Why You Should Move to Unified Interface
Intuitive, Accessible and Modern
Authors: Seb Gedge & Simon Bridgwater | Software Consultants | Formus Professional Software
Microsoft D365 Unified Interface is an intuitive, user friendly, responsive new layout for navigating and using Dynamics 365.
It costs nothing to implement, just a little set up time, yet allows you a more streamlined experience across all devices and Dynamics platforms.
We’ve given UI a whirl ourselves and wanted to share what we’ve found.
Note : By the way, you might have noticed already, but we’re going to refer to Unified Interface as UI throughout this article. “Wait a minute, you can’t do that! Isn’t UI already a protected term in the computing world? Doesn’t it already stand for User Interface?” we hear you protest. Well, yes, you have a point, but we’re struggling to figure out a better abbreviation at the moment, so bear with us.
Getting Down to Business
Alright, straight to business. It’s cleaner, slicker, faster, and more accessible, and it’s far easier to deploy new apps without having to type a single line of code.
All that said, it’s not perfect… yet. There are still things missing from UI that the classic interface provides. For the most part we’ve found these issues are surmountable, so it’s worth getting ahead of the game and starting your migration project ASAP.
The introduction of Unified Interface brings about widescale changes to how users interact with Dynamics, both from a visual and a usability point-of-view.
To keep the software bang up to date, this overhaul aims to give all users a consistent approach to using Dynamics, regardless of which technologies they use to access it.
UI addresses the disparity between your web client, mobile browser and the Dynamics app for phone and tablets, bringing them all together with one streamlined interface for users and developers.
The first iteration of UI was missing critical functionality, stoppering user adoption. However since then, Microsoft has addressed the missing functionality with subsequent updates to the Dynamics 365 web client and UI.
UI is currently available alongside the classic interface but Microsoft has intimated that this won't always be the case and that the classic web client will be turned off at some point in the future. The timing of this hasn’t been officially announced but you should keep in mind that it is going to happen sooner or later.
We’ve gone into a bit more detail towards the end of the article about how UI fits into the wider Microsoft plan, and to give you some more details about how it works, but otherwise read on to see what we think.
A Few Cool Features
As part of the work Microsoft have done in developing UI, they’ve brought about a number of new features. There are a few that we’re pretty excited about.
- Embedded interactive dashboards are now available, no matter the platform you are accessing the environment from. Think fancy charts and performance metrics, useful for management and board meetings
- Business process flows can now be docked on screen, meaning you don’t lose track of where you are in a flow
- A new pane has been introduced when accessing a record, allowing you to scroll through other similar records, reducing the number of clicks and giving easier access to information
- A new chronological timeline control has been added, which adds additional filters and visualisations to help with navigation of notes, posts, emails and tasks
- The number of pop-up windows has been reduced by a redesign of how you access associated records in sub-grids – you no longer have to move away so much from the originating record to access useful data
What Does Unified Interface Look Like?
Some of the key things to notice are the navigation pane (left-hand side), the business process flow (top), and the timeline (middle).
We really love the new interactive dashboards; they can present data in various formats and they’re a really handy start page for all levels of user.
Rather than overload you with a big wall of text about our opinions of UI, we’ve put together this handy graphic instead. Everyone loves a pros and cons list, right?
The Good Stuff
Room For Improvement
Consistent across all platforms
It doesn’t matter whether you opt for a PC, laptop, phone, or tablet. You’ll get a similar experience across all devices.
Easier to access useful info
Related records are more in-your-face than before, and you can now pin records to your sidebar for easier access.
Quicker and easier deployment
If you want to get a new department onto the system, you can create an app for that without having to write any code.
We can’t get around the fact that the layout has been greatly improved, with less blank space and cleaner styling.
The new sidebar makes it quicker and easier to get to the areas of the system you use most often.
Recent correspondence with customers is easier to follow due to the introduction of the timeline
Not quite there yet
There’s still some stuff that Classic UI does better, such as customisations and other settings changes.
If you’re looking to move across to UI, you’ll need to test all your processes to make sure they still work.
Some training needed
You’ll need to give users chance to acclimatise to UI rather than throwing them in the deep end.
As you can see, we think there are a lot more reasons to move to UI than to stay on the classic interface. Just make sure you work with your Dynamics 365 partner during the migration, and set plenty of time aside for testing processes and making changes.
If you’re new to Dynamics 365 and you’re wondering whether or not to start with UI, we’d suggest just going for it. It’s perfectly functional out-of-the-box, and any customisations you need will be carried out with UI in mind. Don’t fall into the trap of starting off with the classic interface with a view to migrating to UI later on, as before you know it your users will need to re-learn certain bits of the system.
The Techy Stuff
UI isn’t something that’s been developed in isolation. It utilises the Microsoft Power Apps platform and model-driven applications, allowing developers to create tailored business applications for all departments and users within the scope of deployment, improving system usability and performance.
Microsoft are no longer investing in adding new features for the classic web interface, so any new features are only going to be made available within UI. Dynamics 365 2019 Release Wave 2 is coming soon, and it brings about a wealth of enhancements, including changes to UI.
Early access to this release is now available for administrators to test new features. It was released on 2nd August 2019 and will be rolled out to the wider community on 1st October 2019.
Further details of what’s included in the release are available on the Microsoft website, but as developers we’re most excited about the new Power Platform admin centre. It will create a single approach to allow us administrators to manage environments, governance controls, apps and flows, and analytics and telemetry from one single portal.