What's New in Dynamics 365 Portal October 18 Update?

Microsoft has detailed the upcoming features to Dynamics 365 Portal in the October 2018 update. It will bring 100's of new capabilities across the entire CRM platform, with deeper integration, performance improvements to be implemented from October 2018 through March 2019. It's an exciting time for Web Portal specialists like our selves, who have seen plenty of updates since the purchase of Adxstudio. 

We've broken down some of the update highlights below:

Embed Power BI

Businesses capable of displaying data visuals directly to the Portal is an exciting feature and one end users would certainly benefit from. With the ability to embed Power BI directly, users can have access to business level data with pre-configured visualisations. 

This will be deployed using Liquid and will include the possibility to filter the parameters, allowing organisations to personalise the view of the contact. 

Restricting Portal Access by IP Address

We suspect this parameter setting would only be needed by large web portal projects. When this feature is turned on, any IP that is restricted will be returned a 403 error. It could be useful as an added security layer for using an internal web portal, so you can avoid outsiders retrieving access should they obtain login information. However, with most organisations having employees working from home in some capacity, we feel this could cause potential problems. It's a good feature but we foresee it only being used in a small number of web portal deployments. 

Performance

The underlying platform has been changed and therefore "Dynamics 365 Portal is more reliable and performant than ever" We're interested to see how this is measured and what they've done to achieve reliability and speed to the Portal. A few years ago, simple configuration issues could cause complete crashes which have now been fixed, so we look forward to future improvements. 

Self-service Portal Diagnostics

Microsoft has invested in a new tool, providing customers with the ability to resolve issues on their own using a self-service diagnostic capability. They want to continue to improve the supportability and experience of Dynamics 365 Portal and help organisations create websites in a simple and effective manner.

This feature provides a self-service diagnostic tool that looks at the portal configuration and identifies potential configuration problems as well as provides solutions on how to resolve the issues. This tool can be used by Portal administrators to quickly resolve common issues and reduce the amount of time spent on diagnosing any issues. 

SharePoint Integration 

One of the most exciting feature to be announced is the capability of users to have direct access to files stored inside a SharePoint instance. It enables organisations to leverage their existing investment in SharePoint with Dynamics 365 for document management. 

The way it works is that documents associated with entity records can be managed by portal users as they are stored in SharePoint document library, therefore enabling businesses to leverage the seamless collaboration capabilities offered natively by SharePoint.

Simplified Customisation

Microsoft has identified the need for enhancements for portal designer and administrator users. They have provided some details and seem to be focused on content authoring.

They have detailed that these users will benefit from:

• WYSIWYG-based content editors that help craft beautiful visual experiences. 
• Modern and intuitive web page authoring experience. 
• Improved sitemap configuration that helps users manage navigation and page hierarchies efficiently. 
• Contextual component configuration and administration for improved productivity. 

Improving the CMS aspects is a welcome change, and will help content users deliver elegant user interfaces to customers through the portal. We're interested to see how this change will materialise in the October release. 

In summary, we're pleased with the upcoming changes. Enabling portal users to have control access to a depository using SharePoint is an excellent addition, and adds value to customers leveraging both products. We're optimistic about the performance enhancements and simplified customisation which will certainly support us when we're managing large web portal projects for our customers. We think this is still just the beginning and we'll see more excellent capabilities in the upcoming updates. 

Microsoft is also adding 100s of capabilities across the entire Dynamics 365 Platform. You can download the release notes for the PDF directly from us here.