I wanted to spend a little time and write about one of my favorite topics, User Interface (UI). As I stated in another post, when I first mentioned during an initial Microsoft meeting that I wanted to be both a UI designer and a developer, laughter erupted in the room. Regardless, I persevered and took the UI that I designed / developed for iCommunicate.NET and evolved it into what ultimately became the UI of Microsoft CRM v1.0. Later when a UI team was formed, we together further refined the design into what became the Microsoft CRM v1.2 UI. This team grew even larger and is now working hard to further evolve the interface for our upcoming Microsoft CRM 2005 release.

 

There are many reasons why I like to talk about UI, but some of the top include:

 

  • UI is important, it is all the end-user will ever see of your hard work
  • UI can make or break a good customer experience
  • UI is fun

 

When it comes to the UI of Microsoft CRM, there is much to talk about. In this series of articles I will be covering the following topics:

 

  • Terminology and overview of the Microsoft CRM UI
  • History of the Microsoft CRM UI
  • UI Guidelines for ISV’s that want to develop on Microsoft CRM
  • Extra Credit: An overview of what changed from v1.0 to v1.2

 



Overview of the Microsoft CRM UI

This section will give you a high-level overview of the Microsoft CRM UI layout, and the terms that we use internally to describe it. The hope here is to create a “common language” and understanding of the current UI.

 

The application is divided into 2 main layers. The first is the “Home Page Level”, which is the layer of the application the user sees when first launching Microsoft CRM. There is a “home page” for almost every type of entity in the system. This is where “instances” of an “entity” are managed.

 

 

The “Left Nav” Area and Global Menu Bar are configurable via “ISV.Config”. Please note that the “Left Nav” area does not exist in the Outlook Client.

 



Not all grids support “Previews” and not all grids have a “Jump Bar”. Views and Previews are typically customizable via the “System Customization” area.

 

Second, is the “Details Page Level”, this is also known as a “Form”. This is where a single “instance” of an entity is managed. The user gets to this layer when they open a record from a grid or choose to create a new instance of an entity.

 

 

 

Forms are customizable via the “System Customization” area. The Left Nav, Menu Bar and Tool Bar are customizable via ISV.Config.

 

The basic structure of a “Form” is that “Forms” contain “Tabs”, tabs contain “Sections”, sections contain “Rows”, rows contain “Cells” and cells contain “Fields”.

 


Aaron Elder
Microsoft Customer Relationship Management
Core Application Development Team


 

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