The new CRM 2015 update is upon us and you can now play with it yourself by creating a free trial of CRM 2015 which I recommend you doing now and finish reading this post after it’s set up. Go now.

You might not think it’s been that long since CRM 2015 has been released, and technically you’d be right it’s been publically available now for about 6 months. However saying that, regular updates which introduce amazing new functionality is certainly not a bad thing and the updates included in the latest release are absolutely fantastic. The possibility to build even more  complex XRM solutions with little to none code is bigger than ever before and those solutions can just be configured to work multi-platform across the web client, tablet application and mobile application without having to build separately.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM no longer relies on code to create complex applications to suit the way businesses work. You have the choice of so many different tools at their fingertips in the latest versions that you can truly make an informed decision how you want to implement your vision. A huge bonus to this is that clients can get so much more for their money. What could have been a days worth of development for a client to achieve a complex plugin could now instead be implemented with a combination of business rules & real time workflows in half the time. More of this is now available and that is what this post is all about- what functionality has been made available in the CRM 2015 Update 1 and how you can use it.

New Navigation

You will notice almost immediately when you open the web client that there is a new stacked menu icon (or burger button) on the navigation bar. When you click select this you get the usual ‘Sales/Service/Marketing/Settings/Help’ options and when you click one of these you now get an extra section at the bottom, slightly indenting your selection to the bottom and you can see everything in the site map straight away and click the specific entity your looking for rather than having to scroll to the right. If you are familiar with Microsoft Dynamics Marketing this is the same navigation style and also if anyone has seen the new Windows 10, you’ll notice some similarities with that too. This is a fantastic improvement to the previous navigation as you feel like you can access things a lot quicker rather than feel like your going on a hunting session to find a new custom entity you have just made.

How to use it: Click the burger button and select your menu item, then select the specific entity view your looking for.


The stacked menu is now available on the navigation bar



When you select a section, the whole sitemap is now visible & selectable

Global Most Recently Used

Another improvement to the top bar navigation is something that resembles a clock near the quick create icon to the right hand side. This is the ‘Global Recently Used’ which is something that was actually in CRM 2011 that was available on the left hand navigation near the folder icon however it disappeared in the upgrade and now has been revived. This button displays your most recently used views and individual records. Don’t forgot about this, it’s surprisingly useful, and now this is in a more prominent position than the earlier version, there is absolutely no reason for you not to use this as it helps you navigate back to a specific record in two clicks.

How to use it: Navigate to a couple of views and individual records then click the icon and you’ll see them sitting there in the GRU list.


Global Recently Used records are now available from the top navigation bar


Enhanced Advanced Find

Advanced find has been improved to include a new set of queries you can use for Date fields. These are ‘Older Than’ and they have the potential to be very useful. To name a few simple scenarios that will help you learn how to use this functionality:

  • Cases that are older than 7 days
  • Opportunities that are older than 1 month
  • Cases have the followup by date older than 1 day AND the modified on date older than 1 day
  • Leads that have the modified on date older than 1 week

New set of operators available on Date fields: ‘Older Than’



A query created using the ‘Older than X Days’ using the Case entity to find Cases that are older than 7 days


Burger Button for Tabs on forms

When you open a form, next to the name you’ll see a little stacked menu (or burger button) icon that when clicked will display the tabs in the form so you can quickly zip to that tab. This is another reintroduction of the tabs from CRM 2011 on the left hand navigation and is very useful functionality to have, especially if you have a large form, it limits the need to scroll all the way down to the bottom. (An out of the box example is the Opportunity form, and Quotes, which is positioned near the bottom of the record) Another positive of this is has the potential to encourage tab centered design on forms that will assist users in how they access the information available to them, creating a more positive user experience

How to use it: Navigate to a form, e.g. the Opportunity sample record and next to the name in large letters click the stacked icon and you’ll notice the tab names, select one of these to be taken immediately to that tab.


You can now access your the tabs in a form from the very top of a record near the Name

Calculated Field upgrade

There have been a few improvements with the calculated field functions that were introduced in the latest major version update and included in this are the DateDiff functions. These are fantastic functions that essentially let you calculate the difference between two dates in certain forms such as in days, weeks, months or years (with two dates being the parameters). To demonstrate how awesome this is, in the example below I created a field called ‘No of Days Open’ in the Case entity and used the function DiffinDays(created on, NOW()) which calculates the difference in the date from when the record was created, to the today’s date. This gives people visibility how many days that case has been open as well as having the potentional to create some pretty wonderful charts and BI with it too.

How to use it: Customise a form, add a field, for example a whole number type field and ensure you change the type from ‘simple’ to ‘calculated’. Then click edit, saving your field automatically and open a pop up for you to enter your condition in and then your action. In the action field, start typing ‘D’ and you’ll see the intelisense work and suggest functions for you and their parameters. Select one of the new Diffin(?) functions and then you can either hardcode dates (not recommended..) or you can enter the names of date fields  in the case form e.g. modified on, created on). Save your field, add it to your form, publish your changes and take a look!


Creating the logic for a Calculated Field using the new Diffin function



The ‘No of Days Open’ field on a Case entity using the DiffinDays function to calculate the difference between the created on and the server date


Creation and Update Rules

Another new feature are the Creation and Update rules. These can be seen in any solution near the bottom of the left hand navigation. These rules let you automate actions based on the creation of certain records from external sources such as social listening.

The important thing here is that it is designed for external systems coming into CRM (e.g. social listening for example), there is not much documentation on it at the moment, but the best place to start is here. The only restriction on this is you can only have two rules, one that links to a queue and one that doesn’t. If you attempt to activate a second rule of the same type (e.g. queue based) then it will activate it but deactivate your previous one automatically.

How to use it: Navigate to a solution, go to the bottom and select ‘Creation and Update Rules’ and create a new one, selecting the data source type, any conditions and then the record to create. Followed by any further actions (update for example). To see this working, again you need your external source integrated and it can certaintly get completed as you need to specify your channels which is why I would recommend you giving the above link a read first. As I have not got an external source linked up yet, this is not something I have seen working live but as soon as I do there will be more info about it here. A good example would be to create leads from social media activities that meet certain conditions e.g. contain certain key words perhaps like ‘Dynamics CRM’.

Alternate Keys

Another exciting feature is the ability to make a custom unique ID for records, alternative to the GUID – this is only available for CRM Online and is referred to as ‘Keys’. Thy can be accessed & created in a solution under the specific entity.

Not going to rein-invent the wheel here describing what these are in any more depth – check out this post on Magnetism as it explains it so well

How to use it: Read the article I’ve linked above, navigate to an entity, create a key then create your code base (as this feature can only be made us of through code, even though it seems like a UI/config improvement) to interact with it depending on what you want to do. Baring in mind only certain messages it is available (check out the article, it explains this!)


The new section ‘keys’ under the specific entity in a solution



Themes have been one of the talked about new feature and the introduction of being able to style CRM to meet your organisations specific style does make the system seem a lot more polished and personal to those that use it.

To begin, navigate to Customisations > Themes but then you might wonder what to do next and what all the descriptions actually refer to? To help, use the screenshots below that will show you what sections of CRM that the descriptions refer to so you can create your design with less rework.

How to use it: Navigate to Customisations > Themes, then new or clone an existing theme, change some of the colours to other hex numbers and select ‘Preview’ or ‘Publish’ – Use the guide pictures below to get to know which colors refer to which parts of the UI


Navigate to Customisations, then ‘Themes’ to open up the Themes list



This is a Theme to be used as Legend with the screenshots below which are annotated









One Note Integration

One Note integration has now been introduced which is fantastic – it allows you to create a notebook per record and you can create organised sections of the notebook which can then be edited by your users. On top of that it gives you the ability to then share this notebook with users and none users of CRM. To give you an immersive experience the integration has been embedded into the forms, for example when you navigate to an Account there is a new header near ‘Activities’  called ‘One Note’. Selecting this then shows you all the sections of the Notebook (it automatically makes one called ‘Untitled’ to begin with.

How to use it: You need to have Office 365 with One Note Online to be able to access this integration. Sharepoint setup & integration is also required. Once this is done you can then configure One Note. There is a lot of work involved but it’s worth it.. and I’ll be posting a handy guide soon to show you how to trial  the integrations.


One Note integration on a Lead form




Selecting a section from the form takes you straight into OneNote



You can rename sections directly from CRM



If you remove the sections from the Notebook a message notifies you that there are no sections available


Excel Inline Editing

Similar to OneNote, you need to have Office 365 and Excel Online to be able to access this. It’s quite cool and allows you to edit your data inside CRM itself. The result is a very immersive experience and allows you to quickly make changes  to large amounts of data – it is as if your editing an entire view all at once.

How to use it: As mentioned above, you need to have Office 365 and Excel Online to be able to access this integration. The good news is it’s a little simpler than OneNote as you don’t need to do much else after that because it’s a case of navigating to a view, selecting the ‘Export to Excel’ ribbon button and ‘Open to Excel Online’ dropdown button and the data from your view loads up in about 3 seconds.


Export to Excel Online allows you to edit your data inline to CRM




I hope you have found this useful! If you have any questions please leave them in the comments! 🙂