Design considerations for main forms

 

Updated: November 28, 2016

Applies To: Dynamics 365 (online), Dynamics 365 (on-premises), Dynamics CRM 2016, Dynamics CRM Online

Main forms are the primary user interface where people view and interact with their data in Microsoft Dynamics 365. Main forms provide the widest range of options and are available for most clients, the exception being Microsoft Dynamics 365 for phones.

One of the main design objectives for main forms is that you design them once and deploy them everywhere. The same main form you design for the web application is also used in Dynamics 365 for Outlook and Dynamics 365 for tablets. The advantage to this approach is that you don’t have to integrate changes into three different forms. However there are several important factors to consider in designing these forms.

Because you can create multiple main forms and assign different security roles to each form you can present different groups in your organization with a form that is optimized for how they use the application. You can even provide each group with different options so that they have different forms to choose from. More information:  Control access to forms

You can expect that managers and decisions makers will want forms that are optimized to provide quick reference to key data points. They will like to see charts more than lists and they may not perform a lot of data entry.

People who interact directly with customers may need forms tailored to tasks they perform most frequently. They may want forms that allow for the most efficient data entry.

You’ll need to find out what people in your organization want and need. This is frequently an iterative process where you gather input, try different things and build forms that people can use. Keep in mind that you have a variety of tools available to you and that not everything has to be done within the form. Use business rules, workflow processes, dialogs and business process flows together with your forms to provide a solution that works for your organization.

You’ll have to balance this with the amount of time you want to spend managing forms. Creating and editing forms is relatively easy, but as you create more forms, you have to manage more forms.

Although you don’t have to manage multiple forms for each presentation, you must consider how differences in the presentation can be accounted for in the main form. Main form presentations describes the different ways that the main form may be presented. The primary things to take into consideration are:

  • Dynamics 365 for tablets doesn’t support image, HTML, or Silverlight web resources to be added to forms.

  • The layout of Dynamics 365 for tablets forms is auto-generated based on the main form. There is no special form editor for Dynamics 365 for tablets forms. You need to verify that the form presentation works well for both clients.

  • If you have unsupported scripts that interact with DOM elements found in the web application, those scripts won’t work in the Dynamics 365 for tablets forms because the same DOM elements aren’t available.

  • Dynamics 365 for Outlook Reading Pane forms don’t allow for scripting. The visibility of form elements depend on the default settings and can’t be changed at runtime using scripts.

Forms that load slowly or don’t respond quickly are sure to affect productivity and user adoption of the system. Optimize form performance provides a number of recommendations you should consider when designing forms so that customizations don’t adversely affect form performance.

Most people will welcome the simplified interaction they have with auto-save enabled. However this is a significant change from the save model in place for earlier versions of Microsoft Dynamics 365 where the record needed to be explicitly saved each time data was updated. Some organizations created customizations that assumed that saving a record meant that the person was finished editing it. Best practices for customizations are to treat each save as an update and to design automated tasks so that they fire only when specific data conditions occur. This change will require some time for organizations to adapt to, so there are options to control how auto-save works for your organization. More information:  Manage auto-save

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