MB2-716 (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customization and Configuration) – Charts

As I prepare for my MB2-716 exam I’m producing a series of blog posts that collectively should help others revising for the MB2-716 Certification. (Microsoft Dynamics 365 customization and Configuration.) This time I will look at charts.

Charts are not just static representations of data within Dynamics 365, they allow us to extend the functionality of views to better visualize data and at the same time we can interact with data directly from them. We can also add charts to dashboards. (I will cover dashboards in a later post!)

From an MB2-716 exam point of view you will need to understand how to charts but also what are the customization capabilities. (See skills measured statement below.)


Note:
Beyond the out of the box charts shipped with Dynamics 365 we can start to extend capabilities using tools like PowerBi. In this post I am going to concentrate on the basic out of the box charts.

Charts

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has several out of the box charts to help with sales analysis and customer service. It is also possible for general users to create personal charts. And beyond these developers can add additional system charts as required. (And share them with users / teams.)

There are two types of charts. Personal and system.

Personal charts

  • Can be created by users. (With correct security privileges.)
  • Are initially only visible to the user who created them.
  • Personal charts can be shared with other users or teams.
  • Can be included in personal dashboards. (not system dashboards)

System charts

  • Visible to all users.
  • Out of the box CRM contains several examples of system charts.
  • Developers, with customizer or systems administrator roles, can create new system charts.
  • Can be included in solutions.
  • Can be included in personal and system dashboards.

Below you can see that the ability to maintain user charts is controls by a security role setting.

Multiple chart types exist in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, via the chart designer interface users can create the following types of chart;

  • Bar – Shows data in horizontal columns.
  • Column – Shows data in vertical columns.
  • Pie – shows data as slices of a pie. Useful for show numerical proportions of data. (Such as % sales by sales territory)
  • Funnel – Shows values as progressively decreasing proportions amounting to 100 percent in total. (Often used to represent a sales pipeline.)
  • Area – used to show cumulative totals over time.
  • Line – Shows individual points on the chart joined by a line, useful when looking for trends over time.

The chart below shows a typical example of a sales pipeline shown in a funnel chart.


Tip:
As shown below you can click on segment of a chart, that you have the ability to further filter on any field. Clicking the blue arrow will drill into the chart can represent the data in any one of the five chart types available in the filter. (Bar, Column, Funnel, Line and Pie.)


It is also possible to export the XML of the chart, edit it and re-import. This process allows other chart types to be created, including;

  • Doughnut
  • Candlestick
  • Radar
  • Bubble
  • And more

Tip:
In addition to changing the chart type in the XML other parameters such as colour, labels and drawing style can be customized.

Note:
with system charts we can create two more chart types! Tag and doughnut. These chart types apply to entities which are enabled for use in the interactive service hub (ISH) and show in the ISH multi-stream dashboards. You can see these highlighted in the screen shot below.

Multi-Series Charts

Charts can be single series or multi-series. A multi-series chart can represent data using two chart types, one laid over the other. For example, a column and line in a single chart. Below you can see a sample chart showing the number of opportunities by account as a count, then their estimated revenue is shown as a line on the same chart.

Column, area and line charts can all be combined in multi-series charts. This is not possible on some chart types such as funnel and pie. Also bar charts can only be associated with other bar charts.

Another variation of a multi-series chart is a stacked chart, these apply to column and bar charts. Stacked charts are useful when comparing data. Charts can be shown as standard stacked charts or 100% stacked charts. The difference being that the stacked chart shows the actual values whilst the 100% stacked chart represents the data in terms of a proportion. The chart below is an example of a 100% stacked chart. The chart tells me that 100% of the opportunities created in May have only a 10% probability. It doesn’t compare the number of opportunities in May with other months just their probability!


When plotting charts, it is possible to limit the data returned using options to show top “n” or bottom “n” rows. For example, the chart below shows my top 5 opportunities by estimated revenue.


Personal charts are created in the chart designer. (As shown below) Options within the chart designer allow us to select the chart time, limit the rows included, stack the chart, add a series etc.


Tip:
As charts are graphical your best way to learn about their capabilities is with some hands on experience.

Once the personal chart is saved we can use the “…” menu to edit the chart, share it with other users / teams. It is also here that we can import and export charts.


The share option can be used to share personal charts with user or teams. It is also possible to govern the access level each person is given. You could opt to only allow them to read the chart. Or you can add in write, delete, assign and share privileges as required. Keep in mind that when you share a chart only the chart is shared not the underlying data. Meaning the security model is preserved.

Later you may add charts to dashboards and share out those dashboards. It is important to also be aware that the chart would need to be shared separately. Sharing the dashboard does not automatically share the charts and views on the dashboard.


When we export a chart the xml used to render the chart is exported. An example of the XML for a chart is shown below.

FYI:
I doubt you’ll to understand the coding detail of this xml for your MB2-716 exam but it is still worth researching! I have written several blog posts on this subject that you can access here.


Having the XML like this is really useful. We can, for example change the command that says “<Area3DStyle Enable3D=”false”/>” to “<Area3DStyle Enable3D=”true”/>”. If the chart is then imported back into the system, it will change to be a 3D chart.


Another use of the export option is to export a personal chart that can then be imported as a system chart. I often initially create my charts as personal charts and then import them as system charts only once I’m completely happy with their layout. Creation of system charts is done either in default solution using the customization option or from your solution.

Below I have shown the customization screen for system charts. Notice that under each entity we have a charts option. And within that I can see all of the system charts available to users. I can edit existing charts or create new ones from here. Alternatively, I could import a chart created as a personal chart.


Data Aggregation

Charts are a useful tool to aggregate / group data. Giving the capability to show an average, count, max, min or sum of a value.


What producing a chart containing a date field we can group the data by day, week, month, quarter, year, fiscal period and fiscal year.


I hope this post has given you a feel for the information needed to revise for the MB2-716 exam. Next time I will build on this by looking at dashboards.

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