As I prepare for my Dynamics 365 certification in sales (MB2-717), I am creating blog posts based on my revision. I hope that collectively these posts may prove useful to anyone also preparing for the MB2-717 exam. This time I will cover the various search options.
You can see an extra of the skills measured statement below. This references the need to under using views and global searches.
We have three types of search available to us;
- The “default” search
- Category Search
- Relevance Search
- Advanced Find
I will now cover each of these in turn. (Expect Advanced Find which has been covered in a separate blog post!)
Note: The Dynamics 365 security model will be applied consistently across all search modes. Meaning you can only view records that your security role(s) grant access to.
By default, on views within the system I can perform simple searching and filtering of records within the view. These searches act on which ever entity you are currently viewing. Multiple columns are searched and all records matching the search are returned in the view.
Multiple fields are searched, exactly which fields are controlled by system administrators. They can edit which columns are “find columns” by customizing the “Quick Find View”. I won’t cover this concept in detail as I don’t believe it is within the scope of the MB2-717 exam.
Next, we have the filter option which is activated by clicking on the funnel icon. The filter allows users to create ad-hoc filters on one or more columns within the view.
Both the default search approach and filtering cannot be considered a global search! As they will only search one entity at a time. To search multiple entities simultaneously we would use the category or relevance search options.
You access the category (and relevance) search options by clicking the search icon found in the top level navigation bar. (shown below)
Below you can see that I have used the category search to look for matches for the word “neil”. In my example this has returned matching accounts, contacts, opportunities and users.
The columns searched by each entity (as with the default search) can be controlled by a system administrator by making changes to the find columns in the “Quick Find View”. Additionally for each record returned we see three fields, these are the first three columns the administrator included in the quick find view.
Further to this the administrator can control which entities are included in the results returned.
Also notice that the “filter with” option will allow you to focus on a single entity as required.
I hope you can see that the category search is a powerful multiple entity search capability. But it does not apply any “fuzzy” logic when searching. For that we’d need the relevance search.
If you need this greater flexibility, then the relevance search might be the answer. That is if you are using Microsoft Dynamics 365 (Online). The relevance search is not available for On-Premise users!
Once your administrator has configured the relevance search you can access it from the same search icon as the category search. See below that I can swap to the relevance search
Immediately I hope you notice that results are now displayed as a single list in order of relevance. And on the left-hand side we have several filters. Initially these include record type, owner, modified on date and date created.
By default, the relevance search allows filtering by record type, owner, modified on and created on. But if you select a specific record type additional filtering options may become available. See below how I have focused on one record type of opportunity and additional filtering becomes available, including potential customer, estimated revenue and estimated close date.
Also, notice that I no longer need to add a wild card. Plus, I can search using multiple key words. In my example (below), the categorized search would look for all entities with “datum example” in a single field, which more than likely would return no results. But the relevance search will look for each keyword in any field. Meaning it is a multi-entity, multi-field search. (Notice how the words used to match the records are shown in bold.)
The relevance search makes use of Azure Search functions. This provides some additional query characters;
+ … Will search for results that contain both works. Such as Datum+Corporation. Note, the words do not have to be together, but proximity will score higher on relevance.
| … Will search for results that contain either word. Such as Seattle|Remond.
” ” … Used to search for a phrase, so “Datum Corporation” would look for the entire company name.
() … Using the term training+(health|safety) will search for matching records that contain the training and either health or safety, or both.
As with many features I doubt you need to understand the detail of how the relevance search actually works! (Unless you are a developer!) But it maybe important to understand what the relevance search is doing. Relevance search is making use of Azure search functions, meaning your data needs to be synchronised with Azure. This process happens seamlessly in background, but it is worth knowing that changes can take 15 minutes to be reflected in the search results. Also, when you initially enable the relevance search there could be a considerable delay for the initial synchronization with Azure.
As the relevance search uses Azure search capabilities results are scored based on their relevance and this in turn drives the sequence of the results returned.
Plus, using the Azure search means Microsoft Natural Language Analyzer comes into play. Meaning “Lemmetization” (great word!) is used to break words down into their linguistic forms. This sounds complicated, but it simply means that a search for “Run” would also match with words like “Ran”, “Running” and “Runner”.
Setup / Configure Relevance Search
The relevance search is not enabled by default. An administrator must manually enable it. The relevance search needs to be enabled in system settings. (As shown below.)
The relevance search uses Azure, therefore you will need to accept the warning message that your data will be shared externally.
Having enabled the relevance search you can select which entities will be supported by the relevance search. Below you can see that several entities are listed by default but the selected entities can be changed as required. (Don’t forget that if you add a new entity it will take time for the initial data synchronization with Azure Search.)
As part of your revision for the MB2-717 exam I suggest you experiement with the various search options and consider the differences between each option. Additionally investigate the “Advanced Find” option which offers further capabilities.