Make Your Dynamics 365 Forms More Interactive With These Power App Components

Power Apps Control Frameworks

Power Apps Component Framework (PCF) are controls that provides a new way of visualising and working with data on your forms, views, and dashboards in Dynamics 365.

These controls enable organisations to create visualisations, which enhance the user interface for reading, adding or updating information. For instance, with PCF controls, a regular drop down can be converted into an icon option-set, transform a list into a calendar or a map, or replace regular text fields with toggle or slider components.

What are the advantages of PCF controls?

Before Microsoft launched PCF controls, admins and developers used HTML web resources to modify form data. These were slow to load, and often weren’t user friendly. By contrast a PCF control can be reused across multiple apps, forms, or views. These perform faster and load at the same time as the rest of the form components. They also increase the visual appearance of a form to simplify data entry, and makes forms more interactive, so that users can quickly and accurately complete data entries.

Despite these advantages, many Dynamics customers don’t use these features to their full potential, so in this post, we’ve highlighted a selection of out-of-the-box and custom PCF controls which can elevate Dynamics users’ experience.

Out-of-the-box PCF controls

These are created by Microsoft and available by default on Dynamics 365 and other model driven apps. Admins can enable most of these controls without making custom code changes or paying any additional cost. Our top picks include:

  • Rich Text Editor: Enabling users to format text according to their preference. For instance, a user submitting a new case can emphasize the case description by highlighting the issue in bold or in a different colour. Default formatting options include font type, size, hyperlinks and images.
  • Barcode Scanner: Auto populate a field from a scanned barcode. This can be useful for field technicians in quickly completing a form while performing onsite service tasks. Users can also search for records that match the barcode for easy lookup.
  • Toggle: The toggle control enables users to choose between binary values, such as on/off and yes/no, by toggling the button. This is an example of how a simple button can improve the way users work with forms.
  • Number Input: Allows users to quickly enter or update volumes and other numerical values. Enter a value directly, or click the plus and minus buttons to adjust this in line with your predefined increments.
  • Star Rating: For a visual representation of a rating to capture feedback or define quality metrics.
  • Pen Control: Capture handwritten text or signatures for signing orders, approvals, sign offs etc using a mobile device. Users can also print a report with the signature captured by pen control as an image. Currently this control can be enabled only using the classic form designer.
  • Business Card Control: This allows users to scan business cards and extract information directly into Dynamics. Use the control on a mobile device to take a photo or upload an image. This feature can be particularly useful for sales teams, giving them the flexibility to create a contact record by just scanning a business card. Admins can define what business card fields are be mapped to the corresponding contact or lead form fields. This control is available free with a Dynamics Sales Enterprise license.
Changes to Dynamics 365 forms before and after enabling PCF controls

Custom PCF controls developed by Preact

In response to frequent requests, Preact has developed a series of reusable custom PCF controls to add more capabilities to Dynamics 365 and model-driven apps. These can be enabled at no additional cost, as part of our Elevate 365 or Solutions 365 subscription. Our most popular PCF controls deployed by our customers include:

  • Multi-Select Lookup: Search and select multiple values to populate any field, on any entity lookup. In this example, multiple account managers are selected and tagged to an Account entity. This solution can be added to any form as a space-saving alternative to sub-grids. It can also be included in Quick Create forms where sub-grids are not enabled.
Multi Select lookup screenshot
  • Next & Last Activities: Dynamics 365 does not provide an easy way to sort out last and next activities from the activity timeline. Instead of endlessly scrolling, this visualisation enables users to instantly check the most recent and upcoming interactions by activity type.

    The card/list view can be customised to display contact name, status and subject or any other field to fit your requirements.
Next & Last Activities
  • Icon Option Sets: With PCF, option sets can be visualised as a series of icon tiles, making them easier for users to interpret and quickly select the appropriate item. Once the relevant icons are selected, administrators can adjust the selected colours to fit a brand palette, or unique preferences.
Option set showing multiple transport options represented by an icon with a text title
  • Drag & Drop Sub Grids: Easily reorder a set of records / rows by applying drag and drop capabilities to any sub-grid where there is a relationship between the parent record and the child records.

    This can be particularly useful to rearrange project records to reflect priority, or sort account records so the most senior contacts appear at the top of the grid.
Drag & Drop Feature in Dynamics 365
  • Record Tagging: Tags are unique identifiers to search, sort, categorise, filter and segment records in a more efficient way. Use this control to easily tag any record that will categorise them into accurate profiles which can be used to define views. For example, an account may be tagged both as a key account and a reference site.
Record Tagging Feature in Dynamics 365
  • Field Character Counter: this dynamically shows how many characters are remaining in a multi-line text field, enabling users to see if a field is subject to a character limit.
Field Character Counter
  • Bank Account Validation: This control, together with our third-party Loqate connector, instantly checks if bank account details are entered to avoid payment errors. Enter any UK sort code and bank account number to verify these details.
Bank Account Validation Feature In Dynamics 365

Need further assistance?

Do you have questions about how PCF controls and how these can enhance user experience in Dynamics 365 and Power Apps? Whether you are considering an out of the box control or are interested in any of our reusable PCF controls, we can help you get started. Get in touch with us today to discuss your requirements.

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