Define alternate keys to reference CRM records

Dynamics CRM 2015

Applies To: Dynamics CRM Online

With alternate keys, you can assure an efficient and accurate way of integrating data into Microsoft Dynamics CRM from external systems. It’s especially important in cases when an external system doesn’t store the CRM record IDs (GUIDs) that uniquely identify records. The alternate keys are not GUIDs and you can use them to uniquely identify the CRM records. You must give an alternate key a unique name. You can use one or more entity fields to define the key. For example, to identify an account record with an alternate key, you can use the account name and the account number. You can define alternate keys in the CRM web application without writing code, or you can define them programmatically. Note that while you can define the alternate keys in the user interface (UI), they can only be used programmatically, in code.

Some of the benefits of the alternate keys feature include:

  • Faster lookup of the records.

  • More robust bulk data operations, especially in CRM Online.

  • Simplified programming with data imported from external systems without CRM record IDs.

To learn more about alternate keys programmability, see:
MSDN: Define alternate keys for an entity
MSDN: Use an alternate key to create a record

To define the alternate keys, go to Go to Settings > Customizations.. Choose Customize the System > Components > Entities > Entity <X> > Keys. Choose New. On the form, fill in the required fields (Display Name and Name) and then choose and add the fields to the key. Save the key. In the example shown here, we used the Account Number field in the alternate key definition.

Define alternate key for the account entity


You can define up to five different keys for an entity.

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