Dynamics 365 has arrived with a myriad of new features and functionalities. One of them is Business Apps. In this post, we’ll talk about what it is and how it can benefit users and developers.
Well, what is it?
The official description describes Apps as solution-aware components that store references to the existing Dynamics 365 schema. You can create custom task-based apps which access and visibility can be controlled using security roles.
This is a new concept to Dynamics CRM, but it is crucial for Microsoft as it allows then to combine applications (such as Dynamics CRM, AX, and NAV) to be integrated into Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 also separates CRM existing and new functionalities into separate applications (such as Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, and Project Service Automation).
Admittedly, this concept can be rather confusing for existing Dynamics CRM users who are used to all those functionalities packaged into a single navigation system. But it is easy to get used to it.
Think about it as applications within Dynamics 365. First you choose what task you want to do (say, Sales), then you can access functionalities within the Sales App. If you then decide you want to do something else (say, Customer Service), then you swap between applications by choosing Customer Service App. And so on.
Once you select the business app (in this example Sales), Dynamics 365 will then navigate to the app’s main page, and clicking on the App’s main menu will display the ever familiar navigation menu. The difference is that this menu will only show items that are part of selected app (in this case Sales) instead of all items the logged-in user has permission to view.
What’s the difference with Solution?
Solution packages customizations and custom code into a distribution artefact, this includes entities, fields, processes, assemblies, security roles, etc. Apps are also part of solution. An app packages a subset of solution into a task-oriented module.
As an analogy, if previously Dynamics CRM is a solution, then the different modules (Sales, Marketing, and Service) are apps.
Where to get apps?
Microsoft provides AppSource, an application store where line-of-business SaaS applications from Microsoft and its partners are available for free trial or purchase. As of January 2017, it hosts more than 450 applications, more than 250 of which are for Dynamics 365.
You can get apps directly from Dynamics 365 by clicking on Get more apps link on My Apps menu panel.
Designing your own apps
Designing apps is relatively straightforward with App Designer. It looks and feels like the new Business Process Flow designer.
1. Add/Edit/Remove Artifacts and Entity Assets (1, 1a, 1b)
Using these controls, you can add artifacts such as Entities, choose Dashboards and Business Process Flows for the entity (1a). You can also choose which Forms, Views and Charts for the selected entities via Entity Assets (1b).
2. Site Map
Open Site Map designer by clicking on the Arrow button.
Display which Dashboards selected. Click on Arrow button to edit.
4. Business Process Flows
Display which Business Process Flows selected. Click on Arrow button to edit.
5. Entity View
Display and select which Forms, Views and Charts selected for an entity.
6. Save, Validate, and Publish
Save, Validate and Publish your app.
The new Business Apps feature is an elegant way to group functionalities. Previously this would have been done using Sitemap and Security Roles, which can be rather complex and problematic.