerations around the requirement (Availability, Compliance, Data retention, Performance, Privacy, Security, Scalability, etc)

This got me thinking – could I build an app to facilitate requirements gathering in this format?

As a [Solution Architect], I need to [Capture complete requirements], So that [I can create complete solutions]

I wanted an app structuring requirements entry so that the users would be guided to consider all of the requirement’s functional and non-functional elements. This seemed like a convenient use-case to try to build a PowerApp.

The Napkin Sketch


The SharePoint List

I started by creating a SharePoint list with columns for the functional and non-functional data points I wanted to capture. Then, to my surprise, I saw that there is a PowerApps “Create an app” button in the banner. That’s right – SharePoint lists come with a PowerApps Easy Button!!! (I understand this functionality has been around for a couple years, but it was new to me.)

I was impressed by how well the default app creation worked – it created a browse screen, detail screen, and edit screen with most of the functionality I wanted (though not necessarily captured in my initial napkin sketch).

The PowerApp

As my first PowerApp building experience, I wanted to play with the tool. The “Who” and “What” displayed on the Browse screen by default, but I also wanted to include the “Why”. I wanted to model the As a [fill-in-the-blank], I need to [fill-in-the-blank], so that [fill-in-the-blank] formula. I wanted sort the items by the ID number instead of the “Who” value. After some experimenting, my app now looks like this:

The Improved(?) PowerApp

Your eyes do not deceive you – after 1 hour of experimentation I was able to take a default app and make it less aesthetically appealing than when I started!

The Next Steps

I was really impressed with how simple it was to build a basic PowerApp. If i spent more time on this, I’d like to make the search functional, create validations for personas so that the “Who” field isn’t free text, maybe make the app more beautiful. However, the big takeaway is that I do now have a functional prototype. With minimal effort I could now give this to other solution architects for testing and feedback and see if this is a useful tool.

As the kids on YouTube say, let me know what you think in the comments!

Additional reading
PowerApps with a SharePoint List – Learn PowerApps Tutorial
Microsoft Power Platform: Learning Resources
Power Apps

Requirements Gathering: An Application – Part 1

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 learning paths are a great resource for expanding product knowledge and enhancing skills. While following the learning path for the solution architect Exam MB-700, I appreciated its emphasis on Who, What, and Why in requirements gathering:

Who, What, & Why

An easy trap during requirements gathering is to jump straight from a need to its system solution. Focusing on Who, What, and Why helps capture the complete functional requirement so that the solution will also be complete. This type of requirement gathering can be written in a formula: As a [fill-in-the-blank], I need to [fill-in-the-blank], so that [fill-in-the-blank].

Some examples of this functional requirement formula from the learning path:

Non-Functional Requirements

Who, What, and Why frame the functional requirements, non-functional requirements should also be considered. Non-functional requirements are elements outside of the direct need that will influence the performance or acceptability of the solution. Some types of non-functional requirement considerations are Availability, Compliance, Data retention/residency, Privacy, Security.

Some examples of non-functional requirements from the learning path:

An Application?

I like this framing of Who, What, and Why in a functional requirement, along with its non-functional elements. Again, capturing complete requirements is an important first step to building complete solutions. Thinking about this made me wonder – can I build an application to help gather requirements in this format?

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Enable Saved Views

As regular readers know, Saved Views enhance the Finance and Operation experience, empowering users to save sets of personalizations and navigate forms more efficiently.

In earlier versions, this preview feature had to be enabled through SQL code – starting in Platform update 33, Saved views can now be activated in the Feature management workspace.

Go to Feature Management Workspace

If you do not see the Saved views feature, click Check for updates. Depending on how far in the future you are, you may also need to toggle from the “New” tab to the “Not enabled” tab.

Hello readers in the future. How is it there?

Select Saved Views Feature

Click “Enable now” at bottom right.

Saved Views Feature Will Now Be Enabled

A green check mark and enabled date will now display next to the feature.

When activating the Saved views feature, also consider enabling the Grouping in grids and New grid control features.

Additional Reading
Saved Views
Grouping In Grids
New Grid Control

Resource Roundup: Virtual Meetings

There is so much good content on the internet *insert shocked emoji*. Resource Roundup is a series to organize links, ideas, and advice around a specific topic.


We’re Working From Home. We’re using Teams. Virtual meetings are more and more a part of the modern workplace. Here are some resources with suggestions on how to make them more effective.


Resource Roundup – Virtual Meetings


Project Management Institute

The Seven Secrets of Successful Virtual Meetings

Leave it to the makers of PMBOK® to provide a nice 2×2 grid about how to best meet across time and space. In all seriousness, I think this is an important insight. Technology makes it so easy to have a virtual meeting – but the first question should be is a virtual meeting appropriate to the common objective, especially considering the time and place constraints of the participants.


Harvard Business Review

How to Run a Great Virtual Meeting

I like this article because it highlights that a key to making meetings great happens before and after the meeting itself. Setting a clear agenda and getting alignment before the meeting helps clear roadblocks to the real, necessary conversation that needs to take place during a meeting. Water-cooler talk after a meeting is an important part of processing its contents. Because virtual meetings don’t have physical water-coolers, it can be valuable to formalize water-cooler time as the ending structure of a virtual meeting.


Matt Wade

9 Things You Need to Stop Doing During Online Meetings

A solid list of virtual meeting “don’t”s. The don’t I most enthusiastically agree with is “Don’t ask open-ended questions to everyone”. Addressing questions to specific people is better for virtual calls because 1) It increases engagement and 2) It avoids the awkward virtual meeting pause where nobody responds, then multiple people respond, then nobody’s quite sure who should start talking and who should stop talking. These are two social problems where virtual meeting technology is still lacking behind face-to-face meeting technology.

Matt has also created a fantastic guide to MS Teams etiquette. I embrace his effort to try to formalize best-practice social conventions for the new online communications technology.


Joel Leichty

5 TIPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR WORK FROM HOME VIDEO CALLS

Turning on your video camera during virtual meetings helps create connection with others, and also helps you monitor your own focus. I appreciate this article for highlighting that we shouldn’t be afraid to turn on our cameras at home just because we’re not dressed for the office. “Work From Home official video dress code is ‘Casual But Not Pajamas’.”, with an encouragement to bathe in the morning is a pretty good mantra.

After bathing, good lighting and an elevated the camera angle are simple things that go a long way to improving the video experience.

Additional Reading
Matt Wade – jumpto365
Joel Leichty
Project Management Institute

Resource Roundup: Microsoft Teams Advanced Tips

There is so much good content on the internet *insert shocked emoji*. Resource Roundup is a series to organize links, ideas, and advice around a specific topic.


Following-up on yesterday’s Microsoft Teams Resources, here are some advanced tips for Teams.

Shortcuts

As regular readers will know, I’m a big fan of shortcuts. They are also useful in Microsoft Teams. Below is a helpful hotkey list put together by cheatkeys.com


Live Captions

When you click the ellipsis during a meeting, you may notice a new (preview) feature called “Turn on live captions”. Clicking this provides automated captions at the bottom of the screen. These captions are only available in English, and will only be privately visible to you (ie not visible to every one else in the meeting).

Machine generated alternative text:
a 
O 
Help 
4 
00:39 
@ Show device settings 
Show meeting notes 
(D Show meeting details 
Enter full screen 
Z. Start video with blur 
Invite peo 
Tum on live captions (preview) 
O Start recording 
Tum off incoming video
Machine generated alternative text:
a 
O 
Help 
4 
00:39 
@ Show device settings 
Show meeting notes 
(D Show meeting details 
Enter full screen 
Z. Start video with blur 
Invite peo 
Tum on live captions (preview) 
O Start recording 
Tum off incoming video

Teams Windows Application vs Web Application

If you are reading this, you probably have the Teams windows application (and you might even have the Teams ios or android application). But you can also access teams in any web browser by going to teams.microsoft.com.

One current advantage of using the web application is that you can have multiple instances of Teams open in multiple tabs (or on multiple monitors). Doing so allows you to use chat or access files while following a screen sharing meeting at the same time.


Augmented Reality

Harnessing the power of the Snap Camera, you can throw a little augmented reality into your Teams video calls. Full details on how to set it all up for Teams can be found here.

The Snap Camera comes from Snapchat, and basically adds an augmented reality filter to your computer’s camera then makes it appear to other applications that your camera plus the AR filter is a new camera that can be selected. To be honest, I found most of the filters to be rather juvenile.

Pizza in Microwave

This is actually a very useful filter, especially since my wife no longer lets me put my camera in the microwave following the incident.

Palm Tree Background

If I wanted a palm tree in my video background, I would just paint a palm tree on my back office wall.

Tie on Head

If I wanted to impress people with a tie on my head during video calls, I would just tie a tie on my head during my video calls.

Let me know when Snap Camera rolls out the Clean-Shaven-Face filter. Then we can start talking about Augmented Reality as a business essential.