Dynamics 365 Unified Interface: Frequently Asked Questions

Unified Interface icon

The legacy web client interface is deprecated as of September 2019 for Dynamics 365 Online. Microsoft says this will no longer be available from 1 October 2020 and has begun the process to automatically transition environments to the Unified Interface.

What is the Unified Interface for Dynamics 365

Unified Interface uses a responsive web design to make Dynamics 365 portable to reflow records whether being viewed on a large screen or a small mobile device. This reflects 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 modern UI has been developed to ensure consistent experiences using Dynamics 365 across different devices and screens.

And another driver of change is Dynamics trend to becoming ever more app-centric. With increasingly connected and diverse app modules being implemented to handle different work-streams it is essential that apps only need to be designed once, quickly deployed and shared across clients rather without the complexity of developing and maintaining multiple forms for each device or screen.

Microsoft’s answer has been to introduce the Unified Interface to develop a seamless experience across desktop, mobile and Outlook.

How will Preact support our transition to the Unified Interface?

Read about how we help clients move to the new UI and enable its extended capabilities.

How is the new UI structured?

To ensure a consistent experience across clients, a fundamental part of the Unified Interface structure is the PowerApps Component Framework.

Essentially, this is a layer that sits on top of Dynamics forms that enables extensible controls to be built. Some examples of custom controls include dials, 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 switches and dials, will be built using the unified PCF. Developers and partners can now use this framework to design, build and deploy custom functionality in first-party Dynamics 365 apps and model-driven apps through the Unified Interface.

A selection of custom controls available in the Unified Interface
A selection of custom controls available in the Unified Interface

What else is new?

Other aspects of the Unified Interface include embedded interactive dashboards across all devices including mobile. As a result, embedded Power BI dashboards can be accessed from within Dynamics 365, even using a mobile device.

Visual 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. 

The return of form tabs and the addition of related items simplifies navigation to reduce clicks enabling users to quickly find detail which can include contextual records. 

When records are opened from a list view, a new control enables users to open an additional panel and scroll through other records in the list.

Pinned process stage

A new timeline control replaces the activity / notes panel that features new filters and visualisations that help 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 custom controls within process flows, embedded canvas PowerApps and Office 365 style profile cards with more updates announced for the next release wave in October 2019

Crucially, Microsoft is no longer investing in new features for the legacy web interface so these enhancements, and future feature releases, will only be available for the Unified Interface.

What is Microsoft's plan for the Unified Interface?

Microsoft’s goal is to make the Unified Interface the only client interface across all Dynamics 365 apps. This was introduced in v9.0 (2017) and it is now the default interface for the Dynamics App for Outlook, Dynamics mobile app and for all new Dynamics 365 app modules.

Deprecation of the legacy web client for Dynamics 365 Online was announced in September 2019 and Microsoft says this will no longer be available from 1 October 2020. However, many environments will be automatically transitioned well in advance of this date. Customers are urged to plan their transition to the new experience and it has published a series of resources to help plan and execute this...READ MORE

How does Unified Interface improve performance?

During its Business Applications Summit in June 2019, Microsoft highlighted a series of statistics to demonstrate how the Unified Interface improves performance and reliability. These included:

  • 63% improvement in grid load 
  • 37% improvement in form load
  • 45% improvement in dashboard load
  • 30% improvement in quick create load

When will the legacy web UI be deprecated?

Microsoft confirmed deprecation of the legacy web interface in September 2019. It will continue to provide support, security and other critical updates to the web client until 1 October 2020 but won't release any additional functionality beyond what has already been announced.

From 1 October 2020, the Dynamics 365 legacy web client will no longer be available. Download the Unified Interface transitioning guide

How should I prepare for the Unified Interface?

For existing Dynamics 365 users currently working with the regular web interface the new experience is a significant change and migration to this interface should be careful planned.

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 within 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. 

For example, some functions and plug-in's that you currently use may not be supported in the new experience. The legacy Dynamics 365 contracts entity and dialogs are examples of this. When legacy functions and customisations are no longer used this represents an opportunity to relaunch Dynamics 365 with an uncluttered interface. 

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 help your users get started with the new interface.

In August 2019, Microsoft published its Unified Interface Playbook to help administrators and teams plan their transition.

Enabling the Unified Interface

Speak to Preact, to learn more about the Unified Interface. We will help you enable the latest UI and plan your migration including user training that will cover management of the new experience.

Please get in touch if you want to know more, or to get advice on migrating to the Dynamics 365 Unified Interface.

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