In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, entities are used to model and manage business data. For example, entities such as account, campaign, and incident (case) can be used to track and support sales, marketing, and service activities. An entity has a set of attributes and each attribute represents a data item of a particular type. For example, the account entity has Name, Address, and OwnerId attributes.
Conceptually, an entity is like a database table, and the entity attributes correspond to the table columns. Creating an entity record (or, simply a record) in Microsoft Dynamics CRM is like adding a record in a database table. The entities are divided into three categories: system, business, and custom. As a developer working with business data, you will use business and custom entities. System entities are used by Microsoft Dynamics CRM to handle all internal processes, such as workflows and asynchronous jobs. You cannot delete or customize system entities.
Business entities are part of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM default installation and they appear in the customization user interface. An account, contact, and letter are examples of business entities. After installation, you can add custom entities to Microsoft Dynamics CRM to address specific business needs of the organization.
In a solution, you can set business and custom entities and attributes to be either customizable or non-customizable. You can modify a customizable entity by renaming it, adding new attributes, or changing various settings, such as duplicate detection or queue support settings. You cannot modify a non-customizable entity. For more information about customization, unmanaged and managed solutions, and managed properties, see Package and Distribute Extensions with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Solutions.
If you are using the early-bound programming model, an entity is represented by a class, such as the Account class that represents the account entity. Entity attributes are represented by class properties. This class is generated by the CrmSvcUtil tool. For more information, see Use the Early Bound Entity Classes in Code. Alternatively, you can write programs that work with entity data by using a dynamic approach. For more information, see Use the Late Bound Entity Class in Code.
Read more in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM SDK…