Dynamics 365 Apps with the App Designer and Sitemap Designer

Microsoft Dynamics 365 has provided a wide range of new functionality to both its CRM and ERP sub-systems. Specifically, Dynamics 365 allows for slicing-and-dicing of Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (formerly “CRM”) into 365 Apps.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Apps are combinations of Dashboards, Business Process Flows, and Entity Forms, Views, and Charts. Using the new App Designer functionality allows system administrators and system customizers to control which entities are included and how those entities are displayed on the sitemap using the Sitemap Designer.

This functionality opens up a huge range of new possibilities. Previously, there was no clean approach to editing the sitemap or controlling what users saw when it came to areas of the sitemap. “How come my sales team has access to/sees the Service Bucket in the sitemap?” was a frequently asked question.

Now, we can hide irrelevant areas and define Apps based on primary security role. The sales team only has the Sales App, which focuses on their primary concerns: Leads, Contacts, and Opportunities. The Service Team only has the Service App; they do not have their sitemap cluttered with marketing information, such as Campaigns. Dynamics 365 Apps allow for a cleaner, and ultimately better, user experience.

Here’s an infographic that gives more details on Dynamics 365 App, App Designer, and Sitemap Designer terminology.

Editing an App

Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Apps are especially easy to customize. Here, we will walk through how to modify the Sales App.

  1. Open the Sitemap Designer by either navigating to Settings > Customizations > Customize the System and then open Apps in the Left-Hand pane, or by navigating to the My Apps area under Settings.
  2. The Right-Hand-Side is your primary definition area. This is where you define which Entities, Dashboards, and Business Process Flows are included in the App. Additionally, you can define which Forms, Views, and Charts to include.
  3.  Within the Main section of the App Designer, you can launch the Sitemap Designer by clicking on the blue arrow next to Site Map.
  4. The Sitemap Designer is one of the best features of Dynamics 365 Apps. Here, you can drag-and-drop new Areas, Groups, and Subareas.

Groups: My Work, Customers, Sales, Collateral, Marketing.
Subareas: Dashboards, What’s New, Activities, Accounts, Contacts, Leads, Opportunities, etc.
Areas: Sales, Marketing, Settings, Training.

App Security

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Apps gives system administrators a lot of control over which users see what. Specifically, system administrators can define which security roles have access to certain Apps.

Under Settings > My Apps, System Administrators can Manage (Security) Roles for each Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement App.

Mild Limitations

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Apps alleviate multiple pain points that system customizers dealt with in the past. The main pain point that Apps specifically help resolve is the question of security and “cleaning-up” the user experience.

However, there are still some limitations. The primary limitation (in my opinion) is the Default App – the base App cannot be customized using the App Designer, which means there is not an out-of-the-box, drag-and-drop method for updating the default sitemap. For customers that do not wish to utilize Apps, this means still needing to update the sitemap using previous methods.

In the above image, notice that there is an “Open in App Designer” option.

In this case, there are two methods available for updating the sitemap.

  1. Export the Default Solution and edit the XML file.
    1. This method requires a developer and is RISKY since edits made need to be precise, clean, tested, and supported by Microsoft.
  2. Use XrmToolBox Sitemap Editor.
    1. This method does not require a developer and is less risky, but utilizing any third party tool comes with some risk.
    2. Currently, the XrmToolBox Sitemap Editor does not allow for customizing Apps, only the Default App 

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