Entity relationship behavior
Applies To: CRM 2015 on-prem, CRM Online
When a one-to-many entity relationship exists there are cascading behaviors that can be configured to preserve data integrity and automate business processes. This topic will explain some key concepts and describe how you can configure these cascading behaviors.
Before describing how to configure entity relationship behaviors it is useful to consider how it applies to your business. Three key concepts are:
Preserve data integrity
Each entity can have rules that define a valid record. For example, a Microsoft Dynamics CRM opportunity record must include a reference to a potential customer. Users can’t create a new opportunity record without either adding an existing customer or creating a new customer record.
But what if the account or contact that represents the customer is deleted? In a case like this, possible alternatives are to either:
Restrict any attempt to delete a customer record with an associated opportunity.
Cascade the delete action when a corresponding customer record is deleted so that any related opportunity records are automatically deleted.
In Microsoft Dynamics CRM for the one-to-many relationships that relate opportunities with customers, such as Opportunity.opportunity_customer_accounts and Contact.opportunity_customer_contacts, the behavior is to cascade the delete action.
When you model your data to use in Microsoft Dynamics CRM you will have similar decisions for how you want to preserve data integrity.
Automate business processes
Your business processes may require you to perform actions on records that have related records. For example, you may need to assign an account to a new salesperson. If that account record has any opportunity records, some options include:
- Do nothing. The opportunities should continue to be owned by the individuals who work on them.
- Assign all the opportunities to the new salesperson. As the new owner of this account record, the salesperson is now responsible for all opportunities related to that account.
- Only assign the active opportunities to the new salesperson. Preserve the owner for any inactive opportunity records for reporting purposes.
- Only assign the opportunities owned by the previous account owner to the new salesperson. This allows the new salesperson to replace the previous owner.
These options are common ones you can configure using entity relationship behavior in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. If you require different behaviors consider purchasing a solution containing the behavior you need or developing a plugin to provide additional options.
These configuration options are called cascading behaviors because they cascade down the hierarchy of related entities. For example, if deleting an account causes related opportunities to be deleted, what about the activities associated with the opportunities? In Microsoft Dynamics CRM the behavior defined in each of the entity relationships for activity type entities is that they are deleted as well.
However, not all entities are treated this way. For example, orders and invoices contain important business data that shouldn’t be inadvertently deleted. They have entity relationship behavior configured to restrict deleting customer or opportunity records that they are associated with. Before you can delete the customer or opportunity that has a related order or invoice record, you must delete the order or invoice first.
As you model your business data by creating custom entities or when using existing Microsoft Dynamics CRM system entities, consider the behavior you require and the implications for the entire hierarchy of related entities.
Parental entity relationships
Each pair of entities that are eligible to have a 1:N relationship can have multiple 1:N relationships between them. Yet only one of those relationships can be considered a parental entity relationship. See TechNet: Customizable parental entity relationships for a list of all the customizable parental entity relationships.
A parental entity relationship is any 1:N entity relationship where one of the cascading options (defined in CascadeType) in the Parental column of the following table is true.
Each referencing entity in a 1:N entity relationship has one referencing attribute where the relationship can be considered parental.
For example, if you create a new custom entity and add a 1:N entity relationship with the account entity where your custom entity is the referencing entity, you can configure the actions for that entity relationship to use the options in the Parental column. If you later add another 1:N entity relationship with your custom entity as the referencing entity you can only configure the actions to use the options in the Not Parental column.
Usually this means that for each entity pair there is only one parental relationship. There are some cases where the referencing attribute on the referencing may include a reference to more than one type of entity.
For example, the Opportunity entity has a referencing attribute called customerid where a reference to either a contact or account record may be stored. There are two separate parental 1:N entity relationships in this case.
Any activity entity, for example, a task, fax, phone call, and so on, has a similar set of parental entity relationships for entities that can be associated using the regardingobjectid referencing attribute.
Configure entity relationship behavior
When you use CreateOneToManyRequest or UpdateRelationshipRequest you include an instance of a OneToManyRelationshipMetadata class in the body of the request. In the CascadeConfiguration property of that class you use the CascadeConfiguration class.
The CascadeConfiguration class contains the properties representing actions that may be performed on the referenced entity in the one-to-many entity relationship. Each property can be assigned one of the values of the CascadeType enumeration.
Perform the action on all active referencing entity records associated with the referenced entity record.
Perform the action on all referencing entity records associated with the referenced entity record.
Remove the value of the referencing attribute for all referencing entity records associated with the referenced entity record.
Prevent the Referenced entity record from being deleted when referencing entities exist.
Cascade User Owned
Perform the action on all referencing entity records owned by the same user as the referenced entity record.
The CascadeConfiguration class contains the following properties representing actions that may be performed on the referenced entity in the one-to-many entity relationship.
The referenced entity record owner is changed.
The referenced entity record is deleted.
The record is merged with another record.
See About the Reparent action below.
When the referenced entity record is shared with another user.
When sharing is removed for the referenced entity record.
About the reparent action
The reparent action is very similar to the share action except that it deals with the inherited read access rights instead of explicit read access rights.
|For more information about inherited access rights, see How record-based security can be used to control access to records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, especially the Sharing and Inheritance section.|
The reparent action is when you change the value of the referencing attribute in a parental relationship. When a reparent action occurs, the desired scope of the inherited read access rights for related entities might change. The cascade actions related to the reparent action refer to changes to read access rights for the entity record and any entity records related to it. For more information about how an entity relationship is configured to be parental, see Parental Entity Relationships.
For example, there is a parental relationship between Opportunity and Account based on the CustomerId referencing attribute. If you are the owner of an account and there is an opportunity associated with that account, you inherit read access rights to that opportunity and any records associated with it. If the CustomerId referencing attribute value for the opportunity is changed to refer to a different account, the owner of that account inherits read access rights to the opportunity if the Reparent action is Cascade. You can disable this automatic inheritance of read access rights if you set the reparent action to NoCascade. You can use the Active or UserOwned options to specify filters on which records are affected by the change in access rights. For any records related to the opportunity using a parental relationship, the reparent action cascades down those entity relationships and read access rights are inherited based on the filters set for the Reparent action.
ConceptsCustomize entity metadata
Customize entity attribute metadata
Customize entity relationship metadata
Customize entity and attribute mappings
Customize labels to support multiple languages
How record-based security can be used to control access to records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Other ResourcesExtend the metadata model
Sample: Create and retrieve entity relationships
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online
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