Extended Field Descriptions and Form-specific User Documentation

Extended Field Descriptions and Form-specific User Documentation

One common requirement in implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations is to provide form-specific user documentation. This allows users to go beyond the "what" and guides them in the "how" and "why" of using a particular form. There are many good ways to do this, especially using the task recorder and BPM tools. But sometimes the requirement is to have a comprehensive listing of all fields on a particular form, including field descriptions and rules for how the field values are populated.

Compiling this list of fields, labels, descriptions and rules can be time consuming to say the least. This post will present a way to get a head start on the form-specific documentation process.

As an example, we’ll use the Production route details form.

  1. Navigate to Production Control > Operations > All routes:
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    Action pane: Maintain > Route details:
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    Many form fields in D365 will have help text defined in the form of extended field descriptions. To see these descriptions, hover the mouse over a column label, like “Item relation”:
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    These descriptions are part of the standard implementation codebase provided by Microsoft. They can be customized by the development team during an implementation, but that is a different topic for a different blog post.

    There is a way to gather together all the extended descriptions for a particular form. Doing so would be a great head start on building a form-specific user guide.

    First, we need to get the internal name of the form.

    Right click in the gray area, and “Form information” is displayed. Hover the mouse over this box to see the Form Name: “Route”. Use this form name to lookup all extended descriptions for the form.

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  2. To gather the extended descriptions, navigate to the Field descriptions inquiry:

    Common > Inquiries > Field descriptions

    Select the correct page by typing in the form name “Route” and scrolling through the selection list.
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    A listing of all form field names and field descriptions is generated.

    The “Field description” column displays the text that would be displayed when hovering over the form’s column labels.

    Set the “Include fields without a description” selection to “Yes” and the form will include form fields where no extended field description has been defined. This provides a complete set of the fields on the form.

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    Notice that the field names are presented in the same order they appear in the original form. First will be the overview grid fields, in order, followed by any tabs (General, Setup, etc.). In this way, a field can appear multiple times in the report.

     To export this information, use the “Open in Microsoft Office” link at the top right of the page:

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  3. Open the saved file in MS Excel.
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    This is now an excellent starting point for developing customer-specific documentation for a form. In the case where a field has no extended description defined, the cell will be blank. In either case, the descriptions can now be modified to include business rules, default logic, validation rules, etc.

For any questions related to field descriptions or other topics, contact our customer support.

ERP