Monday, 21 May 2018

Unboxing my Microsoft MVP award

22:41 Posted by Elaiza Benitez , , , ,
Earlier this month I was awarded by Microsoft as a MVP in Business Solutions. Around the world, there's 200+ Business Solutions MVPs and in Australia there is now 13 MVPs. Being the first female in the Australia/NZ region is an incredible feeling and it was truly a special moment for me when I found out I had been awarded.

*Edit: actually I'm the second, found out there was another female awarded a few years ago. I am currently the only awarded female*

I thought I'd share the moment I opened my Microsoft MVP gift package through a vlog. I hope this inspires others, especially those who have started their journey with Dynamics, PowerBI, PowerApps (list goes on) to share what they know by contributing to the community whether it be a podcast, blog or vlog.

Notable mentions

Andre Margono - one of the nicest and kindest people I've worked with to date. He nominated me last year after our first Dynamics 365 Saturday here in Australia.

Julie Yack, Leon Tribe and Neil Benson - for supporting my nomination.

Sophie Khun-Hammond - I learnt CRM4 from her back in 2009 and she was more than happy to show me the ropes. She is the foundation of my learning and really appreciated her guidance during that period of my career.

Lastly, Ben Hosking - in 2014 I reached out to Ben and said I always wanted to blog and do video blogs but had been afraid to do so. Through his encouragement from the other side of the world, I plucked up the courage to start blogging and vlogging. A little bit of encouragement goes a long way.

Ben, I still have that message if you're reading this. Thank you.


Thanks everyone. More vlogs coming.



 

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Updating the redeem invitation URL in the Send Invitation workflow in Dynamics Portals

21:31 Posted by Elaiza Benitez , , , No comments
The Send Invitation workflow in Dynamics Portals is what is used to invite Contacts to access the portal by redeeming an invitation code. One of the workflow steps is a Create Email step where there is a URL that outlines the web address of the portal and an embedded invitation code from the Invitation record.

In case you're not familiar with the Dynamics Portals redeem invitation process it looks like this:
  • An Invitation record is created and associated to a Contact. 
  • When the Invitation record is created, an invitation code is automatically generated that is unique for the invitation of that Contact.
  • An email is sent to the Contact once a Dynamics 365 end user runs the Send Invitation workflow. 
  • In the email there is a redeem invitation URL that contains the page address for the Contact (user) to sign up with an invitation code and the invitation code is embedded.
  • When the Contact clicks on the URL they are directed to the Sign up with an invitation code web page.
Those who have tried to update the URL in the email step may have experienced some loss of time. I say this cause there's a trick to it and I get asked about it frequently where I currently work at Barhead Solutions.

In my vlog I go through what people think would work (note I have experienced these scenarios myself and so have colleagues) and I also show you the trick into successfully making the URL work. Watch my vlog for a detailed walk through.

Most common mistake

The most obvious path to take initially when doing this for the first time is copying the Dynamics Portals URL address into the hyperlink that's already provided in the Send Invitation workflow. This won't work.

Almost there

OK I am going to try my best to explain this in written format. This is one of those occasions where a video demonstrates the steps better compared to written instructions.

First insert your hyperlink using the hyperlink wizard (is it a wizard?). Make sure you use your Dynamics Portals address. Save and Close.

When the hyperlink is displayed in the email message, you want to set your mouse cursor after the =%f and select Encode Invitation Code in the form assistant. Make sure you remove any extra spaces after =%f and before the </value> statement of the hyperlink. It should look like the following below underlined in red once you've inserted the slug.

Bonus Tip

If you only apply the Encode Invitation Code, the user experience is that the Invitation Code field in the Sign up with an invitation code web page will be blank.

A user is not going to know what to insert in the field. Even if you did expose the invitation code in the email and explicitly stated "Hey user, copy and design this long piece of code below to access the portal," there's still the risk of the user entering it wrong or copying and pasting with spaces or missing characters. The user may try again and can still get it wrong. Not a happy user experience.

To have the Invitation Code automatically populate with the generated code from the Invitation record in Dynamics 365, there's extra string/text to enter in the hyperlink:

&invitation=

You want to insert this before the Encoded Invitation Code slug in the email.


By doing this, the user experience will be that they are directed to the Sign up with an invitation code web page and the invitation code is automatically updated without input from the user.

Side Note

You can choose to expose the raw URL with the invitation code in the email message as seen in the original URL provided in the Send Invitation workflow. I think it's better to show it as a hyperlink where more user friendly text is provided such as the standard "Click here to ...."

Sometimes seeing a long raw URL with funky characters can be a bit too much for a user. This is my personal opinion, you don't have to follow it.

Summary

Updating the redeem invitation URL in the Send Invitation workflow isn't so bad after you know how to do it. I've found this works for me 100% every time I apply the above steps.

If you have something else that works let me know by leaving a comment in my YouTube video. Otherwise if you did give it a go yourself and it works, leave me a comment too :)

Thanks for stopping by and toodles till next time.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Preventing users from seeing the Search feature in Dynamics Portals

22:04 Posted by Elaiza Benitez , , , No comments
In every Dynamics Portals project I've worked on customers will always ask "Can the search in portals find results in custom entities?" The search feature of Dynamics Portals unfortunately does not allow custom entities to be enabled (yet).

Refer to Colin Vermander's answer in this Dynamics Community Forum post.
Colin's suggestion is to vote for it on the Microsoft Ideas site: Ability to search custom entities in Portals. Please vote :) Thank you.

The next question I get asked is "Can we prevent users in seeing it then?"
Yes, this can be done and I can help with this. Check out my vlog below.

Steps

There is no code required to prevents users in seeing the search feature in Dynamics Portals. You don't need to fiddle with the .css or use JavaScript. It's a matter of clicks. 

Update a Site Setting record

In Dynamics 365, navigate to Site Settings and open the "Search/Enabled" record.

Update the Value field from "true" to "false." Save and close the Site Setting.


Browse to your Dynamics Portals and hit the refresh button. You'll now see that the search feature no longer appears.

Summary

By updating the Site Setting record, the search feature will no longer display in Dynamics Portals. It's done in a few clicks without the need for code.

Till next time.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Allowing users to see a lookup field as a dropdown field in Dynamics Portals

21:53 Posted by Elaiza Benitez , , , No comments
End user experience for Dynamics Portals is key for making Dynamics Portals feel less like Dynamics 365 and more like an actual portal. Errr, does this makes sense? Hopefully it does.

One of the end user experiences that can be changed in a supported manner is the display of a Lookup field in Dynamics Portals. When you configure an Entity Form or a Web Form Step that has a Lookup field, it behaves like the following.


Not a problem but put yourself in a Dynamics Portals end users' shoes:

If I only see eight values, why can't I just select it in two clicks? 
Why do I have to see this pop up window and then select the value from this list? 
Oh... what does this search field do?

Exactly. By default since there is a Lookup field on the Entity Form or Web Form Step, it will behave similar to the Dynamics 365 out-of-the-box functionality of a Lookup field. As a Dynamics 365 user you would be familiar with this layout. As a Dynamics Portals end user this would be unfamiliar.

The Lookup functionality for Dynamics Portals is valid when there's a large volume of records/information for an end user to select but when there is only a few to select from, it's over kill to display the Lookup. Keep it simple for the end user.

What can you do to make this end user experience better? Take a look at my vlog to learn more.

Web Form Metadata

Yeah, it's my favourite. You would have guessed it from my previous vlogs as I've shared a couple of tricks with Web Form Metadata.

To make a Dynamics 365 lookup field appear as a dropdown field for a Dynamics Portals Entity Form or Web Form Step,
  • Create a Metadata record
  • Set the Type to Attribute
  • Select the Dynamics 365 lookup field
In the Control Style section, there is a field called "Style." In this field there is an option you can select called "Render Lookup as Dropdown."


Select this option and away you go.

Gotcha

If you are using Filtered Lookups in your Dynamics Portals Entity Form or Web Form Step I'm afraid this option is not valid. The field in Dynamics Portals will display all values instead of conforming to the Dynamics 365 behaviour of Filtered Lookups.

Summary

By using Web Form Metadata you can change how an end user interacts with a Dynamics 365 lookup field by displaying it as as a dropdown field in Dynamics Portals. You're keeping the end user experience simple in the scenario where there isn't a large volume of values (records) to select.

Hope you enjoyed this tip.

Till next time.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Increasing the field label length beyond the 100 characters limit in Dynamics Portals

22:00 Posted by Elaiza Benitez , , , No comments
Dynamics Portals surfaces Dynamics 365 entity forms that are linked to a Dynamics Portals Entity Form or Web Form Step. Whatever you configure in the Dynamics 365 entity form will show on Dynamics Portals. Therefore you are abiding to the Dynamics 365 configuration principles.

By default the field label in Dynamics 365 fields is limited to 100 characters including spaces. This is true however as seen in my previous vlog, there's some nifty tricks you can do with Dynamics Portals. 

This time round I'm sharing with you all on how you can increase the field label length in Dynamics Portals without being in conflict of the Dynamics 365 field label limit of 100 characters. 


Show me this magic

Web Form Metadata! I love this feature of Dynamics Portals. There's different things you can do by applying Web Form Metadata to a Dynamics Portals Entity Form or Web Form Step.

To change a field label of a Dynamics 365 field for a Dynamics Portals Entity Form or Web Form Step, 
  • Create a Metadata record
  • Set the Type to Attribute
  • Select the field of the label you want to increase 

In the "Label" section this is where you can insert your long field label that is beyond the 100 character limit.


Once you update the value for the Dynamics 365 field using the Web Form Metadata, the text entered will appear in Dynamics Portals. You won't cross paths with the default Dynamics 365 behaviour of  the 100 characters limit in field labels.


Summary

Web Form Metadata will allow the length of a field label to be increased for a Dynamics Portals Entity Form or a Web Form Step. You simply select the field that needs to have an increased field label and away you go!!! Awesome sauce.

Till next time, toodles.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Allowing users to click on a hyperlink and more with helper text in Dynamics Portals

22:00 Posted by Elaiza Benitez , , , No comments
Ever wanted to display helper text in Dynamics Portals with a hyperlink to either a document stored online or to a different web page that may list the terms and conditions to users?

If the answer is Yes, you have come to the right place.

What is helper text?

I didn't know the official terminology until I Googled it one day and sure enough I found a website with design guidelines that described what I was looking for as "helper text." It's text that is usually displayed by a field to help the user understand what they need to enter in the field.

Can I do this in Dynamics Portals?

You most certainly can my grasshopper. There's no need to use content snippets and then modifying the template for the form to display the content snippet by the field. Well you could but it's more time consuming and general rule of thumb is to work with what's available out-of-the-box if you can.

In my vlog I show you how to achieve displaying a clickable hyperlink to a user in Dynamics Portals.

What are the configuration steps?

Create a Web Form Metadata record against the Entity Form or Web Form Step that is displaying the fields to the user in Dynamics Portals. You want to select "Attribute" as the Type value. Then proceed in selecting the field for the helper text.


Scroll down till you see the Description/Instructions section.
  • The Position field outlines where the helper text is going to display against the field. I personally like "Above the field" as it looks better than the other two options.
  • The Use Attribute's Description Property field should be set to No otherwise it will use the description entered in the field in the field customization settings.
  • The Description is where you enter in your text.


If you enter in text, that's fine. Your text will show as required.

A more common scenario is providing a hyperlink for the Dynamics Portals users to click on for additional information that cannot be displayed on the form. An example is a link to terms and conditions. If you want to enter in a hyperlink for users to click on, simply use HTML to do so. 

Example I used in the vlog is:

Click <a href="https://docs.microsoft.com/en-au/dynamics365/">here</a> for full terms and conditions.

When you refresh your web page of the form, you'll see the helper text displayed.

Hold on...

If you use this HTML it will open the target URL in the current browser tab which is not ideal as the user needs to remain in the Dynamics Portals form.


Recommendation

The HTML that should be used in the following as seen in my vlog. You need the highlighted yellow part:

Click <a href="https://docs.microsoft.com/en-au/dynamics365/" target="_blank">here</a> for full terms and conditions.

Quick question - how come this Dynamics 365 field supports HTML?

If you look closely at the field, it's not actually a standard Dynamics 365 field. Our friends at Dynamics Portals have used iframes in some of the records to allow more functionality beyond a standard Dynamics 365 field.

Other HTML that can be used to change the appearance

The following is what I went through in the vlog that is supported in Dynamics Portals
  • Centered Text
  • Right Align Text
  • Left Align Text
  • Bold Text
  • Italics Text
  • Underline Text
  • Bold, Italics and Underline Text
  • Change The Font Size
  • Change The Font Colour
  • Bullet Points
  • Numbered Points
  • Ping Pong Style Marquee
  • Marquee That Scrolls Left
  • Marquee That Scrolls Right
  • Marquee That Scrolls Up
  • Marquee That Scrolls Down
  • Emojis - check out Megan's blog post if you haven't already done so
  • Rainbow
  • ASCII Art - I showed a bunny :)
  • GIF
Now you do need to be practical about what you display. GIF, ASCII Art or Marquees is probably not appropriate (well in a live/production environment ;) ). You get the idea though, if you know HTML you can manipulate the appearance of what's entered as helper text.

I'm not a HTML guru, I had Google help me with some of the HTML above.

Marquee was a personal favourite of mine when I learnt simple HTML back in high school ages ago so it made the cut.


Summary

Displaying helper text is supported and 100% configurable using a Web Form Metadata record of type "attribute." You don't need to do any additional development to provide this functionality, it's supported with Dynamics Portals already.

I hope you enjoyed the vlog. I had a lot of fun with it.

Till next time, toodles.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Hiding the Sign In with External Account option for users in Dynamics Portals

21:38 Posted by Elaiza Benitez , , , , No comments
Dynamics Portals is pre-configured when provisioned. Not all features will be used or is needed by users. One of these features is the ability to log in with an external account.


The supported external accounts are
  • Azure AD
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Microsoft
  • Twitter
At the time of writing this, Google is not supported. It was supported but currently not at the moment.


Anyways, back to it - there have been a couple of Microsoft Community Forum posts that have asked how to remove the Sign In with External Account option.
The comments recommend updating the CSS. From the comments, it's apparent that it's troublesome to get the CSS right for it to not show.

In the second forum post there's a comment from Shan McArthur in reference to the ability to hide it as a result of the July 2017 release.

It's not clear what the steps are if you go to docs.microsoft and not many people know that it is configurable which is what I share with you in this Quick Tip vlog.

What do I need to configure?

Site Settings in Dynamics Portals "is a configurable, named value that is used by website code to modify the behavior or visual style of the portal," click here for the source.

Basically a super user or administrator can update values in a Dynamics 365 record and the Dynamics Portal code will use the value entered as the code references the value in the record.

For the External Login features, they are configurable from Site Setting records. There's two site settings that need to be updated to False (assumption is that you have not enabled the other external accounts such as Facebook).

Authentication/Registration/AzureADLoginEnabled - this is the Azure AD option.



Authentication/Registration/ExternalLoginEnabled - this is for all External Accounts

What next?

If you clear the Dynamics Portals cache as seen in my vlog, it's still going to display.

What you need to do is is navigate to the Dynamics Portals admin centre and in Portal Actions, you want to select "Restart Portal." Make sure you perform this outside of office hours or in a period when you know users will not be using Dynamics Portals.


Wait a few minutes and when you go back to the Sign In web page, you'll see that the External Account option is no longer visible. Awesome sauce!


Summary

Dynamics Portals was designed to be configurable. In the past the only valid solution was to update the CSS to hide the Sign In With External Account but since the July 2017 release, it's now configurable. Don't go changing the CSS!!!

I'm sharing this because it is simple, takes less time and is the proper way to hide the Sign In with External Account. If you do apply these steps, do Like or Comment or even give me a shout out on Twitter so that I know you successfully did it without the pain of updating the CSS :)

Help me spread the word by sharing this among the Dynamics 365 community since this is not well known yet.

Till next time, Toodles.