As I revised for the MB2-715 exam (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Online Deployment) I am creating blog posts detailing all aspects of my revision. I hope these posts will aid anyone who is also revising for this exam. In this posts I will review the App Designer.
The section of the skills measured statement that mentioned the app designer is shown below;
App can be used to create task-based apps. Often users will find the full navigation capability of Dynamics 365 daunting, Apps can be used to only show the sections of the Dynamics 365 that are relevant to them. Imagine you have a user who only needs to work with the contact and cases entities, the concept of an app is to give them just the required options and as a result provide them with an easy to navigate application.
An APP is effectively a collection of related entities, dashboards, and business process flows. Which provide the user with a tailored experience.
In previous versions of “CRM” we would have often only controlled what entities would show for a given with security roles. And when more customizations were required we’d directly make changes to the site map. Alterations to the site map required a developer to export a solution, edit the resulting XML and then re-import. This process was time-consuming and not intuitive. The App module now provides the ability to quickly edit the site map without this complexity. It contains a rich interface that allows advanced configuration of the site map without the need for any XML knowledge.
Apps can form part of your Dynamics 365 solution and can be enabled / disabled for specific roles.
Users can access apps from the navigation bar or directly as each app will also have its own URL.
If migrating from a previous version of Dynamics 365 where app modules were not available, the current customizations and solutions will be available on the default app which is accessible via the main URL for Dynamics 365.
The app modules are only supported on the web client.
Creating an App
There are many options available to us whilst creating applications, in this simple overview I will not attempt to cover every option. These are revision notes for the MB2-715 exam not a full training guide! I therefore encourage you to experiment with creating some applications to learn the full capabilities. Navigation to the “My Apps” option, you’ll find this in settings
Here you can use the Create App button to create you application.
I can now give my App a name, notice that a unique name will be assigned. (As I created this app directly from the My Apps option I am working with the default publisher, meaning I get the new_ prefix. I could have created a new solution or opened an existing solution and created the app from the solution. Meaning it would be then named according to the publisher settings for that solution.)
I have then given a description.
The solution will have a default image but you can change this. You can see that I have uploaded an image as web resource and then used that. (My image is 64×64 png.)
Importantly notice the url suffix option. User will be able to pick the app but they can also navigate directly to it using the url shown.
Now the app designer will load and I can begin the process of building the application. Within the App Designer I am going to define four things;
- Site Map – the site map is the main navigation areas that will be available
- Dashboards – the dashboards to appear in the app
- Business Process Flows – which business process flows will be included
- Entities – what forms, views and charts will be presented
As you use the designer, you will add required components. Then click save. You can now select the validate option to receive any information about incorrectly configured items. And once any issues have been resolved you can use the publish option to make the app live.
Possibly the first thing you will want to create will be the site map. The site map is essentially the areas, groups and sub areas available within the app. The area is the top level navigation. Each area can then have one or more groups. And each group has one or more sub area items. The sub area items can be dashboards, entities, web resources or urls. You can see a simple example below that highlights the various areas of the side map.
As you add components, you’ll enter properties for each one. For example, on entities you’ll select the required Forms, Views, and Charts.
As you add components, your app will start to show warnings for dependent components. Say you select a form that has a sub grid from another entity, this will show as a dependency. If you deploy this app into another environment you will need to ensure all of the required dependent components exist or the deployment will fail.
If you do not select any forms, views, or charts for an entity, that entity will still display in your app but all forms, views, and charts will be included. However you will be given a warning when validating your app!
Once your app is published, users will be able to access it in the My Apps area, from the side navigation or by direct access using the apps unique url.
Apps can be made available to all roles or specific security roles. Use the manage roles option to access a dialog to control which roles can see this application.
Below you can see the dialog to manager roles. (Notice that I can amend the app url if required.)
Getting More APPS
So far I have discussed creating your own apps. But you should also be aware that it is possible to get additional apps from App Source. You can access App Source from the “Get more apps” button. Or from the Dynamics Marketplace option, which you will find in the settings area.
App Source gives access to a wide variety of pre-built applications designed to address specific business needs. These may be developed by Microsoft or ISVs / Microsoft Partners. Within App Source you can find all sorts of applications, some of them are even free of charge. Whilst others will work on a fee-based model. (Often you will be able to install a trial version and test the application for a limited time prior to purchase.) All of the Apps available in App Source will comply to standards governed by Microsoft, as all are tested by Microsoft before being accepted into the Dynamics Marketplace.
I hope I have covered the key points connected with Apps that you will need to be aware of for the MB2-715 exam. As already mentioned the App Designer is very powerful, I therefore encourage you to include a significant amount of hands-on practice as part of your exam preparation.