Dynamics 365 Unified Interface: Frequently Asked Questions
The legacy web client interface for Dynamics 365 Online was deprecated in September 2019. Microsoft says this will no longer be available from 1 December 2020. Customers who are still using the older experience are urged to plan their transition to the Unified Interface now.
Get in touch if you need any assistance in moving to the new user experience, and using the extended capabilities of the Unified Interface. We'll answer your questions, offer advice, and help you plan your transition.
What is the Unified Interface for Dynamics 365
Unified Interface uses a responsive web design to make all Dynamics 365 applications portable to reflow records whether being viewed on a large screen, or compact these on a mobile device. This uses the same responsive principles seen in websites that are rendered for optimal viewing and interaction across any screen size, orientation or device.
Why has the Unified Interface been introduced?
The new UI has been developed to ensure consistent experiences using Dynamics 365 across different browsers, devices and screens. Another driver of change is Dynamics trend to becoming ever more app-centric. With increasingly connected and diverse app modules being implemented to handle specific work streams it is essential that apps only need to be designed once, and can be quickly deployed and shared across clients. This enables large, or small targeted apps, to be created without the complexity, and cost, of developing and maintaining multiple forms for each device or screen.
When will the deprecated web client be removed?
On 23 March, Microsoft relaxed its deadline for organisations to make the transition from the legacy web client to the Unified Interface by 2 months. This will now be withdrawn on 1st December 2020. From December, Microsoft says the Unified Interface will be the only client infrastructure.
Until this time, it will continue to provide support, security and other critical updates to the web client but no additional functionality will be released. From 1 December 2020, the Dynamics 365 legacy web client will no longer be available. Microsoft has published a Unified Interface transitioning guide to help administrators plan and execute this change.
How will Preact support our transition to the Unified Interface?
How is the new UI structured?
To ensure a consistent experience across clients, a fundamental part of the Unified Interface structure is the Power Apps Component Framework (PCF).
Essentially, this is a layer that sits on top of Dynamics forms which enables extensible controls to be built. Examples of custom controls include dials, ratings, switches and sliders which are designed to provide greater visualisations across forms for entering data.
Within the Unified Interface every control, such as a text box, calendar, or switch, is built using the PCF. Developers and partners can now use this framework to design, build and deploy custom functionality in Dynamics 365 apps and model-driven Power Apps.
A selection of custom controls available in the Unified Interface
The concept of model-driven apps enables administrators to focus their design of apps to limit distractions and reduce clutter by just including the relevant entities, forms, views and other items for each specific process.
What else is different?
Compared to the deprecated web client, the Unified Interface has a new look and feel. This includes a new site map, ribbon command and a different user navigation experience.
Other aspects of the Unified Interface include embedded dashboards across all devices including mobile. As a result, Power BI dashboards can be embedded within Dynamics 365, and accessible using a mobile device. Other contextual Power BI charts can also be added to record forms.
Interactive filters help users interpret dashboards and list views before drilling down into the data.
Among the many navigation changes, users are able to dock or pin guided process flows so that these remain on screen when users navigate to other areas of the record form including form tabs.
Improved form design and the return of form tabs with contextual related items, simplify navigation, and make better use of space so users can quickly find detail without leaving the form.
When records are opened from a list view, a new record set control enables users to open an additional panel and scroll through other items in the list.
A new timeline control replaces the activity / notes panel that features new filters and visualisations which helps users navigate record notes, posts, emails and tasks.
Through a new reference panel, users are able to access contextual information by switching between sub grids without clicking away from records or launching pop-ups. For example, on a contract record use the reference panel to toggle between related cases, open opportunities and entitlements.
Further improvements include a new calendar controls, AI insights, advanced filtering, embedded Power Apps and Office 365 style profile cards.
How does Unified Interface improve performance?
Through modern browser storage and metadata sync, overall performance is faster. Microsoft has highlighted a series of statistics to demonstrate these improvements:
- 63% improvement in grid load
- 37% improvement in form load
- 45% improvement in dashboard load
- 30% improvement in quick create load
- 27% improvement in mobile app launch
What is deprecated?
To ensure a smooth transition, preparations should include identifying if any components in your Dynamics 365 environment are at risk of breaking, or will no longer be available.
This could include reviewing existing plugins and custom scripts. Also, if your organisation has been using Dynamics Online for many years, some deprecated features may still be in use which are not available in the Unified Interface. These may include: dialogs, standard SLAs, service scheduling and contract entities...READ MORE
Running the Power Apps Solution Checker will highlight issues, components and code affected. This covers plug-ins, web resources, web resources and configurations.
How should I prepare for the Unified Interface?
For existing Dynamics 365 users working with the regular web interface, the new experience is a significant change and migration to this should be careful planned. This is an opportunity to re-engage with users and create a modern user experience that will improve adoption and potentially relaunch Dynamics within your organisation.
Firstly, consider the different use cases in your business. Each work-stream can have its own specific Dynamics 365 app and user experience so consider which aspects of the Unified Interface, including custom controls, can best be utilised for these requirements.
To gain familiarity with custom controls and other aspects of the new experience, you can take a closer look using your non-production environment.
Microsoft recommends an initial test within a development environment using a realistic user persona where Unified Interface is enabled prior to creating a parallel test app. After mapping out the key business activities needed to managed specific scenarios, a quick check will highlight any issues or gaps that will need to be addressed in the new UI.
A further step would be to create a pilot app that is used by a small user group which has the essential functionality to handle specific use cases and generate some excitement by introducing the new capabilities.
Preact will help you through this process to ensure a smooth transition and support your users.
Microsoft has also published a Unified Interface Playbook to help administrators and teams.
Enabling the Unified Interface
Speak to Preact, to learn more. We will help you enable the Unified Interface, leverage its new capabilities, and plan your migration. Please get in touch for advice about any aspect of the new experience.
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Unified Interface Reminder
Make a smooth transition to the Unified Interface before 1 December 2020 with support from our Managed Service team.