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Customizing Navigation

Microsoft Dynamics CRM enables you to easily perform navigation customizations by editing the site map. The site map is an XML file that is read and parsed by Microsoft Dynamics CRM when it is first loaded and can be used to change what and how information displays in the navigation pane.

Figure 3.5 shows a configuration that was made to the Resource Center that renames it from Resource Center to Help Area.

Figure 3.5

Figure 3.5 Microsoft Dynamics CRM configured navigation option.

The site map consists of three primary elements:

  • The Area element, which is used for the primary areas on the navigation pane (Workplace, Sales, Marketing, Service, Settings, and Resource Center).
  • The Group element, which divides the Area elements into subareas. The workplace area has six default groups: My Work, Customers, Sales, Marketing, Service, and Scheduling. These are optionally shown, however, because users select which ones they will see.
  • The SubArea element, which has the actual content links. All the links in the default site map point to the CRM application, with the exception being the Resource Center. In addition, the SubArea element can link to either CRM items or point to any hyperlink.

You also have the option to edit the localized titles using the locale ID (LCID), to add descriptions to the primary elements, and to set the privilege level to view the subarea.

To edit the site map, it must be first exported, then modified, and then reimported.

To export the site map, navigate to Settings, Customizations, and then select Export Customizations. Locate the site map (see Figure 3.6) and select Export Selected Customizations. Save the resulting customizations.zip file to your desktop.

Figure 3.6

Figure 3.6 Microsoft Dynamics CRM configured navigation option.

When you are editing the site map, we highly recommend an environment that performs schema validation. Although Microsoft Dynamics CRM will perform validation on the schema during the upload, the editing environment will prevent you having to rework any applied edits.

A free application that supports schema validation is XML Notepad 2007, which you can download from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=72d6aa49-787d-4118-ba5f-4f30fe913628&displaylang=en. In addition, you can use the Microsoft demonstration tool available from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=634508DC-1762-40D6-B745-B3BDE05D7012&displaylang=en. This application has a built-in site map editor that enables you to modify the site map without having to work with it by hand.

In the preceding example in which we changed the Resource Center to Help Area, we're using the Title element as follows:

Navigate to the Area element for ResourceCenter, and edit it from this

<Area Id="ResourceCenter" ResourceId="Area_ResourceCenter"
Icon="/_imgs/resourcecenter_24x24.gif" DescriptionResourceId="ResourceCenter_Area_Description">

To this

<Area Id="ResourceCenter" ResourceId="Area_ResourceCenter"
Icon="/_imgs/resourcecenter_24x24.gif" Title="Help Area" DescriptionResourceId="ResourceCenter_Area_Description">

A number of other options can be performed when working with the site map:

  • Changing the shown icon
  • Changing the order of the areas
  • Adding or removing areas
  • Adding groupings

In addition, you can apply security roles to areas of the site map to create an "adaptive UI" and show only the areas and links that users have permission to view.

Before making any modifications to the site map, be sure to make a backup copy of the XML output in case you need to restore your changes.

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