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Microsoft Dynamics CRM MultiSelect Option Sets: Pros and Cons

January 07, 2019

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales version 9.0 saw a substantial refresh to Microsoft's Dynamics 365 CRM platform, adding many new features and attributes. One long-sought-after attribute is the ability to create MultiSelect Option Sets.

Before version 9.0, system administrators and developers were forced to simulate MultiSelect Option Set functionality by using a web resource to control which options were displayed in a regular Option Set or create a custom Entity. Both choices took considerably more time to implement and often didn't satisfy the client requirements, functionally or visually.

The new MultiSelect Option Sets solution offers numerous benefits to users over these methods, however, it also has many serious limitations that make customizing and developing with it challenging.

Benefits

  • MultiSelect Option Sets are simple to configure. They can be configured as a Local Option Set or point to a Global Option Set.
  • CRM users can easily scroll through the available options, search by entering text in the field, or click Select All. They can easily remove a previously selected option by clicking the "x" next to the options or by selecting Clear.
  • Selected values are displayed on the form separated by semi-colons (;).
  • Mass importing records is available via the Dynamics Import Wizard by aggregating the values with a semi-colon.
  • Developers can interact with MultiSelect Option Sets via Plugins and JavaScript.

Limitations

  • MultiSelect Option Sets cannot be used in Business Rules. However, developers can mimic some Business Rule functionality through JavaScript.
  • Workflows are not able to use MultiSelect Option Sets as conditions or part of the create/update step. MultiSelect Option Sets can be used as entry criteria to trigger a workflow.
  • While developers can interact with MultiSelect Option Sets through Plugins, a plugin can't be triggered by a MultiSelect Option Set attribute.
  • System Administrators can't add a MultiSelect Option Set to a Business Process Flow.
  • Users are not able to update a MultiSelect Option Set by bulk editing records.
  • MultiSelect Options Sets aren't available for use in SSRS reports.
  • There is no ability to convert a standard Option Set to a MultiSelect Option Set. The attribute must be made from scratch and populated via other means, such as the Dynamics Import Wizard.
  • MultiSelect Option Sets can't be included in relationship mappings.

Conclusions

I am impressed by how Microsoft went about implementing MultiSelect Option Sets in a user-friendly way. It's a great addition to Dynamics 365, but in my opinion, the limitations still outweigh the benefits and require substantial time investments to implement workarounds and fixes for client requirements. Microsoft has released several updates/patches since v9.0 to address many of the original limitations, but more needs to be done. Once the remaining limitations are addressed, the MultiSelect Option Set will be an invaluable tool for system administrators and developers.

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