Designing Business Apps – I

Applies to Dynamics 365 Online

With the current release of Dynamics 365, we are introducing the concept of tailored, purpose-built apps for business functions. Our view is that these apps will simplify the consumption experience by showing functionality and components that are relevant to the users.

When we had set out to bring about the business apps functionality, we decided to have the following key goals:

  • To simplify the current experience and UI
  • To provide a way to create purpose-built apps that address a specific task, are built for a persona,  or just to modularize the monolithic interface.
  • And finally, to make it easy to build such business apps.

And we now have the first release of the business apps framework that you can get started on. This blog will deep dive into the realization of the concept and how it manifests in the application.

Following are the key tenets of the business apps framework:

Business Apps are available via a new Solution aware component called Apps.

 

Apps node in the Solution explorer

 

All Microsoft and custom built apps will be visible in this area. An App can be packaged inside a solution, exported and imported just like any other solution component.

 

An App stores references to UX artifacts only, namely the following: 
  • Sitemap
  • Forms
  • Dashboards
  • Views
  • Charts
  • BPFs

This implies that a custom App can be created just by composing one or more of the above mentioned UX components.

E.g. In a simple Ticket management app, you can bundle in just the required set of Customer Service dashboards, some views of the Case entity and a relevant Case form. While users will have access to other entities, forms, views etc. based on their overall security privileges, when in the context of that app, they will see the chosen components only.

 

Did we say App can reference a Sitemap?

Yes, each app will have its own Sitemap. The App’s Sitemap defines the navigation of the app. So in the case of a simple Ticket management app, you may choose to have just two sub areas pointing to Dashboard and Case view.

Below is a sample Sitemap of the Service app.

 

Site map of the Customer Service app

 

All Sitemaps are visible in the Client Extension node in the Solutions area. The full application continues to have the same default Sitemap.

 

What references does an App need to work?

Just the Sitemap. In line with the simplification goal, an App is ready to run once the navigation has been defined i.e. the Sitemap has been referenced. At runtime, the app will show components that the user has got access to. And as the admin refines the App to reference explicit UX components in the App, only the referenced components will start to show in runtime for users.

 

And, how are Business Apps created? 

Apps can be created and composed using the new App designer. Using the App Designer will be covered in the next post.

 

App designer

 

And, since an App requires a site map, we now also have a fully integrated Site map designer! More on that in the next post.

 

Site map designer

 

Accessing the App

Apps are role based and as an administrator, you can give access to desired roles to the app.

 

Assign roles in the Manage App dialog box

 

Once users are given access, they can access the apps from any of the following areas:

 

  • The new My Apps page

This page can be accessed via Settings > Applications > My Apps. Or directly by typing <URL>/apps

My Apps page

  • The new App Switcher

Drop down the Dynamics 365 menu to access the App Switcher. With this, users can switch between apps even when they are working on another one. Infact the App switcher lists apps across Dynamics 365 including Power Apps. An introduction here to the new App Switcher and Dynamics 365 home. App switcher is only available for Dynamics 365 online.

App Switcher

  • Directly through the App URL

Each App can have its own URL. As an administrator, you can choose a friendly URL for an app e.g. ticketlite for the simple Ticket Management app. Once set, any user can directly access the app via:

<URL>/apps/ticketlite i.e. https://<org>.crm.dynamics.com/apps/ticketlite

Current Support for Apps

As of current release, Business App supports web client only. We will update this blog as new client support is announced.

 

Additional Resources

Business apps in Dynamics 365

Where to find your business apps

Design custom business apps by using the app designer

Manage access to apps with security roles

 

 

– Prateek Sethi

 

 

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