2015 Update 1: Immersive Excel

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Update 1 (code named Carina) brings a lot of new great functionalities, in this post the new Immersive Excel functionality is presented.

Immersive Ad-hoc Analysis

Two areas to take into consideration for the Ad-hoc Analysis:

  • Embedded experience in CRM: CRM views can now be viewed as excel lists from inside CRM as example image below.

  • Bring in Excel capabilities into CRM: Users can do all the major features expected on excel (e.g.: filters, pivot tables, charts, etc.), as they did before on real-time data, but now without leaving CRM web interface and having to export views as excel files.

Immersive Bulk Edit

The image below perfectly captures how immersive bulk edit works:

In detail:

  • Views will now present the capability to “Open in Excel Online”.
  • The view will then be presented to the user as an excel online sheet, imbedded into the CRM UI. This is very similar to SharePoint’s functionality “Quick Edit”, where a user can bulk update a list, where excel like functionality presented to the user.
  • The user can then make the updates inline and click “SAVE CHANGES TO CRM” to confirm the bulk update.
  • The action that follows actually recuses the standard functionality, already available on previous versions of CRM (dated back to a least CRM 4.0):
    • The standard functionality by itself allows a user to:
      • Export data to a excel file, with the “bulk update” option selected.
      • This will export the excel file with hidden columns, such as the records GUID.
      • The user can then update data in the excel and import is back to CRM, by using its Import functionality.
      • The imported file would go to a “import queue”, where the file would pass through various stages, parsing, transforming and eventually importing (more details on the stages can be found here).
    • The functionality explained in the bullet above still occurs in “Immersive Bulk Edit” but CRM manages all the process for the user, as follows:
      • Creates a temporary excel with the data from the view, including the GUID (this excel would have the same format as if it would have been exported for re-import manually).
      • After user clicks on “SAVE CHANGES TO CRM”, the excel is imported into CRM and presents the user with the option to access the imports view.
  • This functionality does not replace the existing export for re-import, on CRM Update 1 both will be available, but Immersive Bulk Edit will now provide a faster alternative for bulk updates.

Requirements

Online only, further details:

  • CRM Online only
  • Might require the user to have an Office 365 License (TBConfirmed): This functionality leverages the Online versions of Office only
  • The user Role in CRM has to have the “Export to Excel” privilege set.

Best Practices

At least 6 to take into consideration:

  1. Immersive Excel is purely “On the Fly”: If you need to save the file permanently, copy data to another place or use Export to Excel functionality in CRM instead.
  2. Check file generated time in the UI: Time indicator on the top right, it regenerates the file (per view per user) after 5 minutes.
  3. Navigate away when you no longer need the content: If you need the content, import the data or copy the changes to somewhere else.
  4. Monitor Bulk updates is recommended: Import is asynchronous, and might fail is new data is badly formatted, go to imports section to track progress if required.
  5. Immersive Excel is available purely in Web Client: It will not allow the user to open the excel in desktop mode, the user will have to save/export to local folder.
  6. Always start Immersive Excel from a full CRM view: If Advanced Find is used to get the date to bulk update, save as a view first.

Conclusion

Ad-hoc Analysis and Bulk Edit can be accessed the same way, the same excel will be presented, the difference between them is what the user choses to do once the excel file is open, as follows:

  • If the user choses to create new sheets with pivot tables, charts etc, as a concept, this is considered to be “Immersive Ad-hoc Analysis”.
  • If the user choses to update the values of the data being presented and the “SAVE CHANGES TO CRM”, as a concept, this is considered to be “Immersive Bulk Edit”.

Stay tuned, more posts to come on 2015’s Update 1 and its new functionalities.

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