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Introducing the new entities in the Common data model

Along with the general availability of PowerApps and the Common Data Service, we are extremely pleased to release the first version of the standard entities. The Common data model comprises the set of standard entities deployed within every database in the Common Data Service allowing the app maker to quickly and easily build apps, as well as leverage apps from multiple sources that can use the same underlying data model.

You can get an overview of the standard entities here.

1610 CDM Entities

The standard entities included within each Common data model database are intended to be used for key organizational data that many businesses and apps would use. We will continue to introduce new standard entities in the Common Data Model based on feedback, our research and popular apps in the market. It’s important for app makers to always use standard entities where possible to ensure apps from Microsoft, ISVs and other developers can all work against a common set of data. Leveraging the standard entities also means you benefit from language translations, predefined sample data, security permission sets and improvements released by Microsoft. The standard entities also include relationships to each other to support common business processes. Standard entities can always be extended with custom fields to support additional business data or support additional relationships.

Light bulbKeep in mind : It’s important for app makers to always use standard entities where possible to ensure apps from Microsoft, ISVs and other developers can all work against a common set of data.

In this version, we’ve released the following categories of entities :

Functional group

Description

Foundation

The Foundation entities contain information that is relevant to nearly every other entity group. This group contains entities such as Product, Product Category, Business unit and Cost center.

People, organizations, and groups

These entities encompass a rich set of people and organizations that you might interact with, including Workers, Fans, Alumni, and Families.

Purchase

The Purchasing entities let you create purchasing solutions including Purchase orders and Vendor invoices.

Sales

The Sales entities let you create end-to-end sales solutions, from tracking Leads and Opportunities, to following through with Contacts, to accepting and delivering orders, to sending invoices.

Customer Service

This group contains entities related to Case Management to manage issues from your Account, including case tracking, escalation, and documentation.

 

With this release we have also enriched each entity with additional metadata including :

  • Translations for standard entity names and fields into local languages to allow your apps and the portal to translate based on the users language.
  • Field Groups to identify key fields for create, details and reporting scenarios. These can be used with Open in Excel, and will be used in the future to support easier app creation.
  • Security permission sets to allow standard entities to be easily added and used within custom Security roles to secure your data.

 

Key changes for Public Preview Users

For our General Availability release, we have focused on ensuring the quality of the entities available and addressing feedback from the preview community. You will notice some entities have been merged with others, others have been redesigned, and in a small number of cases we have even removed the entities. These decisions were made based on community feedback and usage data associated with the standard entities.

In three specific cases we have replaced the entities with picklists, to remove the overhead of each user maintaining the data in their database. This applies for Currency, Country/Region and Units of measure. These are now managed as picklists instead of their own entity.

For users with data in a preview database, please review the entity changes for Version 1.0  :

 

Deprecated entity

Replacement entity/picklist

Accounts

Account

Budget

No Replacement for GA

Contacts

Contact

Contractor

Worker

Currency

(Picklist) - Currency Code

Customer

Account

Donor

Account

Employee

Worker

Expense

No Replacement for GA

Member

Person

Order Lines

Sales order line

Orders

Sales order

Products

Product

Supplier

Vendor

Unit of Measure

(Picklist) -  Unit of Measure

Units

(Picklist) -  Unit of Measure

Volunteer

Worker

 

Merged Entities (Worker, Person, Account)

To ensure data of a similar nature is stored in a common way, while making sure we don’t present an overwhelming number of entities, some entities from Public Preview have been merged into a single entity. In most cases with the addition of a “Type” picklist to identify the difference which was previously a separate entity.

Here is an example of the Worker entity shown in Excel, with a new column to identify Employees or Contractors :

1610 Worker Type

Entities replaced by picklists (Country/Region, Currency, Unit of Measure)

In the Public Preview of the Common Data Model, you were introduced to Enumerations. We have renamed this feature to picklists, however the functionality is still very much the same. While minor changes were made to several picklists, we introduced three key picklists which were originally entities in the Public Preview. The new picklists are already active in the standard entities, and can be used in custom entities.

1610 Picklist Countryregion

Simplified Address Entry

The Public Preview included a set of address fields all backed by other entities. This unfortunately meant the entry of Address data was sometimes difficult if the supporting data of Country, States and Postal Codes in the supporting entities was incomplete. To ensure data entry and app building isn't impacted, we’ve simplified the entry of Address information by removing some of the hard restrictions we previously had in place. The new Address data type only enforces are lookup on the Country field now, which is maintained through a picklist. Other fields within the address have been changed to simple string fields.

Security Permission Sets

As part of the release of the Common Data Service, we’ve also added permission sets for the standard entities. These can be added to your custom Security roles to support your apps. The standard entities have been grouped, and each group has two permission sets :

  • View : allows read-only access to the data within the entity
  • Maintain : allows read, create, update and delete operations within the entity.

What’s next?

For more information on the Common Data model, including the details of the standard entities please download the Entity Reference Guide. The Entity reference guide includes details on the entities and picklists as well as relationship diagrams and insights into some of the conventions we use as a team. These documents are always being updated, so make sure to check back regularly.

Feedback

And last, but definitely not least - as a team we love community feedback so please make sure you provide feedback through our Community Forums on PowerUsers. This allows us to incorporate your direct feedback into the design of the Common Data Model as well as prioritization of upcoming entities and features.

 

Thanks!

Clay