Tip #911: Developers, start planning for new features

If you are a developer, deprecated Dynamics 365 features are not the only ones to watch out for. Much shinier and more exciting is the list of what’s coming in July 2017 (a.k.a. Spring) Update.

This is a very short summary what I think we should be paying close attention to, you’ll notice slightly rearranged order of the items. See the source for the details and, of course, YMMV.

Major stuff

These items represent either new exciting features or massive application design shifts in the Dynamics 365. Either way, the impact is going to be huge.

Feature Comments
Virtual Entities This is, hands down, new way to do real-time integration with external systems. In some scenarios say goodbye to replication and synchronization. I also see some potential for gaming the integration for oddball behaviors without any data sources at all.
Create & manage business apps In case you didn’t get the memo, in the last release we got appized™. “In addition to using the app designer, you can now programmatically create, manage, validate, and publish business apps.”

“Big deal” you say? Watch this space for the licensing to follow, signalling monetization for ISVs.

Create custom controls Beyond “the ability to create controls is being released as a preview feature”, details are sketchy. Unfortunately abbreviated Custom Control Framework (folks who acquired few grey hairs deploying CCF will appreciate) signals new era in customizations. Suffice to say that editable grid is built using this framework.

Who’s going to be the first vendor to release the “Dynamics 365 Custom Control Suite”?

WebHooks integration I’ve always been integration advocate and this is music to my ears. Azure Service Bus integration has been a robust workhorse for ages but this nod to open standards will reduce the complexity and open new possibilities. Watch this space as more details emerge.
Client API enhancements API enhancements are not usually classified as revolutionary unless they look like a major rewrite (with a nod to backward compatiblity) to support new UX paradigm of Unified Interface . I believe it’d be our fifth form type, right?

Evolution

Natural progression of things. Not quite revolutionary as the above list but still deserves similar respect and consideration.

Feature Comments
Web API improvements With support for EntityReference, Entity, and EntityCollection types in custom actions, our rumbling about CRM as API just became a little bit more coherent and relevant.

New messages means that Web API is one step closer to 100% coverage of the legacy endpoints functionality.

Control app settings & customizations  Natural addition to the programmatic business app management.
Multi-select option set  It’s not a new data type as some have been expecting. Somewhat hacky at the backend, it delivers long-awaited functionality. Why it’s not ground breaking? Because with Custom Control Framework I expect ISVs to unleash lots of similar (and better) controls.
Timeline control API API means that Timeline control is here to stay. Signals the beginning of the end for the Activity Pain (yes, spelled correctly).
WebHooks integration I’ve always been integration advocate and this is music to my ears. Azure Service Bus integration has been a robust workhorse for ages but this nod to open standards will reduce the complexity and open new possibilities. Watch this space as more details emerge.
JavaScript Web Resource dependencies Ability to load multiple resources for a form is great but you know there is something wrong with the approach when Scott “Mr Ribbon Workbench” Durow feels compelled to write “Deep Dive” on the subject. This enhancement promises universal dependency handling and auto-loading of the linked resources, would it be another script or an image. Dependency on attributes is interesting but watch out for some pitfalls though. “When a JavaScript web resource used in a form script is associated to an attribute for a specific entity, that entity attribute will be available to the script even when a field for that attribute isn’t included in the form.” Review your code if your script relied on some graceful error handling for missing attributes.
Unified Service Desk 3.0 I would place JAWS (Job Access With Speech) screen reader support on top of the pile of multiple enhancements.

None of the other enhancements seems to be ground breaking but, together, they sound powerful enough to warrant the major version change.

Spit & Polish

Category reserved for the items that don’t seem like a big deal. Don’t get me wrong, they are all nice but usually listed under “improved” category

Feature Comments
Vector Image web resources Did anyone lose a customer/prospect/project just because SVG was not a supported format? It might become more important in Unified Interface as we getting into the responsive CSS territory as opposed to the table-driven design.
Interactive Service Hub improvements We get it, it’s now called Customer Service Hub. Take two panadols and read Main – Interactive experience vs. Main form type upgrade battlesheet.
Grid enhancement The official name is “Override the default open behavior of data rows in an entity-bound grid”. It’s nice but is it such a big deal? Especially with at least 4 or 5 (according to my guesstimates) 3rd party grid replacements released in the first 6 months of CCF being made available.
Business process flow enhancements They are what they are – enhancements. Floating mode sounds interesting though.

At the moment, the most interesting features are “wait and see” pending pre-release. Watch this space as the features become available for consumption and review.

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