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Frosty the Dynamics 365 App Designer
As anyone who has seen the classic Rankin/Bass television special knows, after rescuing Karen, Frosty the Snowman returned to the North Pole, where he resides until the next Christmas. But what does Frosty do up there the rest of the year? He is the North Pole CRM administrator. And now, with Dynamics 365, frosty is an app designer.
As we have covered extensively during the 12 days of CRMas, the North Pole has many groups using Dynamics 365 for many different business purposes: sending and tracking emails, reindeer performance management, list checking and workshop process management to name a few.
As a good administrator, Frosty wants to make sure that each of these different and somewhat unrelated processes provide their intended audience with a good user experience. If the reindeer had to navigate past the elf entities to get to what they need, it could make the system overwhelming and cumbersome to use. That’s why Frosty uses the new Dynamics 365 App Designer to simplify the user experience and separate different business audiences into their own apps that just includes the components that they use.
From your Dynamics 365 organization, go to Settings à My apps. There will be at least one app, the default customized app for your organization. Click the “Create App” button to create a new app.
Enter the name and the description of your app. Specify the App URL suffix for your app—this will determine the URL that users will use to directly navigate to the new app.
Add the entities, forms, views, charts, dashboards, and business process flows that you want to include in the app, then save your app.
Clicking the “Validate” button will validate that your app includes all of the required components and dependencies included in your app. In this example we did not include a sitemap.
App Designer includes a great visual Site Map editor, making it easy to provide a simple menu that only includes the links that we need for our app. In the Site Map section of App Designer, click the arrow to launch the Site Map Editor.
To customize the Site Map, you need to be familiar with the Site Map terminology:
The main categories of functionality, represented by the big tiles on the top of the screen (think Sales, Marketing, Customer Service)
A bold header that separates the links in the sitemap
The actual links in the site map.
From the Site Map Editor, you will initially see one area. You can select that area tile and rename it, or click the Add button to add additional areas, groups, or sub areas.
To add a link to the site map, click the “New Subarea” button and set the properties. A sub area can be an entity, but it can also be a dashboard, web resource, or a link to an external URL. Add the links that you want to be included in your app site map, arrange them into the appropriate areas and groups, then save and close to return to the app designer.
Back in the App designer, click “Save” to save your app. Once you have validated that there are no remaining errors, you can publish your app.
Now your app will be available from the app selector when users click on “Dynamics 365” or navigate via the direct access URL.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Access to apps can be limited by security role. Keep in mind that users will also need appropriate security access to the components in the app to use them.
- Know your licensing. If you are building an app to be used by people with a sales license, don’t include entities like cases to which their license does not give them rights to use.
- App Designer is great when different groups of users access specific functionality; however, it is not required to build apps. If you have an existing deployment where everybody just logs into CRM and uses much of the same functionality, you can continue to do so. However, as you expand your deployment to new business areas, you should consider designing apps if the target audience for that application is limited to specific functionality, as it will provide the users a simple and streamlined user experience.
- Even though we separate Dynamics into multiple separate apps, it still is one platform. The data all goes into the same database, and administrators or super users with full access to the CRM functionality of Dynamics 365 will have access to all data and functionality captured in the various apps.
If you want to go deeper into App Designer and Site Map Designer, I recommend the following videos from CRM Tip of the Day:
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