Hi, again! I’m Chris Heydemann, Senior Program Manager on Business Contact Manager, back with more information on BCM.

One of the most important features in BCM 2010 is Customization. Being able to fit BCM to your specific business needs is a key to BCM’s flexible design.

Since our Office 2003 release, users have been asking for a more complete customization experience. We took some steps in the right direction in Office 2007, but with Office 2010 we’ve really stepped it up!

I’ll cover Customization in several posts. In this post, I’ll talk about modifying forms to reflect your business. In subsequent posts, I’ll talk about creating new record types and custom relationships between them, report customization, and finally scripting BCM.

Those familiar with BCM for Office 2007 will remember that you could not remove any fields from BCM forms, that you could add fields only onto the bottom of default pages, and that you were limited to 40 custom fields. BCM 2010 addresses these limitations and more.

Overview

Here’s what you can do in BCM for Office 2010 that was not possible in BCM for Office 2007:

  • Complete form customization: Business Contact, Account, Opportunity and Business Project forms can be fully customized.
  • Extended field support: Add up to 300 user defined fields (300 max across all record types).
  • Visual form designer: Click and drag to rearrange fields and groups anywhere on the form.
  • Multi-page support: Create and name up to 7 form pages: Overview, Details, Interests, Specifications… What you name each page is up to you.
  • User defined record types: Define your own user-defined record types: Vendor, Cardiologist, Charity, Professor, Student … whatever works for your business. (I’ll talk about this capability in detail in a subsequent post.)

Form Layout

You can launch the form designer from the Backstage view, or by clicking the “Form layout” ribbon button on the form you want to customize. In either case, you’ll open the form in design mode:

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This is where you’ll do all your form customization. There is no coding, no careful aligning of labels and fields. Everything is click and drag. Put groups and fields where you want them, and BCM will align them for you. Name them what you want, and remove those that are irrelevant to your business.

All changes made to any record type (say, Accounts or Business Contacts or Vendors) apply to all forms of that record type, and all users, including users who might be sharing the database, will see the new forms. And to prevent unauthorized changes, you do need to be a database administrator to customize forms.

Groups

In the image above, the “Source information” group is highlighted. With a quick drag of the mouse…

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…we can place the group wherever we like. Cool, huh?

If a particular group of fields is not helpful to your business, hit the Delete key, and the fields are removed from the form, though the data in those fields is still in the BCM database.

To add an entirely new group, hit Add Group on the ribbon, give the group a name, and the group appears at the current cursor location.

You can also make groups “wide”, which means they take the entire width of the form. While this is most useful with groups that contain tables, it can apply to any group.

Fields

To add fields to existing or new groups, select Add Field. Name the field and select its data type (say, text, currency, drop-down list), and the field appears on the form:

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And you’re done. Save the edits, and all Business Contact forms, including those of users sharing your database, will now look like this. Flexibility made easy!

Tabs

Another topic I’ll cover in the future is the personalization of the desktop. For now, I just want to point out that the “Bike configurations” group we created above can appear in the reading pane. No need to open the individual record to get information you need:

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BCM 2010 goes a long way towards satisfying the needs of our customers. Our users now have complete form customization, up to 300 custom fields, a visual form designer, support for multiple pages within a single form, and user-defined record types.

You’ll learn a lot more about all of these capabilities, and how they’ll help your businesses, in subsequent posts.

And don’t forget to keep the feedback coming!

Thanks for your time, Chris