If you frequent the Dynamics 365 Roadmap site (built on portals 🙂 ) you may notice a new area has been added for the CRM based Applications (Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service) for portals features. A number of items for all areas of Dynamics 365 has been posted as we near the Spring release of Dynamics 365 (v8.3), but this is a first for the portal to have been posted which seems to be the makings of a Spring Roadmap for the product. There are some exciting items on there including a release of the portal source code, Azure AD B2C and more. Below is all the items posted to the roadmap as well as some comments on each.
Let’s get to the big one first, portal source code.
Source code for Portals
A one time release of Portals code will be released to the Microsoft Download Center under MIT license for developers to download.
This feature enables Portals to be deployed to Dynamics 365 on-premise environments, and allows developers to customize the code to suit their specific business needs.
This is a huge news, complete open source of all portals code! This should also be taken with some caution though. Let’s understand what this means.
- One time release – it will never be updated, ever, ever again.
- Under MIT License – free, and full open source software (OSS), no direct support from Microsoft.
- Microsoft Download Center – not taking pull requests, no contributing back to a master branch
Some awesome news but a big caution for corporations looking to invest in a supported product. With it being a one time release it is basically a point in time and will not be updated with bug fixes, new features nor will it be supported by Microsoft. The future is very much still online with portals as a service which will continue to be updated with bug fixes, new features and fully supported by Microsoft. If you choose the OSS path then support could come from partners, or other corporations but they will all come with their own costs and potentially different versions of the portal. Being OSS MIT means that anyone can take the source change it and re-publish it, so we could end up with endless different versions of OSS portals. These are the pitfalls with any OSS product so just be very aware if you are someone interested in it.
If your an on premise customer that was still considering v7 of Adxstudio Portals then you should strongly consider this as the cost is a lot less 😉 (free vs $20k+ and even getting a license). However the same cautions apply and if your looking for a fully supported product then online with portal service is the future of the product. If you were looking at Adxstudio Portals v7 because of it’s event or retail functionality then that is still a gap in the OSS version as well.
For developers, this will be a gold mine for those to see the inner workings of the portals product. Look at how the Adxstudio and Microsoft product teams built features, implemented the CRM SDK, and gain a better understanding of how the product operates or why it does something a certain way or modify it to your liking.
Myself and Adoxio will have more to say on Open Source Portals shortly and the direction Adoxio will be taking.
The next big roadmap item…
For Portals that require a consumer based login, this feature will now support the ability to:
- Configure your portal authentication to use a Single Sign-On configuration
- Support Azure AD-B2C for customer authentication
- Manage your Portal security in Azure
* depends on Azure AD-B2C availability in the region(s) Portals are deployed
I blogged about B2C working in CRM portals late last year, but at the time B2C while supported in portals was not exactly recommended by Microsoft due to some user experience elements not being as desired. It’s great to see that it will be natively supported and recommended with the user experience elements corrected and even more included features released. I can’t more strongly recommend using B2C as your authentication in the portal and moving your authentication outside of Dynamics 365 so that it can be used by all applications and not just the portal. One identity for all your external applications.
Some other interesting new functionality coming soon:
Post installation language add-ons
This feature makes it easier to manage new additions to the existing portal language support.
Great to see, so many portals start off in 1 language and later want to add additional support and this will make that painless now.
Admin wizard to add an entity to the Portal
Easily publish any entity on your Portal using our new administrative wizard. When data is updated in the entity, it will automatically be available to Portal users who have access to these data.
This is likely a tool that will automatically make entity lists, entity forms, and entity permissions with all the web pages setup for you. Will make exposing new entities in the system extremely easy for out of box functionality.
Portal interaction tracking
Track your customer’s interactions with your Portal and funnel it to Dynamics 365 Customer Intelligence to plot a 360 view.
Sort of like Google Analytics but with all the relationships to your other Dynamics 365 data!
Whew! That is a lot of awesome news of features that are going to be coming to the portals shortly. There are a couple more smaller features, you can checkout the full listing on the roadmap site. The exact release dates for all of these is not mentioned, the earliest would be with the Spring release of portals. Previous releases of portals from Microsoft have typically lagged approximately a month behind the Dynamics 365 release. They could also come in monthly updates between now and the fall release.
We will have to keep an eye on the roadmap for future features being announced!