Dynamics CRM 2013 Composite Fields/Fly-out Menu

Posted: October 23, 2013 in Dynamics CRM 2013

Dynamics CRM 2013 introduces composite fields, which basically combines multiple fields into a single field on a form. This is currently used on ‘Name’ fields to combine first name, middle name, and last name into one ‘Name’ field. It is also used on most address blocks in CRM by combining all the address fields into a single composite field.

As you can see above, we have a single ‘Address 1’ field, which when clicked opens a fly-out menu with our 7 address fields. We can then change the individual values and click ‘Done’, or simply click off the fly-out menu to commit the changes.

The 7 address fields are then combined and formatted nicely into the ‘Address 1’ composite field, so that you can easily see the whole address in 1 field, rather than having to look across 7 different fields. This field can then be added into views and reports, or even exported to excel.

This new composite control is used for most of the main entity address blocks in CRM; including Account, Contact, Lead, Competitor, Quote, Order, and Invoice. It is currently not used on User, Business Unit, and Site. It’s also used on the Name/Full Name fields for Lead and Contact (but not User). Unlike the addresses, the Name composite fields use the existing Name/Full Name field, rather than a new field.

As you can see with the Name field, it uses the Middle Name field in the fly-out menu, but this is not added to the actual ‘Name’. If you wanted to see the person’s middle name, you would need to click into the Name field to open the fly-out menu.

The big question is how customizable is it?

Unfortunately we can’t create our own composite controls. Hopefully this is made possible in a future release, as that would allow for consistency when adding custom entities with address fields etc.

As for customizing the existing composite controls, we also cannot add, remove, or modify fields in the fly-out menus through the UI. This means that for us New Zealanders where we don’t use the ‘State’ address field, we cannot easily remove that from addresses now, or even relabel the fields. Hopefully this is also made editable in the future through the UI.

In summary, composite controls are pretty cool, and save us a lot of room on the form, especially with the addresses. It would be great if in future using just the UI we could do some of these basic customizations which are so often required in customized solutions, without the need of unsupported JavaScript.

In my next blog posts I’ll be looking at how to get around some of the limitations of composite controls, including what we can do with JavaScript and Business Rules.

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