Microsoft Dynamics 365 April 2019 update: Was that v10?

As you probably know the April 2019 release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 became generally available on 5th April. It marks an important update as it’s the first from Microsoft that follows their new continuous delivery cycle – you can read more on this in our article “Best practices for the new Dynamics 365 upgrade approach”.

There has been a lot of discussion within the Dynamics community that this April 2019 update would bring about version 10 – which is a major upgrade. So, imagine our surprise when we realised the version number did not change at all when we enabled the update.

Enabling the April Update

Microsoft have been making big changes behind the scenes – such as the new “Power” admin centres. These have great potential and we know that the relatively new ‘Power Platform’ (combining Power BI, PowerApps and Flow) is a big focus for Microsoft. Everything (pretty much) can now be managed from the Power Platform but there are two apps that come into play when administering Dynamics 365 environments:

Power App Admin Center

This is used to manage all your PowerApp environments which now includes your Dynamics 365 instances as they are now a flavour of “Model Driven Apps”. However, creating a new environment from this area will not create a trial Dynamics 365 instance. That still needs to be done from the “Dynamics 365 Administration Center”

For the purpose of this article we have spun up a brand-new instance (interestingly the interface still refers to this as v9.0 at the time of writing.)

Power Platform

This one is used to manage the settings that sit behind your environment, basically the settings area of Dynamics 365 on steroids. Here you will find a lot of actions that transport you into very familiar territory i.e. the old Dynamics 365 interfaces. But going forwards this appears to be your first stop for all things admin within Dynamics.

So, to enable the April update on your environment (preview) you need to head to the Power Platform, then click ‘Environments’ and select the one that you wish to update.

From here you can opt to enable the April update (click ‘Manage’ next to the updates section, in the bottom right)

Activation is disturbingly fast. Once activated, head to the settings area (top of your screen) to find the new little gems of functionality that you can now enable for your system – also notice the database version is the same. It’s worth pointing out that the database version is becoming increasingly redundant due to the number of solutions that Microsoft now release. Using the excellent Solution History Viewer in the XRMToolbox you can see exactly what has happened. The following shows you the extend of the solutions and how many things are updated in the background even when the database number has not changed.

Next, head to the ‘Settings’ section.

Some of the new features are a little hidden. For example, if you want to only force the new Unified User Interface (UUI) then you’ll want to head to ‘Behaviour’ under the ‘Product’ title and turn “Use Unified Interface Only” on, and probably turn “Show legacy app to everyone” off.

The New Unified User Interface

All Dynamics 365 Online environments (v9) can enable the new unified user interface today, however this update will be turned off by default, as it could be very disruptive to your system. This new interface is an important update as it brings the look and feel of Dynamics 365 up to more modern standards and unifies the Dynamics platforms with the same design. It is a much more modern user experience, but you must beware! Changing the look and layout of Dynamics 365 means that some areas of your system may not work as well as before, and you will need to consider training your end users to get familiar with the new experience. Here’s a short summary below but we will be writing in more detail on this soon.

Overall, the new interface is brilliant – there are some awesome controls and the newly released ability to embed canvas apps created in PowerApps make it hugely extendable. But beware, all those lovely forms you have worked on designing for the “legacy” user interface might not play nicely with the new unified interface. There are some key concepts that have changed. Most notably the concept of tabs is back – properly! Those of us who worked with CRM pre-2011 will remember why those collapsible areas on the forms are called tabs; because once upon a time they were. Well now they are again:

Note the ‘Summary’ ‘Details’ and ‘Related’ tabs along the top of the form. This is what the current expandable areas will transform into.

The other obvious visual change are the lines: all that unbroken white space is now divided up with some lovely dividers. This does make the aesthetics better but looking closer you’ll see they come with some padding, so things might not fit as well onto your screen as they once did.

The last piece we want to point out is that with a move to the unified interface come the removal of the… methods previously used in the JavaScript on your forms. You will now need to pass the execution context to your methods and retrieve information from there. That doesn’t sound like much, but some systems with complete display logic do not use business rules to hide and show fields and so this change may lead to a lot of technical debt. More about this can be found here.

So, when is v10 coming?

In summary, if you haven’t already you need to be spinning up a test instance of your Dynamics 365 system and enabling the April update now. Not just so that you can check this update doesn’t break anything but so you can also start planning for October. While there’s little announced on October 2019 release, we expect this is when version 10 is due for release.

Details about v10 are few and far between, but with everything moving to the Power Platform and the Unified Interface you can make a fair assumption that your systems need to get on board with Microsoft’s direction – and the sooner the better so you aren’t in a difficult position of being forced to enable these changes with little time for testing.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss upgrading, please feel free to contact us.